How much will a website or software cost?
Lets begin by looking at running costs, the basic overhead of owning a website...
When the large ISP groups are advertising "log in and start up" packagers for just a few pounds, dollars, euro, (choose your currency) it's easy to assume the price of a new website is not only easy to quantify but, probably affordable with pocket-money, petty cash maybe?
Well it's true there are many vendors offering great deals although the cost of starting isn't the cost of ownership. As a website develops one can often find more services are required, typically one then needs to upgrade the hosting 'package', a cost you may not have been expecting. Also, over time you may find the cost of pre-packed website design and hosting escalates when the introductory offers end. Renewal may be much higher. In marketing parlance this is known as a 'loss leader', that company intend to recover their money later when it's difficult for you to change hosts.
This is just one reason why when deciding where to host your website and how to handle the construction one should look ahead two to five years. Try to estimate how much your website will cost over that length of time and you may find there are more economical alternatives even though at the outset it may appear more expensive.
A an example, we helped a client develop a site with a well known hosting company and required two new databases added to meet the necessary requirements. The initial project was not demanding on the server so the 'package' was adequate and cost effective but as soon as it began to grow and develop to meet the business needs it was no longer viable to remain at that ISP. There were in fact many alternatives, none offered such a good introductory deal but were more cost effective when the website needed a higher level of service.
When assessing the cost always figure the first year of ownership. Then forward reoccurring costs to three or five more years to get your fee. An estimate of your running costs should include:
- Initial setup costs of the hosting package
- At least one domain name
- Any applications you'd like to include on-site
- A design plus any photography
- Any editorial or copy-writing.
- Promotion and launch of your site
- Mail listing applications and third party services
With this you should find a 'Ball-Park' figure. Sounds easy? Well for sites that do not place heavy demand on systems or have customized or bespoke ground-up applications written today one can find a relatively safe estimate.
How long is a piece of string?
For systems that do require bespoke code, it's quite different. The best answer to the 'ball-park' question will be an absolute minimum, there is no upper limit to custom code and bespoke software design. This is the nature of the business, asking a software house for a ball-park figure is a little like saying "I need a new road built, I don't know where it's going and I don't know how many lanes it has. How much?" Clearly, they can not possibly give you a figure resembling anything realistic. It's the classic "How long is a piece of string".
Next: Commissioning a bespoke project
If your project is going to require new code written specifically for your business, how do you know how much budget? Click » here « for more information.