You can’t skimp on having a good website. People today expect websites to be intuitive and look clean and professional. 75% of web users have said they judge a company’s credibility based on the design of their website. If your website looks sloppily thrown together or like it was made in the ‘90s, you’ll quickly lose the trust of your visitors.
In an ideal world, you could hire the best, most experienced professional out there to design your website so it both looks great and perfectly meets the needs of your visitors. In this world, you probably have budget limitations to consider.
A few years ago, you would have had much more difficulty putting together a well designed website on the cheap. Today, you actually have quite a few options that make it both easier and more affordable to design your website on a budget.
Steps to Take Before You Start
- Know your goals.
What do you want to accomplish with your website? If you have an online store, your goals will probably include selling a certain number of items. Find examples and inspiration you can use as to form a concrete idea of what you want your site to look like and accomplish. If your website is meant to represent a business with an physical store, it’s probably more about raising awareness of your business and making it easy for people to find store hours and locations. If it’s a personal blog, you may simply want to attract visitors and start a conversation.
Not all websites have the same goals and your website design has to be based on what you want the website to accomplish. Defining your goals clearly therefore must be your first step.
Have an idea of what you’re willing to spend on your website before you get started. Your budget will influence what’s possible, so you want to be able to keep your plans realistic based on what you’re willing to spend. Before you get to the point of designing the website, you will need to invest in website hosting and purchasing a domain name, so factor those costs in as well.
Affordable Options for When It’s Time to Build
Now you’re ready to make a choice about the best approach to take to designing your website. You have three main options to choose from.
Do it yourself with tools that make it easier.
This step will require a good amount of time and some self-education, but with the help of website builders and templates, most people can design a website on their own. You can find free website builders if your budget requires, but you’ll have a much easier time if you’re able to invest at least a little bit into purchasing a more sophisticated and easier-to-use one. There are also many resources out there on what you should look for when you’re ready for a site redesign.
If you do go this route, you should spend some time studying up on UX and SEO, so you can be sure to implement best practices that will make your website easier to find and more intuitive to use.
Consider hiring a student.
Even with the help of design tools that make it easier, designing a website on your own is a big job that requires a lot of learning. While hiring a student will cost more than doing the job yourself, it will save you lots of time, may result in a better product, and will cost less than hiring a professional.
Check with the local colleges in your area to see if they offer web design classes, then reach out to the professors that teach those classes to ask for recommendations. While some web design students may be willing to work for free to build their portfolio, offering to pay will encourage better work and make the student more likely to work with you to get a website just right if the first version doesn’t satisfy.
Consider hiring a professional.
There are a few options to find a professional that will work with you and your budget. Hiring a professional is the easiest option and the one most likely to produce a design that both you and your visitors will be happy with. If you do have a budget to work with, it’s worth checking with your local freelance designers and small marketing firms to find out what they charge.
If you’re upfront about your budget, they may be able to work with you and figure out a version of the design project they can do that fits within the range you’re willing to spend. This option won’t be within reach for everyone, but if you can afford it, handing the project over to an experienced professional will make your life easier.
Once your web design is complete and the site is live, you’re still not done. While the hardest part is designing a new site when you’re getting started, you’ll also need to pay attention to your website analytics once your site has launched so you can see when improvements need to be made. Over time, by paying attention to how your visitors interact with the site, you can work to make the design increasingly better suited to achieving your goals.