Can you get a website for less than £1000?

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

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.

You have two choices with WordPress. You can either use the free hosting at WordPress.com or install the WordPress software on your own web hosting.

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?

Create.Net

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

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?

Absolutely not.

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.

micro business actionToday’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.

Jo Waltham

Jo Waltham is the techy person behind the Micro Business Hub. She builds websites for micro businesses and bloggers at Callia Web where she also provides general tech support with WordPress, email and hosting. So if you are looking for a little techy help then do get in touch.

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Comments

  1. Interesting article Jo. I think lots of people presume you have to spend a fortune on creating a website, when, as you point out, there are some great low cost alternatives. Platforms like WordPress are good, even for the less tehnically proficient among us!
    Dina Behrman recently posted..How to create a great social media strategyMy Profile

    • Thanks for your comment Dina. Yes WordPress and the other hosted solutions have really enabled so many people to get their business online quickly and with relatively low costs. Obviously there is still a place for the web design agency for those wanting a unique look or if your online business needs some bespoke functionality.
      Jo Waltham recently posted..Can you get a website for less than £1000?My Profile

  2. Interested to read this and delighted that it raises awareness of the fact that it is absolutely not necessary to part with £££’s to have a good looking, functioning, and crucially, successful (i.e. generating sales/enquiries) web site.

    My only disappointment is that there was no mention of speaking to local micro-businesses who offer web development services. Many of them, because they have 0-9 employees will have low overheads and can usually offer very competitive pricing along with a personalised and often ‘out of hours’ service that you can’t get elsewhere. I just think in the spirit of supporting micro-business this is an important point, so please don’t discount them. I appreciate Create.Net is a relatively small company but with 13 staff, not a micro-enterprise.

    I appreciate WP and other template driven arrangements are popular and do quite a bit of the work when it comes to SEO too, but I also know there are many micro-businesses who struggle with getting their heads round even the basics of this, let alone CSS, HTML5, accessibility issues and so on, so there’s no substitute for a little hand-holding, however I know sadly there are unscrupulous businesses out there who will spoil it for everyone-else and try to fleece the unknowing business owner, so maybe a short post on questions to ask your prospective web developer/host might be useful for the future?

    Anyway, I’ll bow out before the bullets start!

    • Thanks for the comment Lorraine. Your second paragraph describes my (other) business exactly Magenta Sky Solutions. I’m a web developer that is happy to either build a low cost website for a micro business owner, or to help them with a little knowledge & guidance to do it themselves. I work school hours and evenings which suits my clients. I didn’t mention it in the post as I didn’t want it to be a self promotional piece.

      I also know a number of great web developers who are also happy to work in this way too.

      In fact the Micro Business Hub is planning a directory of companies who specialise in services for micro businesses. Watch this space….

      That’s a great idea for an article – “questions to ask your prospective web developer”. I like it… Georgina (Editor)?

      So no bullets will by flying Lorraine! Thanks for stopping by and commenting :)
      Jo Waltham recently posted..Website Tips For Online Retail SuccessMy Profile

      • Hi Lorraine, thanks for your comment and I also love your article idea. I shall be adding it to the editorial calendar and if you have any ideas please get in touch :-)

        As a micro business myself I really enjoy working with other micro businesses. I didn’t have a clue about web design when I first set up my business but quickly concluded WordPress would work for me as I knew I wanted to blog. I was lucky to find a great web designer that understood me, was able to translate my ideas into code and basically gave me exactly what I wanted at a price I could afford. In addition, I was able to ask questions about how to use WordPress and quickly learnt to navigate it well enough to do the things I needed to do.

        It’s not enough to have a static site these days so building a relationship with a web developer can be an invaluable asset, especially if you want to make changes and tweaks etc. And that’s why I love micro businesses, because you get to do just that.

        What’s great about templates is they have made it so much easier for businesses to get online and have a professional look. It really is exciting times.
        Georgina El Morshdy recently posted..How To Use SEO To Let Customers Find You OnlineMy Profile

  3. As someone who has been there this year, DO YOUR RESEARCH. My plan was to build a quick site that was sufficient, and then rebrand with a new site after a year. After a few months my site takes several seconds to load if at all (Moonfruit). So I took the decision to build my self-hosted WordPress site myself a lot sooner than I had planned.

    My experience – buy a Premium theme. They aren’t too expensive, more secure, and your site is your shop front. Either hire a web designer who runs their own business, or a small business coach who also can design sites (and is a small business). I wanted to build my own and I have paid for specialist help when I needed it (dont’ go messing in the code unless you know what you’re doing).

    So yes. My hosting is unlimited and £5.99/month +VAT, and my theme and specialist help was £102. Not bad :)
    Rosie Slosek recently posted..One Man Band Accounting new website launching in September!My Profile

    • Hi Rosie And what a great (genesis) website it is! Yes definitely get a premium theme with good support. The Studiopress forum is great even if you don’t know much about code they will go into the details. And there are a few web devs around who are happy to answer ad hoc questions.
      Jo Waltham recently posted..Website Tips For Online Retail SuccessMy Profile

  4. Can you get site for less than £1000? Certainly? – But would it be the best business decision in the long run? – That’s what you need to research first.

    Unfortunately, I see many people tangle themselves up with cheap/freebie site creator websites, and then wonder why their site isn’t performing or ranking. Having a site on moonfruit, 1and1 site creator, wordpress.com (etc etc) to me, is just a waste of time, and are essentially marketing ploys to sucker non-web savvy people into parting with their cash. These sites are full of SEO niggles and problems.

    I would much prefer a client to saying “Okay, I have £599/999 to spend on a site, what’s the best way for me to spend it”. When in fact, most clients give a huge wishlist of features for a site, and then get scared off when I tot up the price. Mainly because they are unaware of the cost/time implications on creating each feature.

    When clients have been asked to be “developer/budget led”, on a project, they’ve usually got the best value of money out of me and got a site that fits their needs exactly. In fact I built a site the other week for less then £200, which allows a client to update their hair/makeup site from their iPhone. Totally bespoke design and CMS interface. I even managed to knock them up a personalised training video. This is the kind of customer service you don’t get when buying into an “off the shelf” solution.

    • True Paul. There is a growing group of devs who use these tools to build low cost AND quality websites for micro business owners. The time it takes for someone to set up their own website shouldn’t be overlooked and sometimes paying a web dev £500 to set it for you may be cost effective. It all depends on whether you are more time or cash poor when you start up.

      Sounds like hair and makeup client got a great deal :)
      Jo Waltham recently posted..Website Tips For Online Retail SuccessMy Profile

  5. I’d just like to point out that EKM do not have customers such as O2, Michelin Tyres and PGA Golf. O2 has nothing to do with the O2 arena, Mitchelin Tyres do not use EKM and neither do PGA Golf.

    The question you need to be asking is can you get a “decent”, “feature packed”, “error free”, “upgradeable” website for less that £1000?
    Opencart can be had for free, £4.99 hosting and around £20-£50 for a professional template that can be tweaked to your hearts content.
    Why pay £24.99/month for a system that never moves forwards. Not only that, if you say something somebody doesn’t like, they won’t be able to shut your shop down at the drop of a hat.

  6. I’ve been interested to read the comments here, all very valid points. I guess it depends what you’re after but for those of us just launching, testing the water it’s critical to find a way to build a web site for less than £1000 and using sites like wordpress make it possible. When I did my research I found there were alternatives, some more technically challenging than others but crucially you need to ensure it is scaleable (if appropriate for your business model). It’s no good if you need to ‘start again’ if you want up grade or need more hosting or to be self hosted. Learning wordpress isn’t difficult but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good to get a bit of help/instruction/direction from someone who knows, one of the micro businesses discussed here is ideal. I used a brilliant designer http://lyndsaymoon.com/ who set it up and got me going, ensuring that I wasn’t making a mess behind the scenes. She has started our website really well. I may well end up having something more customised but I never would have gone down that route at the very start.
    Bee recently posted..The day the TV cameras came to SW18…..My Profile

  7. Jo,
    Very nice article and recommendations! I hadn’t heard of some of those. Though I do loads of custom sites, I do often make similar recommendations when someone is truly strapped for cash.

    But I also find that there is a cut-off point below which cheapness will be punished. I get requests from people who have made wretched sites with generators at Godaddy, Wix, or even better ones, and they’ll say something like “can you make this into a great looking site
    and get ecommerce working for 20 dollars/euros?” It certainly provides me with many laughs.

    Still, using Genesis and WordPress, my development speed has gotten to the point that I can offer a fully custom site at a very competitive rate, working in conjunction with a designer colleague.

    Cheers, Dave

  8. Hello!
    WordPress is fantastic for the user to be in control of their site without having to pay a designer to do everything for them, but sometimes people do get stuck with getting WordPress set up.
    I always try to do the best for my Customers. I offer a service where I set up a WordPress site with a theme (bespoke or premium), Home page and Blog page for just £190 – this even includes several plugins set up. From there the customer can go on growing their site them self. If they need more than those 2 pages I have a fixed modular price list so a Customer can choose additional pages/functions for their new/current site (a bit like choosing off of a take away menu) this way the Customer can work out how much their site will add up to with no hidden extras before they spend a penny!
    See it here http://www.lyndsaymoon.com/price-list/
    Lyndsay Moon recently posted..WordPress Themes – where the magic happens!My Profile

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