Building a Website On a Budget

As a web designer one of the most common questions I’m asked is “how much does a website cost?”. Unfortunately the answer isn’t that simple and my answer usually is how long is a piece of string. The cost of a website is determined by your requirements. A small four page brochure website will be significantly less that a website that sells 4000 products online. You’ll also find the costs vary from one web design firm to another.

When building a website on a budget it’s important that you spend time researching your requirements and planning your website. This will help give both you and your web designer a clear idea of what you are after and what steps to take to ensure a successful online presence.

Define Your Online Goals

The first step in building your website is defining your online goals. What do you want your website to do for your business? Is your goal to sell online, collect leads, inform people or to promote your brand? You may have more than one goal for your site.

So what are the goals of your website?

  • To sell online?
  • To collect targeted leads?
  • To provide information about your products and services?
  • To brand yourself?
  • To provide customer support?
  • To entertain?
  • To build a community?
  • To receive advertising revenue?
  • To reduce printing and mail out costs?

Everything about your website should be geared towards achieving these goals. When deciding on the goals, keep in mind that not all goals need to be achieved at once. It’s often a good idea to prioritize your goals to ensure they are achievable within your budget. For example, you want to sell women’s fashion online but your budget will not initially cover a whole e-commerce store. Consider starting with a site that provides reviews of your latest fashions, a newsletter for people to sign up to, contact details and directions to your offline store. As your site grows in popularity you can add additional features. A really good web designer will have insights into how you can build a website that can scale and support your long term goals. Defining your goals is the first step in realising a successful website. The clearer your they are the better the strategy you will develop, and the easier it is to measure your online success.

Look At Your Budget

Once your website’s goals have been defined it’s time to start looking at your budget. When building your website you’ll need to looks at all the costs involved including the website design, content creation, website hosting and the promotion of your website.

The design of your website can include logo design, graphic creation and photography, such as product photography. Take a look at your current marketing materials and determine what can be used on your website and what will need created from scratch. It’s important to keep in mind that your online image should reflect your offline brand. This can be achieved by using the same logo and colour schemes as well as utilising other elements used in your existing marketing materials.

Content creation more simply refers to the text on your website. This text includes information about your business and the products and/or services you offer. Are you able to write this text yourself or will you require someone to do it for you? The text on your website will also have an impact on your search engine rankings. Incorporating keyword phrases that people would use to search for your products and services should be included within your text. This is part of what is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). It’s worthwhile discussing this with your web designer. Many web designers offer this service or if not should be able to recommend a specialist firm. If you have the time you could also read up and have a go at doing this yourself. At the end of this articles are list some resources to get you started.

Look At Your Website Hosting Options

Your next consideration is choosing a website hosting provider. There are hundreds of thousands of website hosting providers which can make choosing the right one a daunting task. When researching your available options keep in mind the following:

1. Reliability
2. Speed
3. Storage Space
4. Scalability
5. Support

Once again your web designer should be able to help you choose a website hosting provider to suit your budget and requirements.

Website Promotion

The final consideration in developing your budget is the promotion of your website. A common mistake is the assumption that if you build it they will come. Not so. The internet is huge, and growing every day, if you want people to visit your site you need to promote it, just like you would an offline business. Website promotion can include a multitude activities including:

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
  • Link Building
  • Newsletter Creation
  • Blogs
  • Promotions
  • Forums

There is far too much to cover here but I’ve provided some references at the end of the article to get you started.

When it comes to setting your online budget I often find it’s better to look at your budget in terms of what you are prepared to spend in the first 12 months as opposed to just budgeting the initial development of your website. By having a budget for the first 12 months you and your web designer can look at the best way to allocate your money. It may be that you spend 60% building and hosting your website and the remaining 40% to promote it.

Talk To Potential Web Designers

Once you have defined your website’s goals and set a budget it’s time to start talking to potential web designers.

Don’t be afraid to let the web designers you’re talking to know what your budget is. Even a ballpark figure is better than keeping them in the dark. Any professional web designer will work with you to ensure that you get the maximum bang for your buck. By keeping your budget quiet they have no way to ensure they are giving you their best possible advice or recommendations. Consider the analogy of buying a car. If you’re in the market for a new car you need to give the salesperson an idea of what you are prepared to spend and what you want in car so they can make the best recommendations. It’s the same when building a website.

When talking to potential clients I always say when choosing a web designer – don’t just go with the cheapest designer. Go with the one you can relate to. The one who makes sense and seems to be on your wavelength. As long as your budget is reasonable a professional web designer should be able to work with you to develop a successful solution. You and your web designer should be a team working toward the mutual goal of building a successful website within your budget. The more you work as a team the more likely that your end product will be a success.

Summing It Up

In conclusion in order to build a successful website on a budget you need to spend some time developing your site’s goals and setting a realistic budget that will allow you to meet those goals. Armed with this knowledge you are ready to choose the right web designer who can help you realise your vision and help you build a successful website.

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