Since I work a lot with new business owners-particularly women and mothers-I am often asked about the options available to those who need some type of web site presence but who have little money at the start up.
This happens a lot in a new business, and I can understand the issue. Price websites-full sites, with all of the bells and whistles-and you’ll find that you can pay upwards of several thousands of dollars for a basic ecommerce site. Those who are just starting out may not have that type of money in their budget, but may still need some type of website at the get-go in order to capture online sales.
A recent article in the LA Times stated that more than 875 million people have shopped online and that in the U.S. cyber sales are expected to hit $204 billion this year! With those statistics, it is easy to see why you should have an online presence if the type of company that you own can create business and sales this way.
Regardless of your budget, you should be able to find a designer that can create a site for your company.
When hiring a designer, ask about the following options for your company. Some may work for what you want to do, while others may not. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get online, and you can always start small and grow with your company as you begin making some profits.
1-Templates. Templates are not original, unique sites, but a layout that has been created for resale. You’ll need to modify the template once you purchase it-for instance, add your own header, change some graphics around, add your unique navigation bar links. Templates can range from $25 per page to $100 per page depending upon your needs and budget. The more specific and unique you want the template, the more it will cost. Most designers will be happy to modify a template for an hourly or per-project charge.
2-Small site. If you don’t have a full blown web site budget but you want a unique site, consider starting small. If you are not selling online, you can host a two page site: one as your home page and one as the contact page. A recent client of mine wanted a site for her handmade purse business so we created two pages. She wants to add on later, when sales pick up, but for now she is online with a site that will be search engine optimized, hand coded and designed just for her using unique graphics.
3-Ecommerce Options. Need a shopping cart to sell your products? There are ways to do this more cost effectively, but you’ll have to hire a designer willing to work within your budget. For instance, zen cart is a free ecommerce setup. You can either work off of their templates, modifying just the basics like the background and the header, or you can hire a designer to create an entire site around zencart and its functions. You can have the designer put in all of the products for you, configure the sales tax, handle the shipping set up, and write up descriptions, or you can have the designer teach you to do this on your own. When we design sites, we find out how competent the person hiring is on the computer. If they can do some of the work on their own and they don’t want to pay $1200 for a full blown ecommerce site, we offer training with the design. This cuts down on the amount of time that we have to input the products and prices and allows the owner of the company a way to get online with an ecommerce site and without spending all of their marketing money.
4-Blogging for Dollars. I’ve posted before that content management systems are really a great way to go in many instances. Here you can have a site that looks the way you want it but that allows you to go in and change the content and graphics as needed. With blogs, you can either find a template that you like and have a designer modify that template for your needs or you can hire a designer to create a unique site for you and drop it into a CMS such as wordpress.
If you are on a budget, find a designer willing to work within your budget. The designer should ask a variety of questions to narrow down what it is you absolutely need now, what you can wait on, and what you can and cannot do on your own. In most cases, you can get online for a few hundred dollars. While that may seem like a lot of money to pay at the start up of a new business, if you are online and you are able to generate sales and find clients, the cost is worth it in the long run.