Being a top-notch web design & development agency, we receive emails almost on daily basis from people who want to make their websites simply stand out and user friendly at the same time. However, many of them are concerned about the cost of a full-fledged website design as it is a mystery until all the website requirements, functionalities and goals are outlines in detail. While a simple 5-page website in plain HTML may cost $500 or less, websites equipped with latest frameworks, state-of-the-art graphics, fully customized content management system & ecommerce features might cost $5000 & above. However, for a business that is just starting up or serving a small area with less ROI, spending that ridiculous amount of investment on a single website isn’t justifiable by any means. And often we are asked by such businesses: “Isn’t there any way to design a decent looking website at a very limited budget until we can afford to hire your professional services?”
While business owners must understand that there is no alternative to professional website design, we understand the limitations faced by such businesses as we’ve experienced the same down the years.
So we chose to share some useful tips to create a DIY website at zero or less cost:
1. Plan your initial budget for website
A website design does not only include budget for the website design & development. Rather it has several other additional costs towards maintenance such as hosting, debugging/troubleshooting, tools & plugins to add new features etc. While design & development costs can be settled in one go, maintenance costs are recurring types (monthly or yearly).
If your financial resources allow you to go beyond hundred dollars per month, then open CMS platforms such as WordPress is the best option for you. If your resource does not allow you to go beyond hundred dollars a month, you can always consider free drag & drop website builders such as WiX, SQUARESPACE & Weebly.
2. Sort your priorities
Yes! Your priorities play great role in budget of your website. For example, do you want to have full control over your website and do things yourself without great knowledge of coding? Or do you want to hand off all the work to a designer / developer?
Drag and drop websites, mentioned above, are a great choice when you don’t want to pay someone else to make all the changes to your website. Though not given full control, you still have some level of control on your website without going over budget.
However, if you’ve the budget in your hand and want to have the most charismatic website with off-the-shelf features, we would recommend going with a full-scale design team that will carry out all the customization work & changes without any hassle.
3. Outline the required features
Website owner often do the mistake of not considering which features they require on their website in much advance to get the job done. Our recommendation to such website owners would be to keep things simple and cut down on features they don’t absolutely need. Rather a lean and functional website, which can be scaled up later at need.
A successful website doesn’t always have all the unnecessary features in it. Rather it understands what its visitors are looking for and offers solutions to their problems in a more simplistic way.
4. What about hosting, website security & maintenance
Only design & development costs are not the only costs associated with a website. Rather additional costs such as website hosting, framework/CMS updates, website security and theme/plugin compatibility etc. cost extra to website owners. These are continuous costs associated with a website monthly/yearly.
Managing the technical aspects of your website is a personal preference. You don’t have to if you don’t want to (with the help of drag & drop website builders). Some people don’t mind it and have the time and resources to deal with it. Some don’t have the time, financial and mental resources. So choose what you want carefully before going for a website.
5. Choose a great theme
When it comes to easy & professional design, a great theme is what makes the difference. If you’ve some little budget in your hand, spend it on a theme as a free them usually won’t cut it. Make sure the theme is mobile responsive, meaning your site will look great on mobiles & tablets.
6. Get a great logo
A logo is symbol for business that people use to remember & recognize a brand. Therefore, you want your logo to be memorable in a good way, not something people can only recall because of how hard they laughed at it. Avoid using free logos from numerous online free logo generators or hand-painted one in MS Paint that certainly looks like a scribble by a toddler. A great logo goes a long way in representing your brand to both online & offline users.
For example, who doesn’t know about the Apple logo or the Swoosh of Nike. If your budget allows you to spend some money on your website, spend it on a professional looking logo.
7. Choose colors wisely
Colors depict a lot about user personas. Therefore, choose colors that will spread out positive viewing experience. A dark colored website will surely inform its users that the website owner does not have a great choice and hence does not care about its users. Look up to websites of some of the big name companies and you’ll notice that they are using color patterns creatively with plenty use of white space to keep up the user engagement high.
Never use to many contrasting color patterns to fill up blank space. Rather it is sometimes beneficial to keep things simple by using white background.
8. Focus on clear & easy navigation
All the professional & best performing websites have one thing in common: they have a clearly planned out navigation that compels their customers to take an action as they want to. If not, they could be losing visitors.
So a key aspect to every design is deciding what action(s) you want your users to take: making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, cash on a discount/offer or simply read an article and start incorporating the process right from your home page which is the most interacted page of a website.
Anticipate any questions your visitors might have and address them through page like “About Us”, “FAQs” or “Our Services”. Each page should have a clearly defined call to action, such as a contact form, or links to guide visitors to designated pages of the site, or clearly placed purchase buttons. Test your website thoroughly multiple times and ensure every link & button is working properly.
We always say there is no alternative to design professional when comes to designing a website. However, it is entirely possible to have a professional looking website within a limited budget on your own. By using a great responsive theme & logo, professional color patterns and user friendly navigation, online presence can be set up without spending a lot of money. And when your business becomes successful, you can always hire a professional designer to make your website look even more professional than ever.
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