Website Cost For Small Business - A Contentious Topic With No Easy Answer
The short answer to “how much should a website cost for small business”? Unfortunately there is no short answer.
One person’s “You’re going to charge me HOW MUCH????” is another person’s “No problem – I’ll take it out of petty cash”.
Leaving aside the emotion and the subjectivity, the first step is to establish what you expect from the site. For instance:
- Is it merely somewhere for people to gather information? This is sometimes known as a “brochure” site, and a one page site may be the answer.
- Will it need to promote your services using a blog, or process and manage data? This will probably mean a multi page site, which involves more work and cost.
- Do you want to use the site to sell products and collect payment? An Ecommerce site will be necessary in this case.
Having decided on the type of site, there will be initial outlays on the following:
- Domain name – Unless you already have one, an Australian extension (.com.au, .net.au etc) will cost about $24 for a two year period. Specialist domain names range up to $150.
- Website Hosting – costs vary depending on the host, but you can expect to pay from $125 to $175 for standard hosting. Hosting with Media Dreams falls within this range.
Website Content Costs
Along with site design, content is the most important part of a website. It is also where costs can escalate, depending on how much the client supplies, and in what form.
If You Provide The Full Content
A website package price usually assumes this will be the case. The designer still has to format and optimise the text and images, but this is what you are paying for.
If You Provide Little Or No Content
This is not uncommon and sometimes achieves a better outcome. By researching the industry and the competition and applying professional content creation skills, the designer can produce a quality site.
However, it also involves extra time and effort. This is one of the reasons why all standard website package prices should be subject to this proviso.
Website Functionality Costs
What You Should Expect In The Basic Quote
A standard website package quote should usually include the following:
- Site design – incorporating layout, graphic design elements, colour schemes, font types, item placement etc
- A certain number of pages
- A certain number of stock images
- Sliding header or headers
- Photo galleries
- Contact form
- Google map
- Initial SEO optimisation of all pages, including keyword research. Note – this is often charged for separately, but at Media Dreams we include this as part of the package.
- A certain number of design revisions before launch
When You Can Expect To Pay More
The following variations can add to the website cost for small business. They can usually be determined before quoting, but may arise during the course of the project:
- Pages in excess of the basic quote
- Stock images in excess of the basic quote – good ones are not cheap, and the designer cannot absorb the cost beyond a certain point.
- Design revisions in excess of the basic quote – assuming there has been proper communication and consultation at the outset, there should be no reason for additional revisions. However, endless tinkering by nervous or fussy clients can make the project unprofitable for the designer if it is not charged for.
On Going Site Costs
It is not enough to build a site and leave it untouched for evermore. Do you want your site to become like an abandoned railway station, with broken rails and weeds growing up through the tracks? If not, you will need to maintain it.
Software versions change and search engines are constantly changing their rules. If you don’t change with them, your site will wither and die.
The two main areas that will need future attention are:
This involves keeping WordPress and its associated site plugins up to date, and ensuring there is no downtime. Many design firms make a separate regular charge for this, but at Media Dreams we include it for free.
Content Changes For SEO Purposes
These are necessary from time to time, as search engines place great emphasis on fresh content when ranking sites. Regular site reviews (preferably six monthly, or at least annually) should not be seen as an extra website cost for small business, but as a necessity. Keywords can also be reviewed for relevance and ranking position at this time.
Why Can’t I Save Money By Doing It All Myself?
This is a legitimate question, and we can break the answer down into two parts:
Building Your Own DIY Site
Also, do you want to stop running your own business and become a web designer just to save $1500 to $2000? The cost savings can be illusory and there are other drawbacks as well, as this article shows.
Updating The Site And Adding New Content Yourself
Following the launch of the site, there is scope to do this. It is actually quite common and Media Dreams includes free initial training to assist new owners if required.
However, “updating the site” and “adding new content” have slightly different meanings. They also have different consequences if not done correctly.
Updating the site by changing the layout and the navigational structure can be fraught with danger. Unless you have website design expertise, and WordPress expertise in particular, you should leave this to the designer.
Adding new content by way of blog articles and images is much more feasible, and is usually what most owners want to do.
That said, you should be aware that if any updates or changes result in a broken site, you will need to pay the designer to fix it. A few tweaks to a blog article may not be a big deal, but major repairs to a site can be very costly.
So…Bottom Line, How Much Should I Spend?
As with everything in life, you get what you pay for.
If you just want a basic cheap website (and we’ve seen them as low as $495 for a multi page site) it’s not really going to do much for you.
People probably won’t find the site, since it probably wasn’t optimised for SEO. Those who do find it, probably won’t be too impressed by it since it hasn’t been specifically designed to resonate with your target audience. And if it doesn’t bring you too many new customers, you have basically wasted your money.
However, the real cost is not the money you waste, but rather the $1000s in new customers you miss out on as a result of skimping.
A properly designed and targeted website at a more realistic price will attract many new visitors. More importantly, there is the potential to convert them into paying customers. Within a short period of time you will have recovered the cost of your site, and every customer you get from the site thereafter will be at zero cost.
Effectively you will have turned your expense into an investment.
Check Out Some Actual Prices
Our Media Dreams Website Design Packages will give you a pretty accurate idea of what to expect, subject to the few provisos mentioned in this article.
Any final quote we give only comes after we have ascertained what your goals are and what type of website will work best for your business and your customers.
Michael is the founder and principal of Media Dreams, and is a former partner in a public accounting practice. He has a working lifetime of advising small business owners and has owned several himself.