As a leading web design and digital agency, we know a thing or two about building websites and the costs that this entails. Understandably, this cost can be confusing. A website quote can be anything from hundreds to thousands of pounds. Therefore, it is not surprising that many people attempt to design their company websites without the help of a professional.
However, though the thought of designing, building and maintaining your own website may sound like something appealing, and an easy way to save some money, there are numerous hidden costs involved that can make it more cost-effective to use a trusted professional web agency.
Read on to discover the costs that people often forget about, and how an agency may actually help you keep costs down.
License Costs, Plugins & Themes
To build a website, you typically need a platform or software to build it on. Take WordPress, by far the most popular website building platform – and the one we choose to use at WADEDIGITAL.
Although WordPress is open source for example, and does not have its own direct cost, it does not do everything out of the box. This is where plugins come in.
Plugins, many of which have to be paid for, are basically bits of software that you can add to a site to increase its appearance or functionality. A plugin may be able to help with Search Engine Optimisation or help create contact forms for example.
There are, of course, free plugins, but many come with a cost which can be as little as a small one off fee, to regular monthly or annual licence costs.
Themes are another hidden cost that can be surprisingly expensive. Website themes are important, as they change the look and feel of a website, which is important when you consider the website’s audience. For example, a website theme for a photographer would include a gallery.
The costs mentioned above are another example of mechanisms that an agency will already pay for, meaning the full cost of license, theme or plugin isn’t always incurred by the client.
It is surprising how often this is overlooked or forgotten about, as it is probably the least ‘hidden’ cost of everything on this list.
When we talk about content, we literally mean the part of the site that users interact with. The images, the text (copy), and any media. Without content, a website is basically an empty layout waiting to be made relevant to your business.
Images that are going onto a website need have permission from the person who owns them if they are not your own, or stock images are used. Stock images cost and, depending on the owner, can cost a lot of money.
The copy, or text, is something that not only keeps a user interested, and gives them something to read – it also plays an important role in a websites SEO. This is often overlooked, and the importance misunderstood.
Most agencies will have a professional copywriter who knows how to write well for the audience, whilst writing well for Google rankings. Although writing copy can be free of charge for somebody building their own website – the lack of charm, accuracy or key word research for search engines could cost a website traffic.
Once a website is built and ready to go, it needs to be hosted. There are hundreds of website hosting providers on the internet – normally with monthly or annual fees. A good host ensures fast loading speed, security and much more. We wrote a blog on web hosting which covers this in more detail.
Occasionally we see users built a complex site, and then find their website does not load well, which is usually a sign that their hosting resources are not sufficient.
This can be a hidden cost as this requires more comprehensive hosting for their website.
Many agencies – including WADEDIGITAL – have a hosting servers of their own.
This means their hosting solutions are catered with plenty of resources required for a clients’ website.
Maintenance and Updates
One thing we’ve learnt is that things can, and sometimes do, go wrong.
Despite services such as Wix and Squarespace, they can be very limited in terms of support working hours and how they can actually help.
Maintenance work and updates are essential to keep a site running and up to date. If a website is built with an agency, they will often offer good rates on maintenance and software updates.
Perhaps the most basic, but a website needs a name! As most readers will probably know, the domain name is simply registered name of the website. For example, wadedigital.co.uk.
Though not one of the steepest expenses, it is a small additional charge that is often questioned because it has been forgotten.
Most domain names are available at typically £10-£20 per annum, if it is not a sought-after domain name.
Many agencies will actually include the domain name purchase at no extra cost to the client.
Time. Costs. Money.
An old adage, but time does cost money.
For a less experienced individual to build a website, they typically have to learn from mistakes and spend hours trying to find answers during their project. Around 15% of our new clients are small businesses that were let down by a small agency or website designer they hired, who could not fulfil their promises.
This equally means the client had to spend hours correcting and liaising with the website designer, so both parties were at a loss.
Buying cheap and cutting corners can often result in buying twice. It also causes the opportunity cost of visitors on a website not being confident in how your services or products are being portrayed, which arguably is the greatest cost for any business as it causes a reduction in sales.