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    24 Replies Latest reply on Mar 29, 2008 5:50 PM by Symphony

    Web Site Start Up Costs??

    Dwaz39 Wayfarer

      I have an idea for a website and am in the very preliminary stages. I have no experience in any web-related ventures, and was wondering what start-up costs would be for a website. I know this is really vague, but I don't even really know what is needed to set up the site or anything. I figured this would be a good place to start gathering info. If anyone can help me either with rough estimates of cost or help me ask better questions is would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
        • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
          GFX Reb0rn Newbie
          Well, To partly answer your question, to purchase a domain name can cost about $6 a year. I have no Idea what other costs may be incurred with the design of the site and any other features you would like to offer such as Pay Pal or other shopping cart services.
          • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
            batchblue Wayfarer
            Hi there - While I don't have an exact figure for this either, I found this company (Vario Creative) in my research on small business and it looks like they provide a great base Web offering for small businesses: http://www.variocreative.com/small_business_starter_kit.php
            The owner of the company also has a blog and I know from reading it he is a real advocate for small businesses. Might be worth dropping him a line to get an idea of cost. Hope this helps!
            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
              DomainDiva Ranger
              Are you opening an online store front? If so yahoo can help. If you are the do it yourself type, get your domain name at http://www.godaddy.com and look at what they have to offer as web building tools as well. HINT: work at night so you can call tech support and get more help. The guys get bored late at night so when someone who is a do it yourselfer calls you get all kinds of help and suport...
              • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                Lighthouse24 Ranger

                To take another tack on this discussion, don't overlook the cost of creating your content (words, pictures, stories, etc.). There are web-based companies that will give you a simple five-page website template for free, and host the site for pennies a day. The real cost is that you or someone else who is thoroughly knowledgeable about your business offerings has to write the words, take the photos, etc. that will be inserted into that five-page template. The underlying technology is the cheapest and easiest part until you start handling high volumes of visitors, secure transactions (e-commerce), special functions (e.g., database integration), and large amounts of data (like streaming video).

                When it comes to small business websites, I see very few that lose existing or potential customers because of the tools or technology they selected -- but I see plenty that lose customers because of poor content.
                1 of 1 people found this helpful
                • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                  mpoweringu Wayfarer
                  Let me see if I can help you break down the three main ingredients to getting a web site developed.

                  1. Domain Name - This is the name of the URL (what you typed in the address bar; e.g. "http://www.somedomainname.com") that you would like to have your site posted at. \\ \\ Think of this as your mailing address on the Internet. \\ \\ These can range from $1.99 per year (if you've found a sale) upwards to $35 per year. There is not a difference in what you get regarding the price, it is the service (or tools) provided by the registrar that you may get. I find GoDaddy.com to be my preferred registrar at domain names around $8.95 per year.
                  2. Site Hosting - This is a service that is offered by MANY providers where the files that form your site will be stored and made accessible through any web browser. \\ \\ Think of this as the actual "physical" location of your "digital" business. \\ \\ This can be very cheap if you the site you are attempting to build is nothing more than a standard HTML site. What does that mean? That means it has text, it has pictures, it can even have multimedia, but it is not driven by a database and has limited functionality. (shopping carts, blogs, content management systems, etc. are examples of database driven web sites... they are in no way "simple.")
                  3. Web Site Design/Development - This is a service that can either be contracted out to a web design firm or you can use a "Do-It-Yourself" solution offered by many hosting providers such as Yahoo, GoDaddy.com, Web.com, BuildYourSite.com, and more! This is where you actually BUILD your web site files. It encompasses the design of the site (how it looks) with the development of the site (the code that will load your site as designed.) \\ \\ Think of this as your actual "digital" business. This is what people will see when they come to your "digital address." \\ \\ Pricing this is difficult without knowing what all you would want in your web site. Do-It-Yourself systems can be in a range around $9.95 - $19.95 per month (and includes hosting.) However, if you want a customized design to fit your vision for your business and you know you want some pretty complex functionality on your web site (such as shopping cart systems, administrative back-ends, interactive multimedia applications, etc.) then you will probably need to contract out a third-party web design firm or freelance web designer. Costs here can be from $250 from freelance designers upwards to $3000+ for good web design firms building a complex site.
                  It is important to note though that sometimes you can find all three ingredients by one
                  provider at a very inexpensive price! Granted, you will have to use
                  their simple design tools and that will cause you to only be able to
                  build a basic site!

                  I would recommend that you start thinking about what you really want for your first site.

                  Do you want it to just be a basic "brochure" site with nothing more than a good basic design with some graphics and content? Or do you have the need for a site that will power your business by offering products for sale, accepting orders, and processing payments?

                  Do you currently have a brick n' mortar store that you currently have marketing materials for and want to match the design to keep a consistent corporate identity?

                  And more importantly of all, what is my actual allotted budget for getting a site built? This will help you decide what to actually start with. If you have a budget of $500, but you want some complex functionality that puts your site quoted at $1200, then decide if that extra functionality is absolutely necessary for the first version of your web site. If not, start with a simpler web site and add those addional features in at a later time.

                  Hope that helps a little!

                  Brian
                    • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                      Dwaz39 Wayfarer
                      Thanks for your info - it was very informative. I guess my other question would be about the revenue streams. I envision this site to be more of a forum for networking among tenants who have issues with landlords or need help with noisy neighbors and other issues. My thought is set up a blog/posting site with my main revenue stream coming from advertisements by lawyers/real estate agents/apartment finding companies/landlords/property management companies. You said that something like that might get a little more complicated. Would that be something someone with the ambition, but no experience, be able to set up, or would I need to get some professional input. I would want to start small and inexpensive to even see if this idea can generate enough traffic to start generating some advertising revenue. Let me know your thoughts.

                      Dan
                        • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                          mpoweringu Wayfarer
                          "My thought is set up a blog/posting site with my main revenue stream coming from advertisements by lawyers/real estate agents/apartment finding companies/landlords/property management companies. You said that something like that might get a little more complicated. Would that be something someone with the ambition, but no experience, be able to set up, or would I need to get some professional input."

                          Absolutely! Here's the great thing that many entrepreneurs looking to start an online business do not know about, there are a lot of +FREE +tools available out there on the internet to help you create some of the more common types of dynamic (complicated) sites. Discussion boards (forums,) content management systems, ecommerce tools, blog systems, etc. So in your case, you could easily get a domain name and acquire some hosting space, then you could either try to install the systems yourself (most come with very good documentation on how to install) or you could see if the proving company themselves offer installation services or even find a local web designer to do it for you (this should cost you much less since they are not building a site from scratch.

                          Where you would possibly want to contract out a web design firm is exactly for that, the design. These systems already have a great core structure (in terms of code, not looks,) but if you wanted your site to have a specific look, then I would recommend finding a professional who can give you that look. Design and ease-of-use is highly important when building a "service" site (which is essentially what you are providing.) If people can not figure out how to use your site and it looks like something thrown up over the weekend, it may affect if they give it a try.

                          Look at these solutions:
                          (Note: On these sites, you can get a free version of each of their systems, however, they all sell packages as well; so you may have to look for the download link to their free systems.)

                          Forums:
                          CMS - Content Management Systems
                          Blog Systems
                          eCommere Systems
                          Now all though these systems are free, however, even after you have installed a system you may still need to look for professional help with setting up and configuring your system to do what you want to do (especially with the content management systems and the ecommerce shopping carts!) Finding help on this should be relatively easy and should not cost you too much if
                          "I would want to start small and inexpensive to even see if this idea can generate enough traffic to start generating some advertising revenue."

                          This is +VERY +smart! You definitely have to build the traffic and +PROVE +who is using/viewing the site before you can attempt to get potential ad clients to devote a percentage of their marketing budget to posting ads on your site. They will want to know how many are using the site per month and if they are located nearby (as it sounds like your potential advertising clients will be focused on their geographical area.)

                          I would look at two avenues to build your traffic depending on the geographical focus of your site.

                          If it is nationally focused (meaning all over the U.S.):
                          I would recommend working with a firm that has expertise in online marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) to help you position your service site in front of tenants looking for a place to vent. As that traffic builds, the current users on the site will likely start fueling the future growth in traffic.

                          If the site is geographically focused (let's say just in Chicago, IL):
                          I would recommend setting up the site and then planning to go around different residential locations with the individuals you would target (anything with a landlord) and posting flyers about your site. While this is simple and cheap; it may by no means be the most effective way. The emphasis is on containing your initial reach to the geographical area you want to focus on.

                          I hope this helps you!

                          Brian
                            • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                              Dwaz39 Wayfarer
                              You have been MORE than helpful Brian. Thank you for all of your input. I will keep you in mind if anyone is looking for anything that you might be able to provide for them.

                              Thank again,

                              Dan
                                • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                                  mpoweringu Wayfarer
                                  Glad to be of help and thank you for the compliments and remarks! Feel free to drop me a line! I'm not sure about the policy regarding posting my contact information, but you can contact me via the telephone number in my profile or by filling out a contact form at my URL available in my profile.

                                  Thanks!

                                  Brian
                                    • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                                      Brookstone Newbie
                                      Brian's answer was REALLY GREAT! I will only add that depending on what you want in the way of email forwarding, paying $15 per year to directnic.com for domain hosting can be a better deal (I agree with Brian that godaddy.com is a great deal depending on your needs). They (directnic.com) have email forwarding from unlimited email addresses at your domain to one or more "real" email addresses. It is very flexible -- you can use a "catch-all" but that is just asking to get lots of spam in the long run, so it is better to set up multiple addresses for which you want mail forwarded. If a particular email address starts getting spam, just turn it off! I've not found anyone else so flexible on email forwarding. They offer email forwarding catch-all, unlimited specific addresses to forward, specific blocked addresses if you use a catch all, and several small group addresses that get forwarded to a group of up to 20 email addresses. They also have very cheap hosting for low-bandwidth domains - $15 a year for bannerless hosting, up to 2 gigs bandwidth (additional bandwidth available but for best deal you have to monitor it and purchase before you run out, which is a pain). They also provide free hosting with banner ads - fine for some sites, but not for a professional site. For higher bandwidth other hosting providers may be a better option. And no, I'm not affiliated with them. Good luck!
                                  • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                                    GroupSwim Newbie
                                    This is a great list. Another option for a online forum that is very compelling, cheap, and hosted so you don't need to do anything other than configure it and respond to your community is GroupSwim (full disclosure - I work there). The main issue with "free" solutions are they are never free. While the software itself may be opensource and free, the costs of installing it, maintaining it, maintaining the hardware, etc. can add up. A really strong hosted solution if community is something that is key to whatever business you are starting is a great option that you should investigate.
                              • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                                david28078 Adventurer
                                It depends what you are looking for - I use www.vivawebsitedesign.com as it grows with the biz and you don't get nickel and dimed. Plus there are no silly set up fees and $399 one off for a unique design should you wish

                                David
                                • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                                  LUCKIEST Guide
                                  Tell us more. How soon do you see this venture happening?? Domain Diva has a great point about
                                  calling at night. Another source to check out would be a SCORE email counselor.
                                  You could go on line to SCORE and pick an email counselor with web site background.
                                  Good luck, LUCKIEST
                                  • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                                    dezjad Newbie
                                    The biggest cost involved in website start up will probably advertising and marketing your site. The theory is oposite of the saying "you build it they will come". That is not the case here, you build the website and you will have get people to come to it, promoting a website can be quite expensive. It will also depend on what you are doing with your site.
                                    • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                                      WEBillions Adventurer
                                      To give you an idea of what things cost, let me give you a run down of my expenses. I am starting a large scale social networking website, designed to get people thinking about their life goals. Forums is just the start of it.

                                      I've incurred about $150 on paperwork, like business license fees. I had to see a laywer about writing up a nondisclosure agreement for my website which cost $825, which is a steal from what I'm told. I paid GoDaddy I about $300 for 10 years at webillions.com, .net, .org, and .us. I also get hosting from DreamHost for about $5 a month, which has really worked out for me. If you happen to be interested in Dreamhost, I can get you a $50 discount if you use my code WEBILLIONS. We've bought a few cheap books for research for programming and advertising. Advertising is the main cost I'm looking at now, but there are a lot of things you can do for cheap or free. I hope this gave you a good idea.
                                      • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                                        websignia.net Wayfarer
                                        Great feedback Brian, I totally agree.
                                        • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                                          stukie Newbie
                                          Check out http://www.360websolutions.net

                                          Don't opt into the site builder, I'm not a fan of it, so I offer the same service for about the same price, besides which you pay for additional pages and the templates are no where near as nice as mine.

                                          With the regular hosting plans, and whatever bells and whistles you want, the overall cost through this site should be one of lowest you'll find.

                                          Send me an email with your site's "vision" and I will reply with what I suspect the best set up for you would be - cost and time - and also what maintenance (sustainability - yearly cost after the initial) would run you.

                                          It's my site, part of my small-business resource offerings to community businesses where I live and work, but you are welcome to use it too. Let me know if I can help. I've got over 100 sites hosted with this company, all small to mid-sized businesses and Professionals. Most of my sites are on there too. I've been with the company since they were about a year old, know them well, and have total faith in them.

                                          Stukie
                                          bluerhino@bresnan.net
                                          • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                                            Maxlingo Wayfarer
                                            A lot of advise will confuse you. Different people will tell you different things. Why dont you schedule a one hour free consulting meeting with me. I will tell you everything you need to know about websites and will give you direct quotes from $500 to any amount depending on your needs. We can do phone meeting as well if you are outside protland. Please call me at 971-322-3305 and I will be glad to help you with this free of charge. Otherwise you are going to spend so many hours reading these postings and loosing valuable time that you would have used to do other important things.
                                            • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                                              CrushBranding Newbie

                                              The expense of acquiring your URL and paying for a hosting account is quite minimal. I would recommend someone like godaddy.com for that.

                                              The cost to design the site depends on a few major things:

                                              1. The size of the site
                                              2. The complexity of the site (any programming involved?)
                                              3. Do you have a logo/identity already or will that need to be developed as well.

                                              A few recomendations for you as well...get a designer that understand SEO and is willing to provide you with design mock-ups so you know what you will be paying for.

                                              Costs will vary widely -for a generic, template based site you will probably spend in the range of $600-$2,000. Custom work with a lot of FLASH integration will most likely run $4,000+. Prices vary widely in this industry so check your web designers references and get several quotes.

                                              A good designer that understands SEO will be well worth the $4,000...your improved web rankings will likely more that make up for the cost differential. Also, DIY site builder are generally a bad idea...your clients will know that you didn't invest much into the site and subconciously will not likely view you as a credible business.

                                              All the best,

                                              Kevin Stuteville
                                              Crush Branding & Design
                                              http://www.crushbranding.com

                                               

                                               

                                               

                                              • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                                                xenopod Adventurer
                                                Another CMS platform I would encourage you to consider is Drupal: http://www.drupal.org

                                                It provides a wide array of modules to tie it into other systems (like shopping carts and message boards) there is also a large network of developer's that you can utilize to either help you setup the site (not free) or to simply answer questions (for free via mailing lists and forums) you have. It is also easier to manage for many people compared to the Joomla! platform.

                                                One thing I did not see others mention (and I apologize if I just missed it when reading the previous posts) is if you plan on selling things or simply want/need high level security for your website then you will need to purchase an SSL certificate. GoDaddy.com also sells these for varying prices depending on the specific cert your site needs (which you should plan out on how many parts of your site need the security before making the actual purchase).

                                                If you need any more assistance (since you've listed this question as already answered) I hope you feel free to posting another question on the forums or if you wish to privately discuss more details go to: http://www.xenopodinc.com and click on the contact link. Good luck!
                                                • Re: Web Site Start Up Costs??
                                                  Symphony Wayfarer
                                                  When I started my business, I was on a very controlled budget as I'm sure a lot of startups are. I didn't know one thing about how to do a website. I purchased my domain name through Yahoo, and also built my website myself through Yahoo. They have an excellent step-by-step process you follow that is so easy. If I can do it, anyone can. The price for my website is approximately $13 a month and the building of the website was free.