In order to understand all the various fees associated with having a website on the internet, we first need to understand the various terms and aspects of a website, such as Domain Name, Website Design, Website Hosting, Email Hosting, Website Maintenance, Internet Servers, and why you have to pay for some of them “once off”, while for others yearly, reocurring.
The best way to understand all the fees is to compare it to staring and running your own business.
Let’s assume that you have an idea for a business you want to open. You will have to follow some steps in order to make that business a reality;
Website Design Fee
(same as Your Business Plan)
When you start your new business you need to work out what the business will do, how it will work, what it will offer, how it will offer the service, and then you will get a professional to help you setup the business model, costing, what equipment you will need, and what kind and size of building you will need to house your business, including layout, furniture, staff, etc. Once you have all that, you will summarize it all into a Business Plan.
The cost associated with creating such a Business Plan will be a “once off” expense, and once you have your final Business Plan, it will never EXPIRE, and you will be able to continue using that Business Plan for as long as you want, without the need to spend any more money on the Business Plan.
This is what your website design is, and like the above, your web designer will design your website to your specifications and requirements. They will also give you opportunity to request changes to the design to make sure that you 100% happy with the “look & feel” of your website.
Once you are happy with the final design, the website will be made “live”, meaning that it will be loaded to your hosting server, making it accessible and viewable by all people with internet access.
Most web design companies offer various website design packages based on number of web pages required and features required.
The website design cost is a “once off” fee.
Some Website Design companies will offer you an optional Website Design “revamp”, at a special loyalty discount price, periodically, to make sure your Website keeps looking fresh and modern, just like you would change/”revamp” your business periodically with new equipment, or use new costing models, new furniture, new colours or new office layouts, etc to keep it looking inviting
Domain Name Fee
(same as your Business Name)
This is the same as deciding on a Business Name, once you have the name you will need to have that name registered so that no one else can use that name.
The cost to register such business name and to keep it registered every year is a yearly reoccurring upfront fee you will need to pay to the South African Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPRO) every year, to keep the name registered.
This is what your domain name registration/renewal is, sometimes referred to as your URL Address, and as above, it is a YEARLY upfront expense to register your chosen domain name, and keep it registered with the South African ZA Central Registry (ZACR).
Some design companies will include this fee as part of your yearly Hosting Fee.
(same as the rent you pay to your landlord for the office where your business will operate from)
In order to start operating your business you will need to find a suitable building or offices. You will need to pay rent for this building or offices to a landlord, on a monthly or yearly upfront basis (Yearly upfront is normally the better & most cost effective choice)
The payment to your building/office landlord will be reoccurring upfront expense, for as long as you want to operate your business from that building or offices.
Like your office rent, your Hosting fee is the cost of having your website loaded and run on a publicly accessible internet server computer. These internet server computers are similar to your own home computer, except that they are much larger, more sophisticated, directly connected to the international internet backbone feed into South Africa, and the cost to purchase, run, and maintain these server computers and their associated connections, is in excess of R100k to R200k per month.
As this cost would be prohibitive for the average company, these hosting providers offer space (like office space) to rent on their internet servers, and like offices, the cost is determined by the physical disk storage space you require and the amount of traffic space you need to allow people to visit your website. Most companies offer various hosting packages based on your particular storage space needs, traffic needs, and the features and software require for your website to function
Your Hosting Fee has 2 parts;
- Website Hosting Service: The first is the cost of loading and running your website on one of the above mentioned internet servers, in order to make it publicaly accessible, similar to the building/offices you rent for your business. This cost is a yearly upfront fee for as long as you run your website from one of these internet servers (similar to renting an office for as long as your business operates out of those offices).
This cost is known has your website hosting service and as with your office rent, it is a yearly reoccurring fee.
- Email Hosting Service: The second part of your hosting fee is the cost of loading and running an email service on one of the internet servers, which will then allow you to send and receive emails.
This cost is known as your email hosting service and as with your office post office box rent, it is a yearly reoccurring fee.
Some Hosting companies will combine the Domain Name renewal, Website Hosting, and Email Hosting parts into one single fee, simply known as your yearly hosting fee
Maintenance Plan Fee
(Same as your business maintenance crew/staff)
In order to keep your business running smoothly, it is a good idea to make sure that you get a maintenance crew on retainer, so that you can call them whenever any equipment breaks, or if you want to make any small changes to some of your business equipment, or business layout/furniture.
The maintenance plan offered by many design companies is a service plan that allows you to request some changes to your website or email accounts during the year, without being charged an expensive hourly rate for those changes. It also includes constant monitoring and backend maintenance of your website and emails during the year. Some maintenance plans will also include various other advantages, such as discounts and loyalty discount offers.
This is what your Maintenance Plan is, and as with your business maintenance crew, the cost is a yearly upfront reoccurring expense
Social Media Marketing/SMO Fees
(Same as your business advertising team)
To make sure that people know about your business, you will employ the services of a marketing and advertising team. They will market your business to the people and make sure that people come to your business and buy your goods or services.
This is what SMO fees are, it’s fees you pay monthly or yearly to the company that will make sure that people know about your website, and that they get as many people as possible to come and visit your website.
Some design companies will offer SMO as part of their design offering, but SMO has become such a specialised field, that it is best to employ the services of a separate company that specialise in SMO services. SMO fees can vary dramatically, depending what services, and the intensity and duration of those services, you require from the SMO Company