Frequently asked questions about: web site pricing

How much does it cost to have a site designed and hosted?

A web site from ThirdStar is custom designed to meet your specific needs.  The cost of a site is determined by its scope, complexity, and your degree of readiness.  Since each project is unique, there's no way to quote even a ballpark price without knowing what will be involved.

Because there are so many variables, web site pricing is a complicated subject.  Our sites range from a low of around $400 to a high (so far) of $2500.  That's a wide range, and we understand that you'd like some idea of what your cost would be.  The following items will provide a sense of how we price our projects.

Display and information  sites

Web site design from $400
Hosting as low as $10 monthly
No-charge domain name
Email services
No-charge search site submission

Includes initial design, up to five standard pages*. No-charge domain name with hosting on our servers, email services, FrontPage and FTP access to your site.  Use for any site not requiring e-commerce options.


Electronic commerce: Standard

E-commerce sites from $500
Shopping cart, secure payment
$20 hosting
Merchant account ready
Email services
No-charge search site submission

Includes initial design, up to five standard pages*, and shopping cart / payment integration, shopkeeper interface.  FrontPage and FTP access to your site.  Use with merchant account and/or PayPal (merchant account not included).


Electronic commerce: low option

E-commerce sites from $500
Hosting as low as $10 monthly
No-charge domain name
No merchant account required
Email services
No-charge search site submission

Includes initial design, up to five standard pages*, and shopping cart / payment integration.  No-charge domain name with hosting on our servers, email services, FrontPage and FTP access to your site.  Use with choice of PayPal or

*The prices say up to five standard pages.  What does that mean?

We define a "standard page" as the amount of material (text and graphics) that will transfer in 30 seconds on a 28K dial-up connection, OR what would reasonably be printed on a legal sized sheet of paper.  In practice, for a page containing a balance of text and graphics, these are about the same.

Not coincidentally, that's the maximum amount that any expert recommends as a reasonable page size (most recommend far less).  This method is quantifiable, so simple pages wind up costing less, and heavy content pages wind up costing more.  In practice, the amount of material that would constitute five standard pages my occupy more or fewer web site pages, depending on the nature of the material and the requirements of the site.

Once the design is established (that's the most expensive part), individual pages range in price from $25 to $50, depending on their content, layout, and function.  And, as always, there may be exceptions- some of which will work to your advantage.

Is standard page  pricing carved in stone?

Of course not.  It's intended as a guideline, a way of estimating what a web site will cost.  It's based upon assumptions which may or may not hold true, but it's served as a pretty good guide since we started using it in 1999.  Your materials may require more or less processing than what's been average, meaning more or less work for us, meaning higher or lower final price tags.

The final price is determined by the actual amount of work we have to do.

For example, a single web page can contain the equivalent of many printed pages of text without activating the 30 second rule.  If no extra work is required to handle it, that's fine.  If, however, we have to go through and correct extensive errors in the text as received, the "printed page" rule may apply.

On an e-commerce site, though, a "page" may consist of a single item picture and description.  Using our "standard page" formula, it would only cost a fraction of a regular web page.  Several very simple single item pages would count and be priced as one standard page.

What if I need additional pages?

The prices above include the initial design of your site, which is a significant part of the total.  Additional pages are generally in the $25 to $50 range, depending on their layout, content, and function.  Regular display pages, for example, would be at the low end, while a complex tabular construction or online form would cost more.

What do you mean by degree of readiness?

Some clients come to us with a fully developed plan, with complete, organized contents and pre-processed pictures ready to be translated into a web site.  Others want to make it up as they go along, with frequent changes in direction and an endless stream of modifications and revisions.  Obviously, the second group winds up paying more, and this approach usually results in a less cost-effective site.

Between the extremes, some projects are more organized than others, require fewer corrections and revisions to materials provided, and others..., well, we hope you get the picture.  We want to do the best site we can within your budget, and the better organized and more complete your materials, the better job we can do.

What do you mean by scope and complexity?

The scope of a project is its overall size- how many pages, and how much "ground" does it cover?  The complexity of a site is how complicated it is to achieve what you want.  Sites with extensive interlinking and multiple navigation paths are more complex to create and manage.  Custom artwork and interactive features add to the complexity of a site, and that adds to its finished price tag.

All this sounds pretty complicated.  Why don't you just charge by the hour?

Hourly charges don't really clarify anything, because there's no way to verify the time spent on a project.  A low hourly rate means nothing if work progresses slowly, and a high hourly rate could, if applied efficiently, wind up costing less.  There's no way of even guessing what you're paying for.  Our standard page rates are at least somewhat objectively quantifiable.

How can I know, in advance, how much my web site will cost?

The standard page rule is just a rough guide, but will indicate at least a ballpark figure.  We will be happy to provide a more precise estimate, once we know enough about your project to do so realistically.  Until you agree to a specific price for a specific amount of work, and actual work begins, there is no charge to you.

How do you handle payment?

We work on a "pay as you go" basis, typically with one third of the total estimate up front, one half of the estimated balance about half-way through, and the balance on delivery.

We accept personal and business checks, money orders, or payment via PayPal. 

Who owns the finished site?

Until we have been paid in full, we retain all rights to our work.  Once payment is complete, the site belongs to you.  In addition to uploading files to a web server, we'll provide a CD containing all the files that comprise your site.  In any case, you retain ownership and copyright to all of your original materials.

Do you offer any guarantee?

We cannot guarantee anything beyond our control, such as search engine listings, whether your site gets results, or any services provided by third parties such as domain registration or web site hosting.

We do guarantee to do what we say we'll do.  If we fail to complete a project within the terms of our agreement, and the fault is ours, we'll refund your money.  If the project terminates because you've lost interest or changed your mind, we'll refund any unused portion of advance payments, and convey to you all work you've paid for.

What about ongoing maintenance?

We'll perform ongoing site maintenance, including update of materials, expansion, or addition of components at rates commensurate with the section of "additional pages" above.  Our existing clients find these rates extremely reasonable.

If you prefer, you can perform your own site maintenance via FrontPage or FTP access to your site.  You should be aware, however, that we cannot guarantee the appearance or function of pages modified by anyone but us.

What host options do you offer?

Sites hosted by ThirdStar are $10 monthly, and include no-charge domain name services as long as we host your site.  These packages are suitable for display and information sites, or electronic commerce through PayPal or (these are described in our e-commerce FAQ).

Full e-commerce functionality, with an advanced shopping cart, secure server, shopkeeper interface, and the ability to interface with your merchant account and/or PayPal, is $20 monthly (when paid quarterly).

All host packages include FrontPage or FTP access to your site, and your own "Control Panel" for setting up email and more.

Can I obtain my own host service?

Sure.  We can upload your display, information, or low-option e-commerce site to any host service you choose.  For full e-commerce functions, though, we only work with our recommended service,

Search site submission

Once your site is up and running, we'll submit it to all major search engines and directories, including Google, DMOZ, and Alta Vista.  This service is provided, in various forms, at extra cost all around the Web.  We include it at no additional charge.  In addition, your site will be linked from, which is frequently "crawled" by automated indexers, including some that no longer take submissions.

Additional information

If you have not already done so, please review our e-commerce and website design FAQs,
and review our sample sites.

How do I get started?

The best way to get started is to tell us what you have in mind.  What do you want your web site to accomplish, what kind of contents will it have?  For e-commerce, how many products, and what are they.  The more we know about what you want, the better we can estimate the cost.

To tell us what you have in mind and see what we can do for you, please use our contact form.


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