When starting a business, few people can boast the availability of sufficient funds to cover everything they need for a successful launch. In other words, most small business owners are on a budget, which they must be smart about so they don’t break the bank.
Paradoxically, the website – an essential part of any business – often has the lowest priority. After paying licensing fees and setup costs, little funds are left over to invest in it.
It’s possible to create an appealing and effective one on a budget. Here are the steps to take.
Define goals and target audience
This doesn’t cost any money, only your time and effort. Before you get started, it’s essential to clarify the goal and purpose of your website. Identify your target audience’s needs and how they can be met through the website.
Any visitor to a website wants a clear structure and easy navigation. Make sure the structure is intuitive and logical. Decide in advance what pages and subpages you will need and ensure easy navigation. The essential features of any business website are a contact form, a product or service section, and a blog. You can have a news section and social media integration. Integrate Google Analytics or a similar tool to track user behavior and website traffic.
Choose the best domain name
This is also free, but it is an essential step. The best domain names are concise, memorable, and relevant to your business area. At first, choose a general name so you have growth room down the line. The only reason you’d need a niche-specific name is if your product is very concrete, and it will always be.
Look for affordable but scalable hosting
Shared hosting is cheap but not scalable. If traffic to another site on the server peaks, your site might crash. The best hosting is affordable yet capable of accommodating volatile demand for bandwidth and space.
Use a free, open-source CMS
Many free and open-source Content Management Systems (CMS) are available. WordPress is the most popular CMS platform to make a website. It has a large community of users and developers and is intuitive and highly customizable.
Drupal is a robust, flexible CMS that suits more complex websites because of its high customization potential. Its features are more advanced than those of WordPress, but the learning curve is steeper as well.
Joomla is customizable and intuitive at the same time. It’s suitable for websites of all complexity levels.
You can use Magento to build a website, although most people know it as an e-commerce platform. For a small website, it’s not the best choice. On the other hand, Grav is an alternative that smaller websites will find quite suitable. It has a modern feel, is easy to set up, and requires no database.
Ghost originally targeted bloggers, and it’s still an excellent choice for this niche. The simple, elegant website builder is also a good option for content creators.
Finally, SilverStripe is a website builder and framework well-known for its user-friendliness and flexibility.
Craft compelling content
If you have writing skills or are willing to invest to improve them, creating your own content will save you a lot of money. Communicate your product or service features, benefits, and unique selling proposition clearly. Focus on your target group’s needs using concise language. Avoid writing in the passive voice.
SEO specialists are very expensive, at least the ones who know what they’re doing. You can learn some basic SEO practices so search engines pick up your site. Use free tools to research relevant keywords and include them in your meta tags and meta descriptions, content body, headings, and URLs. WordPress has built-in SEO tools to help you.
Optimize your website’s speed
A large part of any business’ revenue is made up of impulse purchases. If your website is slow, it will deter such purchases and cancel out any savings you make from the lower speed. When you get started, use as little multimedia as possible. Heavy images and videos slow down your pages and increase loading time. If you must use images, they should be as light as possible.
If you choose WordPress to build your site, you can take advantage of many free templates. Unless you’re focusing on personalization, don’t pay for custom themes.
How to pick the best web host
Web hosting is an unavoidable cost. Look for a company that offers promotions and only offers a little in the way of added value, as you don’t need such features at this time. If you want a long-term low rate, you’ll need to sign a long-term hosting contract, sometimes up to three years. If a company’s rate is too good to be true, check which billing cycle it applies for. The price might increase for the next ones.