The price of a web site. What does it really cost? Some people will tell you don’t expect to get anything under $1,000, even if you’re just after an entry-level website. Is that true? What should a website cost, and is it true you get what you pay for?

With so much on offer for businesses looking to get into their first website or renovate their existing one, it’s no wonder it makes their head spin. There’s a hugely confusing array of packages, prices and features available, and a lot of it is described in a language that seems to resemble Klingon. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to just line up everything that’s on offer in a nice comparison chart and compare apples with apples?

Marketing being what it is probably won’t let that happen anytime soon so for now business owners have to wade through the mire of murky website marketing and hope they don’t get taken for a ride by a croc with a cheesy smile (that almost sounds like crook…). So if you’re in the market for a website what things should you be looking for and what things should be ringing alarm bells?

3 things to look for when shopping for a website

Apart from the actual sticker price, it pays to dig a little deeper and find out exactly what you’re getting.

1 – Flexibility

You don’t always need to go straight into a top-of-the-range deluxe website. Start small and grow from there as your business expands. Not sure if you need a shopping cart? Your website should be flexible enough to grow with your business and allow you to add one later on. Make sure you check that you can start with an entry-level site and if you can add extras later, and how much it costs (including labour to install the add-on and monthly fees). A friend of mine was told she’d have to pay over $1,000 just to get the email marketing add-on from her current provider. We can provide a similar add-on for under $100. A flexible site should also be able to be transferred if you need to change providers. The case I just mentioned didn’t allow that either. It’s a hard lesson but it shows it always pays to ask questions before you sign up.

PogoStick: Our websites are flexible – start with our Standard Package and grow it as much or as little as you like. You can even move it to a different provider without paying any exit fees.

2 – What’s included

Basically the main things your site should come with your website are: a website, a CMS so you can make your own changes, email addresses, a domain name and hosting. Check that all those items are included with your website as part of the package. Some providers will provide these items but as chargeable extras. Make sure you find out how much because they can quickly add up, particularly if they are ongoing costs. Also ask about changes you make: Are you able to add or edit as many pages as you like with the CMS or are you limited to a set number of pages? Do you have to enlist their help when making changes, and if so how much does it cost?

One thing to keep an eye out for is when a website company offers “Google Site Submission” or “Search engine submission” as a service. That an immediate giveaway they’re trying to ‘fluff’ their prices by offering fancy-sounding services that are either not required (Google finds your website – you don’t need to ‘submit it’) or take two minutes to do.

PogoStick: We provide an all-inclusive package with everything we’ve mentioned here. We only charge extra if you need some special customisation that isn’t covered and if that’s the case we’ll always provide you with a free quote for the extra work.

3 – Ongoing costs

In some cases the sticker price can be misleading. I’ve seen some websites advertised for $29. It’s only when I looked closer that I saw that’s the monthly charge. It sounds cheap but it quickly adds up – $350 for 12 months, $700 for 2 years and over $1700 for 5 years. That could quickly add up to a very expensive website. Find out what the ongoing costs for hosting, email services and any changes (if you require them). Make sure you calculate the costs out over a year or more to get an idea of what it will cost you in the long run. Think of it like signing up for an HP – it might seem like a good deal initially but calculated out over the full term and you start to see exactly how expensive it is.

PogoStick: All our packages include 12 months hosting and a domain name so there’s nothing extra to pay for the first 12 months. After that our current hosting fees and domain name renewal are $6.50/month. If you need any changes we have a low hourly rate so you can just pay for what you need.

Why are PogoStick prices so cheap?

There are some shoppers who love the word cheap and there are others that run a mile in the opposite direction. Possibly they’ve been burned in the past by what they thought was a good deal only for it to backfire later on, or possibly they’ve been put off by the comments of others who they feel know more about the website industry. Either way, saying you do “cheap websites” is not always the best advertisement for your business. But what exactly are we talking about when we say we do “cheap websites”?

At the start of this article we raised some points about whether you get what you pay for in the world of websites, and what should a website actually cost. I wish I could give you a definitive answer but there are a lot of variables and it’s almost impossible to do a straight comparison. The best way I can describe the variations in price, and why we can offer such low prices is to think of Pak’n’save. Their business model is about lowering the cost of groceries and for the main part they seem to achieve that objective. But you understand when you shop there and enjoy the lower prices that you’re also sacrificing the luxury of having your groceries bagged for you. It’s not that you’re getting a poorer quality product, it’s just Pak’n’save have changed their business model to save costs and pass those savings on to the consumer. And judging by the large number of shoppers at most Pak’n’saves they seem happy to accept that they’ll have to pack their own groceries or pay for plastic bags.

At PogoStick we operate on a similar principle. It’s not that we build poor quality websites that fall apart when you get them home – we cut costs in other ways, such as not having a large office space or an 0800 number. We understand that some business owners are happy to deal with us just using email and pocket the savings. We use shared hosting based in the U.S. – it’s fast and reliable but it’s also a lot cheaper. We don’t pad our prices with services you don’t need or promise search engine rankings that we can’t guarantee. We just deliver an honest website at an honest price. And in this business, trust is actually more important than a pretty website.

3 things to look for when you’re buying a website