Having a web presence is, without a doubt, one of the most important sides to running a business. And – newsflash! - it’s been that way for over a decade. But a well-designed website can set you back a large chunk of change. For you – the individuals and small businesses out there – this just isn’t always feasible.
Well, you’ll be glad to know that a professional website can be had for less. Way less. From setting up your site to establishing a presence - stick around and learn from the experts. We’ll be teaching you how to create a beautiful, professional website on a shoestring budget.
Cost Estimate: ~£4-10 annually for a domain, ~£5-10 monthly for hosting.
Before creating your awesome budget website, it helps to answer a few key questions about your company, your website, and your online goals. It might be helpful to write these questions (and answers) down.
What are my direct competitors doing? How are they positioning themselves in your industry? Are they using one-page or multi-page designs?
Learn from your competitors. Being aware of what works and what doesn’t in your industry will define how you brand your website entirely. Check out this article for useful tools to analyse your competitors.
What sets me apart? How can you leverage your identity to get a foot up on your competition? Do you offer a more specific set of skills, products or information? Perhaps your competition have shoddy, unprofessional websites? Whatever it is, list it, and aim to leverage your USPs (unique selling propositions).
What do I want out of my website? Do you want a simple portfolio site? A complex, multi-page ecommerce store? Define your goals – this will impact everything from your domain name through to the web template you choose.
What can I afford? Set a budget. Is it £80, or £800? Whatever it is, allocate beforehand it to ensure you can afford each cost (domain, monthly hosting, themes and any other extras).
Creating Your Domain Name
The name. It’s so simple…and yet so vital. Your name will impact everything from your traffic generation down to how your visitors perceive you as a company. Getting it right is important. Follow these steps to do exactly that:
- Create the name – Ideally, include a relevant keyword about your company (smashingmagazine.com, videobrewery.com). Alternately, come up with an entirely unique, original name (Yahoo.com, Google.com). The importance here is ease of spelling, memorability, and SEO (hence the relevant keyword).
- Check Availability – Search for domain availability on sites like GoDaddy or 123-Reg. Not available? Simply think of an alternative name. For most businesses, a .com extension is ideal. New generic domain extensions are constantly appearing. E.g. - .design for creative businesses, .agency for agencies, and .media for creatives, magazines or blogs. Check out what other extensions there are.
- Host – Now, it’s time to pick your host. Starting at £3/month, Hostgator are an affordable, flexible option. For more intensive use and added functionality, Dreamhost are also a solid choice.
Creating Your Website
Cost Estimate: £0-40 for a theme.
Now that you have your name, it’s time to create your website. Because of our budget limitations, we’re going to be looking at premade or template websites. Before you look so disappointed, realise that these can be every bit as slick and professional as a bespoke website.
At Full Bundle, we prefer Wordpress for quickly creating budget websites that still offer you a huge range of flexibility. Although the platform comes with ‘free’ themes, we recommend you invest a little in a premium theme. Keep in mind – it’s Wordpress.org, not Wordpress.com. The former allows you to self-host and have full creative control. The latter is just a blogging platform.
Alternative Platforms (Optional)
- Drupal (Free) – Drupal is a strong alternative. Slightly more responsive, it’s great for creative companies and businesses with a larger quantity of web data or more complex requirements.
- Squarespace (£8-40 / month) – Simpler than setting up a Wordpress site, Squarespace is a convenient, easy to customise alternative.
Picking Your Theme
ThemeForest is a fantastic place for a wide range of themes. From blogs to ecommerce, the range is limitless. Here are our top picks:
- ecommerce – Flatsome is extremely popular and flexible for a well-designed, responsive online store. Other suggestions: Soffia, BooStore.
- Creative – Salient has that refined, minimal look perfect for your creative portfolios and enterprises. Other suggestions: Beuh, Story, Jarvis.
- Business – Bridge is a fantastic, flexible theme for a range of different business types. Other suggestions: Finanza, Avada.
- Blog – Typer has a clean, crisp design, great for a range of lifestyle, art, food, photography and travel blogs and magazines. Other suggestions: Pandella, Hemlock.
Now that we have a domain, a theme, and a content management system (Wordpress) – it’s time to set your website up.
Here’s an in-depth guide – from domain hosting through to installing your theme. Setting your website up may take some time. However, it should be pretty straightforward. If you find yourself spending hours struggling, refer below!
Professional Setup (Optional)
Cost Estimate: £250-600
Although setting up your Wordpress site and theme is usually doable yourself, it’s still time-consuming, and some complications can arise – depending on your theme and your own abilities. In this case – you might want to hire a professional to help. Wordpress developers or virtual assistants could be useful. Post jobs on platforms such as WPHired (free), Upwork (free) and Guru (free) to find the right person for the job.
Alternatively, Full Bundle is available to help you with setting up your website, including branding, design and development. Contact us for more information.
Logo & Branding (Optional)
Cost Estimate: £30-200
You might consider this splashing out, but a professionally designed logo and company branding can add that finishing touch to your website that makes a serious difference.
As a budget option, we recommend posting a ‘competition’ to Freelancer. Dozens of designers will post their designed entries for your logo/header/banner. Out of these, you can select your favourite – and award them your decided ‘reward’. It’s a great, super affordable way to pick the exact logo you want. If that sounds like too much of a gamble, hire a professional directly. Full Bundle provide bespoke branding and design – have a look at our work.
Building An Online Presence
Cost Estimate: £0
Pat yourself on the back – you now have a slick, stunning, responsive website that truly reflects you, your business, or your project. But wait! There’s more. Creating a successful website takes a bit more work than that. You want to develop an online presence. This means…making the right people aware that you exist. While it takes a bit of regular effort, you’ll truly reap the rewards of your work
- Start A Blog – Creating regular, relevant blog content isn’t just appealing to your visitors. It’s also a great way to boost your search rankings, traffic, and position yourself as an authority in your industry. Posts over 1200 words perform best. Try to create content that is entirely original and offers new insights for your readers. See here for more.
- Create A Newsletter – Use MailChimp to create a mailing list. Regularly update your followers with new information, insights, deals, and updates to keep them interested.
- Get Social – Twitter. LinkedIn. Facebook. Instagram. Create brand pages for each of these. However, it’s important to do more than simply post relevant content. You should also be constantly engaging with your ideal audience, offering insights, and spreading our brand’s message far and wide. This can drive great deal of traffic to your website (always include a link!) and grow your number of brand advocates. Use Hootsuite to plan and organise your social media posts.
- Perfect Your SEO – SEO is a term thrown about a great deal. Simply put, ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ is simply making your website more visible for search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing). Make sure you have a good amount of fresh, relevant content with relevant keywords (static content and blogs). Make sure you’re filling in your metadata descriptions properly. Ensure you have links pointing to relevant sites. Read Moz’s SEO guide – it’s a great introduction. Use keywordtool to find relevant keywords and Buzzsumo to find trending topics for your blogs/articles.
- Keep Improving – Creating a great website is a learning process. Keep learning. From your site’s design to the content you produce regularly, keep honing, keep improving. Ask people for feedback. Above all, keep engaging with your ideal customer’s, and provide them with value. Do that, and they’ll quickly become your advocates.
With this guide, you hopefully have a solid base to create a great website on a shoestring budget. There’s a wealth of great knowledge out there – just take the process one step at a time. If you’d like Full Bundle’s help with branding, design or development – contact us. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.