Costs for your first web site

On this page: I suggest some approximate costs (to which VAT will need to be added unless you are a registered charity or otherwise exempt) for getting your first UK-based web site off the ground.

Typical expenses

  1. Creation. If you do your own web site design, it will just cost your time and effort, plus the cost of buying or downloading programs to make the pages and the pictures. Lots of people go for this option, and some strike lucky or are prepared to spend time learning the technology properly. But many don't, and end up with an amateurish site that no-one will ever find, or if they do, they won't come back again. So, the real cost could be thousands of pounds of lost business because the site didn't deliver.

    Even worse, you could pay someone else a lot to do a bad web site, thereby getting the worst of both worlds! Paying £1,000s is not necessarily a guarantee of good work. Ask around before you choose a web designer, and ask for references.

    Some companies offer DIY web site creation/hosting facilities on a subscription basis. These vary greatly in their ease of use and flexibility; the best are a snap to use, the worst a nightmare. However, you are dependent on the company staying in business for your site to remain online. Amazon or ebay are probably a safe bet!

    A small web design company like mine will usually charge you, say £400-600 for a simple "brochure"; up to £1,000 for a simple e-commerce site. This should be individually made to your specifications rather then churned out using a template. The creation fee normally includes time for analysing and designing the pages, registering a domain, setting up web hosting facilities, submitting details to search engines and so on. You should of course get a chance to review the pages and make comments before the site is put on the Internet.

  2. Computer. If you don't already have your own PC or other computer, you will need one to check and reply to email, see how your site is doing in the search engine stakes, check your visitor statistics etc. You don't need anything special to do this - in fact a second-hand one might do the job as long as you get the right software with it.
  3. Maintenance. If you want regular updates to your pages (and everyone should), make sure that the site hosting is set up to allow for this, or have a budget for getting your web designer to do it for you. There are programs like Adobe Contribute and Snippetmaster that allow controlled editing of the page, or a content management system (CMS) may be a good solution for larger sites.
  4. Web hosting costs vary depending on the exact facilities you want, but are typically between £75 and £250 p.a. Free deals are not reliable enough for a reputable site.
  5. Domain name. There is normally a charge to register the domain name (if you stop paying it, you lose the right to use it). Again, there are free or very cheap deals around, but sometimes you don't really own the name, or cannot transfer it to a better service without hassle or large payments. Make sure what you're getting before you sign up.
  6. An ISP account can be free for dial-up, but for a reliable service, expect to pay about £10 a month for dial-up, or anything upwards of £15 for broadband (ADSL).
  7. Call charges. There will be ongoing telephone charges incurred as you browse the web and collect/send the emails if you have a dial-up account. Most services provide a local rate number to dial (sometimes free at evenings and weekends), so this will not be excessive unless all your staff get hooked on surfing! For a bit more a month (about £15), you can get a dial-up account with free calls 24x7, and broadband includes calls anyway.
  8. Marketing. The more you do, the more it will cost. As well as traditional marketing (your site address on stationery, signage, ads in local/trade press etc.), don't forget your time for keeping search engine registrations up to date, and finding similar sites that are willing to trade links with you, etc.

Summary

Using the above as a rough guide, if you do everything yourself, you can expect to pay a minimum of £200 p.a. to run your web site - this excludes the value of your time and telephone/marketing charges. If you need professional help and advice in creating the site, the first year's figure could rise to about £1,000 if you use a small company; larger web design companies will charge you anything from £5,000 to astronomical figures to create a site (and it won't necessarily be any more effective than if you spent £500!).

You are the only person who can decide whether the additional marketing exposure, and consequent revenue, will be worth the outlay. You could try asking other people in the same business who have sites if it has been worthwhile for them.