Whether you’re talking about a basic online portfolio for a one-person business or a gigantic eCommerce website with a few million visitors each month, certain expenses will be associated with keeping those sites functional.
Of course, you can count on the personal portfolio site costing a whole lot less than the eCommerce site, but what if you’re trying to find a ballpark estimate for your business website? Well, it can be helpful to learn about a few things first.
For one thing, you’ll probably be paying for a combination of necessary and unnecessary expenses. Even if you’re on a budget, certain corners really shouldn’t be cut – getting a company to design or give you a website makeover, for example, or having some form of tech support.
While you don’t need all the bells and whistles in order to impress site visitors, there are a few features that most (if not all) major business sites offer.
The average person expects certain features from business sites in order to consider them trustworthy, which is why even some of the “non-necessary” expenses are almost universal among these types of websites.
If you want to learn more about the specific costs of maintaining a business website, keep reading!
1- Web Hosting
This is analogous to renting a building for a brick-and-mortar retail store – you need somewhere to put everything. In the case of web hosting, you’re renting space on a hosting provider’s servers.
You could use WordPress hosting, WooCommerce hosting, dedicated hosting, VPS hosting, cloud hosting, or shared hosting (among other options). The bigger your site is, the more space you’ll need, and the larger your monthly bill will be.
However, you can still decrease the monthly cost if you commit to a longer-term subscription, for instance, 24 to 48 months instead of 1 to 6 months.
2- Website Design and Maintenance
Even though this isn’t strictly necessary, you won’t find many business websites that haven’t paid for it. This is because the alternative is to do it yourself, which isn’t practical in most cases.
Sure, it’s possible to build a good-looking site with WordPress or Wix; even people with zero experience in web design can do it. Even so, there will probably be a lot of plugins to install, plenty of glitches to resolve, and regular maintenance needed to keep it running on all cylinders.
That’s why paying a web design company is worth it – not only do you get a website that you can be proud of, but a seamless user experience will improve your reputation for reliability.
3- SSL Certificate
Any sensitive data (like credit cards or login information) should be encrypted as it’s sent between web servers and browsers – and that’s what an SSL certificate does.
If a business site has a login page or is set up to process purchases (among other things), it’ll need this certificate. Smaller sites could only pay a few dollars per year, but the price can go way up from there, depending on how big the website is.
4- Domain Name
There are two main things to know when registering your domain name. First, beware of scams. Use an accredited domain registrar from ICANN’s online list to avoid this. Second, renewals cost more than the initial registration, so make sure you read the fine print and are ready to pay a good bit more than you did for the first year.
5- Tech Support
Hopefully, the average user experience on your site will be smooth, but that isn’t always the case. If someone needs help, you should make that easy for them to get it.
Email support, phone support, or a live chat feature are always popular; you could also offer community forums, an FAQ section, or a knowledge database. Even if most of the site’s users won’t need tech support, this is expected for legitimate business sites.
6- Email Services
Similar to tech support, dedicated email services are important if you want to look polished and put together. Directing inquiries to “email@example.com” will technically get the job done, but it’s also a little tacky. Fortunately, paying for a dedicated email address won’t set you back that much – just a few dollars a month per mailbox.
7- Ecommerce Features
This applies only to business sites that process payments, like eCommerce sites or subscription-based services.
- An eCommerce platform is a must; this is how you’ll be able to accept the orders, process the payments, and so on.
- PayPal and other payment gateways are optional but still helpful for building trust and improving accessibility.
- A plugin for inventory management is also optional, and there are other ways to manage inventory. However, a plugin for your website will simplify the process.
What do all these features cost on average, though?
You could probably find some options that don’t fall within the price ranges below, but this is what most people pay:
- Web hosting – $1.39 to $300 per month
- Website Design – $6,000 to build the site from scratch, and $500 to $1,000 per year for maintenance
- An SSL certificate – $7 to $1,000 per year
- A domain name – $1 to $20 to register for the first year, $10 to $90 per year for renewals
- Tech support – $0 to $11.99 per month
- Email services – $0.99 to $18 per month
- Ecommerce features – $18.99 to $1,000 per month
Here’s what the total price tag could look like for different kinds of business websites:
- Ecommerce websites– about $1,500 to $5,000 per month
- Corporate websites, small- to mid-sized educational institutions, restaurants – about $35 to $500 per month
- Digital magazines and entertainment or multimedia sites – about $300 to $2,500 per month
- Larger educational institutions, popular businesses – about $200 to $4,500 per month
You can probably tell by now that there’s a lot of variation even for similar types of websites; when it comes to extras and add-ons, there are plenty of options. The question is, which votes will you choose for your business site?