Total Cost of Ownership

There are costs associated with self-hosted CMS products that are often overlooked. This guide is meant to help the cost-conscious business better understand the cost of owning a Craft site.

When is Craft the right choice? #

Small businesses often turn to website-builder platforms like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly for good reasons. Those services eliminate the cost of design, development, and maintenance. They also provide scalable hosting for low monthly fees. If any of them meet your requirements, then we think they’re an excellent choice.

Craft is the right choice when your requirements exceed what a website-builder platform can provide. If you need a custom design, third-party service integrations, or any other unique feature, then you need designers and developers to build a bespoke solution for you. In that case, the developer is the website-builder, and Craft allows you to edit and publish content within the context of your custom design.

Craft is self-hosted, so there are costs beyond design and development to consider. You could think of it as moving from an apartment to a custom-built home where you are responsible for maintenance and repairs.

Cost of Craft Licenses #

See our pricing page for current pricing information. Each license includes one year of access to software updates, then an optional yearly fee for continued access to updates. Keep in mind that the recurring payments provide access to software updates, not the application of the updates to your website. Updates should be applied by a knowledgable developer.

Cost of Custom Design and Development #

Design and development costs vary depending on who you hire. Freelancers generally charge $75 to $150 per hour. High profile agencies sometimes charge more than that. Budgets can range from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you are looking for an agency to partner with, take a look at our Partners search page.

Cost of Hosting #

Craft needs to run on a server that meets some minimum requirements. Servers need to be configured by knowledgable developers who also deploy your website for you.

Think of hosting as a garage where you can park your car. The management is only responsible for the environment, but not the maintenance of your vehicle. You’ll need a mechanic of your own.

Our Hosting Partners #

See our hosting partners page for hosting options that are guaranteed to run Craft. Plans start at $5 per month for low-traffic, low-storage websites. Plan to spend more for mission-critical sites.

Shared Hosting vs. VPS #

A shared hosting plan is one where your website runs on the same server as several other websites. That allows hosting providers to charge bargain basement prices per website.

We advise against shared hosting plans. Many of them don’t meet Craft’s minimum requirements. They are also subject to performance issues and changes that could break your Craft-powered website.

We recommend that, at minimum, Craft runs on a virtual private server that is provisioned and maintained by knowledgeable engineers. VPS prices for moderate traffic websites can be as low as $10 per month, but the cost of maintenance depends on who you hire.

Cost of Maintenance #

Ongoing maintenance costs are easy to overlook at the beginning of a project. We release frequent updates and occasional security fixes. Ideally, a developer should apply those updates. Updates are best tested thoroughly on a staging server before deployment to the production environment. We recommend that you have a maintenance contract with a capable developer or agency.

Depending on your risk tolerance, it is possible to ignore updates as long as your site is running without any issues. The cost of regular maintenance, however, is often less expensive than the cost of repair should something go wrong, and sometimes failure can be catastrophic. We don’t anticipate that Craft updates will fail, but when they do, it’s usually due to a server environment issue or lack of experience.

Questions? #

If you have any specific questions, please reach out to us at support@craftcms.com.