Four kinds of costs are attached to most church websites:
Domain names — Just as your ministry has a unique street address, your website must have a unique address on the internet. A website’s unique address is called a domain.
Examples of domains:
• The domain of this website is fmnetwork3.com/fm101217.
• The domain of Cable News Network is cnn.com.
• The domain of America Online is aol.com.
Synonyms for “domain” are “web address” or “URL” (for “uniform resource locator” or “universal resource locator”).
For less than $40 per year, a ministry can reserve two domain names (.org and .com versions of the same name). The cost of domains is the only cost easy to quantify, as there is such a wide range of prices for the following products and services.
Website hosting — No matter who creates a website or how s/he does it, the files for a website are created and stored on a computer, somewhere. This computer is called a “web server,” and it is owned by a “web hosting” company that provides the space for a website and charges a fee for that space. There are thousands of web hosting companies, large and small, all over the world. Fees for web hosting range from free to thousands of dollars per year. Fees typically are based on many variables, including the amount of space the website takes up; the number of web pages on a website; the amount of traffic the website receives; the sizes and types of files attached to the website; and software provided by the web hosting company.
Website development — This is the cost of creating a website. Many web hosting companies provide, with hosting, church website templates that anyone can use to create a church website. If a volunteer or staff member in the church uses such a template to create a church website, then development is free or very inexpensive.
Professional website development fees range from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars. An article recently distributed by one denomination’s marketing team suggests that most churches plan to spend $2,000 to $5,000 for website development, but many webmasters (including Friends of Ministry) charge much less. To request an estimate for website development, complete the Website Development Plan.
Website maintenance — Once a website is developed, it must be maintained with frequent updates if the church is to have any credibility or visibility on the web. (Search engines rank frequently changing web pages higher than those that never change.) If volunteers or staff members maintain the ministry’s website, then costs can range from zero to low. Professional maintenance fees for church websites range from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars per year.