5 Things to Consider When Creating Your Website Budget | Buddy Web Design & Development

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Is a website refresh or building a new website part of your 2022 plans? Creating a website from scratch or redesigning an outdated website can feel intimidating, complex, and costly. Your website budget depends greatly on these core areas. 

1. Domain

Let’s start with the basics. A domain is another term for a website name you’ve purchased. It’s the address you type in a browser to access a website. 

As you look to register your domain name, you’ll notice you can get a domain that ends with .com (the most popular option), .net, .org, .co, and others. 

Popular domain hosts are Google Domains, Domains.com, or others, although, for convenience, it can be easier to have both your domain and website hosted with the same company, if possible. More on website hosting in a moment, it’s slightly different from domain hosting.

Autorenewals

Domain names are most commonly paid for in one to three years at a time and require renewal each time the domain expires. Prices typically range from $10-15 per year. 

Autorenewal features on most hosting service providers allow you to smoothly re-purchase your domain name without a lapse in service or a competitor buying it out from under you. Remember: purchasing a domain name for longer periods of time typically comes with a sizable discount, and can actually help with search engine optimization (SEO) as it helps show Google that your website has longevity.

When purchasing your hosting, you can also commonly purchase add-on features such as domain privacy, which will help protect your information from the public if you’d like to maintain anonymity about your domain ownership. This add-on is typically less than $20/year.

2. Hosting

Website hosting is where your website files are actually stored. So, when someone types your domain name into a web browser, files are pulled up from your website host and displayed for the website visitor.

There are many popular hosting companies, such as GoDaddy, Bluehost, and HostGator. However, popular doesn’t necessarily mean better. 

Expert Advice from Buddy Web Design and Development

At Buddy, we typically build websites using a content management system called WordPress, which is the most popular and widely-used content management system. There are hosting providers that are dedicated specifically to hosting WordPress sites, and help these websites load fast and run correctly. Some also offer free SSL certificates (more on that shortly) and daily website backups.

Two of Buddy’s favorites (and favorites among developers in general) are WP Engine and Siteground. Typical hosting plans are less than $25 per month for WP Engine, and even less for Siteground.

Choosing a Host

Each hosting provider offers hosting packages at different price points, depending on what you require. Variables include cost, support, speed, performance, capacity, bandwidth, website uptime, and more.

  • Cost – Like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. Free or cheap hosting providers will typically offer more restrictions on performance and may cause issues down the road as your website grows.
  • Support – If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you may not need much help managing your site. However, not everyone has the inclination – or the time – to update or edit content, much less manage the behind-the-scenes technical administration of your website. If you know you’re going to need additional help, make sure that your host delivers consistent support options.

 

Some hosting services offer 24/7 support via email, phone, live chat, or submitting a support ticket to wait in line for your turn. Having a phone number where you know you can quickly talk to a human being is a good thing to look for.

  • Speed – Nobody wants to sit and watch your site load for an hour. Google’s recent core algorithm updates are starting to require faster loading websites which have led to users expecting a load time of two seconds or fewer. Your web host can be a large factor in page speed, along with how your website is built.
  • Performance – If you want top-notch performance, get your wallet out. Free or cheap hosting providers will typically offer more restrictions on performance and may cause issues down the road as your website grows. 
  • Capacity and bandwidth – Unless you intend for your business to stay small forever, your long-term business plan probably requires a website that will need to scale in various areas, such as website traffic and large files. So make sure your hosting package offers the option to scale as your website gets larger with more traffic bandwidth flowing.
  • Website uptime – While most popular hosting providers score well on the website’s uptime, you’ll want to make sure the host you choose has as few downtime issues as possible with an uptime score of at least 99.5%.

 

This isn’t an exhaustive list. Keep in mind that pricing will increase if you opt for additional or unique features, like site protection, extra domain names, backup, email addresses, a content management system, etc

Expert Advice from Buddy Web Design and Development

Website developers will commonly offer to host your website for you. While this may be a convenient option, be mindful about what benefits you’re getting from having the developer host your website for you (and the cost) compared to you yourself hosting your website directly with a hosting provider such as WP Engine or Siteground

Having your developer host your website can essentially “lock” you in with that developer, so be sure that you plan on working with them for the next several years, before you have them handle your hosting for you. 

3. SSL Certificate

An SSL Certificate authenticates your website’s identity and verifies that it’s safe and secure to use. You can easily verify a website has a valid SSL Certificate by checking the website address and making sure it has an “S” in the HTTPS part of the entire website address.

Additionally, an SSL Certificate enables you to have an encrypted connection. Encrypted connections keep information exchanges private and secure by “padlocking” your data transfers.

Why is this a big deal? It’s all about security. Keeping information private is critical when you’re making an online purchase or exchanging other private information with visitors such as login info, credit card numbers, personal identity, legal documents, etc. Visitors will often feel more comfortable visiting and using your site when they know it is secure, as well.

Nowadays, many website hosting services offer free SSL Certificates when purchasing a domain name from their platform. Depending on the level of security your website requires and the hosting provider, some SSL Certificates can cost up to several hundred dollars or more for more rigorous security requirements.

4. Email

Some hosting provider packages will include nearly unlimited email addresses for any of the domain names you have registered with your hosting service provider, such as HostGator.

You don’t technically need a professional email Name@Company.com, but it might look a tad-bit more professional than Company@Gmail.com.

Other hosting providers that don’t include email addresses with their packages might charge you a flat rate for each additional email address you add.

Expert Advice from Buddy Web Design and Development

When purchasing and setting up an email with your custom domain name, it’s important to be mindful about preventing your emails from being flagged as spam. For budget email options, commonly your domain can be included in a shared server, with other email customers. What that means is, when you send emails to people, your emails may be more likely to be caught in a spam filter, even if you aren’t spamming, sending bulk emails, or doing anything out of the ordinary.

By comparison, hosting providers commonly offer – for a slightly higher price – dedicated email servers. If you have a growing business, you may want to invest in dedicated email hosting with Google Workspace or Microsoft 365, which will include dedicated email for your business, as well as tools such as Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, etc., or Microsoft Office. These options will help ensure that your emails aren’t flagged as spam, as long as you’re following best practices for email use.

For options like Google Workspace or Microsoft 365, you will most commonly pay a monthly or annual fee per user.

5. Design and Development

After you’ve established a solid foundation with the technical back-end and under the hood components, you’re ready for the fun stuff with designing the actual look, feel, and interactive elements on your website.

Modern website designers and developers will typically build your website using a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Wix, Shopify, or others. Each CMS will have different potential costs associated that will unlock and allow website designers to configure various functionality. Wix or Weebly might be the most user-friendly options for first-time website designers but may ultimately cost more in the long term due to limited access to important features. Wix and Weebly can work well for simple website needs.

By comparison, WordPress is a free and incredibly popular CMS option. Nearly half of websites are built using WordPress. It is regularly updated and has a very large array of plugins, support, and developers that are part of the WordPress community. This is the platform that Buddy uses primarily for website design and development.

With a CMS in place, your website designer can more easily make real-time updates to your website, while also being able to constantly optimize various elements. 

A properly installed CMS can even allow people who aren’t super tech-savvy to easily log in and make simple updates and additions. Simple updates might include publishing blog articles, updating website copy, or changing images.

Naturally, if your website requires functionality beyond just having text, images, and a contact form, that increases complexity and therefore cost. E-commerce sites, membership sites, and other more robust features can quickly increase cost, and also quickly move from something you could potentially build yourself, to something where you’ll need expert help.

Expert Advice from Buddy Web Design and Development

The costs for web design and development vary widely. Where we would encourage particular caution is around developers who advertise being “really fast” and/or “really cheap.” 

The way developers or agencies can offer extremely cheap prices and fast turnaround time is by having a business model where their focus is to quickly mass-produce and churn out a high volume of websites, such as by outsourcing work overseas at a low cost, using pre-built templates where text can quickly be dropped in with minimal customization, and/or using stock images, just for example

Granted, this approach can be a perfect fit for what some businesses may need, but you’re much less likely to receive a thoroughly built and tested website – much less one that is customized to your brand and needs. To get the best results, be sure to work with a reputable developer, and understand that investing in a website is commonly a core part of your business’ branding and marketing, and a key component in attracting customers

Additional Website Elements To Consider While Budgeting

Logo

Some website designers can also help you design your logo and integrate it into your new website for an added cost, depending on how in-depth and detailed the design is. Logo costs range widely from several hundred dollars to the thousands. More experienced designers will commonly charge more, and create a more truly custom logo that looks elegant and professional, whereas budget logo options may look more generic or like clip art. 

Expert Advice from Buddy Web Design and Development

Your logo needs to reflect your brand appropriately, so it’s important to choose a logo designer that can design something like what you have in mind. Thus, be sure to check out a designer’s portfolio to make sure they have examples of logos that have a similar look and feel as what you’d like for your own brand. 

Branding

A core principle of branding involves uniformity across all platforms and can require additional budgeting depending on how detailed your brand plan is currently outlined. A professional designer can help you establish appropriate colors, fonts, and iconography for your brand that can be used across your website, print materials, shirts, and so on. Again, costs for branding help range tremendously based on the agency’s or individual’s expertise.

Web Copy

In simple terms, copy is persuasive writing. It’s the text content that goes on your website. Many individuals will prefer to write copy for a website themselves, but at times, due to expertise, or, frankly, bandwidth, it can be helpful to bring in professionals.

Effective website copy will be well written, reflect your brand appropriately, educate your target customers, and prompt them to take action. Further, it will integrate relevant keywords that light up your target audience and help your website show up in Google results, which can be a key way to attract customers. 

Images

Visuals are critical to good site design. Compelling and relevant images help to further enhance and establish the tone of your website while keeping the information both friendly and easy on the eyes.

By using a variety of relevant imagery, (affordable stock images, professional photography, infographics, etc) you’re able to cater to the type of audience that tends to visual consumption of info about your products and services.

Hiring a professional photographer to take photos for your website can run in the range of hundreds of dollars, up to several thousand, but if you want a truly custom website with incredible images that resonate with visitors, this can be a worthwhile investment. Of course, if you have a unique product you sell and want to feature on your website, you’re less likely to find a stock image of it, and thus, professional photography may be necessary

DIY vs Freelancer vs Agency

Once you understand the entire landscape of how to establish a secure, functional, and visually appealing website, the next question is: how do you go about manifesting your vision into reality while adhering to budget requirements?

The DIY Route

If you have the time, along with the technical and design capabilities, doing it all yourself is a valid option that many startup companies opt to begin with while establishing how much of the budget to allocate to a detailed website design.

Obviously, the learning curve can be steep, especially if you need more than just very basic functionality on your website. Unless you have a ton of time on your hands and some tech-savvy folks on your go-to list, you’re likely going to need some help. 

Some of the hardest things about building a website from ground zero is making sure it has excellent functionality, performance, and aesthetics. It better be optimized, load quickly, and be easy to use. Remember, a website serves as the face of your company and the first impression many customers will get. If the visuals look off, it’s not optimized for mobile, or the copy isn’t reader-friendly, you risk losing visitors. Even if you opt to go with a purported “easy to use” website builder like Wix or Weebly, it’s still on you to make sure your website looks incredible, visually, which can be a bit more art than science.

Don’t forget about maintenance, too. Stuff breaks all the time. Ask yourself, how easy will it be to update content down the line?

The Freelance or Agency Route

When you don’t have the time to take on building a website from scratch, both freelancers and agencies have unique offers. 

In general, freelancers typically specialize in only a handful of specific areas and it might be more costly to hire them for specific tasks. Freelancer specializations are a great addition to keep on hand when you’re looking for a specific result.

Agencies can help you define and see the large complex landscape while remaining within your budget, and how best to navigate the territory towards success. While freelancers can require more time to fulfill specific quality tasks, agencies tend to have faster turnaround times, larger teams, and more complete (cost-effective) solutions.

Expert Advice from Buddy Web Design and Development

When working with freelancers – we know, because we’ve been there ourselves! – it’s important to keep in mind that freelancers are usually working solo to make a living. So, while they may sometimes charge a lower price compared to an agency, that means that likely the developer is juggling multiple client projects at once to make enough money to keep their freelance business sustainable. 

By comparison, agencies may charge a higher price point, but they’ll commonly have a more robust team of experts, processes, and infrastructure in place, to provide a higher quality result. Of course, this is not always the case on either front, but it’s something to keep in mind, as building a website is an investment in a key marketing tool you’ll be using for several years.

Knowing It’s the Right Fit

Make no mistake, website design is complicated. If you expect engaging visuals and functionality that’s both secure and user-friendly, and you’re okay with managing your site yourself, freelancers are a valid option. Just do your research: check out their portfolio, ask for references and customer reviews, and compare costs before making a commitment. 

Agencies with stellar ratings and a great reputation with numerous five-star testimonials from previous clients, however, offer you the immediate confidence you need to trust in someone to take your project.  

Here’s the thing: there are lots of designers and developers out there, offering a wide range of expertise and price points. At Buddy Web Design & Development, we believe the quality of our work and offering a great experience for our customers take precedence over everything else. We aim to offer website and design services that look incredible and function well, every time.  

If you’re interested in chatting with Buddy about how to develop a fully-functional website your users will love, please reach out to us using our contact form here, or email us at info@BuddyWDD.com. 

Buddy Web Design & Development

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