Everything has moved online these days, and you’ve been left a bit behind. You’re not alone. A lot of people are completely flummoxed when it comes to content creation and website design. Don’t believe me? Check out some sites from really old businesses and you might see some relics, thinking that their site is still really hip and relevant. Trust me, it isn’t.
Maybe you know a little about web design and your site is doing well, but you can’t seem to rank on a search engine because you’re just a bit too slow, don’t know much about SEO, and can’t seem to fix it. You’ve got some great plug-ins and a nice site up and running, but it just isn’t that next-level amazingness that you want for your business.
I get it. These things can be difficult, and the market is absolutely flooded with everyone trying to sell you their awesome and fantastic product for your complete needs! Want to know something refreshing?
This article is not selling anything.
That’s right. You heard me! I’m not reviewing free site builders or platform builders. I’m not recommending design services for your business at all. I’m simply helping you find the right process for your own needs and budget.
How, you might ask? Well, by breaking down the three main ways to build a website. How much does it cost to create a website? That depends on which method you choose because each of these tiers has a different cost associated with their content. Chances are that your budget will fit into one of these methods and you’ll be off to a great start!
Website Building Options
There are 3 main ways to build a website, and each way offers benefits and drawbacks. Chances are that most of you will belong to Method Two, so I’ll focus more on that option, but I want you to know every method we’ll take a look at.
Method One – Free
Method One is completely free. If you’re afraid that the cost to create a website is too expensive, this is a great place to start.
Method Two – Platform
Method Two uses a website building platform to make it easy to get a site up and running for a professional. This option is not free, but it can be extremely affordable and offer a lot of options. It basically balances the middle of the road, here.
Method Three – Designer
Method Three is pretty insane. It tends to cost a lot more in terms of resources, but it’s the truly unlimited option that lets you do literally whatever you want. If you can dream it, you can do it and have it and build it.
Now that we’ve described the different methods, let’s dig a little deeper into the benefits and drawbacks at each tier.
|(1) Free Option||Free||Tons of |
|(2) Website builder||Average; ±$30|
|(3) Hire a Designer||Expensive; |
The simple answer is yes, you can. But….. This method has a lot of drawbacks, especially for businesses.
How It Works
To build a website for free, you will not have your own domain name. The way free platforms stay running is through advertisements, so your website will be YourNameChoice.FreeHostPlatform.Com instead of just Yourname.com. This is a massive drawback for any business that wants to present a polished and professional website but this doesn’t always matter for students or personal sites.
Another drawback to free sites is that they tend to limit you a lot. Sure, you can make your site look great with some templates and images, but they limit you in nearly every capacity. With limits to your storage space, you are unable to host a lot of multimedia, so it’s a bad option for artists, designers, musicians, and people who rely heavily on video and audio mediums.
It also limits your bandwidth. Most of them are heavily restricted. This is not great because it means that once your website hits its allotted bandwidth, people will no longer be able to browse your site. That makes it difficult to grow and difficult to create a customer base because they can’t rely on you.
The ads also contribute to the lack of professionalism, because your website will be plastered with ads from your host; some of them are kind enough to keep the ads small but others post them throughout your site in huge blocks.
Finally, your options are limited. These restricted sites have very few templates to work with and allow for very few changes. You can’t create the site of your dreams on this platform, the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools will be limited, and there is almost never an integrated ecommerce system for online sales.
Why Choose The Free Option?
Did I mention that it’s free??? That’s an advantage to brand new bloggers who don’t have a big base yet. Students also love this option for when they need to host student projects because they have no budget to work with and don’t need the website to last forever.
It can also be a great test space for businesses who want to have a focus group on new site designs and ideas. You can try a few new code options out without breaking your site. Run the scripts you want to implement in your regular site to see whether they’re optimized properly and make adjustments accordingly.
Also, depending on how much your domain name preference costs, finding a free hosting site that is willing to register a domain name for you rather than just requiring you to use a subdomain of theirs, can be a tremendous cost saving measure.
Finally, if you go with well known and reputable options like Google’s free website builder, it can actually help tremendously with SEO. Instead of having to build your page up in trustworthiness, you automatically get the weight of Google’s reputation added to your site. They also know how their algorithm works, so their pages tend to rank very well.
This option varies based on different factors like hosting and building platforms. It is the most popular way to build websites right now, and nearly all of the websites online use this option for website building.
With this option, most places will ask for your domain name instead of registering your pages as subdomains of their site. Your domain name can cost very little or a small fortune depending on the popularity of your choice and which extension (.com, .net, .org, .coffee, etc) you choose for the end. The average domain name will cost around $10 to $15 annually.
An advantage to website builder platforms is that it is a very competitive market. Because of this, nearly all of the options in this method will offer a year of registry for free in their introductory packaging.
Website platforms can also vary significantly in cost. Most of them offer tiered plans, with their basic plans costing anywhere from $4 to $10 per month, their middle tiers ranging from $10 to $25 per month, and their highest end tiers reaching $45 to $60 per month.
The right tier for you will depend on your site needs. If you’re a blogger or running a personal site, then the basic package is almost always the right choice. Some of them even come with very basic ecommerce stores.
Suitable For All Business Sizes
If you’re an SMB (small- to medium-sized business), or you plan to sell goods online, then you will more than likely need a mid-tier or high tier site.
Large businesses can often get away with the middle tiers, but if you’re doing well enough to spare extra then it can be really worth it to get premium access to customer service and pretty much anything you will ever need right at your fingertips.
One of the strategies to beware of with this type of site is that these companies make money through add-ons. Oh, is something not on your plan? Well, we can add it for a fee or if you upgrade, it is included in the next plan up along with all these other things that you don’t really need but we will tell you it can help.
The key to balancing these sites is to manage expectations. Know exactly what you need when you go shopping.
How much traffic do you usually average, and do you want to increase that amount? If the answer is a larger amount of traffic, make sure the low-end plans don’t limit your bandwidth. If you are interested in growing your traffic, then look at the SEO tools that are offered at different price points and ask whether their app market includes extensions and plug-ins that help with SEO boosting.
Do you plan on selling goods and services? You will need to look at their ecommerce options. Very few of the lower tier plans are good options for ecommerce. Some hosts also offer their own ecommerce tier plans separate from hosting and platform building but will integrate it for a custom plan. Also, a lot of ecommerce sites will not allow you to sell digital products, so if you’re a musician or an artist, then you need to check this.
Will you need to include a blog on your site? Are you showcasing a design portfolio? Understand what templates you need and how you want your website to look. Many of these sites offer a free trial so you can decide whether or not you like their templates and tools before committing. If they don’t, then ask their customer service to send some examples or do a quick search for websites hosted through them.
Using The Platform
So…. With all these add-ons and tools, this is starting to feel overwhelming, right? Don’t worry – these are all typically designed to make website building super easy! In fact, the reason this option is so popular is that it makes web design accessible to people who don’t program without costing them a fortune!
How?? How can you design your site for an average of $15 to $45 per month when you know nothing about coding??
Simple… Their platform system makes design intuitive, and that’s one of their huge advantages.
Many of these platforms operate using WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) systems. With these, you pick your template, drop in your content, and bingo bongo Batman, you’re online! No need for anyone to send up the Bat Signal anymore… They can just drop you an email through your handy dandy website contact form!!
The majority of these platform builders use drag-and-drop technology. They offer a range of professional templates in scads of different industries. You answer a few simple questions about what your business is, what you want from your website, and your preferences, and… Poof! Just like magic, some gorgeous templates arrive, looking sleek and professional.
Pick one of these and apply it to your site, then get creative. Drag-and-drop means you can rearrange any of the content. You can move images, change text walls, get creative with fonts (some even animated, so your “POW!!!” can really punch through that brick wall!), and more! This is an extremely intuitive way to work a website and best of all… it requires absolutely ZERO coding skill! Seriously, if your cat is half as dextrous and, shall we say… involved, as mine is, even your cat could start moving things on your site!
These sites make everything very user-friendly. They offer a wide range of plug-ins, extensions, and SEO tools to ensure that you rank highly, and they offer pretty much anything you could need.
Essentially, these can help you create gorgeous sites without paying thousands to a designer to do all that coding for you. With their platforms, the designs are automated and you just drop in your content. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right??
The thing that can make this option a bit trickier is that you have to make sure all your extensions and plug-ins play well together. It can be difficult to keep track of them all, update them all, and optimize them all if you’re sourcing them from multiple coders. In fact, this is the biggest complaint most people have about using WordPress. Plug-ins will break each other and badly optimized ones will really slow down your site. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you.
Hire A Designer
So… you don’t want to have to deal with the site. Creativity is not your forte, and neither is coding. Can’t you just pay someone else to deal with it for you?
Sure… but if you have to ask how much does it cost to build a website, then you probably can’t afford it when it comes to this option. Expertise comes at a pretty high premium these days, and independent contractors typically charge large fees because their work is by gig with no guarantee of future work.
Selecting A Freelancer
It can also be difficult to navigate the field. A lot of people will take your money and run, or flake out on a job. Many of them will over promise and under deliver. And unfortunately, it’s very difficult to know which is which. This is a major disadvantage to this service.
Also, let me give you a giant tip for this category: Do NOT contract a designer to make your website from scratch. Designers are artists. They are concerned with aesthetics. Only aesthetics.
There are some absolutely gorgeous people out there that are sweet as pie but dumber than a box of rocks or meaner than a pit of vipers. There are some completely gorgeous creatures in nature that draw you in with their beauty then poison you, sting you, eat you… well, you get the picture.
When it comes to websites for businesses, you don’t want pretty. You need something sleek and attractive, yes… but more importantly, you need something that speaks to your customer base and brand, brings in more traffic, and functions reliably. Don’t get suckered in by sheer beauty without substance, or your business will suffer.
If someone tells you that they’re a designer, you need to ask them some follow up questions to make sure they know what they’re doing when it comes to coding, SEO, and marketing skill sets.
There are a few different options for contracting designers. Foreign designers will be much cheaper because of the different economies, but they may not understand the language as easily and their hours won’t match yours.
American freelancers are more expensive but there will be no language barrier.
Web agencies are great options that will understand marketing as well as design, but they will also cost a lot more money because of their professional grade skills, the fact that they’ve been vetted for the jobs, and high overheads. Despite this, you may end up with junior designers and paying way too much money.
The question, “How much does it cost to create a website?” doesn’t have an exact answer. It varies greatly depending on your approach.
I highly recommend Method Two, the website building platform. They’re less limited than the free options for businesses looking to grow while still being much more affordable than the expensive option of hiring someone to do it for you, and as a bonus, they don’t require you to know how to code in order to build a beautiful and professional site.