Would you like to build a professional-looking yet affordable web site for your business? Here are some ideas about how this could be done.
This is the fourth and final article in a series about setting up email and web hosting for a new small business. The first article explains basic terminology, the second discusses how to register a domain name, and the third offers guidance on selecting an email and web hosting company.
This article will give you an overview of some affordable options to build a good looking web site. The first option includes template-based systems like SquareSpace, Virb, Weebly, Wix and Zenfolio. Second, I present an overview of how to build your own WordPress-based web site. Third, I describe hiring a professional to build a WordPress-based site.
Rather than trying to design your own professional-looking web site, you might consider using a template-based web site. Template-based web sites have been around since the mid-1990s, but they’ve come a long way. The template systems of old often looked cheesy. Today’s systems look more professional and often include features like blog pages, photo gallery pages, a calendar and integration with social networking sites. Both SquareSpace, Virb and Wix let you use your own registered domain name, offer free trials and then have prices that start around $10/month. If you’re a photographer then you might want to consider Zenfolio which also offers a free trial and accounts for as little as $30/year.
Build your own WordPress site
If you’re fairly tech-savvy and interested in building your own web site, you could build a great-looking site using WordPress. This is the option that I chose a few years ago to build the site you’re reading now. WordPress is a free, open-source tool that is very capable and widely used. I bought a professionally-built WordPress Theme for $30 from ThemeForest. (There are also many good-looking free Themes.) I then hired two friends to make customizations to the Theme and help me with a couple of WordPress Plugins. This out-sourcing cost me less than $500. I use and often recommend WordPress since it’s a tool that can be used by novices to update their own web site. Since so many people use WordPress, there are thousands of plug-ins that let you add a wide range of features to your website, like a calendar, statistics tracking, search engine optimization information, good print layouts and countless others.
Hire a professional
If WordPress sounds good to you, but you want some hand-holding getting things set up, you could hire a professional web site developer like Christine The Designer. Christine focuses on WordPress and offers her WordPress Theme Modification Package for $1500 (Pricing accurate as of Aug 2018). She’ll help you register your domain name (in case you were still intimidated even after reading previous articles in this series), install WordPress at your hosting company, help you select a Theme and modify it slightly. Finally, her package includes two training sessions to show you how to make changes to your site in the future. Wow, that’s a great deal, if you ask me!
Hopefully, one of these options will fit your needs. You can build a great-looking site in a few days if you use a template-based system, already have a logo, know what colors you want to use and have an idea about content you want to include. Alternatively, you could learn to build your own site using WordPress and then have access to thousands of plugins. Finally, you could hire a professional to get you up and running in just a few weeks using WordPress.
[Update August 2016: If you’d like to get another opinion about options on building a small business web site, check out this informative blog post from Studio5Innovation, a Seattle-based marketing and design company.]
[Update August 2018: Check out The Wire Cutter’s recommendations for the best template-based web site builders. They looked at Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace and Shopify and others.]