Yuri thinks so and wrote a post last week entitled Create a small business website on a small budget to tell you what you need to think about if you want to get it done.
Here’s the basic checklist of what you should be doing:
- research your customers
- research your keywords
- plan your website
- get a content management system
- get a website template
- improve template usability
- make the template accessible
- write great content
- promote the site
Yuri talks about each of the items in greater depth and if you’re new to running a website or could simply use a few pointers for your next site the article makes for a good read and offers some good advice.
I would like to expand on one of the items here. When Yuri speaks of getting a website template he’s not specifically talking about running out and grabbing the first free template you see or one of those over designed TemplateMonster templates. When a web designer builds a site he or she will generally take the visual design and develop a single page website, which is then used to build the rest of the pages. A large site may get several site templates if some of the sections differ enough.
One good option for a site which Yuri doesn’t mention is WordPress. WordPress can act as your content management system and there are many free themes you can use if your budget is really tight. While most people will only create blog posts with WordPress it can be used to create static pages as well and there’s an abundance of plugins to add functionality.
I’d still recommend having a custom theme designed. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a lot of blogs. I’ve also seen far too many using the default theme. While themes and templates are improving many still ignore things like usability and search engine friendliness. Many web designers can create a custom WordPress theme for you, myself included.
People do form opinions about your site, and consequently you, very quickly. Web design is important and themes are no substitute for a custom design. If you do decide on using a WordPress theme at the very least search around for a theme you haven’t seen used often.
Budget Doesn’t Mean Cheap
Remember that budget and cheap aren’t the same thing. In the end you’ll only get out of your site what you put into it. If you read Yuri’s post you’ll see his final price for a budget site is between $3,500 and $4,000. That’s a very reasonable price to set up an online business. Consider what it might cost for example to set up a brick and mortar business.
What you put into a site doesn’t necessarily have to be money though. Time is also an investment into your site. If you’re planning on running any business, online or offline, expect to spend a lot of time working to make it successful. Some people while not designers or web developers still posses many of the skills required to build their own site. If you’re so inclined you can allay some of the initial costs of set up by designing the site yourself.
If you would like to give designing your own site a try here are some articles to help you get going.
Looking Beyond Aesthetics In Effective Web Design
Is Your Website In Harmony With Itself?
Using Keyword Themes To Structure Your Site Content
Designing with C.R.A.P.
Choosing colors for your design
How accessible is your font?
Yuri also links to some good resources on usability concerns with your site as well as resources to help you promote it. You do need to put something into your site if you expect to get anything in return, but you don’t need to break the bank to create your site or build an online presence.
Give Create a small business website on a small budget a read if you’re wanting to start a business online, but don’t have a lot of money to invest.