If you’re a small business owner who followed our recent Website Design Awards posts you might be despairing about how to acheive a great website on a low budget.

As we getfurther into the 21st Century more and more people are not onlygetting online but also becoming more comfortable using the internet to dobusiness. Things that used to involve trips and telephone calls are now moreand more likely to be achieved with a few mouse clicks or taps on asmartphone.  In this environment it’sclear that any business without a great website is going to suffer.

But if you’relooking for a first website for your business it’s probably the case that youdon’t have loads of cash to splash. You need a site that does what you need withoutcosting the earth – but how do you get it? Is affordable webdesign possible or is it always the case that designing a website hasto make a significant hole in your working capital?

Let’s look atthe available options for a first website in order of increasing cost so youcan decide where on the scale your website budget lies.

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Build Your Own Website from Scratch

If you’retechnically inclined and have a lot of time on your hands you might decide tobite the bullet, learn HTML and CSS and build a website yourself. While this isdefinitely an achievable option and will cost you next to nothing (you’ll stillneed to pay for hosting), if you’re setting up or already running your ownbusiness you almost certainly

don’t have the time. Also, the rudiments ofwebsite coding won’t get you beyond simple, static websites – for realfunctionality you’ll need more advanced skill which will take years to master.

Cost:Negligible, Time required: Extreme, Quality: Depends on your skill

Build a WordPress Site Yourself

WordPress isa free, open source platform for building websites and blogs. Registering andgetting something simple up online is quick and easy. There are untold numbersof WordPress plugins available from third party developers which can add almostany kind of functionality to your site. It also makes designing your site a lotsimpler – there are many, many different free WordPress themes to choose from. Thedownside are these: WordPress is primarily a blog platform which makes buildingother kinds of website tricky; good WordPress themes are shared by hundreds ofsites which all end up looking run-of-the-mill; it still takes a long time to configure add-ons, themes and pluginsbefore you even get down to content publishing; plugins , themes and apps fromthird parties can be unstable and contain malicious code which damages yoursite or severely slows it down. In other words, unless you already feel confidentbuilding a site yourself, a lot of work is still required to explore andresearch which WordPress tools are right for your site and install themcorrectly.

Cost:Negligible, Time required: Loads, Quality: Unpredictable

 

Buy a ‘Build Your Own Website’ Type Package

There are ahuge number of website providers out there offering you the chance to set upyour own site for between £5 and £30 per month. The cost usually includeshosting and the packages at the more expensive end often include shopping cart softwarefor running an online shop. These can be a great solution for a home businessor sole trader. You will end up with a fairly average looking website though asyou’ll have to select from a limited number of site templates which you’ll thenspend many an hour tweaking. The software used to construct these sites canalso be quite unstable and lead to glitches and problems that are difficult toresolve for beginners. The major drawback with these sites though is that ifyou cancel your subscription your website disappears (or at least is very, verydifficult to move to another provider).

Cost: Low,Time required: Medium, Quality: Low

 

Hire a Professional Web Designer

The mostexpensive option of the bunch but with web design prices at their lowest ever levelit doesn’t need to break the bank. You can get custom web design for around£200 these days – though that budget will normally only get you a basicbrochure style website. If you’re looking for a site with a content managementsystem or online shop you’ll need to spend a bit more. With such a wealth ofoptions available – there are literally thousands of web designers out there – shoppingaround for the most affordable option really works. Using a free CMS likeWordPress or Drupal or free shopping cart software like Zen Cart can help keepprices manageable so find a web designer comfortable with using them.

Cost: High, Time required: Minimal, Quality: Best

 

In conclusion,the extra cost involved in hiring a professional is well worth it. Unlesslearning web design skills is integral to your future business plans you almostcertainly don’t have the time to learn HTML and CSS or spend hours fiddlingwith WordPress plugins. While ‘build your own’ site tools are relatively to quickto set up they won’t provide you with a site that has personality and aren’t agood platform for future development of your site. For a few hundred poundsspent with a trustworthy low cost web designer you’ll get a unique and personalised websitefor your business that forms a great jumping off point for any online marketingactivities – and in today’s digital world, that’s money well spent.

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