When it comes to setting up a website there are a number of options open to you and the cost really depends on the type of website that you need and whether you want to build it yourself or have someone build it for you.
In this article we will quickly spell out several options for you so that you can understand the options and make an informed decision.
The main options we will look at are:
- Building Your Own Website
- Building A Template Based Website Using a Content Management System (CMS)
- Building A Custom Made Website
Your Business Case Dictates Your Investment
Before we look at the options, what I would say from personal experience is that your business case must justify any investment that you make in building your website. If you are just starting out and you have a low budget then getting a custom made website with all the bells and whistles that costs thousands is not maybe the best use of your budget.
A better approach would maybe to get something basic but functional and then invest in a more professional design once you can see that you are getting traffic.
For example, we recently analysed over 500 UK B2B (Business to Business) websites to see what factors made a website get a high ranking. B2B covers things like Accountants, Printers and Training Companies – businesses that mainly sell to other businesses.
What we found was that some quite simple factors made the difference between getting a high ranking and a low ranking. We have prepared a short report which you can access and which explains these points.
Of course, if you are for example an eCommerce business that is established and you find that you are outgrowing your current website then that is a different situation that justifies a more significant investment.
The point I am making is that if you are just starting out you are in a different boat to an established business and you don’t need to have a massive budget or an amazing website to get a high ranking. Your initial focus should be to have a basic but professional online presence and allocate your budget to building traffic.
But for now, let’s assume that you are just starting out and a good point to begin would be the do it yourself option using a Website Builder Tool.
Low Cost Web Design Option – Website Builder
A Website Builder tool does exactly what its name suggests. It is a tool intended for people to build and maintain their own website with minimal web design or technical skills.
In terms of cost this is definitely the cheapest and in terms of ease of use it is definitely the easiest.
Pickaweb offers Website Builder with all of our web hosting plans. There is a demo Website Builder you can try.
How Much Does Website Builder Cost?
Cost wise you are looking at a Budget Hosting Plan – check our hosting packages for up to date pricing. There are zero costs for the Website Builder software as it’s included in all hosting plans.
What Are The Advantages of Website Builder?
With Website Builder the main advantages are low cost, template based, speed to get online, ease of use, it covers the basic functionality you require and it is easy to update and maintain your site.
You access Website Builder through your web hosting control panel so there is nothing to download or configure.
Website Builder is template based so you just choose the one you want and start t customise it. Many of the templates are Responsive so that means that they are mobile ready which is really important these days.
You can add pages and link between them very easily. There is no limit on the number of pages.
You can add your logo and other images and you can add your own text so it is easy to customise your content.
It also has features like contact forms to collect people’s contact details and maps so that your customers can locate you.
In terms of getting found in Google it allows you to add your keywords in the Metatags of your website and also other SEO (Search Engine Optimization) features like Headings.
You can link up your website to our favourite social media accounts so you’re covered in terms of the social web.
You can easily link up to Google Analytics too so you can see how many visitors you’re getting.
There is even a limited Ecommerce feature so that you can accept payments for your products using PayPal.
We have a full Website Builder Instruction Manual that runs through the main points.
What Are The Limitations Of Website Builder?
I would say that if you are just starting out and your budget is tight then Website Builder is an excellent option.
However, if you want to start adding more features like a blog or if you are selling online then you will probably need to think about a more robust solution.
The templates are very good quality too, but if you start to grow your business then you may feel that you require something more personalised and bespoke to reflect your individual image.
My personal feeling is that Website Builder is appropriate for people just starting out and who need to get online with the minimum of hassle and cost involved.
Your website will look professional enough for people to trust you and it has all the basic features you will need to get found in Google and to collect customer contact details.
Once you start getting visitors you may then feel that you can justify investing in a more robust, long term solution.
Regarding scalability and SEO we will soon look at Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress which offer these advantages for you.
Let’s turn our attention there now.
Medium Cost Option – Template Based Design Using A CMS (Like WordPress)
Content Management Systems are tools that allow users to build and maintain websites via an administration area.
We have prepared a comparison of the most popular CMS for you.
How Much Does A CMS Cost?
Cost wise you are looking at a Starter Plan – check our hosting plans for up to date pricing. The reason you need the Starter Plan is that you require a MySQL Database.
In this option we are looking at using a Template based design. If you choose WordPress these are called Themes. A decent Responsive (mobile friendly) Theme will cost anywhere from £30 to £70 (about $50 to $100).
If you find that you need to get a Designer on board then you could be paying anywhere from $15 to $50 per hour for a sub contractor. If you use a local designer and you are using a template then you would need to check whether they would be prepared to work on an hourly rate and get a written estimate of the number of hours involved.
The advantage of using a local designer is the one to one contact if you are not comfortable using an online designer.
What Are The Advantages Of Building A Website With A CMS Like WordPress?
One of the real advantages of CMS is that they are free because they are OpenSource Software. They are also really easy to install through cPanel using the one click installation feature called Softaculous.
Also there are loads of ready made templates you can choose from. If you do decide to use a Template then check that it is a Responsive Design so that it is mobile friendly. Having a mobile friendly website is really important these days because people are increasingly browsing via their phones, tablets and other mobile devices.
In terms of ease of use a CMS has a steeper learning curve than Website Builder. If you are a complete novice you will need to be prepared for some trial and error.
However, if you are prepared to make a moderate investment you will easily be able to find a web designer to help you. This is especially true of the most popular CSM like WordPress. A whole industry has grown up around supporting WordPress. It is not an exotic tool and if you are not happy with the results from your contractor you can find another one.
In terms of features these types of CMS are extremely powerful and scalable so once you’ve made the switch it is unlikely that you will ever need to use another CMS again although you can change the design and still keep the underlying framework.
Another really important point is that these CMS have loads of extra functionality that you can add through addon software. With WordPress these are called Plugins and there are thousands of them to choose from.
Initially you might not think that this is an important point but over time you will discover that Plugins give you loads of useful features. For example there are loads of SEO plugins like Yoast that will help you optimise your content to make them more search engine friendly.
If you choose WordPress then another really major advantage is its SEO friendliness. WordPress started out as a pure blogging platform but has now developed into a fully fledged CMS but it performs very strongly in terms of SEO. It won’t do it on itself – you need to create the content, but it will work with you, not against you.
Disadvantages Of Using A CMS
This is a very short section because there aren’t many disadvantages to speak of.
Sure, if you are a complete newbie then you might find it difficult to get started. But if you are prepared to persevere then you should get the hang of it fairly quickly.
If all else fails then you can hire a designer to help you at a fairly low cost as these types of CMS are not exotic tools and there are plenty of skilled designers that can help you at a reasonable cost.
Build A Custom Made Website
Probably the most expensive option is to get a custom built website. However, the big advantage is that you get the design you want, exactly as you want it.
If you do decide to go down this route then here are a few pointers to make sure you get the best result.
First, consider getting a design that can be used with a CMS like WordPress. The last thing you want is to be tied into some exotic software that nobody else knows how to use. If that happens you may find that the ongoing costs can start to mount up as you have to always use the same designer to make the changes.
Another disadvantage of using an unknown system is that it may have a limited set of features which may restrict what you can do with your website in the future. CMS like WordPress and Joomla have thousands of Plugins so you need to make sure that you can take advantage of them.
Also you must ensure that your design is Responsive Design based. That means that it is mobile friendly and it works on all mobile devices like phones and tablets. Apart from the fact that more and more people are browsing on their mobile devices, mobile friendliness is a stated Google ranking factor. That basically means that Google prefers mobile friendly websites. Over time, if your site is not mobile friendly you could find yourself penalised in their rankings which means less traffic.
Always ensure that you see previous examples of their work and ask for references so that you can speak to their previous clients. This will ensure that they can deliver on their promises and you get real feedback from real customers.
Another option to consider is using a web design competition tool like 99Designs. This is where you describe your design requirements and the price you are prepared to pay and competing designers will provide their designs for you to choose from. Once you are satisfied with the design you announce a winner and they will deliver the finished design for you.
It should be noted that this type of service delivers the design look in PSD format. You would then need to get the html ‘cut’ and then get the website built. This is an important point because a skilled designer will still need to complete these tasks and this will push the price up considerably.
How Much Will A Custom Website Cost?
This is a tough question because it all depends on your requirements. If you use a local designer and you want say 10 pages and you want it to be based on WordPress and be Responsive then you could be looking at anything up to £1000 (around $1500) or more. That is a pure estimate and there will be plenty of really top quality local designers who may sniff at that price and could easily charge double.
Likewise you may go online to sites like guru or upwork and get a custom price of maybe $500 for the same requirement. The beauty of these sites is that you can see their portfolio of work and also see the customer feedback.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Getting A Custom Built Website?
Of course, whilst you will get the website you want, it comes at a price, so cost is the main issue here.
Also, as long as you ensure that it is compatible with a popular CMS like WordPress then you shouldn’t have any ongoing issues in terms of maintaining, securing and updating your website. Should you be obliged to use the designer’s CMS then this could have implications down the line as you are obliged to always refer to them for updates, etc..
Building a website is an important consideration and there are several choices available to you.
If you are just starting out and your budget is tight then Website Builder is a good option. For an extremely low price you can have a fully featured and professional looking website online in next to no time.
For just a few pounds per year it will give you all the main features you need but as your business grows you may then want to invest in a more robust, longer term solution.
A good step up is to use a CMS like WordPress or Joomla. These are amazing, free software that you will probably not need to upgrade from again once you have moved to the CMS platform.
They are free with our hosting so costs are just a few pounds per month and if you choose a ready made template this would only cost around £50 to £100. You may need to get a designer to help you build everything so you would need to budget several hundred pounds if you go down the template route.
These CMS offer a bewildering array of extra functionality through software plugins and they are well known and supported tools so you will always be able to get help.
If you really want something individual and tailored to your needs then look at a custom web design. However, try to ensure that it is compatible with a CMS like WordPress. Most designers are comfortable with WordPress so you will have a website that is easy to maintain in the long run.
For a custom design you would be looking anywhere i the region of £500 to several thousand pounds depending on your requirement.
I hope that helps. So are you thinking of building a website or are you in the process of building one? Maybe you’ve used one of the tools I’ve mentioned. Let me have your comments below – don’t be shy!