There is no such thing as a “hidden cost”. However, there are services or needs that if you do not consider from the start, having a backup budget for these types of things will come in handy.
As this is a general question, let’s dive into it, as each type of project has different specifications you should consider when you start any project.
Building a new website is fantastic, it means you’re growing your business. But in order for your website to be active on the Internet, it needs to be hosted. In short, web hosting provides storage space and access for websites.
Depending on your website type, you need to consider the traffic that the server needs to accommodate for you so your website can still work under pressure (high traffic, which usually comes in packs due to paid ads or excellent content strategy). Usually, web hosting providers sell cheap hosting options with the availability of, let’s say, 100 people going on your website at the same time, which means your website is capable of holding up to 100 people at the same specific loading time, the 101 person needs to wait until that “port” opens up, so he can load the content of the page also.
Taking this into consideration, choose your hosting options wisely because if you launch an ads campaign. You get 1000 people at the same time. So they will have to wait a few seconds until the ports are opening for them, which could mean a lost customer because people usually leave the website if it does not load fast enough. So if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, you have to consider the possibility that your website is losing clients and is costing you money (as the ads usually are PPC-pay per click).
It would help if you also considered taking a hosting provider who has its data centers in the city/country you want to rank. Google ranking also considers the server location when it lists websites, it tries to rank websites that are closer to the customer, as it might mean it is more of help for him.
However, that does not mean you will rank the first page just because of the server location. There are other things to consider, such as Seo, Content Strategy, and Social Media.
Security it’s a huge issue that you have to be careful of, as in the past years, as the technology evolves, hackers evolve too.
There are daily attacks on millions of servers worldwide searching for vulnerabilities so they can get access into the server, searching for sensitive data or with the purpose to insert spam content into your website or worst in some cases to take over your website, in which case you will suffer the most. They can redirect payments to their own accounts, increase prices, steal customer data, contact them, and so on.
So you need not only have your hosting server secure, but also you need to be careful with the scripts your website has and its vulnerabilities, the plugins you install to extend functionalities, and so on.
In addition, each file you will store in your server should be inspected and secured, as it can be used by any third party to get access to your server, even simply using a browser and a few commands. So don’t go for the first cheap server you can find on Google. Please inform yourself about the company, its policy, and its security guarantees.
Here are just some of the minimum security measures you need to consider when choosing a hosting.
- spam filtering
- security audits
- firewall configuring
- network protocols
- scans for malware and viruses
- multi-level authentication
- user permissions
There are 3 main types of hosting called shared hosting, VPS or virtual private server, and dedicated server. The costs vary based on which web hosting you choose.
- Shared hosting is the least expensive one, that’s because your website gets stored in a server with other websites too.
- VPS hosting has greater flexibility the shared hosting. An easy example would be making different server configurations that you might need for a custom website.
- A dedicated server is the one you want. But it comes at a premium price as you can do anything you want with it (there are some limit’s depending on the type of package you buy or from what company, do the research wisely before you buy), you can install or configure it by your own needs, your traffic won’t impact the power of the server (it will but in a shared one, you share the traffic capacity also, and it might sometimes lag, making you lose customers).
If there is a package with the hosting provider called backups, please buy it. It will help you a lot in the long run, or at least do your backups and keep them secured offline.
Follow the following rules for backups:
- Do one backup every month, name it with the day-month-year and save it somewhere safe offline.
- Before making any website changes, do a complete backup.
- Mandatory, backup the entire website before you update anything on the website. Eighter if it’s a plugin you trust or a server configuration, your scripts/theme/plugins can fall and break your website for a simple misconfiguration.
- Do a backup immediately after you finish your updates and check each different type of page to check if all works as expected; if not, restore from the backup and as somebody to take a look into it on a local server.
Be sure to ask questions. Do not asume anything about what you expect to be available by default, you might have the surprise to not be.
Examples of functionalities that you expect when you pay for online shop, but they are not included by default:
- Checkout page with the Business Company fields details (only default here is the Company Name)
- Paying with Credit Card Checkout (Default is pay directly into provided bank account), it’s easy fixable using Stripe or others, but might come with extra configuration costs
- Add to Favourites sistem
- Advanced Reviews sistem (Woocommerce come with a default one, but it’s design and functionality is limited)
- Woocommerce comes with a default user administration area. Be sure you know what you get as you might expect something else.
- Discounts. Yes there are discounts by default, but in the form of coupons that have to be manualy entered by the user.
- And the list continues
The point i’m trying to make, is that you must plan each type of page from the start. Take into consideration text, design, functionalities.
To close the “hidden costs” quesiton, there is no such thing as long as you know what you want from the start. It’s not the developer or company fault that you thought it’s a default functionality and it should have been included into the project.