Many digital marketers take it for granted that a business owner should invest in a website, but let’s be honest – some really don’t need one. We’re all about challenging marketing norms here at Needls, so we recommend you do some strategic thinking before every decision. The choice to create a website is no different.
In Chapter 3 of our “No-BS Guide to Digital Marketing on a Budget,” we walk you through the costs and considerations involved in creating a website. You’ll find the answers to questions like:
- What is the point of a website?
- What are the ways of making a website?
- How much does a website cost?
What is the point of a website?
For most businesses, a website acts as a digital business card. It houses information about your products and services, your hours of operation, pricing, and key selling points for visitors. A well-made website can generate leads, legitimize your brand, and build up interest from possible partners. Not a bad deal, right?
To justify the expense of creating a website, you need to first ensure that it makes sense for your business. For instance, an already popular diner with a strong social media presence may not need to add a website to its offerings – their optimized Facebook page and Google Local Business listing may suffice. However, a fine dining restaurant that wishes to establish its higher-end brand, take online reservations, or attract event bookings would benefit greatly from a website. Take a look at the clientele you wish to attract, and the way you want your brand to appear online, and the digital marketing options you wish to have (Google Adwords is awesome, but you need a website to direct people to!) when deciding whether a site is really necessary.
How do you make a website?
If you’ve decided you want to go ahead with making a website, you have three options:
- Use a website builder like Squarespace or Wix
- Create it internally (usually using a CMS like WordPress)
- Hire a developer to do it for you
Proponents of each of these options like to skewer the others.
Squarespace lovers will point out that small businesses don’t need complicated websites, and that website builders offer an easy, affordable way to create a beautiful, responsive site.
Developers, meanwhile, will argue that website builders are bad for SEO, load time, and site ownership. They’ll let you know – a pro is the only way to do it right.
DIYers will tell you that making a website yourself is the best option in terms of price and ownership. But unless you or your staff already know the ropes, it could be quite the rabbit hole.
To weigh out the pros and cons of each option, you need to have a clear vision for what you want your website to do and look like. If you think this can be achieved with a website builder, at least in the short term, go ahead (though be sure to buy your domain separately so you can move it to a different host/platform if you choose to). If you have the budget to hire a developer, get ‘er done! The most important thing to do is to thoroughly research each option so you know what makes the most sense for your vision.
How much does a website cost?
Here are the costs that come with every website, regardless of how it is set up:
- Domain registration (annual fee – usually around $10 – $25)
- Hosting (annual fee – usually around $100 – $200 per year)
If you are creating your own WordPress website, these are the only recurring cost you will see unless you purchase a premium theme. Most beginners choose a premium theme with drag & drop capability, such as Divi, so less coding is involved. These themes can cost anywhere from $30 to $150. Plugins designed to take reservations, create contact forms, or schedule appointments can also run at an additional monthly rate.
Website builders like Squarespace and Wix include hosting and access to their user-friendly design software and themes. The cost to develop a website with these services is between $16 to $25 per month.
A professional developer’s fees are often a one-time cost varying between $900 to $2,000 for a simple website with a few informational pages to upwards of $5,000 and beyond for more complicated jobs. Getting quotes and portfolios from a few different developers is a wise choice. Some may offer lower initial costs but require an ongoing “maintenance fee” to ensure the website is up and running. While this could be a good deal for many businesses, it is imperative that you maintain the rights to your website and have an exit strategy if the agency relationship doesn’t work out.