How To Build A Cheap Website
Author: Shenole Latimer
For some small businesses in Lakeland, FL and elsewhere around the country, there just isn't enough of a budget to pay for having a professionally built website. Until the right amount of capital can be saved, you may be forced to find a cheap means of getting your business online.
In order to accomplish this, there are really only 2 alternatives that you have...build the website yourself (DIY) or you can look for someone who can build it inexpensively.
Obviously, if you can afford to have a website built professionally, I wouldn’t recommend the cheap approach because of various reasons. But since the topic of this article is how to build a cheap website, I will answer the question first and save why I don’t think you should build a website on the cheap for the end of the post.
Using DIY Website Builders For Creating A Cheap Website
If we look at the first cheap option I mentioned with regards to building a website, I used the term “DIY” (Do It Yourself). That means you’ll be utilizing some sort of website builder where you can edit a template they supply.
When it comes to website builders there are tons of them out there! Currently, the top three website builders on the market are Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. I have used all three of these in the past at some point and the way they work is essentially identical.
You edit a template that you choose using an interface we refer to in the web design/development industry as a WYSIWYG. This acronym sounds like “wizzy” plus the word “wig” and stands for the phrase “What You See Is What You Get”.
WYSIWYG editors are a prevalent tool in the world of building websites if you don’t know how to code. Though they can come in different formats, they all function in the same way.
For someone who doesn’t know how to code or isn’t very tech savvy, WYSIWYG editors allow you to change content in a fashion that is relatively intuitive.
Website builders are a sort of all-in-one solution. You can build your website, get hosting, and buy a domain name from them. They all include other modules of functionality that you have the option to add on for extra costs, such as for email marketing and so forth.
Speaking of costs, if you’re looking to build a cheap website using this route, you are generally dealing with a price range of about $10 per month up to approximately $30 per month.
Which Website Builder Is Recommended
Ok, so let’s say that using a DIY website builder is the option you choose to get a cheap website. The next thing to concern yourself with is which website builder should you use. The three most popular website builders currently are Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.
In order to figure out which of the three would be best to use, let’s bare in mind some considerations. Such as you need to:
Get your website seen by as many people as possible - The website you build must be able to rank as high as you can get it on Google and other search engines.
Have your website accessible on the type of device that most people use for their search engine queries - More and more people are using their mobile devices for doing search queries. If your website isn’t what we refer to in the industry as “mobile responsive”, people will leave your website quick, fast, and in a hurry.
Make sure that your website will function as closely to what users are expecting as possible - Google is on the record for saying that 53% of visitors to mobile sites leave if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
The overall point I’m trying to make is...
It is absolutely vital that your website performs well on mobile devices.
If your website is mobile-friendly, loads quickly, and functions smoothly, you will have an advantage when it comes to people doing search queries on their phone for the service or product that you offer.
If you look at the numbers associated with a study done by statista.com and do a little math, you can see that mobile devices like phones and tablets are where 69.6% of local searches are made as of 2019!
And now, let’s tie all this together to figure out which website builder I would recommend.
Taking into consideration mobile performance, since that is were the great majority of searches for local businesses occur, I would recommend using Squarespace over using Wix or Weebly.
My advice is based on the potential for a better user experience on mobile devices, due to stronger performance metrics. What metrics am I talking about?
Here at Sharp 9 Media, we believe in testing and are always putting something through some kind of test. In order to provide you with good information for this blog article, I personally ran a performance test on 30 website templates...10 from each of the big 3 website builders. The templates were randomly chosen.
The key metrics I was interested in looking at was how many requests were being made to the server and how many megabytes of resources were being loaded to render the homepage. The number of requests and the size of the resources needed to render a page are the most important influencers of how a website will perform on mobile devices.
I chose the homepage of each template because homepages are easily the most visited page on a website. And so a poor user experience on a homepage would definitely discourage a visitor from venturing on to any other pages.
Here are the results:
You will notice that Weebly and Squarespace had a very similar number when it comes to the size of the resources needed to render a homepage. However, there was no contest when you look at the number of requests made to the server.
Meanwhile, the numbers associated with Wix were simply outlandish. I wouldn’t recommend Wix if they offered to pay for my retirement! Well, actually…
Hiring An Inexpensive Freelance Web Designer
So now we can hit upon “option 2” for having a cheap website built, which is finding an inexpensive freelancer.
In some ways this may be a more viable option than using a website builder because you will presumably be hiring someone who has some background in web development, or who is tech savvy at the very least.
As I’m sure you can imagine, there are some good freelancers out there who are working hard and just trying to get to that next gig, and there are also some really bad ones too.
It’s crucial that you know what your goals are for your website so that you can be better at determining if a freelancer will be right for the job.
Where To Find A Freelance Web Designer
I can immediately think of 3 ways to find a freelance web designer. Each avenue has its pros and cons.
Craigslist.org - This listing board has been available as a web-based service since 1996, according to Wikipedia!
The pro is that it is easy to look up cheap freelancers located near you for various services.
The con is that Craigslist is notorious for being the place where finding freelancers who will do a bad job is easier than finding a freelancer who will do a good job.
Upwork.com - Upwork is a marketplace where freelancers place a bid to do whatever work you require.
The pro is that they are a step up in quality with regards to the type of freelancers and quality of work you can expect.
The con is that with a business model that involves bidding, you will be in an environment where there is a race to the bottom for who can provide the lowest bid. Can you guess how that may impact your project?
Meetup.com - If you are someone who prefers to meet people face to face, Meetup is probably the route for you. You can find freelancers and other types of groups who meet for activities that can be business related or just simply social in nature.
The pro is that you will be able to evaluate the prospective freelancer in person.
The con is that you may burn a lot of gas traveling to meetups and spend a lot of time with groups where you don’t have any idea what anyone is talking about, before you find someone who may be interested in your project.
How To Know If A Freelance Web Designer Is A Good Fit
To help you with trying to figure out if you have found a good freelancer to work with, here are some key things to consider:
How well does the freelancer communicate - Does the freelancer respond in a timely fashion or at all to messages? How well does the freelancer answer your questions? Do emails or private messages seem like they have been copied and pasted or do they seem more personalized?
Is there a portfolio of previous work to look at - Every freelancer should have at least 2 or 3 examples of their work for you to look at.
Are the websites mobile responsive - Take a look at any previously built websites by the freelancer on both a desktop AND a phone. How do the sites look and function?
Is the freelancer organized - Can the freelancer describe the process you will go through with them to complete the project?
What is the next step after your cheap website is built - Does the freelancer plan to upload your website onto a hosting server for you or will that be left to you? Will they be avilable if something happens to the website? Will they handle updates for you? If they used a website builder, will they take some time to show you how to make any updates for yourself? Will you need to pay extra for any of this?
There may be some risk involved with taking this approach. But on the other hand, a freelancer who is already familiar with what to do would be a lot faster and more efficient at building a website than you would be because you most certainly would be faced with a learning curve.
Why Building A Cheap Website Is A Bad Idea
I feel like it is my responsibility to explain what the negatives are of trying to build a cheap website. Please keep in mind that I do understand that some of you may be starting your business from absolute zero and may simply not have the means to get professional web design services at this time.
Nevertheless, I believe it is important for you to know that the short term savings of building a cheap website may translate into a long term cost!
I say this because your website is the foundation of your online presence. The simple fact of the matter is that if your website isn’t built correctly, all of your SEO efforts and internet marketing in general will struggle.
By starting out with a cheap website, you will inevitably be cutting vital corners in some crucial areas of your ability to rank in search engines.
If your website can’t be easily found in a search on Google or any other search engine, it will be lacking in traffic and you will be missing out on potential leads and customers.
Even if your cheap website somehow manages to get on the first page of Google, and this scenario is really only possible if you are in a low competition industry and/or in a low competition region, its ranking position will very easily be knocked back by any new professionally built websites that are indexed by the search engine.
Furthermore, if your website is not built with certain user interface and user experience (UI/UX) fundamentals in place that most professional web design companies know to include, the visitors that you are lucky enough to obtain will be highly likely to leave your site quickly without visiting any other pages.
This sort of immediate exiting of visitors is measured by a metric known as “bounce rate”. Websites with a consistently high bounce rate are penalized by search engines, which will negatively affect your ranking and also cause you to lose potential leads and customers.
Once a search engine has brought your rankings down and has had its algorithms characterize your website as not being authoritative or not providing value to visitors, it takes a lot of effort, a lot of time, and will cost more money in SEO services to undo the damage and turn your rankings around.
Start Establishing Your Online Presence By Calling Us For A Free Consultation
Not having the resources to obtain the things that are needed is a difficult yet familiar position for many small businesses, especially if they are just starting out.
However, because of the ease and prevalence of people using their phones and other devices to do searches on the internet for whatever service or product they are looking for, the importance of websites and establishing a solid online presence has grown almost exponentially.
And so, I would strongly urge you to consider not having a cheap website built just for the sake of having something online. That money would be better placed towards saving up for the ability to have a website that is built properly.
If you are a small business, consider investing in having a website built by our professional team so that you can construct a solid foundation for your online presence. Give us a call at (863) 877-4200 for a free consultation on our web design services.