Every now and again someone will contact me that has a very tight budget for a new website. I’m talking sub £500 here. It’s always difficult explaining that you’re out of their price range, but there’s an incredible amount of work that goes into making even the most basic of sites.
I’d always recommend investing in your website, particularly if you want it to generate you a healthy income and become a sustainable business in it’s own right. But for those that really can’t invest more, here are the options…
Squarespace’s online website builder essentially allows you to create your own website with it’s suite of tools. Rather than paying a one off fee like you would to a design company or freelancer to get your site built, you pay a monthly fee to use their service. It ranges from about $8 to $30/month.
It’s quite a sophisticated platform which includes a domain name, has an e-commerce platform and even has it’s own logo creation tool. You effectively start with a pre-designed template and customise as you go. The templates tend to be modern, professional and fully responsive.
The downsides in using something like Squarespace is that you’re not getting something truly bespoke and it can be difficult conveying the personality of your business. That said, if you’re looking to get up and running pretty quickly, it puts you in a great position.
In many ways, Weebly is a lot like Squarespace. The concept is the same but the tools differ a little. Again you’re paying a monthly fee and operating from a template basis. Weekly has come a long way in the last few years and now uses a drag and drop interface which is pretty slick. Their templates aren’t of the standard of those that you see with Squarespace but they do have a free plan for those wanting to give it a try.
Again, it shares the same downsides as Squarespace. All online website builders make their money from having a large customer base and as a result you’re never going to get the greatest level of service.
1&1 My Website
Aside from dedicated tools like Squarespace and Weebly, a lot of the big hosting companies are getting in on the action too. It makes a lot of sense for them, they already have customers buying domain names. The next logical step is to sell them a website too. I’m not specifically looking at 1&1’s My Website builder here, but as they’re one of the biggest hosts around it’s the one most people have heard of.
At this stage in time, the hosting company versions lag behind the dedicated tools and it’s understandable. It’s not their sole business focus, it’s a bolt on. The templates aren’t up to the same standard and nor is the tool itself. In many ways they’re trading on the back of you not being aware of the competition. If you are going to use a site builder, use a dedicated tool rather than one that a hosting company is pushing.
Use a cheap website company/freelancer
Another option is to search around and find a business or individual that is making websites at a very cheap price. If you look hard enough, chances are that you’ll find someone willing to do it within your budget. The problem here is that you’re using someone at the bottom end of the market. If you’re buying a cheap website, that’s exactly what you’ll get back – a cheap looking website. In some instances this may be fine. If you’re selling a cheap service, then you probably want to look relatively cheap. It’s not always the case though.
You will get the advantage that there’s someone you can speak to and you’ll get a completely bespoke website that is tailored entirely to your needs. But be warned, any company offering websites at under £500 is cutting corners somewhere to make it profitable.
What I would do
Personally, if I had £500 to spend on a website and couldn’t do it myself I’d go with something like Squarespace where I’m in control and not spending my entire budget in one go. This would then allow to me to get my site up and running pretty quickly and determine whether it’s eventually going to be worth investing more money in. Ok I wouldn’t be getting a totally bespoke solution, but I would end up with something professional and I’d have some money left to go towards marketing (which most newcomers to websites forget about).