Congratulations! You’re ready for a website, and you’ve made the decision to take the next step! While researching costs, you’ve probably found more questions than answers. It can be confusing. Keep reading to get some very easy to understand explanations, definitions and costs for a basic website setup.
What are the Basic Minimum Costs for a Website?
When first setting up a website, the minimum costs cover a domain registration and hosting. That is all really other than your time. The most important thing to note about these costs is that they are recurring. They aren’t one time charges. It is a cost that comes up regularly, usually yearly. Registration and hosting can be purchased through the same company or different ones according to preference, and can usually be set on auto-pay.
Often, you can purchase multiple years at a time to get a discount. With some services, this could even become a monthly expense. However you choose to do it, make sure you budget for the regular, recurring expense when you expect it to come. It’s never fun to suddenly have an expense you weren’t expecting, and bad planning can lead to the loss of your site!
What is Domain Registration?
Registering your domain is one of the first steps to getting a website. You pay a registration service to have your website name (i.e. angelajiniel.com) linked to the files that make up your website.
Every website in the world is unique, so it may take some searching to find one that works for you. And every domain company essentially does the same thing. Most offer additional bells and whistles that you can pay extra for, but the basic registration is the same across the board.
Depending on where you purchase and any discounts you might find, this ranges from about $3-$20 per year. Often the first year can be free when purchased with hosting from the same company. Be aware how much subsequent years cost if your first year is free or discounted.
What is Hosting?
Hosting is the biggest necessary expense up front if you plan to do it all yourself. This is the service that stores the files that make up your website. It also usually maintains basic security software for the site as well as processes PHP files. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what that is.) Hosting companies maintain servers, or in reality they purchase chunks of servers from someone else. These servers work as giant hard drives to store your website files.
This can cost anywhere from about $50-$200 per year, depending on where you go. You can often find good deals and coupon codes to be used for your first year. Again, be aware of how much it will cost after the first year if you’re getting a discount.
Additional Upfront Website Costs
When first creating your website, you may choose to use builders that are provided by your hosting company. These are usually free but limited in their capabilities. However, they are user-friendly for people who aren’t familiar with the process. These free builders will often give you the choice to upgrade your template or add on services like a store or gallery for a fee.
My suggestion though, is that you work with a professional that can walk you through the process. Designing, creating and populating your website with the right information for your industry can be tricky. This cost can vary so greatly that I can’t even put an estimate on it. The value with different service providers also varies greatly. Be sure to know who you’re working with before you begin.
A third option is to use builders like Wix or Squarespace. These are services that combine domain, hosting and website building all-in-one. They have templates to start you off that you can customize, and have a greater depth of functionality than the free builders that come with some hosting packages. There are a lot of add-ons you can purchase to add additional features that are created to be used specially with these builders. These range from $0-$50/month for most business needs. There are different levels of pricing that provide vastly different value to you, but all will work to create a website.
The add-on templates, plug-ins, or services you choose may also have recurring fees. Be sure you are aware of what those fees are before you commit to using them on your site.
So What’s WordPress?
WordPress is a name thrown around a lot in the world of websites. It refers to a content management system and website builder. I personally prefer to build using wordpress. It can do a lot in terms of building a site, or it can do the very basic. I think most people can learn to use it with some instruction, but it can be a little intimidating at first.
There are actually two different WordPress platforms, and it is important to choose the right one. WordPress.com lets you create a blog for free, but it is limited in what you can do with it. You are also not able to use your own domain, but can customize theirs (i.e. yourname.wordpress.com).
WordPress.org is where you can download a piece of software to your host’s servers that allows you to use their content management system and templates to build your site. This can also usually be done through the backend of your hosting account. There are many free templates and plugins you can use through their platform, as well as many that you need to pay for. This option allows you to use your own domain (i.e. yourname.com).
Though it may have initially been created for and become known for blogging, you can build any type of website with WordPress.
Basic Website Maintenance Costs
Every website needs regular maintenance to stay functional and secure. This comes mostly in the form of updates and backups. Some can be set up to be done automatically, others need to be manual. It is important to go through any website, even if it’s all being done automatically, to make sure it’s functioning as it should. Once in a while, updates can cause functions of the site to stop working properly.
It is also important to make sure that your hosting and domain companies have your current contact information. Outdated information could mean you don’t get notices about renewals or important maintenance or updates, and could result in the total loss of your site.
You can easily do this maintenance yourself for free. Some of the all-included builders provide some of all of this maintenance as part of their service already. Be sure you understand what is included and what isn’t. However, service providers like myself can often do this maintenance for you for a small monthly fee, which varies by provider. If your website is an important part of your business, this may be a worthwhile cost.
If this still seems like too much to take in and understand on your own, you’re not alone! I highly recommend hiring a professional who can figure out what type of site best suits your needs and can walk you through the process.
And please keep in mind that the information provided here is just a very basic overview. It is not at all and exhaustive explanation of the process. There are many more options and possibilities when it comes to creating a website for your business. And the definitions given are simplified for entry-level users. I hope that I am able to clarify some of the basic options for you here though. If you have additional questions, please reach out.
I would be happy to help! Contact me and schedule a discovery call to discuss how I can help. Or, you may also find it helpful to contact the customer service department of your preferred hosting company as they may be able to help as well.