Someone recently asked a member of our team what it costs to make a website. Since a lot goes into building a site, that's a pretty vague question with an equally vague answer. Somewhere between $0 and hundreds of millions, maybe a even $1 billion. The question to ask is, what business problem are you trying to solve?
Several factors affect the start-up cost of a website. For instance, how much information needs to be presented? Databases increase maintenance costs, as do frequent site updates. Sites with constantly changing information may need a content management system and, while free, open source options are available, you'll still be paying for someone to keep it updated.
A website that collects information from users also adds to the overall costs. You might be able to use a ready-made website platform like WordPress, but depending on the type of data you're collecting, a custom application may be called for. The more custom design and content, the higher the cost.
Another factor that affects the bottom-line price of building a website is how it's hosted. A hosting service works for about 99% of websites and will only set you back a few bucks a month. Managed server options -- either on-site or virtual -- drive the price up higher, but you'll also be paying for troubleshooting and maintenance. Dedicated servers have a lower monthly price tag, but the cost of hiring an engineer will quickly negate those savings.
Who you hire to build the site also impacts the cost. Friends or family may do it for you as a favor, but you may not end up with the professional quality you're looking for. An individual contractor is a great option for most websites and you'll often pay less for a general skill set that can handle all aspects of design and development. If your website is specialized, you might need the help of an expert with knowledge in that particular field or to help analyze business metrics. If it's individual skills you're looking for, expect costs to climb incrementally based on skill specialty. On the other hand, working with a proven team reduces the risk of failure.
It's easy to see how the costs associated with building a website can quickly add up. Taking these factors into account gives you a head start at keeping your vision on track without being derailed by unexpected expenses.
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