How to create a great website on a budget

In this piece, brought to you in association with .co.uk, the number one domain for British business, SmallBusiness.co.uk looks at the key things to consider when producing your company website.

A good website is the face of your brand and will tell the digital community who you are and what you do, and as such it must be functional, visually impressive and search engine friendly to attract custom and interest people in your goods or services.

Simon Crisp, director of Edward Robertson Web Design explains, ‘The last five years have focused business owners’ and marketing managers’ minds on the need to have the best possible online visibility at affordable prices, and smart web developers have reacted to that,’ he says.

Sam Parton, co-founder of sports pitch booking website openplay.co.uk, shares his own experience of creating a great website on a shoestring.

‘It really is possible to create a good website on a budget, for example using open source products for literally the cost of hosting and your time. In the past I’ve used Joomla or WordPress, taking advantage of their choice of existing themes and plugins. Easy-to-use tools like this mean that pretty much anyone can give website creation a go, whatever level of technical knowledge they have. There are also some great tutorials online on sites like YouTube and Lynda if you ever get stuck.’

Registering the domain name

The first step to getting your business online is to register your domain name with an online registrar which you can buy a domain name through for as little as a few pounds. Many registrars offer a variety of other services like website hosting and design to accommodate different budgets so it’s important to look around and find the best registrar for your needs.

Managing director of e-cigarette company Freshcig.co.uk Ben Wilson claims a 10.5 per cent sales conversion rate for his website. He believes that entrepreneurs should stay up to date with e-commerce news in order to create and maintain a website at the best price.

Wilson says, ‘A lot of people don’t realise that you can actually use a lot of free online tools in order to succeed in e-commerce. For example, we use the Magento system which allows you to have a website and also receive and process orders. I came across this originally through some quick research. You may have to pay for developments to be made to improve the appearance of your site but I would go for a well-respected local developer if you can. This means that you can avoid monthly retainer fees via an agency.’

The importance of SEO

Another area not to be ignored is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as this goes hand in hand with a successful website, and there’s a lot you can do yourself to help improve your visibility online. Wilson adds, ‘It’s really important to do your research and shop around when working with agencies. In the past we’ve had bad experiences and were even hit by a Google penalty which meant that our site fell off the page search function. We eventually resolved this ourselves through reading up on the subject online and saved around £10,000, so carefully consider what you can do yourself and what you need specialist help with.’

Related: Top five SEO techniques to help you rank

Anthony Karibian, CEO and founder of bOnline, which offers a website building and marketing tool, further highlights the importance of SEO, and how dynamic content can help.

‘If your website doesn’t have any digital marketing tools, you won’t be able to climb Google rankings. You’re effectively working offline and in the dark, unable to independently reach out and find potential new customers.

‘If you make your website relevant and exciting by updating it with news, special offers and testimonials, visitors are more likely to return. And best of all, updating content regularly makes it more search engine friendly. A quick and easy way to add content is to consider hosting your own blog on your website.’

Further reading on building a website

Leave a comment