All businesses need a website to sell goods and services or to advertise. A website is a group of interconnected, publicly accessible Web pages with a common domain name. A website can be built and maintained to serve a variety of objectives by an individual, group, corporation, or organization. But just how much does it cost? The answers vary, and for good reason.
There are a lot of factors that can increase the cost of your website. Let’s take a look at the costs of a running one.
There are three costs that any business with a website cannot avoid easily. The first is the cost of your internet access. The second is the yearly cost of your domain. The third is the cost of your hosting.
Most people know that you have to pay for internet access, so we’ll set that aside. However, the other two costs might be unfamiliar if you’ve never set up a website.
A domain is your address on the web. For instance, in the URL www.amazon.com, amazon.com is the domain. A yearly fee has to be paid to a domain registrar to reserve the rights to use that name. This cost can be as low as $5 per year to hundreds depending on the domain registrar and the TLD you desire.
The TLD is the end part of the domain, the .com. There are quite a number of TLDs these days. Registrars have been charging premium prices to get access to the latest ones, but a simple .com address is what most businesses have (.com means commercial.) Be prepared to shell out more if you want something different.
The third cost, hosting, is the costs associated with running the web server. This can be a third-party hosting company like HostGator, a site-builder service that offers hosting, or something you run on your own servers if you have a static IP deal with your ISP.
The costs for third-party hosting depend on how much traffic you get per month, but you get near-full control of what you can do with your site. Using a site-builder service often costs more and you have limitations on how you can build your site through their tools and you often can’t use your own domain without paying a lot more. Hosting it yourself will require a dedicated computer and enough network connectivity to handle the traffic.
It’s much easier to let a third-party handle the hosting. That way you don’t have to worry about hardware costs and you don’t have to worry about another company’s policies limiting how you can create your site.
As a rough estimate, a small business might pay $15/month for third-party hosting, another $10/year for the domain, and $80/month for business-class internet access. Thus, the cost of running a website will run about $1150/year for a small business.
The domain cost just covers the ability to have a website appear on a particular domain. But there are also the costs hosting the site on a webserver. This cost also includes the costs of building and maintaining a site.
Here the triangle of effort applies. Building a site takes time, money, and skill. By increasing the amount of one point, you need less of the other two.
Most small business owners don’t know how to set up their own secure, functional, and beautiful e-commerce website. Fewer still want to take the time necessary to do it right. The usual route for a small business is to hire a developer who can set it all up for you. The cost for this depends greatly on the developer and the complexity of your site, so it’s hard to give an estimate, but a few hundred dollars for setup is not unreasonable for a small-business website.