I’ve often stated there is no excuse for any business to ignore its online presence. That said, I can completely understand how many small businesses find the cost of having a site designed discouraging. A quality design from a skilled, reputable designer can cost several thousand dollars and while the cost is justifiable many small businesses simply don’t have that kind of capital to lay out.
That said, the modern truth is that a solid website is imperative to success. Finding affordable web design doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience. There are several options to meet your goals on a tight budget.
Do it Yourself
One way to create an affordable web site is to do it yourself. Many web hosing services offer a website building tool or template system that can get you up and running quickly. The down side to this is that you are often very limited on what you can do and only have a small number of canned themes to work with. In the end you end up with a site that looks amateurish and blends in with the hundreds of other sites created under the same system.
Another option would be to use Microsoft Word to create a web page, but it most likely won’t look right. Word places proprietary code in the background that doesn’t really translate to the web very well. The code ends up being sloppy, inefficient, and can adversely affect your page load times as the browser tries to navigate all the extraneous code.
Your best option for doing it yourself would be to create a website from scratch, but that requires you to know how to code HTML and CSS at the very least. Additionally, unless you happen to already be well versed in web design and development it will be more difficult to track down problems due to inexperience.
Use Free Templates
The Internet is chock full of free website templates. These are basic websites you can simply plug into your web server and have a fully functional site. The only thing required from you is your time to set up your site content. The disadvantage is they don’t represent a unique appearance for your site because they are free and thus very commonly used. This is especially true if you use one of the free blogging platforms like blogger.com or wordpress.com. Using the free templates for those sites (WordPress calls them “themes”) means your site won’t stick out from the crowd and you’ll run into similar issues as with the site design tools I mentioned earlier. Additionally, free themes and templates often come with limited support if they’re supported at all. In all likelihood you’ll be on your own if you run into problems.
Use Premium Templates
One of the easiest ways around the problem of creating an affordable web presence is by purchasing a premium template or theme. These themes are a kind of step up from the free ones because you actually have to pay for them. They are an improvement over free themes and templates in a couple of ways. First, they often come with support. If you have a problem installing it or making it work you can usually contact the developer and get some help. Secondly, because you have to pay for them they won’t be as commonly used as the free templates. While your site won’t necessarily be unique it also won’t be as likely to blend in with all the other sites using the same theme or template.
Find a Designer Willing to Work Within Your Budget
By far the best option for affordable web design is to find a designer willing to work within your budget. While there are some premium shops that won’t even talk to you for less than $10,000 (no, that’s not a typo) many smaller shops and freelancers will work for much less. How much exactly will depend largely on what you can negotiate with the designer, but if you shop around you’re certain to find a quality designer who is willing to work with you. The Internet is an excellent resource for locating local design shops who might be willing to work on a tight budget. Working directly with a designer means you’ll get a site design tailor fit to your business and vision.
Affordable web design is not an impossible goal to meet. There are many options available, each with its own pros and cons. Ultimately it is up to you to decide which option works best for your specific situation.