Everyone can afford a website, and most businesses can’t afford to be without one. Most websites today are built on free content management systems like WordPress or Drupal or on cheap website-building packages like Shopify or Wix, but the extras add up.
Many packages include a free domain name. The choice is sometimes limited and the name is only free for a year or two, so check the future charges.
This is the leasing of server space and bandwidth. Your main choice is between a shared server, dedicated server or VPS. “Shared” means you share a computer with other websites, which limits your resources. “Dedicated” means you have one to yourself. A “Virtual Private Server” is a shared computer partitioned to give you guaranteed resources and access to your own settings.
Most big providers offer shared tariffs under £10pm, but the price is often introductory and conditional on buying a long period. Be wary of “discounts” that evaporate once you are locked in. Dedicated servers are usually £100 or more.
Website builder packages usually include server space, but you can’t move your site later.
Content management systems like WordPress and Joomla are free, but development still requires a lot of work. Most non-commercial webmasters and many small businesses do it themselves. If you hire a developer, even a simple site will cost £200 or more. To sell online, you need features that can be tricky to install, so most SMEs use a developer, with charges ranging from £500 to several thousand. This will not include the labour of populating your database with products.
Even if you use a developer, they will probably install plugins to provide functionality and many of these levy renewal charges. Make sure you know their cost up front.
E-commerce sites need an SSL certificate. These range from free to hundreds of pounds. Typically, £25pa should cover it.
Keeping a product inventory up to date is labour intensive, so you may need to hire someone to do it. Other maintenance necessities include site backups and security, so check to see if these are included in your package at sites like https://www.names.co.uk/web-hosting.
Most websites need marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). A good developer will hand over a well-optimised site, but the material you upload must be well-written. You will also want to develop your social media connections.