The idea for “Shop Smart” came while I was browsing through the StudioPress showcase for inspiration and found that the average price for website development ranged from $3500 to $5000 for moderate sized, semi-customized sites of 8 to 12 pages. The prices are much higher for full customization.
I don’t believe that these prices are outrageous but neither do I believe a small business or organization needs to spend a small fortune for an uncomplicated, simple and aesthetically pleasing website that is easy for visitors to use and navigate. Whether you do-it-yourself (DYI) or hire a web developer, the aim of this article is to show what’s needed and how to “Shop Smart” for a high quality yet inexpensive website.
To Shop Smart: know what you need, avoid the hype and take control. Recommendations are made with the aim of obtaining the highest quality product and service out of each dollar you spend.
You must first have a domain name and hosting. A domain name is the address of your website and hosting is the service you pay to hold the files of your website.
Every website starts with the domain name, without that you do not have a site. More importantly, if you as the head of your business or organization do not have control over this name, then you do not have control over your site.
Domain Name: I recommend Google at Google Domains as the registrar of choice because the added security of privacy is included at no additional cost. Cost for dot com domain registration, around $12.00 per year.
Hosting: Shared hosting works well for most small businesses and charitable organizations. The largest shared hosting companies are Network Solutions, BlueHost, HostGator and GoDaddy which have monthly fees ranging from $4 to $10. The problem: overloaded slow servers and weak support. GeekGhost.net with servers in Tampa and Amsterdam is a local company that far superior. By not overloading their servers the servers perform 2 to 3 times faster than their larger brothers, plus they have phenomenal friendly support services. Hosting suitable for small businesses starts at $3.50 month or $35.00 annually. Server up time has been 100% since November 2012.
A domain name and hosting are often bought together, for security purposes, I recommend they be purchased separately.
A well organized website: By far, the fastest and least expensive way to set up a powerful, well-organized website is to use a Content Management System (CMS). WordPress is the CMS of choice, it easy to use, flexible, supported by a passionate developer community, it powers 25 percent of all sites across the web and best of all, it’s free.
A quality design: A strong visual style is the foundation of a quality website. Simple designs have the advantage over more complicated ones. They are easier to understand, less expensive to build, far easier to fix if the need arises and more importantly, they keep the focus on your content where it belongs. Keeping it short and simple is the best way to keep your visitors’ attention and engaged with your message.