A website is a significant investment. There are upfront costs to build it, as well as ongoing costs to maintain it.

The costs can also vary widely, depending on the service providers you choose, what kind of website you'd like, and whether or not you're a do-it-yourselfer who plans to do some or all of the work on your own.

Hopefully, the following will give you an idea of what cost ranges to expect. (They are based on internet research, as well as my own experience as a do-it-yourselfer when I first started.) Let's start with ongoing costs.

Ongoing costs

  • A domain (www.websitename.whatever) for your website: usually in the $10-20/year range (unless you want a highly desirable domain name that is already owned by a reseller)
  • A hosting service to host your website files on a server (this typically includes many other services, such as security and email hosting, for example): $40-$100/year for the average website owner with normal bandwidth and traffic requirements. With hosting services, as with many other services, you get what you pay for - cheap is not necessarily good!
  • Maintenance plan: Unless you have the skills, time and patience to maintain your own website, you will need a maintenance plan (see below under "Should I purchase a maintenance plan, or maintain my own website?") A web designer/developer will typically charge $50-150/hour (depending on their skills, expertise and specialty), and the average website owner will require about one hour of maintenance per month.

Upfront costs

  • If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you will typically spend anywhere between $50 and $200 on website templates, plug-ins, and other software resources.
  • If you are hiring a designer or developer to build your website, you'll likely pay $50-150/hour, again depending on the level of skill or specialty you require. If your website project is small or medium-sized, the designer/developer will often offer you a package price so you know upfront how much everything will cost. If you have a large or highly customized project, the designer/developer will typically give you a quote based on the scope of the project.
  • You may have other upfront expenses, such as purchasing graphics or paying for writing or editing services.

My price packages

I offer several price packages to accommodate varying budgets and design needs. I've listed website price packages here and maintenance plans here. I can also price out quotes for larger projects.

This is a question only you can answer for yourself. But maybe I can help direct you to your answer by asking you some questions:

  • Do you enjoy computer and techie work? If so, you may actually get a kick out of building your own website. If not, you may be in for more pain than it's worth. Learning to build a website, and everything that goes into that (for example, search engine optimization, graphic design, security features to avoid spam, etc), can present a fairly steep learning curve.
  • How much time do you have? Even if you enjoy techie kinds of things, you need to be aware that building a website can be time-consuming for someone who hasn't done it before.
  • How much customization do you need? Are you willing to learn to code? A drag-and-drop website builder like Wix works well for simple website projects, but has limited flexibility. Even using a CMS like WordPress sometimes requires some code tweaking to get the results you want.
  • Do you have an eye for design? If you rely on your spouse to color-coordinate your clothes, or think that creating a page layout is simply placing graphics and text on a page, you may not get the results you're hoping for.

Note that I have a Do-It-Yourselfer's Setup Package for those who want to build their own website but don't want the hassle of purchasing a domain, setting up hosting, and installing a CMS and template.

Do you have the skills, time and patience to maintain your own website? Maintenance typically includes:

  • Handling updates and upgrades. It's important to stay up-to-date with updates and upgrades to keep your website functioning well, and to minimize security risks. All updates, including automatic updates performed by your hosting provider, need to be monitored - most of the time, updates go smoothly, but every now-and-then, something on your website will break as a result and need to be fixed.
  • Handling backups. It's important to back up your website periodically, especially before an update.
  • Monitoring website performance and security. Is your website getting the traffic you want? Are there any signs of security breaches, such as spam? Is your website keeping up with security standards?
  • Dealing with hosting issues as they arise. Hopefully, if you've selected a quality hosting service, you won't have much of that.
  • Adding to and updating your website content as needed.

First, we will discuss by phone and/or email - or in person, if you're local and so wish - what you want for your website, in general terms. We will select a service package that meets your needs. (If you have a custom or large project, I will get back to you with a quote.) We will agree on deadlines for things you need from me, such as finished revisions, as well as things I need from you, such as website content.

Once we have a signed website design agreement and your deposit is paid, I will begin work on your project. I will ask you many questions about your business, your target audience and/or customers, what you want your website to do for you, and what you want it to look like.

By the first revision deadline, I will present you with a draft, which you will be able to view on a test website, and you will tell me any changes you want (normally via email). We will repeat this revision process until you are happy with the website, up to the maximum number of revisions specified in our website agreement.

When the website is finished and I've received final payment, it will go live on your domain. At that point, unless you have a maintenance plan with me, my work on your website is finished. You will own the copyright to your website, and you can do with it as you please. I reserve the right, however, to display screenshots of the website, taken at the time it goes live, in my portfolio.

I will do my best to listen and communicate effectively throughout the process so we clearly understand each others' expectations. My goal is to provide you with a hassle-free design process from start to finish, and a website you will be absolutely thrilled with!

In simple terms, a security (SSL) certificate is a code issued by a certificate authority (CA) that vouches for a website's authenticity. Furthermore, the public and private portions of the code are also used to scramble (encrypt) any data passed between a user's computer and the server the website is hosted on. This extremely clever and complex method allows the the user's computer and the website server to communicate without sharing the private portions of the code over the internet, keeping the transmitted data safe from man-in-the-middle attacks. (If you want to know more about how SSL encryption works, here is a good place to start.)

When a website is secured with an SSL certificate, its web address begins with "https://" instead of "http://". Additionally, the browser displays a secure connection symbol (often a green padlock) in the secure website's URL (address) field.

In the past, only websites that collected sensitive information from users (such as credit card information) needed to have SSL certificates. However, the current push is to have all websites encrypted, regardless of whether or not a website collects sensitive data. Google prioritizes secure https websites in their search results. Additionally, most browsers will display a red "X" in the URL (address) field for insecure websites, and may otherwise alert users to the fact that the website they are attempting to enter is insecure. For these reasons, you may wish to get an SSL certificate for your website, even if you don't plan to sell anything online.

SSL certificate installation and maintenance is included in all of my website maintenance plans. This is a great value, as most hosting services charge annually for SSL certificates.