Sean Feeney
Architect of the digital age

Understanding Website Costs

1 March 2015

Website Costs

Typical basic business website costs. All costs except initial development are annual.

Any software project cost depends on requirements. But a website is a special type of software project, and many firms over the years have tried to standardize website costs. Competition has driven prices down. The chart above attempts to itemize what typically goes into a simple, publicly accessible business website. For argument’s sake, I’m lumping Design under Development.

Every business needs a website, but few firms really understand what they’re getting into. Few customers will benefit from a static website (think 1990’s). Your address, hours of operation, what your business does and a few pictures. Your customers can find this on a social network like Google+ with little effort (helpfully linked to your Google Maps entry). That hasn’t been enough for a standalone website for years.

To stay relevant, a website needs regular content updates. Words, images, videos. A reason for a website visitor to return to your website. These content updates bridge public relations and marketing, human resources and strategy. You or your employees are best positioned to come up with this content. And for the last 15 years or so you’ve also had the tools to publish this content on your own via a Content Management System (CMS). A significant choice, as part of the Development process, is to choose a CMS that fits your company’s needs. Or you can outsource it all - the choice is yours. Typical outsourcing of content updates involves your secretary emailing the update collateral to the outsourcer a few times a month. You’re still writing and/or creating it - but someone else is adding it to the website for you. On average this should cost about 10% of the upfront website development cost, represented in the chart as Managed Upkeep.

Depending on your business, e-commerce may be an important aspect to integrate into your website. Sales that can be tied to your website help you easily determine ROI for website projects. There are many choices to make around e-commerce that span both the hosting and development, and can easily blow up the budgets for each. At the $10k range, you can probably get an off the shelf e-commerce platform and integrate it with the payment provider of your choice. Choose the right e-commerce platform and the CMS may be built in. See also: The Real Cost of Setting up a Basic WooCommerce Store

Developing a website is not a onetime activity. Just like any other software, your business should consider refreshing the design and features at least every three to five years. This is likely to be just as costly as when you first built it. It could involve upgrading or migrating platforms and providers. The most important thing to keep in mind is that a website project isn’t just an IT project - it’s a business project. There should be clear business goals behind each website project, with appropriate business sponsors. There should be appropriate governance to avoid public mishaps and potential lost revenue. Your website is an extension of your business - your customers expect it to be just as useful and easy to interact with as your physical business.

Posted in Good Business Practices, software engineering, web development

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