A Professional Site for Less then $100.

by frank.gorton on 08/25/2008

Ok so there are lot of people out there that are just starting to add a presence on the web for their business, and they are looking around for people to try and point them in the right direction. There are many places that they can turn and some of the places that they seek advice may try and steer them in the wrong direction, and tell them they need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to even get started on the web.

Well they are WRONG!

Here is my down and dirty insider’s guide to get a web presence for under a $100 and look like a big business, and have all of the same features as the big boys do in your industry.

So let’s take a walk down easy street and see how you can get that professional looking website or cheap.

  1. Domain Purchase – Ok so perhaps the hardest thing you will have to do is actually pick a domain name for your business. If you already have the company name then you can do a quick search on sites like GoDaddy.com to see if it is available. GoDaddy is pretty cheap, and I would highly recommend buying all of the Top Level Domains (TLD) for your name. What does this mean well I mean buy the .com, .net, .org, as well as all of the other that you think you may ever want to use. The domains will cost you on average about $8.99 each some are a bit more, but I always try and get them to keep unhappy customers or people down the road from setting up a hate site. Remember it is all about protecting your brand.
  2. Hosting - Alright so you have the domain but that is no good unless you actually go and get a hosting account that you can actually put stuff on so others can see. Now if you are new to the whole web site world then let me take a brief pause to explain that you need to purchase a domain name (Step 1 above) then you need a hosting account. Please remember these are two separate things. There are hundreds if not thousands of hosting providers out there, and if you talk to anyone they will all have a favorite one they use. I always recommend using smaller companies when you are getting started, and you can always move to a larger company when business takes off.I am currently using Brinkster.com and have several accounts with them and am very happy with them. Once you decide on a company then you must decide on a platform to host on, your choices Windows or Linux. You can go either way on this one, and if you are doing any real development you will want to make sure you know what technology you will be using to decide which one will be a better one for you and your business. For the sake of this article, and for another step I will be showing you further down I would go with a Linux account, and I would go with the mid range “Pro” account which is a mere $10 a month. I am recommending this because later we will talk about WordPress, and in order to us this you will need the account that has a mySql account with it as well.
  3. WordPress - Ahh welcome to the new world of the easy admin interface, and blogging. So there is a great package on the net that allows you to write a blog, which is an online journal, and it is called WordPress, and can be found at WordPress.org (you want the .org not the .com for this article). WordPress is a powerful blogging solution, but has a little hidden secret attached to it as well. You can create pretty sophisticated sites with WordPress, and it comes with a build in Admin interface to allow the non techies to add, and change content without having to know ANY html or code at all. Let me say that again no code at all.Take a look around the net and you will find 100′s of WordPress themes that will allow you to change the look and feel of the site, as well as lots of widgets to add some extra functionality to your site. You will see that once you go into the admin interface in WordPress you have the ability to make the First page not actually be the blog page at all, so you in a sense have a small content management system for your basic website.Here are some great resource for sophisticated themes (oh yeah all FREE):

    All you need to do is follow their handy 5 minute installation, and then upload a new theme, and you are good to go, ready to write copy for your site.

  4. Purchase Image for Your Site – So you have a basic site up and the snazzy domain name, but the site look boring without any photos there. Welcome to the wonderful world of BigStockPhotos.com. What can I say about this site other then I love it. I can get great quality images for only $1 each, that’s right $1…..does not get much better for the budget savvy business owner. Now these are not as mind blowing amazing as place like ghettyimages.com, but there are also only $1 each. So what are you waiting for look on the site using the search feature grab some photos and you can then download them to your machine.
  5. Editing Photos – Adobe Photoshop is what all of the big designers use to make the graphics that you se on all of the gret and amazing website you browse everyday. While this is an amazing package it is expensive, and overkill for just a simple crop and re-size, or text addition. Well welcome Picnik.com an online webbased phot editing site. You can upload the picures you purchsed from BigStockPhoto.com, and then use the online tools and crop and clean or add special effects to those document and then save them back to your machine, Cost to you…a whopping $0, can’t beat that.

So let’s recap out cost on what we get and what itwill cost us for each item:

  1. Domain name (3-5 different domain extensions) – $45
  2. Hosting with PHP and MySql DB – $10 (re-occurring)
  3. WordPress website blog with website admin system – $0
  4. Images for your site (15 images) – $15
  5. Editing your images – $0
  6. Dinner and a drink for yourself because your site is now live, and it is pretty Rocking!!! – $30

There you have it my handy dandy guide on how to get an amazing looking site up and running for $100 or less. Sure there are some of you that say you need more, and well you may be right, but you can get a lot of a site with the steps listed above. This should be used as starter to get you up and running, if you have an actual web application you may need more, but the steps above would get you a site, that many would be jealous of, that I can promise you.

Now it is your turn take a look around try the steps above and let me know what you think, and if you make a site with the steps above let me know and I will link it to this article. The proof is in the pudding.

Peace
Frank

{ 2 comments }

1 Susan Murphy 08/25/2008 at 4:08 PM

Although there are many ways to create a good looking, inexpensive web site these days, I would caution
that a pretty interface alone does not a good web site make. The site must be functional (i.e. have
good navigation and information architecture) and must be well written (concise information delivered
in digestible chunks.) If your site is not usable or is too wordy and cluttered, nobody will stick around,
even if it is pretty. Technical considerations such as search engine optimization and browser compatibility
are also very important, and not to be underrated in the design/development process.

If you as a web site creator have the ability to incorporate these attributes to your site already, then
absolutely you can get up and running for a modest amount of money.

However, some organizations and businesses can benefit from involving a web design and/or content
specialist into the process.

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, true. But I do think that, as with every endeavour, there is a time and a
place to call in the professionals.

PS: WordPress IS a content management system, and a pretty powerful one at that. As you say it’s a great
way for people to get up and running quickly and easily.

2 Pink Heels 08/26/2008 at 9:28 AM

This is a fantastic post addressing a very common issue, small funds with a big idea! It is not uncommon, while working with clients, to learn that their budget is small but their concept is phenomenal. This is a great tool that I can share with them.

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