Website builders don't always reveal all. It's up to you to avoid costly surprises.

So you finally decided that you need a site and now you're speaking to a web developer. Congratulations! To be certain that the experience remains a positive and exciting one, use this simple checklist to make sure there are no hidden surprises somewhere down the line ... like you have paid for your site and now discover that there's a whole lot more to be done before you can actually see it on the web. In order, the following are essential items that all could bear a cost:

  1. Domain: do you have a domain name registered yet? Before you go ordering a website using your business name, first check that the name is available and register it. This will normally cost a nominal amount, but also remember that this is not a one-off process, but an annual occurance. Domain names are only valid for one year at a time.

  2. Have your site designed. be sure that you know exactly what the quote includes and how the final cost will be calculated.

    Does the quote include basic graphics? Are you supplying the content or is the web designer going to be writing your copy and doing your photographs? If they are doing this, is it included in the quote? If you are being charged per page, this can be the best option for a smaller site, but if your site is going to be fairly large, you may be better off negotiating a project fee instead. Hourly rates are one form of costing, but can turn out to be a real killer. Be sure you know the basis of your billing.

    Also check if you are going to receive your site on a disk at the end or is uploading included in the fee. Where exactly does the web-designer's job end and at what point exactly is the project deemed to have been completed?

    Finally, does the design include optimisation; and does the developer include getting you listed on search engines as part of the project or will this cost you extra time or money?

    If you use a good developer instead of a pure designer, the answers to these questions should always be yes.

  3. Arrange for your site to be hosted. Hosting is normally paid for monthly, but many hosting companies will also charge you a once-off set-up fee. Be sure to ask about set up fees. Also read through our FAQ on website hosting to see what other questions you should ask to help you select the right hosting company.

  4. Are you registering a second domain name that you want to take visitors to the same site? This is a great way of securing the different variations of your name, but it doesn't come free. Often you will be charged a "parking" fee by the hosting company and some companies also charge a set-up fee to initiate the parked domain. Of course, each variation will also cost you a domain name registration fee.

  5. Ongoing web management. Consider whether you are going to do this yourself or whether you will need someone to be your webmaster for either a monthly or ad-hoc fee. Many site owners want to manage their own site, only to find that it is not as simple as it sounds. In most cases you would need at least a basic understanding and knowledge of html. Depending on the design of your site, you may even need more. The only two exceptions to this are if you have access to a wysiwyg editor like the ones provided by Web Inn, or your site has been created using Frontpage.

    It's a good idea to determine the answer to this question upfront so that you can choose a host that offers what you need, or have an arrangement with a webmaster to manage your site for a reasonable fee.

    Discovering the answer when you suddenly need urgent changes made to your site can end up costing you much more and could miss your deadline.

These are the key cost factors that you need to be aware of upfront. Be aware that the person offering you what seems to be the best deal may simply not be revealing all, but hopefully these points will help you to properly prepare and budget.



If you're not sure of all the web terminology and jargon, why not have a quick read through our basic web glossary before you get going.

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