What is the true cost of designing, hosting and running a WordPress business website?

WordPress is an amazing platform. It’s user-friendly, easy to learn, scalable as your business grows and is free.

But, in being free, it doesn’t mean that there are no costs for setting the website and running it; nor are you assured of a good and functioning site. Let’s take a look at the costs and benefits of doing it yourself, compared to getting a web designer to do it for you.

It is possible, with no professional assistance, to install the WordPress software on your website server, use a free theme and administer the site on your own.  Or you can hire a designer/developer to customise a premium theme, install and configure plugins (free/premium) to add extra functionality to your site and pay a monthly fee to a professional to keep your site updated and maintained.

Properly analysed, getting a professional to do it for you ensures a better product; and, once the full hidden cost of going it alone are taken into account, is no more expensive.

Website Hosting

Cheap Shared Hosting vs Managed WordPress Hosting

Cheap Shared HostingManaged WordPress Hosting
PricingStarts at R30 per monthPopular Managed WordPress hosts such as Flywheel start at $275/year or WPEngine starts at $350/year. 
Recommended forPersonal blogsBusinesses with a growing website, membership sites, forum sites, online course sites, e-commerce sites
Google rankings
A slow site will negatively impact your Google rankings.
Negatively impactedPositive impact
Email hostingIncluded, but successful delivery is not guaranteedEmail hosting is separate and not included in this pricing
digital creative lab WordPress web design costs

Domain address for your business

  • A domain name e.g. www.yourwebsitename.co.za
  • .co.za domains are about R100 per year while .com start at about R260 per year. New TLDs .africa .joburg cost around R260

Business Email hosting

  • Business email hosting is a service that is separate to your website hosting. You can use your own domain email address. It is ad-free  (unlike free email services such as Gmail, Yahoo e.t.c.) and your data is not being monetised.
  • Recommended email hosts: Rackspace – $3 – $7 per month, Fastmail – $5 – $9 per month,  Google Workspace (formerly called GSuite) Email – $6 – $12 per month

SSL Certificates

  • Most good hosts provide Free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates.
  • SSL certificates adds the HTTPS to the front of your website address. HTTPS enables the green padlock on internet browsers. This shows visitors that your site is secure. It means that data between the website and the visitor to the site is encrypted. Google cares very much that your site is secure. Since the end of 2017, the Google Chrome browser shows whether a website is secure or not: if the site is not secure,  visitors are warned against visiting it. This can lose you a lot of traffic to your site.

WordPress software


  • Off-site Backups that are stored on a 3rd party server such as Blogvault start at $9 per month.

On-going Maintenance and Software Updates

  • Technology and website software in particular evolve at a rapid rate. Websites are no longer something you can set up and forget about. If you do, it will not serve its purpose of marketing and growing your business.Google search is constantly changing the requirements for ranking and indexing websites. Some of these requirements are that your site:
    • needs to load fast,
    • needs to be mobile responsive,
    • needs to have quality and relevant content,
    • needs to have the latest software
    • needs to be secure, have an ssl certificate
  • Updates to the WordPress core software, theme files and plugins – these should be done on a weekly / monthly basis.
  • WordPress regularly releases software updates. When a WordPress update is released, reliable theme and plugin developers release updates in order to keep themes and plugins functioning, secure and bug-free.
  • Regular updates keep your site secure and running at its best. If doing it yourself, you must make sure that you backup your database, website files and are able to quickly restore from the backup should anything go wrong.

Security and uptime monitoring for your website

  • Install and configure a security plugin such as All in one Security
  • Spam prevention – use Akismet or a Security plugin to deter spam comments.

Marketing your site

  • Marketing your website takes time, effort and often money for online ad-campaigns


  • Resize and optimise images for fast loading
  • Proper tags for headings and sub-headings
  • Alt tags for images
  • Use a free plugin or pay for a premium service to help optimise your site for SEO

Additional considerations

  • Social media – integrate your website with your social media pages.
  • Forms – use forms to collect information from website visitors. There are free forms such as Contact7 or Gravity forms which have many great features and starts at $39 per year.
  • Newsletter integration – with mail chimp or Aweber. No cost for integration but takes time. Stay in touch with your customers and website visitors by sending regular email newsletters.
  • Lead capturing – store email addresses for following up.

E-commerce site (online store)

  • Starting an online store with WordPress can be relatively affordable but will take time to set up. WooCommerce is one of the most popular online shopping apps.  The basic app is free, but the extension features can start adding up quickly.
  • Extensions cost between $79/year – $250/year. You can also find premium Woocommerce extensions on Codecanyon – these plugins have a once-off license fee.
  • Running an Online Store – Cost in terms of your time
  • Time for uploading products to the catalogue, adding photos and descriptions.
  • Time for setting up a payment gateway such as Payfast or Paypal.
  • Installing a premium SSL certificate for security starts R1000 per year.

Personal skill and time

If you know how to do all of that correctly and efficiently, that’s great. And if you have enough time to set it all up, and importantly to keep it up to date and in tune with constantly changing specs, even better. But the chances are that you have neither. If you teach yourself (and you can) the probability is that your site will look and function as a DIY product; and the certainty is that it will take lots (LOTS) of time. Time that you could be doing other stuff, like running your business. A professional web designer, on the other hand, will charge you a fee, but will design your site from scratch or customise a premium theme with plugins (which is more cost-effective). She will set up your website on your website host and get it ready for you to publish your content. And it will look great and work properly; and while she keeps it that way, you have the time and freedom to go about your own business.

All of this takes time and work. And if you choose a professional web designer, like me, I will take care of all of the above for you. Your site will be and look great, will work properly and efficiently, and will stay up to date.

Learn more about our Managed WordPress services that we offer
Sherissa R

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