It used to be that if you wanted a website, especially an online shop, then you had to employ a website design agency to build one for you, taking both time and money.
In the last decade the development of hosted web solutions means that you can get online quicker and cheaper than ever before.
WordPress is not just a blogging platform. You can create a business website quite easily by uploading your content into the WordPress pages (rather than posts), build a navigation menu and set a home page. Depending on the theme you use, you can:
- add your logo or header,
- remove the sidebar,
- have a slider on your front page, and
- many other things.
Even better, by using WordPress it is easy to add a blog to your website, which I am sure you all want to do after reading the 7 reasons you need to be blogging two weeks ago.
WordPress.com is the easiest and cheapest way to get your website online. All you have to do is:
- register an account,
- select from over 150 themes to change the colour scheme and structure,
- a bit of configuration,
- upload your content.
This all comes with a price tag of £0 (if you use a free theme).
To look more professional pay the $18pa to use your own domain name rather than the URL with WordPress.com in it.
Whilst it is possible to pay for an upgrade to allow you to edit the css of your theme (to change colours or fonts) you can’t edit the theme code and WordPress.com don’t allow you to install plugins or run an ecommerce venture. If you think this is too restrictive for you then you can install the WordPress software on your own web hosting.
Most hosting companies have a one click install option for installing WordPress so this part is pretty straightforward.
The difficulty is then choosing a theme out of the thousands of ones available.
I recommend you consider a premium theme which is robust, well supported and SEO friendly, such as the StudioPress themes. StudioPress offer a wide range of themes which are built on the Genesis Framework. They offer well designed, securely coded, flexible themes with automatic updates and a really friendly support forum, all for under $100. Check out the StudioPress themes and take a look at the showcase for inspiration.
Brian Gardner, Founder of StudioPress, says
The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. With search-optimized code and functions, a number of turn-key designs, and unlimited support and updates, Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress places you never thought it could go.
The Hub is a custom theme on the Genesis Framework. If you want a custom theme this should be possible for less than £1000, depending on what your developer charges of course!
But what if WordPress is not for you?
An alternative to WordPress is a hosted solution from Create.Net where you can build a 10 page website for just £2.99 per month. And for only £4.99 – £19.99 per month you can create an online shop. They provide the software and the hosting and you apply your style and content.
I asked Rebecca, director at Create.Net whether she felt it was possible to get a website for less than £1000.
Yes, I definitely believe you can get a decent website for less than £1000, services like ours have made a big difference in the marketplace in terms of making websites and online shops much more accessible to small business owners, many of which had previously believed it would be very costly, long-winded and potentially complicated.
At Create we really take pride in our customer service and how we personally assist people who have never built a website before and had no idea they could do it themselves. We continue to strive to break down the barriers which have stopped many small businesses from gaining a successful presence on the internet.
Our service is available from £29.90 to £199.90 per year (depending on the features you want) and this provides the main framework for the website / online shop, upon which you apply your style, business look and content. I guess there is an implied cost of your own time to do this, but when you are starting out you are more time rich and cash poor!
When I first came across solutions such as Create, I couldn’t believe how much they solve all the techy problems with:
- the shopping cart,
- checkout, and
- integrating payment processing providers.
They make it so accessible for anyone to have an online shop and have significantly contributed to the rise of online Independent Retailers.
Just look at the variety in the Create.Net Showcase – and if you want a complete custom look you can use (or get a developer to use) the Web Developer Kit.
ekmPowershop is the largest ecommerce provider in the UK and it is the one I used when I started an online baby store in 2009.
Just like Create.Net, all the shopping cart, checkout and payment processing integration is done for you. There are a selection of themes you can choose from to get the look and feel you want. All for £19.99+VAT per month.
You have full access to the html and css so you can completely customise the style. It takes a little while to learn all the EKM tags which control how your data (products and categories) are displayed but there is a helpful support forum.
Steven Hickley, Head of Marketing at Ekm Systems, told me
1 in every 4 online shops in the UK would certainly agree that £1,000 is far more than you need for a professional ecommerce website! ekmPowershop.com allows anybody to quickly and easily set up their own online shop for just £19.99 per month – from thousands of SMEs, one man bands and eBay traders, through to the likes of O2, Michelin Tyres and PGA Golf.
The templates are stunning and customisable, lots of different payment solutions can be added at the click of a button, and it’s been MUM tested… which means even our Mums can use it!
Free support and fully hosted for less than the price of a gym membership… our advice would be to spend your £1,000 on marketing the site, not building it. Take the risk, hassle and cost away with a build it yourself solution that even your Mum can use!
Take a look at the examples on their customers page.
ekmPowershop also provide a custom design service, price available on request, but the last time I had an email from them (in 2011) the price was less than £1000.
Is it possible to get a website for less than £1000?
I hope I’ve shown you that it is perfectly possible to get a website for less than £1000 and there are many other solutions out there too.
And a little bonus that all these template systems give you is the possibility to change your theme to a different design without losing all your content.
But is this the death of the web design agency?
If you don’t have the time or the creative flair for designing and building your own website then using a web design agency will give you better results.
If you need functionality beyond the scope of the template systems then a web developer will be your only option.
However when you are starting out, testing your ideas and business model, then these hosted solutions are well worth the small investment.
Never has there been a better time for getting online.
Today’s Micro Action
If you are just starting out on your online adventure and need a brochure style website have a look at WordPress or Create.Net.
Or if you are starting an online shop then check out Create.Net or ekmPowershop. If neither fit your bill then just Google “build your own website” for lots of other options.