Websites can be expensive, especially when you’re starting out with your new business and you don’t have quite enough funds to make the next step for a website.
The price of an average business website can range from $500 to $7000 depending on multiple different factors. With such varying costs, it makes sense why you’d want to find the cheapest price for one.
The good news is, you understand that websites are an important part of any 2015+ business. And if money is an issue, there are some ways you can still get your website without having to break the bank.
Is there a way to get a free website?
There are ways you can get a free website. Depending on how involved you want to be, you can go about it differently.
Make it yourself with a website builder
There are various website builders out there that don’t require any technical skill to set up.
WordPress is a popular free website builder that can host your website for you for free. Wix is also an option for building and hosting a website for free. Realistically you could set up your website in just an hour or two but it’s important to know that the free options come with a lot of drawbacks.
For example, Wix’s and WordPress’s free versions don’t allow you to have fully custom URLs. If you have a free WordPress website your site’s URL will be mywebsitename.wordpress.com and with Wix’s, it will be mywebsitename.wixsite.com. And that’s only the URLs, Wix and WordPress have many limitations to the free versions. Another limitation is you cant sell any products, so keep that in mind.
Post on a charity board looking for volunteers
There are many charity boards out there that can give a job posting enough exposure to give you some options in the individual making your website.
You may think to yourself, “why would anyone make a website for free?” but it makes sense once you know that there are young students or professionals starting out eager to have the one-on-one experience of creating a website for a real client, instead of the fictitious companies they usually do for school.
If you are going to go the charity route, try to find someone with a website portfolio you can go to to see the kind of work they’ve done in the past and if their style lines up with what you want your website to look like.
One thing you’ll have to look out for when looking for volunteers of a charity board is there is a sense of faith you will have to have when allowing them access and control to your website. Make sure the volunteer is established and has a website and (hopefully) past clients of their own they can have to show for.
I will add, that if you are a charity based in Canada I currently offer free website design for non-profits or other organizations that are in faith of helping others. Feel free to check out everything you need to know about my free non-profit work.
Contact local highschools and colleges
Yes, this is a thing! Look at the websites of local Universities and Colleges in your area to see if they offer web design programs. If they do, they might have a course in the program that finds real-world clients in need of websites that the students would work on.
The idea is that you would work with both the professor and the students to give the students a real-world client experience rewarding you with a free website. Though keep in mind this only works well if you need a website during the same time the students are taking the course, so there could be a waiting period before the work begins.
There are also drawbacks to working with students, one being that your website probably isn’t going to look professional. Most student’s website designs look… a certain way. I use to be a student of web development myself and I can tell you back when I was in college it was a hit or miss to if the website turned out good or not. So if you are going to go with a student, you are most likely going to get what you pay for. The design may not be perfect, the website may not function well, or it may be perfect and exactly what you need – it’s up to chance.
Is it cheaper to build your own website?
Yes of course it’s cheaper to build your website. Though when students and volunteers make your website they at least knowledgeable in web design. If you don’t have the same experience you can end up with an ineffective website that can make your company look bad.
If you do decide to build your own website, odds are you don’t want to learn how to code but that’s okay because that’s what the previously mentioned website builders can help you out with.
I had mentioned WordPress and Wix before, but I dont think those options are best suited for you if you are wanting to put some monthly money into it.
A paid SquareSpace plan is probably you’re the best bet. It’s one of the better website builder platforms. Then you’d be able to have your own custom full URL, or even sell products. You start by selecting a theme, adding in your content and images, and finally making it live!
Though no technical coding skills would be required, websites still need to be designed an laid out properly. If you don’t follow the provided theme’s layout, then you risk making your website ineffective.
How much does a good website cost?
I’ve written a helpful article on the monthly cost of a website, which compares SquareSpace, Wix, WordPress, and some other platforms.
But in terms of the actual cost of buying a website from a professional agency or freelancer, they usually cost around $1500-$4000 for a good well-designed 5-page website.
All you’d have to do is provide the text content, images, and your brand’s style and they can make a website that’s effective and suited to your business. Typically you’d pay 50% to the agency upfront before the development begins, and the other 50% before it launches.
How can I reduce the costs of getting a website if I hire someone to do it?
There are a couple of ways you can reduce the cost of getting a website if you go with a local web design agency to fit your budget better like having fewer pages, hiring off fiver, or
The average website that comes out of agency is around 5 pages; A home page, an about page, a services page, a contact page, and a specific page like a gallery.
Some agencies price pages hourly based on how long they take to make, or a flat fee per page. If you reduce the number of pages you can get your website cost to fit your budget better.
From a cost-effective point of view, you can get away with just one website page – the homepage. With the homepage alone you can talk about your services and contact information.
Reduce complexity and requirements
If your website goes beyond a basic content-based website, then the customization and setup will take more time and will end up costing you more for your website.
Most notably, if your website has products and is e-commerce then that definitely adds to the overall cost of the website. It’s common for agencies to add a $1000 flat fee to the overall price of the website if there’s a checkout/payment system put in place.
If you also propose ideas/requirements that result in custom functionality you can expect hourly fees on top of your website cost. Custom animations, widgets, popups, and much more all cost time to implement and therefore money.
Keep your website simple and text-based to reduce extra customization fees.
Use Fiver or Upwork instead of a local web design agency
Fiver and Upwork are websites that you can go to hire professional (and amateur) talent to do all kinds of different services. I personally used Fiver for the avatar on the right side of this blog post for fairly cheap, and had a great experience.
You can browse results for web design services on those websites and the postings have pricing directly on the posting without needing to contact them for a quote.
As a professional web designer, what do I recommend?
The problem when people try to make their own website is they think just because they CAN do something, that they should.
“You don’t pay the plumber for banging on the pipe. You pay him for knowing where to bang.”
What ends up happening is self-made websites can very easily look horrible and have a terrible user experience, often with the “designer/developer” thinking they know what they’re doing when they dont.
With that being, SquareSpace is a cost-effective and great platform to start your business on because it limits you to templates and layouts that are hard to, to be blunt, f-up. If you do get SquareSpace, id recommend you stick to the theme and don’t try to trick out your website with fancy widgets and gizmos.
When it comes to volunteers and students, you tend to get what you pay for. If you cheap out on a website now you are risking getting a sub-par product. But they are a decent way if you don’t have the time or money. to invest in a website.
With that being said, when clients go to agencies in need of a new and updated website, guess what they’re trying to replace? SquareSpace.
Keep in mind SquareSpace can only take you so far, and it’s limiting in a lot of ways. If you want to think long-term, you can skip the middleman and start off with a great website by hiring a professional like me. A great designed website can pay itself off with a professionals touch of conversion optimizarion. SEO optimization, and speed optimization.