What Are The Costs of Maintaining a Website for Business?
Everyone asks for the cost of building a website, but what are the costs of maintaining a website for a business?
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Anyone who’s looking at the costs of running a successful business website may end up getting a lot more information than they bargained for.
In fact, they could get a dozen different answers, and every one of those answers might be right. This is because the actual costs of maintaining a website for any business will vary wildly. It’s like asking “what’s the cost to build me a house”; that would depend on many different factors that are unique for each build. More importantly there are all the factors that create expense after the build.
First of all, you have to consider which costs will be involved. There are quite a few that you’ll end up paying for, but only a few of them are technically necessary, such as the domain name, web hosting, and the SSL certificate. Then there are the costs that aren’t necessary, but are a part of most reputable business sites: a website maintenance service, email services, tech support, and so on. You may also opt to use a design company like WebCitz to build your website from scratch. This is another expense that isn’t absolutely necessary, but is the option that most business sites choose.
What about the actual dollar amounts, though?
That’s a little harder to nail down, but you can get an approximate idea from looking at the range of costs that most businesses end up paying.
First of all, let’s look at how costs of maintaining a website break down type of business:
- Online stores (ecommerce websites) – between $1,500 and $5,000 per month
- Digital magazines (multimedia entertainment websites) – between $300 and $2,500 per month
- Popular businesses, large educational institutions (larger company websites) – between $200 and $4,500 per month
- Small to medium educational institutions, corporate sites, or restaurants (SME business websites) – between $35 and $500 per month
That hopefully answered some of your questions, but even as ballpark estimates, the numbers above aren’t necessarily that helpful. However, you can get a slightly better grasp on what the costs of maintaining a website for your business would be if you look at the cost breakdown by item.
The figures below are more like averages, rather than exact numbers; you’ll probably find price points on either end of the spectrum if you look around.
- Tech support may cost $0 to $11.99 per month
- Ecommerce features may cost $18.99 to $1,000 per month
- Email services may cost $0.99 to $18 per month
- Website design may cost $6,000 for building an ecommerce site, and $500 to $1,000 per year to maintain
- An SSL certificate may cost $7 to $1,000 per year
- Web hosting may cost $1.39 to $300 per month
- A domain name may cost $1 to $20 upon signup (valid for one year), then $10 to $90 per year to renew
This is something that isn’t necessary – unless you want your business site to feel legitimate. Building customer trust can happen in many different ways, and this is one way that’s actually pretty easy. Tech support could be any of the following:
- Knowledge database
- Live chat
- Phone service
- Email support
- Community forums
In order to make money, you have to spend money – that’s what you’ll be doing with ecommerce features.
- An ecommerce platform is what will enable you to set up your online store.
- Payment gateways (PayPal, for instance) aren’t required, but they improve customer trust and accessibility.
- Inventory management plugins make it easier to track inventory.
If you’re not exactly sure what features your site will need, take a look at this infographic of the 72 essential features for every eCommerce site.
Here’s another aspect of a business site that isn’t required – unless you wanted to look legitimate, that is. If an online business uses free email accounts, that just makes it look like they don’t take themselves seriously. A dedicated mailbox (“[email protected]”, for instance) will inspire confidence in your customers.
At several thousand dollars minimum, this is by far the largest non-necessary expense. That all depends on your definition of necessary, though. If you’re going for the kind of website that stands out from the millions of other websites that haven’t benefitted from professional input, you should definitely hire an expert (or a team of experts). Doing it yourself is always an option, but if that’s the route you choose, you should at least consult a professional about your work before publishing the site. You can also check out this detailed guide on how to calculate eCommerce pricing.
You know that “https” prefix on many websites? That “s” on the end indicates that the website has an SSL certificate; it’s a data transfer protocol that’s used to encrypt any data that goes between web browsers and web servers. In other words, your passwords, credit card numbers, and any other sensitive information is secured against theft. The cost is usually directly related to the size of your site, so unless the website is truly gigantic, you shouldn’t end up shelling out too much cash here.
This expense is unavoidable, since you’re essentially renting server space from a hosting provider. However, you might not be paying it yourself; many website builders take care of it as part of their services, and simply pass the cost onto you.
If you’re taking care of the expense yourself, it’s a smart idea to make a longer subscription commitment. Most payment plans are more expensive per month the shorter your commitment; for example, a 1-month plan could cost $5 for the month, while a 48-month plan could work out to $1.50 per month.
Size is a factor too, obviously, since the bigger your site is, the more space you’ll need on the servers. You could use shared hosting, dedicated hosting, or WordPress hosting (among many other options).
Renewals are more expensive than the initial registration, so be ready for a higher price to kick in after the first billing cycle. Also, it’s recommended to choose a domain registrar from ICANN’s list of accredited registrars; that way you won’t get roped into scams or hidden fees.
What is and what is not necessary for each business directly impacts the costs of maintaining a website.
If you want people to take your business website seriously, you don’t necessarily want to rely on your DIY skills; instead, invest some money in your website, and let the results speak for themselves.