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Website maintenance cost

Website maintenance cost

You’ve finally got a website up and running online. Great! You happily paid up the development costs and thought that was the end of the story. However, you now get an invoice from the developer each month and are probably not very happy with that, right? This article discusses website maintenance cost – what should it be and what all is covered in it.

Before we proceed, please note that though some costs are kind of universal, varying only by a small amount, charges for other kind of work done on the web site would be dramatically different depending on the economics of your state and the contract you have signed with the developer.

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Two website maintenance costs that we all need to fork out

All websites, big or small, have two inescapable costs associated with them –domain name and web hosting renewal charges. Domain names cost about $10-$30 per year (depending on the extension) but if you’ve paid for multiple years at the time of registration, this charge should not be added in the annual website maintenance invoice. Server plans from a reliable web hosting company, such as Hostgator or Lunarpages, cost about $100 annually and are more than sufficient for small and medium sized web sites. I can vouch for the stability of these web hosting plans because I run sites that get million+ visitors per month! If you are paying more than a hundred dollars a year for a small business / personal web site with less than 2000 pages, you need to pick up one of the companies I mentioned above. Also, paying up affront for a year or two will save you a few bucks than a recurring monthly charge.

Undeniable web site cost per year is therefore about $100-$150. And the bulk of it is for web hosting. Please note that these two web site maintenance costs are annual.

Charges for website changes and modificationsm

This is where we come to a sort of gray area. The cost for managing a web site, i.e. implementing changes and modifications, can vary to a large degree. Thus, a web development company from India will charge you much less than one from the United Kingdom. Also, the nature of the website change request will determine its price. For instance, adding a couple of new web pages to the site per month will not be as expensive as asking the developer to create a brand new shopping cart application.

Based on my experience in the web development field (it’s now been 10 years), here is a quick list of some changes commonly requested by clients along with their corresponding costs:

  • Changes to text and images on web pages: Low.
  • Addition to new products to the online catalog: Low to medium .
  • Adding new pages to the web site: Low to medium – depending upon the number of pages, of course! A new web page that is based on the same design template as the rest of the website should not cost about $15-$30… as long as the page is not very long and contains tons of images or other such page elements.
  • Creating a flash animation: Low to high based on the length (time) and the complexity desired in the animation.
  • Adding audio and video files: Low as long as the audio and video files were provided to the developer.
  • Completely changing the website design: will probably cost as much as the initial design and development.
  • Changes to backend applications such as shopping cart etc.: Low to high as per the change request.

The search engine optimization cost is one that I haven’t mentioned – please read that article for more information.

The total website maintenance cost

In essence apart from the $100-$150 charges for annual renewals of domain name and web hosting, if you haven’t requested for any web site upgrades or changes, you don’t have to pay anything for website maintenance.

Do you feel the present developer is fleecing you? You can always pick up another company. However, remember the new company might take some time to understand the code written by the previous developer and this is especially true for backend applications.

When you do plan to shift the maintenance contract from one company to another make sure of the following:

  • The domain name belongs to you – this includes all the three contacts associated with the domain name. Please do a WHOIS search for your domain at Network Solutions.
  • Web hosting is not as important as a domain name. You can change the web hosting server anytime you want but losing a domain name can spell doom for your online identity; so don’t bother about web hosting. However, do ask them to supply you the login details (username and password) of your web server space.
  • Ask the developer to send a copy of the website on a CD and/or a compressed zip file.

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