What's Involved and How Much Will It Cost?
So you've decided that your business could benefit from a web site -- now comes the biggest question - What Will It Cost Me?
There are typically 4 costs associated with establishing a web site:
The cost of designing and developing a web site varies depending on how much information is to be presented and on the features that the site will contain. If you already know that you will want professional assistance in developing your web site, skip ahead to our article offering Tips On Choosing a Web Consultant.
If you plan on designing your web site in-house (i.e. yourself), you should consider the time that you will require to do any or all of the following:
- planning the structure and layout of your web site (being sure to understand the typical browsing behaviours of the average web user)
- graphic design (for your images, logos, navigation buttons, etc.)
- preparation of text (including making your information appealing to the "low-boredom-threshold" of the typical web surfer)
- design of the pages (again to make them appeal to viewers and for easy understanding and navigation of the site)
- coordination of all the departments/individuals that will be contributing to the web site (be sure to include the time that each of them will spend preparing their submissions to you)
- uploading of the files to your web server
- Be sure to include a "buffer zone" which is the time you will undoubtedly spend solving those unforeseen problems, revisions, etc. (This may include the "frustration factor" which typically arises when dealing with the design limitations of the HTML coding)
Now, multiply the estimated time to do all of the above by the value of your time. Remember that every hour you spend working on your web site is an hour that you are not working on other projects within your organization (or spending time with your family). This is now your cost to create your web site. You may want to contact a web consultant for an estimate on what they will charge you so you can compare the costs to determine which option is best for your needs.
If the time and cost of this option is more than you have to offer, you should check out the possibility of contracting the work to a professional web designer - but first, be sure to read our Tips On Choosing A Web Consultant.
Web Space Rental Fees
The web rental fees are the costs you will incur for the storage of your pages on a computer that is connected to the Internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While it is possible for you to establish your own web server, this is usually a costly process (with many security issues at stake) so we will limit this discussion to renting the space from another company's server (often referred to as a "virtual server").
There are many companies that now offer web space on their servers. For most organizations, this is the best option as you need not worry about the security of your information, maintenance of the server and the cost of establishing a full-time link to the Internet. Your web consultant should be able to recommend a good web server or you can look in local computer publications or online to find a list of servers that you can investigate further.
Like the costs to design a site, web space rental fees also vary, usually ranging from $10-100 per month. The services and options that they offer may also differ so you will want to check that they meet your specific needs. The following questions should be asked when you are choosing a web server on which to store your web pages:
- What are the monthly or annual costs for using the server?
- How much storage space do you get for your files? (Should be at least 2-5 MB if you wish to expand your site in the future)
- Is there a limit on the usage or number of hits that your site can receive? (This number should not exceed your expected traffic levels)
- What are the setup costs?
- Are there extra fees to host your Domain Name?
- Are there extra fees if you wish to add more email addresses assigned to your Domain Name?
- How long will it take to get your site set up and operational?
- How fast is their connection to the Internet? The more efficient that their link is to the Internet's backbone system, the quicker your pages will load when visited by your customers (you don't want them waiting too long because they may go elsewhere)
- Is there a backup system or contingency plan in case the server is down?
- Is the server capable of performing the operations, programs and scripts that you will require?
- Do they offer technical assistance in case you have questions or problems? Is this available online or through a toll-free number? How quick is their response to your questions?
In many cases, it is best to talk to your web consultant as they will likely have a list of web servers that they have worked with in the past. This can be beneficial as they will have already established a strong relationship and together, they can prevent some of the problems that you may otherwise encounter.
Another option you should consider is whether you will want your own domain name registered (www.yourcompanyname.com) or just use a sub-directory of the server's domain name (www.theserver'sname.com/yourcompanyname). Having your own domain name makes it easier for your customers to remember your web address and often justifies the additional costs.
To have your own domain name, you will first have to register it with a licensed agent(these can be found by searching for "domain name registration" in your area or by talking to your web consultant). The cost of this may vary slightly depending on the agent, but you can expect to pay $8 to $50 per year (this is assuming that the name you choose has not been previously registered by another company).
Contact AFAB and we'll assist you in locating a suitable web server for your site, choosing an appropriate domain name and getting it set up for you.
Marketing is an additional cost that you should consider. Your web site is ineffective if no one knows it's there.
It's a great start to register your web site with the popular search engines (where Internet users can search for sites by keywords), but for a better response, you should implement an effective marketing plan - both online and using traditional methods.
To get an estimate of your marketing costs, you should count on spending at least as much for your annual online promotions as you do for the creation of your web site. This may sound like a lot, but to continually get the traffic that you need for an effective site, you need to constantly implement new promotional campaigns... and these cost money.
Most web designers also offer marketing services. Talk to your consultant to determine what they can do for you. They should be able to give you a quote on the monthly/annual costs for this service once you have decided on a marketing program.
With AFAB, you will have years of marketing and communications experience to assist you in planning and implementing a strong promotional program while staying within your budget.
Another cost that you should count on is ongoing maintenance of the site so that your information is always fresh and up to date.
This cost depends on the amount of new material you plan to add and the changes you make once your site is operational. This maintenance can usually be contracted at a fixed rate by most web designers or you may decide to train an employee in your organization to make the updates as required.
Again, AFAB will work with you to establish a maintenance program to suit your needs and your budget.
Contact AFAB for a free, no-obligation proposal to determine the costs for your project.