Starting a Web Site On A Budget – Introduction

StartingAWebSite-Series

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Whether you’re a new business or an established one, you probably need a better web site. Perhaps your current site was made a decade ago by your summer intern, and you desperately need to get rid of that cheesy Flash animation. Or maybe you used one of those build-a-site generators, and are tired of having your website look like everyone else’s. Or you did the right thing five years ago and made a top-dollar web site, but now you need to integrate social media into your site design.

When you’re making a new web site, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Not only are there seemingly infinite options available to you—from deciding which CMS to us to figuring out how best to set up your e-commerce store—each choice seems to prompt a dozen new choices and close off a dozen other paths you might have considered. You want to make informed choices, but you don’t know how to get up to speed.

In addition, you need to figure out who to hire for which tasks. Should you go with a full-service firm who will do everything from designing your logo to handling your social media accounts? Or do you want to pick and choose firms based on their particular specialties? Given that you likely take a set-it-and-forget-it attitude to your website, you want to make the right decisions, but you’re only doing this once, and can’t afford to make a bad choice.

In this series, we’ll consider what it takes to start a web site using what might be the most important figure—the almighty dollar—to guide your decisions. Before we go any further, here’s what you should expect for your money.

Under $500

You’re ready to commit some real money to your website, but your business isn’t yet large enough to merit a substantial investment online. Even on this budget, you can still set up a web site that looks nice, but your customization options will be limited.

Under $2,500

Your business is growing, and you know that you’re missing out on customers because your online store is clunky and your web site looks B-grade. With a bit of capital expenditure, you can customize your site to suit your business needs and an almost certain payoff will follow.

Under $10,000

Your business has grown so rapidly that you’re now able to expand beyond your geographically limited market and go global. Or you’re creating the web site for your Internet-based business, and need custom design and development that will impress potential customers and investors alike. While revenues aren’t in line with your dreams yet—hence, the budget—you need to put everything you can into a good website.

While sometimes it makes sense to determine what you want out of your website before making a budget, if you start with the maximum you want to spend on a site you won’t waste time contemplating options that are out of your price range. With this series we’ll explore what you can expect from almost any budget, whether it’s a few handfuls of twenties or thousands of dollars. Here’s what to expect in the coming weeks.

  1. Meet the Web Developers—There are a lot of people involved in making websites. Here’s a brief introduction to who they are and what they charge.
  2. Design—From logos to templates, site design matters. What can do with a little money?
  3. E-Commerce—Setting up an online store gives you the opportunity to reach customers everywhere. What’s the difference between an out-of-the-box and custom solution?
  4. Content Management Systems—Setting up and specializing your CMS will make it easy for you to keep your site updated.
  5. Social Media—Anyone can start a social media account, but using them well requires some help.
  6. Analytics—If you want to grow your website, it’s critical to know who your customers are and what they do.
  7. SEO- Simple, cost-effective search engine optimization tips to help you get your site ranking higher in search listings.
  8. Web Hosting—When you make a web site, you also need to choose a website. Here’s what you want to keep in mind when choosing your hosting plan.

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Photo by David Lytle

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