If you’re doing the research leading up to building a new website, or if you’re preparing to redesign a website that already exists, you need to think about your budget.
I’ll start by saying that I firmly believe that anyone can learn the basics of web development. There is a wealth of information out there that can guide you to build your website yourself.
But remember that your time = money.
Whether you choose to build your website yourself or hire a designer or developer, here are a few items to make room for in your budget.
- Domain registration
- Hosting plan
- Design tool(s)
How much does it cost to register a domain?
Most unique domains are pretty affordable at around $2-12 USD for one year.
Check the availability of the URL you’d like to use. It can also be useful to check for similar handles on social media to see what version your URL will be available to you.
One piece of advice I’d like to share with you is to avoid GoDaddy.com. There are plenty of other options with better customer support more transparency in their operation.
For finding your domain I highly recommend NameCheap.com for their excellent customer support and ease of use.
Once you have your domain you’ll need to configure some space on a server. Which leads us to…
How much does a website hosting plan cost?
There are a lot of options out there for hosting, and there are plenty of resources out there to help you choose which hosting plan is right for you.
Some services offered shared hosting, which simply means that one server will be shared by multiple clients of that hosting provider.
For the most part, this shouldn’t have any effect on your business or your website performance, but it is important that you choose a reputable host with well-reviewed support to make sure that if any problems do arise you’ll be in safe hands and you won’t have to stress.
Which design tool(s) should I use and how much do they cost?
The tools, the tools, the tools you’ll use. In terms of cost, there actually are free options.
The free website options
Static site generator
If you’re comfortable working with code you can build static site from scratch or using a static site generator.
This isn’t a recommendation I would make to a small business owner trying to DIY, due to the technical knowledge required to build something beautiful and functional, but it is technically a free option.
If a developer recommends this route keep in mind that there may not be an interface where you can easily manage and edit the content of your site.
But the payoff could be worth it – no CMS means no overhead in terms of the amount of processing power required to serve your site. It could mean that your site is lightning fast and lean.
WordPress.org (not to be confused with WordPress.com) is free and open source, which means that it is constantly undergoing review and improvements.
I’ll write more about WordPress in another installment, but if you’re really trying to keep your site within a tight budget, consider using WordPress and a free WordPress theme to get started.
Paid website builder options
- premium WordPress themes + builders (e.g. Divi, Elementor, Avada)
These visual builders are getting better, and they are somewhat user-friendly, but do require a learning curve for a total novice to web development.
For more info check out this blog post that gives more information about why you should be careful with paid website builders, like Wix.
How much time does it take to build a website?
Web development is rarely simple and straightforward. The time you’ll need for design and development will vary based on your goals, content, and the tools you choose.
Visual builders make the implementation part of web design seem simple by abstracting the complexity of web development.
This means that when something goes wrong it can be difficult and time consuming to find out how and why and how to solve the problem.
On the other hand, learning how basics of web development that would allow you to use those visual builders in a smart way will also take time.
A basic blog website with an out-of-the-box design from a free resource like WordPress.org might take less than a week to set up. But as complexity is added the scope will start to creep.
Is it worth it to hire a website designer or developer?
Yes, it probably is worth it.
If you go the DIY route you are committing to learn the basics of web development, whether that’s your goal or not. If it is, I say go for it!
But to the discerning business-owner making the important decision about how to present your business online: is it worth your time to learn how to be a web developer in order to provide the best experience for your customers?
As much as I appreciate the do-it-yourself spirit, I wouldn’t take on the plumbing in my house knowing that the damage I could do would cost me more money than if I were to simply hire a professional upfront.