How Much Does a Domain Cost?

Don’t Pay Lots of Money for a Domain

I wanted to buy a domain today. I found that both the domain I wanted, 123.com let’s call it, and a variation, the123.com, appeared to be available. The former was for sale from a brokerage, the latter through any registrar.

Though I’m perfectly content with the123.com, I contacted the domain brokerage out of curiosity, to see how much it would cost. I was expecting a silly quote, in the $100s, possibly even in the $1000s. Instead, I got this reply:

Hi Riley,

My name is [redacted], and I am a Broker with [redacted].com. I represent the current owner of [example: 123.com].

I was able to speak with the seller and based on many criteria they have determined a value of $95,000.00 USD.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

I laughed out loud – seriously – and nearly fell off my chair.

What did I find so funny?

Well, I was laughing at the idea that anyone in the world – especially an individual but even a large company – would pay 5 figures US (6 figures Canadian!) for a domain name in 2018. Now, I don’t doubt that there are people out there who would do this, but they are foolish.

Why?

Your domain name does not determine your traffic to your website.

Sure, it’s helpful for branding to have a domain name that is exactly-your-brand.com, and there is a very minor SEO benefit, but if your domain isn’t an exact match, it’s hardly the end of the world.

Websites succeed with different urls all the time, and there is now a trend of getting cute with your url, such as the podcast platform tryca.st, to pick but one example.

The point is that your exact url does not matter all that much and so many other things do, so to spend 10s of 1000s of dollars on a url is bonkers.

What is perhaps more bonkers is that this brokerage thought that a random person contacting them could be bilked into spending that much money on a url. It suggests that there are still many people – and companies, no doubt – who are foolish enough, or rich enough, to think that paying US$95,000 for a domain name is a good use of money.

It’s not. Don’t do it.

Do I Need a Webmaster

Or: How to Perform Maintenance on Your Website

There was a time when every person or business with a website needed a webmaster, unless you built that website yourself (i.e. you knew what you were doing).

But times have changed. You do not need a webmaster who works for you full time or even part time. Depending upon your website, you either do not need a webmaster or just need someone you can call periodically.

 

Do I Need a Webmaster?

Type of SiteDo I Need a Webmaster?
Out-of-the-box site creator (Jimdo, Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, etc)No
WordpressDepends upon your time level and expertise level
Drupal or JoomlaDepends upon your time level and expertise level
Custom built site without CMSYes

If you use an out-of-the-box site creator, you should never need to employ a webmaster. If you have trouble, these companies provide support.

If you use WordPress, you can learn the basics and rarely or never need a webmaster. (I can teach you how to use wordpress.) However, if you have custom code on your site, or if you do not have the time, it is useful to have someone you can call.

The same is true if you use a more complex CMS like Drupal or Joomla: anyone can learn how to run these sites but the most custom code you have, the more likely you need someone you can call.

Finally, if you have a site without a CMS – i.e. you live in the internet dark ages – you need a webmaster unless you yourself built that site.

Launching Your Website

There are a number of steps you need to go through in order to launch your website, including building your website, uploading it to a server and ensuring that it can be “indexed” (found) by the search engines.

You can approach launching your website on a spectrum from a bare-bones approach to the most thorough approach. Let’s see how those approaches compare:

 Bare-BonesThorough
Site BuilderOut of the BoxCMS or Custom Site
DesignTemplateCustom Design
CodingNo CustomSome Custom to Lots of Custom
Domain PurchaseNo DifferenceNo Difference
HostingOut of the Box Site Builder hosts sitePurchase hosting
Installing siteOut of Box doesn't require itUpload to server
Site MapAuto-generatedCustom
IndexingBare minimum effortActively submit to search engines
TrafficWait and seeAggressively drive traffic

The short version is that you can pay a small fee to an out-of-the-box site creator to have a webpage online, where you essentially do everything yourself, you can get a blog and a small store, or you can have a large website with a store and lots of other features. Where you fall on this spectrum depends upon the needs of your business and the competition in your industry. My hope is that by reading this guide, you can figure out where you sit in the spectrum.

Who Should Design Your Website?

Unless you are using an out-of-the-box website creator, or a CMS template you find is perfect for your needs, you likely need a web designer. But there are a few things you need to consider.

Who Should Design Your Website?

The first thing to think about is, what type of site are you building? The type of site you are building should determine if you need a designer and what type of designer you need.

 

Out-of-the-box Site Creator

If you are using an out-of-the-box site creator, such as

  • Jimdo
  • Squarespace
  • Weebly
  • Wix

then you do not normally need a designer unless you do not like the template or you feel, like I feel, that your design skills are so bad that you would prefer someone arrange your template for you.

If you do want a designer, you should look for someone who has previous experience helping people with these templates. The last thing you want is someone who is going to create a beautiful picture for you which cannot be realized in your template. So do not hire someone who has pretty work but has never used your platform to create anything.

 

CMS

The point of a CMS is to use the pre-existing templates. However, sometimes those templates don’t quite look quite right or sometimes you don’t even want to set up the template yourself.

If this is your situation you want a designer who is comfortable customizing templates. In this case, and this case alone, that person might actually be a coder/developer. Just like with the out-of-the-box scenario, the last thing you want is someone who is going to create a design from scratch which cannot be realized in your template.

Make sure you’ve selected or purchased your template first, OR hire a designer who has templates they use (for your CMS), and don’t just hire someone because their work looks pretty.

 

Custom Site

If you must build a custom site, you must make sure you hire a designer who can design for the web. Usually, the company you’ve hired to build your website will have both designers and developers on staff. Make sure that’s true before you hire them! If you are working with one person to developer your site, know that this one person likley cannot be relied on to design it first. Designers and coders are not the same!¬†Just because a designer says he can code doesn’t mean he’s a good developer. And just because a coder says she’s got an eye for design doesn’t mean she can design. Do not hire one person to do both! Ever!

Who Should Build Your Website

Once you have decided what type of website you should have (choose a CMS like wordpress!), you need to decide who is going to build it.

  • If you are using an out-of-the-box website builder, you may need no help, especially if you yourself have an eye for design. (If you do not have an eye for design, you should get help.)
  • If you are using a CMS, you may or may not want to get some help, depending upon your expertise level. If you are okay with your website looking like this one you are on right now, you don’t need a designer, you can just buy a template. But you may want or need help setting up the CMS.
  • If you are getting your site custom built you will need two things, a design specifically for the web and a development team.

Here’s a handy chart:

What You NeedOut-of-the-Box Site Creator (Jimdo, SquareSpace, Weebly, Wix)CMS (Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress)Custom Built
DesignNot required, unless you are uncomfortable designing your site. But if you are, hire someone who has designed specifically using your site creator. Purchase a theme template. If you want more of a customized look, you can do it yourself, but you may want to hire someone with experience changing a template. Custom designs are not a great idea.You must have a designer familiar with designing specifically for the web.
Coding/DevelopmentNot requiredOnly required for customizations (not recommended)The only way your site is getting online is if you have a development team

One last piece of advice before we move on to the specifics: do not hire a designer to code your site and do not hire a coder to design your site. Under no circumstances. People will tell you they can do both. In most cases, they are lying to you.