What are your recurring website fees?
A website is a great way to engage with customers and promote your business, as well as provide a central platform to link to your various social media accounts, but your online investment costs more than a one-off payment. There are ongoing fees and developments to consider to ensure that your website remains secure and keeps up to date with the latest tech advancements.
Some factors listed below are long-term, ongoing budgeting requirements from the start, such as domain name and website hosting, but there are other services that, although optional, are very beneficial to put in place from the beginning, and can actually come to be a necessity in their own right, in the future.
In this article we look at the long-term costs associated with;
- Domain name
- Website hosting
- Website Software and Maintenance
- Website Backups (databases / structure / content / images / files)
- Website Upgrades (security / software patches / new browser support)
- Software subscription / licensing or community membership
- Website Content Updates (new content and SEO updates)
- Additional Integrations and Services (cloud software / emails / email marketing / 301 redirects / SEO etc.)
A guideline of example costs of various services and plans are includd in the descriptions below below.
A rough estimate for a general scenario of domain name registration and website hosting; website software licensing, maintainance and backups; and limited monthly content updates for a small business website would be approximately $1,400 per year (about $120 per month).
Please note, every website is different, so please be aware that estimates for one client's website will be different for another website project, and the final cost can vary significantly depending on the project and the services required.
Typically $15 per year
Your website domain name (the URL or link you see in the address bar of your web browser) is not a one-off buy and you will need to renew the 'hire' of it every few years.
Some domains need renewing every year. Others can be renewed every 5 or more years. Typically, .com domains cost about $10 to $20 per year and are renewed every 2 years, most likely by your web developer, although you can handle this aspect yourself if you prefer.
Web-Duka business hosting plans from $200 per year
Hosting for smaller websites costs between $15 and $20 per month and will typically be done on a shared server to keep costs low. The larger your website, and the more resources it uses and visitors it attracts, the more money you will pay to keep it online. A typical annual hosting fee for a small to medium sized website is $200 per year.
In general, a successful website will grow and evolve over time, and your web developer will need to make adjustments to your annual hosting fee to keep up with the growing size of your website and the higher volumes of traffic visiting it, more on this below.
Increased Resources (traffic / bandwidth / databases / storage)
As a website grows it uses more resources and puts a bigger drain on the server; more traffic and content requires larger storage and bandwidth, and your host server setup will likely grow to accommodate these increases.
Costs for increased resources vary according the requirements for each website, we provide reviews, estimates and recommendations on request.
Website Software and Maintenance
Web-Duka Maintenance Plans from $600 per year
Software subscription / licensing or community membership
You might have requested a website tool or software that requires an ongoing subscription fee, or annual licensing renewal, to allow unlimited use of certain features.
Unless you have a site that is built in pure HTML/CSS, you are going to have some type of software that facilitates some functionality. Even popular open-source CMS (content management systems) like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal require regular downloads of software and certain types of servers to function properly.
Open source CMS are generally "free" (i.e., no license fees), but adding further functionality to the core CMS often require software that comes with a license fee. In addition to paying these license fees, usually on behalf of the client, a web developer will also regularly install upgrades as new versions of the software are released. This can be as often as once a week, and typically about once a month.
"Free" CMS platforms like Joomla! and WordPress require a lot of software updates.
Further, most of these CMS sites have 3rd party software extensions (many of which are ‘commercial’ or at a fee) to create various functionality on your site.
It's not uncommon to have 10 to 20 such extensions on a site. Every piece of software requires updates over time.
So the core CMS requires regular updates - and each extension on your site needs also needs updating.
In theory, it's "simple" and "you don't need technical expertise" to manage extensions but in practice it's very common for an extension update to have an unintended consequences on another extension. In some cases it affects your website negatively and/or can cause it to cease operating properly, requiring the expertise of a web developer to solve the issue.
Backups (databases / structure / content / images / files)
Website backups are often overlooked, but are an essential requirement for any modern website.
Regular backups of your website structure, databases, content and other resources, are your safety net when something goes wrong. And things do go wrong, even with the best intentions (a server goes down, a database crashes, data gets corrupted, you accidentally delete something in bulk). It can take weeks, or even months to manually reconstruct a website that had not been backed up - during which time, a considerable loss in opportunity will likely result due to the loss of the website.
Restoring a website from a backup can take between a few minutes and a few hours, and saves much stress and cost in the long run.
But backups come with a cost. A backup is a copy of your website (and all the things that make up your website), and in just the same way that your live website takes up space on the server, so too do backups. And typically, you won't rely on just one backup. Depending on the update frequency, and complexity of your site and the data/resources stored within it, your web developer will schedule a number of backups to run automatically, every day, week and month, that can be downloaded onto hard drive or saved to cloud storage such as Dropbox.
Typically, with regular backups you will pay an additional charge for online backup storage, and, if required, a fee for offline media storage. There will also be a charge for man hours taken to perform these tasks. All of this can be included in a maintenance plan, so speak to your web developer and ask them to recommend a suitable backup schedule for your particular site.
Upgrades (security / software patches / new browser support)
If you pay for an ongoing maintenance plan for your website, it likely already includes software licensing and upgrades for various components of your website;
Security upgrades are necessary to protect your website and server from hackers and other bad sorts who could potentially cause trouble for you online. Hackers tend to target popular online softwares to find loopholes and work them to their advantage. Of course, you might never fall foul of an attack directly but it's always comforting to know that somebody in web-world has an ear to the ground, can learn of any potential threats that are doing the rounds, and implement a security fix before an attacker lands on your doorstep.
Software patches and upgrades are heavily linked to the security factors mentioned above. Script and software developers constantly work on their products to eliminate security holes, improve functionality and add useful new features that make your life as a website owner easier. If you haven't got an overseeing eye to install these upgrades for you, you and your visitors will never benefit from the great developments that your website can potentially offer. You might be perfectly fine with this, but if your competition is enjoying additional sales due to a better working menu or internal search engine, wouldn't you like to join the party too?
New browser support can make or break your website. Considering that the internet and its technologies are some of the fastest changing, growing and developing avenues today, common sense tells us that in years to come, technology will outgrow your current website and leave it behind. At its most basic level, a website needs to function and be usable by visitors, but what happens if the latest web browser doesn't function with your website? Things may work perfectly well now (your web developer will ensure that your website works in all current major browsers and operating systems prior to launch) but nobody can predict the future, so you need somebody around to stay on top of these technological developments and tweak your site accordingly.
So, if you're not currently partaking in a maintenance plan, it might be time to consider paying that little bit extra to avoid getting hacked or left behind.
Website Content Updates (new content and SEO updates)
Web-Duka Content Updates Plans from $600 per year
A website that is updated regularly will perform better with search engines, so if you want to stay ahead of the competition, it's a good idea to invest in regular site content updates. This could involve posting news and updates, advertising special offers, adding new pages about your products or services, or writing regular help articles and tutorials on how to use your products, and countless other content updates to engage potential visitors, which will also be picked up by Search Engines.
Whatever content you'll be adding or updating, you either need to have the provision to do it yourself, or pay someone to do it for you.
Updating your own website will involve the use and initial setup fee of a Content Management System (CMS). If you want to update your own website, you should let your web developer know from the start. A CMS is an integral part of a website's foundations and it is often much harder to build a CMS into one as an afterthought (requiring a costly SEO redesign).
There are many CMS platforms on the market today, and many pricing options available depending on the complexity of your site and your individual requirements. Our charges for the setup and customisation of Joomla! CMS, which will suit the needs of a small-to-medium sized website, are included in our initial web development proposal. Content may be managed via the CMS back end administrator by non-developer users with good computer skills, image editing knowledge, and basic html knowledge. CMS and web development training may be required for users who wish to update their websites themselves.
Usually, there are no ongoing monetary payments once you've paid your initial CMS installation fee - not as far as content updates go because you can write new content and make website updates yourself. However, you do need to offset this with the time it takes to make such updates - you might not be spending any additional money, but you will be spending time.
An important consideration in content updates are image management and preparation, both in terms of SEO and ensuring your website content is well organised.
Paying someone to update your website is the alternative, and this, of course, incurs a fee. You might prefer your web developer to update your website on your behalf - maybe you're too busy or worried about doing something wrong. A few ad-hoc updates here and there probably don't warrant the use (or cost) of a full blown CMS, and can instead be charged on a job by job basis (typically $50 per one off update), but it's more cost effective to work frequent updates into a monthly maintenance plan. This way you guarantee a set number of hours at a reduced hourly rate.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an important consideration when updating your website. Dedicated SEO is a science in itself and requires much time, effort and research to ensure that your website is targeting the right people, and that all of your keywords and key phrases are reaching top slot on Google (although nothing is 100% guaranteed).
Dedicated companies charge thousands of dollars to do this at a highly specialised level, over many months (achieving good results takes time and research) but your web developer can also perform more general SEO functions that also improves website weight with search engines, and at a lesser cost. This will involve reorganising your text (often rewriting whole paragraphs) and highlighting keywords and phrases to make your content more appealing to search engines.
Following on from above, when you need help and support, it's good to know that it's on hand. If you've got a maintenance plan, you never need to worry about where to look for assistance, or wonder how much the support will cost, you've paid for the service so it's guaranteed to be there when you ask.
Even without a maintenance plan, your web developer can still offer help, support and advice. Depending on the problem, you might get a free and convenient answer there and then, but for more time consuming issues, expect to be charged on an ad-hoc basis.
The thing to bear in mind though is that unscheduled support is at the mercy of you're web developer's diary. They have other clients too, and in the same way that paying subscribers get preferential treatment in developer communities, website clients with ongoing maintenance plans often take priority over those without.
It's worth noting here that the type of support you're entitled to depends on what you have agreed to and paid for. Ongoing website support is for just that - website related support. Paying for web support is not an open invitation to make other IT related demands, such as help in setting up an office network or wanting someone to come around to fix your printer. For that, you should look for an IT hardware engineer. Your web developer can probably recommend someone, but only if you're lucky can you expect your web developer to fix your computer as well.
Additional Website Integrations and Services
Cloud Software and Additional Features (email / email marketing / blog / forum, etc.)
Cost estimates available on request
Initially you would have discussed your design brief with your web developer, who would likely have provided a proposal and a quote, and gone on to develop your website to meet your needs, however, over time your business has evolved, new web technologies have come about, and now you need to expand and develop the site further to keep up.
Growth is good, new information encourages visitors to return and improves search engine rankings. To keep your website current and to make use of the latest tech available, you should continue investing in your website, providing more advanced features that encourage returns and participation. In addition to website content, your website can be extended and integrated to some extent with a wide array of additional online marketing software such as email marketing, social media, forums, etc
Some website integrations or add-ons require initial payment, others, an annual subscription fee, while some are open source, or freeware. But, even when a software is free to download and use, it must still be installed and configured to make it work on the hosting server, it must still be integrated into your site to make it work seamlessly with existing programming, and it must still be setup, customised and regularly updated to adopt the look and design of your website. Unfortunately, all of this takes time and effort, which roughly translates as "things that cost money".
Other expenses can come from the extras that additional features also command. For example, with an online shopping cart, you might have to pay for the actual software, and also for the provision of a dedicated database and an additional security certificate from the web host.
Additional services and features will not be included in your maintenance plan so you should budget to include them in the future when your website needs advancement.
Some examples of Cloud Software solutions, additional services and software that can integrate with or compliment your website to varying extents include:
- Social Media Marketing (eg Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube)
- Email Marketing (eg Mailchimp)
- Email and business collaboration tools (eg G Suite - formerly Google Apps)
- Customer Service software (eg Zendesk)
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software (eg Salesforce)
- Reservation Management System (eg ResBook)
- Digital Arts such as Graphic Design and Video Editing
- Copywriting and content creation
- 301 Redirect Strategy and preserving your Search Engine rankings
- SEO services