Avoiding hidden costs in WordPress Development

WordPress Development Costs

The hidden costs of WordPress Development are something that can surprise business owners. You’ve created a budget for your web development project and you’ve hired a WordPress developer only to find out there are extra costs that you weren’t expecting.

Some of these hidden costs are unavoidable but some are. When you hire a WordPress developer, asking the right questions upfront can save you from some nasty surprises down the track. In fact, a reputable WordPress developer won’t need to be asked. They will let you know what kind of hidden fees will be payable further down the track.

In this article, our Sydney WordPress developers will outline the most common extra costs and fees that you might encounter when launching your new website.

Domain Registration and Hosting

Before diving into website customisation, selecting a reliable hosting provider and registering a domain are the primary steps. While basic hosting services might appear budget-friendly, several hidden costs can quickly escalate expenses.

One common pitfall is the allure of add-on services offered during checkout. These add-ons, such as site backups and SSL certificates, can accumulate costs and become significant over time. Additionally, domain renewal fees are often overlooked, catching website owners by surprise when the bill arrives.

As WordPress developers with over 18 years experience developing WordPress sites for businesses across Sydney, we are often asked if we can just register the domain for the client. And to this question we always advise the client that it is better and safer to register the domain themselves.

By registering your own domain you will have 100% ownership and control over the domain and avoid the nightmare scenarios we have seen where a client has been asked for extortionate fees to transfer the domain to the business owner.

Theme and Plugin Licenses

As a WordPress site owner, you’re likely aware of the vast library of themes and plugins available to personalise your website effortlessly. However, it’s essential to consider that many of these premium themes and plugins come with annual licensing fees. At first glance, these costs might seem trivial, but as you add more premium tools to your arsenal, the cumulative expenses can quickly become significant.

When deciding on which premium themes and plugins to invest in, it’s crucial to evaluate their value and potential impact on your site’s functionality and aesthetics. Opt for tools that align with your specific needs and long-term goals. This way, you can optimise your website while keeping costs in check.

When approaching a website development project for a client, our WordPress developers will always seek out the free version of a plugin and use that if it is suitable for that particular business.

For example, some businesses need nothing more than a simple form on their contact us page which is when we would use a free contact form plugin like Contact Form 7 for during the WordPress development project.

Other businesses may require complex quotation forms with inbuilt calculations and conditional fields. For sites like this we would recommend using a premium plugin like Gravity Forms which comes with an annual license fee.

When you hire a WordPress developer, ask them about the theme and plugins they will be using and what kind of annual fees are involved to keep the plugin and theme up to date.

Security Monitoring

A crucial element of every WordPress development project should be the site’s security. Hackers will seek out websites that have security vulnerabilities and attempt to exploit those weaknesses. This can sometimes take the form of injecting your website with spammy hidden pages which flood the search engines or can be as serious as someone stealing your site’s private data such as your user’s names and details.

Luckily, WordPress has a lot of tools available to help keep your website safe. Plugins like WordFence or Sucuri will add a firewall to your website and help protect you from the most common forms of attack.

However these tools do need to be monitored. When Wordfence discovers malicious code on your website it needs to notify someone of the attack so they can take action.

Many WordPress website owners will choose to monitor these firewall notifications themselves but for those who prefer to be less hands on in managing their website, regular security monitoring of your website can be an extra hidden cost you might need to factor into to your WordPress development budget.

Whilst this may be a frustrating addition to your budget, the cost of recovering from a hacked website can be much much higher and in cases where your customer’s private data is stolen and leaked, it can prove costly from a legal standpoint too.

Investing in security services comes with an associated cost, but the peace of mind and protection it provides for your website are well worth it. By budgeting for security monitoring, you take a proactive approach to safeguarding your online presence.

Updates and Maintenance

As well as using a firewall and monitoring the security of your WordPress website, keeping your WordPress website up to date is another key factor in keeping your website secure, hack free and performing at its peak.

WordPress regularly adds new features and security patches to it’s code as will all themes and plugins (both free and paid) which will keep your website protected. These updates can be performed by anyone and often only involve clicking an update button.

However, updates can go wrong and when they do go wrong it can break your website.

In such cases, it’s wise to consider enlisting the services of a developer or subscribing to a maintenance service. A professional WordPress developer will ensure that your website stays up-to-date with the latest features, bug fixes, and security patches.

While this incurs an additional expense, it is an investment in the long-term sustainability of your website, preventing potential issues down the road.


Another hidden WordPress development cost can be Search Engine Optimisation. You could have a million dollar website built for your company but it will remain largely pointless if people can’t find it on Google and that is where SEO comes into play.

WordPress was built with SEO in mind which is why free plugins such as Yoast SEO and All in One SEO are so easy to use.

However, using those plugins incorrectly can damage your website’s SEO so it is important to check with your WordPress developer if they plan to optimise your website for search engines before hiring them.

At WP Focus, every WordPress development project we work on comes with free on-site SEO worth $1500, but other WordPress developers may choose to charge you for this service or even ignore it completely. If that is the case then SEO should be factored in to your WordPress development project to avoid you needing to hire someone further down the line.

Payment Gateway Fees for WooCommerce

We love WooCommerce and enjoy seeing the success our WooCommerce development clients have had with their websites. If you are developing an online store, hiring a WooCommerce developer will be at the top of your to-do-list.

WooCommerce offers businesses all the tools they will need to start selling online, many of them free.

The most critical of these tools are the payment gateways like Stripe or PayPal. There are hundreds of ways for you to get paid for selling your products via WooCommerce but all of them will come with the unavoidable cost of payment gateway fees.

These fees are typically charged per transaction and can vary depending on the payment processor you choose. As your sales volumes increase, so do the payment gateway expenses.

To manage these costs effectively, it’s crucial to strike a balance between transaction fees and the benefits offered by the chosen payment processor. Consider factors such as transaction speed, security features, and compatibility with your target audience’s preferred payment methods.

Email Marketing

A lot of WordPress site owners will often request a lead capture form on their website to help them build an email marketing list.

Services like Mailchimp and HubSpot integrate perfectly with WordPress and they provide free plugins that make lead capture easy on any WordPress website.

However, as your subscriber list grows, the cost of email marketing services and lead generation tools may become a concern. Most email marketing service providers will provide a free tier of membership that will allow you to send certain amount of emails to a limited number of contacts. When you go beyond this level you will be required to upgrade to a monthy subscription for these services.

WordPress Design Cost

A WordPress developer will build your website, but who will design it? The answer to that question will greatly affect the cost of your web development project.

Some business owners will choose to work with a graphic designer prior to hiring a WordPress Developer so the WordPress developer will know exactly what is needed from the start. Working with a graphic designer can add significant cost to your WordPress development project.

A graphic designer will be able to create an amazing design for your website. However, if you work with a graphic designer who does not specialise in web design, you may need to allocate more towards your WordPress development project.

Working with a graphic designer who does not specialise in web design can see you end up with a design that looks amazing on certain screen sizes but not on others. A website’s design needs to look great on phones, tablets, laptops and giant desktop screens and an expert web designer will factor these designs into their design.

If the graphic designer doesn’t consider how their design will look on all devices, the WordPress developer you hire will need to factor in those changes into the development costs.

To keep your WordPress development costs even lower, a web designer is great but a WordPress developer who also specialises in WordPress design is even better! Hiring a WordPress developer who can also design your website will save you money as they will design around the necessary structure and functionalities instead of doing it the other way around!

WordPress Customisation Cost

If you don’t need to hire a WordPress designer and have instead opted to purchase a prebuilt theme from a website like Themeforest you won’t need to spend too much on customisation right?

Well…. yes and no.

If you purchase a theme on a site like Themeforest, the best way to avoid any hidden costs is to ensure that the theme you like is as close as possible to the final structure and layout of your website.

Prebuilt themes will always look great in the demo and if you choose to keep the same structure as the demo, you won’t need to pay for any extra WordPress development costs. However, choosing a theme and then requesting structural changes can see the WordPress development costs start to rise.

For example, a section of the theme you purchased may look great in a 4 column structure. If you need to increase or decrease the number of columns, the WordPress developer you hire will need to alter the code to restructure the layout on all devices.

When working with a client to help them choose a prebuilt theme, our WordPress developers will often use the analogy of buying a house. Painting and decorating the house and hanging up the photos is cheap, moving the walls around and lowering the roof….not so cheap!

Prebuilt WordPress themes hidden costs

Prebuilt WordPress themes can be a great starting point for business’ looking for a more affordable WordPress development solution. Some will come with a lifetime update license which will allow you to receive maintenance and security updates for as long as the developers stay in business.

However a lot of prebuilt WordPress themes from sites like Themeforest will come bundled with a page builder plugin like Elementor, WP Bakery or Divi and those will require a licence to keep updated after a year of use.

This can come as unexpected cost for website owners, especially when an update to theme breaks their website as the page builder plugin requires an update too.

When you purchase a prebuilt WordPress theme, finding a theme that doesn’t require any extra premium plugins to work can save you paying for annual renewals.

Changing the WordPress development plan

Planning a WordPress development project can be a difficult and time consuming task for a lot of business owners, especially when they have so many other day to concerns managing and growing their business.

As your WordPress developer builds your website, what was once conceptual will now become real and as you watch it develop, what you thought was a good idea may not look so good or something you hadn’t considered may suddenly become essential.

This is normal and happens to almost every new WordPress website owner and is something our WordPress developers see all the time.

The safest way to avoid these unexpected changes to speak with an experienced WordPress developer right from the start.

An expert WordPress developer will be able to help you plan your website by suggesting features and functionalities you may not have considered and help you understand the best way to take your site visitors where they need to get to – whether that’s purchasing a product, signing up for a newsletter or requesting a quote from you.

Content Creation

At WP Focus, we are known for being able to develop high performing and great looking WordPress websites quickly and efficiently without sacrificing on quality. We’ve designed and developed full WordPress websites in as little as 5 hours however, the biggest factor in determining how quickly a WordPress website is built is usually how quickly we receive the site’s text and images.

The content needed for a website can often be the slowest part of any WordPress development project. Writing pages of content for every page of your website takes time as does preparing and uploading images or products to your website.

Content creation and uploading that content to your website is a simple question of your time vs someone else’s time. If you are able to provide your own content you will be able to save a lot of money in your WordPress development budget.


In conclusion, embarking on your WordPress development project without being mindful of hidden costs can lead to financial surprises and budget overruns. From domain registration and hosting to theme licenses, security monitoring, and SEO, each aspect comes with its share of concealed expenses.

By planning carefully, conducting thorough research, and being aware of the potential burstiness in costs, website owners can navigate these challenges effectively.

When you hire a WordPress developer, ask them about the ongoing costs as well as any potential surprise costs they might face down the line. An experienced and reliable WordPress developer will be able to help you plan and get the most out of your WordPress development budget and help you avoid any nasty surprises.


Can I develop a WordPress website entirely for free?

While WordPress itself is open-source and free to use, there are additional expenses you need to consider for a fully functional website. The primary costs typically involve hosting, domain registration, premium themes, and plugins.

These elements are essential to create a professional and feature-rich website that meets your specific needs. Although you can find free themes and plugins, premium ones often offer better support, updates, and customisation options, which may require some investment.

Are all theme and plugin licenses annual?

Not all, but many premium themes and plugins come with annual licensing fees for continuous support and updates. These annual fees are crucial to ensure your website remains secure and up-to-date with the latest features and improvements.

While some developers offer lifetime licenses, most opt for annual subscriptions to sustain ongoing development efforts and provide consistent customer support. It’s important to check the licensing terms before purchasing any theme or plugin to understand the payment structure.

Can I handle WordPress updates myself?

If you possess technical skills and are familiar with WordPress, you can certainly manage updates on your own. WordPress usually notifies users about available updates for themes, plugins, and the core software.

However, keep in mind that updating these components may sometimes lead to compatibility issues, especially if you are using multiple plugins or custom code. Some website owners prefer professional assistance to ensure smooth updates and avoid potential conflicts that could affect their site’s functionality.

How do I manage burstiness in development costs?

Burstiness in development costs refers to unexpected spikes in expenses during the website building process.

To manage this effectively, it’s essential to set aside a contingency fund from the outset. As you plan your budget, consider allocating a portion for unforeseen expenses that may arise during development.

Additionally, conduct thorough research to understand the potential costs associated with various aspects of website development, such as third-party services, customisations, and additional functionalities. This proactive approach will help you handle unexpected expenses with minimal impact on your overall budget.

Is SEO necessary for a new website?

While SEO is not a mandatory requirement, investing in it can have a significant impact on your new website’s success. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) involves various strategies aimed at improving your website’s visibility in search engine results.

By optimising your site for relevant keywords and enhancing its overall user experience, you increase the likelihood of attracting organic traffic and potential customers. Neglecting SEO can limit your website’s reach and make it harder for users to discover your valuable content and offerings.

How can I improve my website’s SEO performance?

Improving your website’s SEO performance involves a combination of technical optimisations and content enhancements.

Start by conducting keyword research to identify relevant terms and phrases that your target audience uses to find products or services similar to yours. Incorporate these keywords naturally into your content, titles, and meta descriptions.

Additionally, ensure your website’s structure is user-friendly and responsive across different devices, as mobile-friendliness is a crucial ranking factor.

Regularly create valuable and engaging content to attract backlinks and improve your website’s authority in search engine algorithms.

Should I use free or premium themes and plugins?

The choice between free and premium themes and plugins depends on your specific needs and budget. Free themes and plugins can be a good starting point, especially if you’re on a tight budget. However, they may have limited features, customisation options, and support.

Premium themes and plugins usually offer more advanced functionalities, regular updates, and dedicated customer support. If you want a professional and highly customisable website with reliable support, investing in premium themes and plugins is often a wise decision.

What security measures should I implement for my WordPress website?

Ensuring the security of your WordPress website is crucial to protect it from potential threats and attacks. Start by using strong and unique passwords for all user accounts, especially for administrators.

Regularly update your themes, plugins, and the WordPress core to patch any vulnerabilities. Install a reputable security plugin that offers features like malware scanning, firewall protection, and login attempt monitoring.

Additionally, consider using an SSL certificate to encrypt data transmitted between your website and visitors, enhancing security and trust.

How can I improve my website’s loading speed?

A fast-loading website is essential for providing a positive user experience and better search engine rankings. To improve loading speed, optimise your images by compressing them without sacrificing quality.

Minify and concatenate CSS and JavaScript files to reduce the number of requests the browser needs to make. Consider using caching plugins to store static content, reducing the server’s load and loading times.

Furthermore, choose a reliable and efficient hosting provider that offers good server performance and response times.

Can I customise my WordPress website without coding knowledge?

Yes, you can customise your WordPress website without extensive coding knowledge. WordPress offers a user-friendly interface with drag-and-drop builders and customiser options. You can easily change your website’s appearance, layout, and colors using pre-designed themes and templates.

Additionally, various plugins allow you to add advanced functionalities without writing a single line of code. However, if you require complex customisations or unique features, you might need to hire a professional developer with expertise in WordPress.

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