Frequently Asked Questions
What does a website cost?
Asking what a website costs to design is a lot like asking what a car costs. What quality of car do you want? What options do you want on your car? What is the purpose of the car? Those questions are similar to the questions I'll ask you when we discuss your website project... your answers determine the cost of the website.
Initial Set Up Fee
I charge a $130 set up fee to cover what I have to pay GoDaddy for the initial .com domain name registration plus one year of an economy hosting plan. The fee also covers the time it takes me to connect your website to the Internet. The set up fee is $160 if a domain name transfer is involved.
In addition to the initial fee I charge for my time to create your website, at a rate of $60 per hour... which is far less than the going rate at the big website design companies. A basic website could take me as little as five hours to design and deploy. A complex website could take twenty hours or more to design and deploy. The vast majority of my website clients pay between $420 and $720 for their websites but complex websites can run far higher.
Clients who send me good content that doesn't require much additional work end up paying far less than clients who send me poor quality content. Poor quality content includes:
- Poorly written text that needs extensive editing.
- Poor quality photos that take extra time to prepare.
- Incomplete or hard to understand instructions regarding placement and content of website elements that takes me extra time to figure out.
The current annual renewal rate for my clients with a single website or blog and a .com domain name is $145. That number shouldn't change much in the foreseeable future.
There is no way to give you an estimate on the cost of a shopping cart. A simple PayPal shopping cart with a dozen items for sale is relatively inexpensive. A full-blown shopping cart, linked to your bank account for payment processing, can be a very expensive proposition since the complexity is enormous. If you need a shopping cart we can discuss the options.
What is a "domain name" and why do I need one?
A domain name is the name of your website. The name of this website is www.customwebsitesforless.com. All domain names must be registered with ICANN, the governing body of the Internet. Domain name registrations are handled by designated "Registrars" such as GoDaddy or Network Solutions. I am a reseller for GoDaddy so all of my client's domain names are registered through GoDaddy... who currently handles the registrations for millions of domain names.
Once a domain name is registered, it goes into a huge database known as the "Who Is" database that tells browser such Internet Explorer or Firefox where find your website on the Internet.
Will I own my domain name?
All my clients own their domain names. Some unscrupulous companies that offer website design services register the domain names to themselves, making it nearly impossible to have someone else take over your website.
The most notorious instance of this that I've encountered so far is A.T.&T., who offered a "free" website with a yellow pages ad. They did a horrible job designing and maintaining the website so my client decided to have me take over their website. After months of being run around in circles by A.T.&T., we finally just gave up trying to get the domain name released and registered another domain name to use with the website.
What is a "hosting plan"?
A hosting account is where your website actually lives on the Internet. Hosting is simply space on a computer... referred to as a "server"... that has an address on the Internet. Think of it as a post office box that anyone in the world can send mail to... or in the case of a website, download and view the files that make up the website.
Companies that provide hosting services are referred to as Internet Service Providers, or ISPs. GoDaddy is an ISP.
Most ISPs offer a range of hosting plans. My clients who only have one website are all on GoDaddy's "Economy" hosting plan which costs $108 per year. If you've shopped around you already know that is a very compeitive rate. Hosting rates of $25 per month or more are not uncommon. My clients who have more than one website are all on the "Deluxe" hosting plan that allows for additional websites to be hosted under the same hosting plan. The cost for the Deluxe hosting plan is currently $144 per year.
Once your domain name has been registered and placed in the "Who Is" database any browser that searches for your domain name will be told where to find it. It could be hosted in Bulgaria, Nigeria, or Astoria and the database will point anyone searching for it to that location.
What will it cost to maintain my website?
The domain name/s and hosting plan will have to be renewed each year.
- The current cost of an annual renewal for my clients single websites, SSL certificates and .com domain names is $199. The cost will be higher for more expensive domain names.
Any changes to the website once it's up and running can be handled one of two ways:
- I can do the work on an "as needed" basis for my standard hourly fee of $40. As a general rule I don't charge for any change that takes me less time to complete than it would take me to generate an invoice. The majority of changes I make tend to fall into that category.
- Clients who have regular changes to their websites can opt for an annual maintenance plan. Maintenance plans start at $20 per month.
Why shouldn't I just use one of the free website design companies?
It will cost you far more for your "free" website than it will to have me design and maintain a website for you. Take WIX.com for example. Their "free" website is only free for 30 days.
- After that you'll have to pay them $12.92 per month... or $155.04 per year... if you don't want their ads on your website.
- If you want a shopping cart, the cost goes up to $198.96 per year.
- If you want any technical support from them, the cost goes up to $299.04 per year!
- Your domain name is only included for a year. After that it's a minimum of $15.95 per year.
Rember that my .com clients... which are 90% of my clients... are only paying $145 per year to renew their domain names and hosting.
The "free" email companies all use fill-in-the-blanks templates. Template based websites are notorious for having poor security. They can easily be hacked into ... especially Wordpress websites ... and they don't offer email encryption so your email address will be added to spam email lists on a regular basis.
The overall "look" of your website
Most websites built using generic templates look like they were built using a generic template. Your website represents your business to the world, so why not make it stand out? Go to the bottom of the first panel on the Home page and take a look at the websites I create. Do any of them look like generic sites?
You do all the work
You're stuck with all the limitations built into their templates. Good luck moving page elements around... adding photo rotators... headline scrollers... glider panels... pop-up messages... or any of the other amazing things I can make your website do for you.
If you have an issue with WIX.com you have to submit a support ticket, wait for them to respond, and then hope you can figure out how to solve the problem yourself. Even if you upgrade to the plan with quicker technical support you still have to be able to solve problems on your end. If you have an issue with a website I built for you, all you have to do is email me and I'll take care of it.
Here's an actual support question from the WIX website...