When it comes to web design costs, ecommerce websites are a completely different animal. You can also get yourself into big trouble if you're dealing with a web designer or web developer that isn't qualified.

The biggest mistake we see tends to be in security. For example, we recently took on a new website maintenance client that had a form on their existing site for their customers to be able to make payments on their account. The previous web designer installed an SSL certificate on the site but never took the appropriate steps to ensure the connection was actually encrypted. This meant that clients were sending credit card data over an unencrypted connection, a massive no-no when it comes to web security and PCI compliance.

The thing is, proper security really isn't all that difficult when you know what you're doing, but when it comes to website designers and web developers, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. So how can you make sure you're working with a company that won't leave you hanging out to dry and expose your customers' personal and payment data to the world?

First, feel free to contact me personally and ask (you can also Tweet your site and/or question to me @ChrisASearles). Digital security is something I take extremely seriously. I also love working with small businesses and have seen too many SMBs get themselves into trouble working with bad web developers so I'm here to help.

Second, understand that like anything else, you get what you pay for. Whenever a deal sounds too good to be true, it is. If you're having a custom ecommerce website built, expect to pay a minimum of $15,000 for something with a minimum amount of functionality. Of course, if you have a very simple product offering and are only offering one item for sale, you might be able to come in below that figure, but you will likely want to spend the rest on building your sales funnels and optimizing your pages for conversions, which can easily bring you to that number and beyond.

For a full-blown custom ecommerce solution, your costs can easily run north of $30,000, and your monthly fees should likely be a minimum of $500 and up, depending on how robust your hosting solution needs to be.

A more affordable option might be to use and off-the-shelf hosted platform. These tend to be something we reccommend frequently these days to SMBs as they are extremely cost-effective to get started and offer a lot of functionality out of the box. There are a number of options available on the market, a comparison of which is a topic for another day, but feel free to contact us for a recommendation.

For an off-the-shelf solution, expect to spend about $75 / month, but you should really make sure you work with a company that knows the technology and can help you with your implementation. General costs to setup and train you on these platforms can be anywhere from a couple thousand dollars and up, depending on how much you want your implementation specialist to do for you (and how much data entry work is involved). From there, a good partner will work with you on a monthly basis to continually work on search engine optimization, sales funnel optimization, conversion rates, page speed and overall site performance, and scalability.

Chris Searles is President of Searles Media and specializes in helping small businesses maximize their available resources to market themselves effectively using a wide variety of media. Visit Website

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