What should you be spending to have a website?

Or said another way, what is a reasonable cost to own and operate a reasonably functional website? How much is the right amount to be spending? It depends, of course, on how sophisticated or large your website is, but here are some basics to think about. We think these broad-brush estimates are quite applicable for small business, smaller non-profits, and individuals. As the picture above suggests, it’s not so much.

  • Domain Registration: some $15-20/year. You have to pay a certain amount every year to own or register your domain, such as yourcompany.com. At the registrar you claim your domain and will set records that tell the rest of the world where your website is located. We recommend using a national domain registry. There are many out there. Network Solutions, GoDaddy and Enom are three, but there are many more. We don’t recommend any specific provider. Do your due diligence. Register your domain for an extended period, such as 5 years. There may be pricing breaks for long-term registration and search engines would appear favorably to take into account long-term renewals. Remember that you, not your web developer, should own your domain.
  • Web Hosting:  some $30-$80/year. Your host provides a space to keep the files and databases that make up your website – all your content. Your host does not have to be your registrar and often is not. Sometimes email hosting is part of the package, sometimes not. Generally speaking, the lower the cost, the less the amount of space you get (measured usually in gigabytes of data) for your files, and the less bandwidth (the amount of data that can move from and to your domain, usually measured in gigabits or gigabytes of data transmission per month). As people visit your site, or send email to you, you use bandwidth. Some providers offer “unlimited” space or bandwidth. That’s great (and it’s not actually unlimited – just try to test that), but most small business websites don’t come close to using more than a few GB of space or use a few GB of bandwidth, if that, per month. Most inexpensive hosting is on a shared server (meaning other websites are also hosted on the same server), which is generally not a problem.
  • Website upkeep: some $240-360/year. Websites, like those developed by GoatCloud, are built using different pieces of software. In our case, it’s the WordPress content management system and its requisite themes and plugins. There is also additional software on the way backend of the site that needs to be paid attention to. Most folks with a website would rather not dig into software matters. People can and do ignore software updates, backups and site security, but do so at their peril.

All in you’re looking at $285-$460 per year, or about $24-$38 per month.  Most would agree this is a reasonable cost for what is probably your most important marketing and branding (and possibly sales) vehicle. If your enterprise grows, you may need more services that cost more, and we would always urge caution about automatically choosing services based solely on low price. There is something to that notion that “you get what you pay for”.

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