Can you create a website for under $100? Of course you can!
Is it easy? Maybe yes, maybe no. A person knowledgeable of HTML and CSS can whip out a website very easily for a low price. For someone with little to no skills, then it all depends on your willingness to learn and your intestinal fortitude.
The Project: Redesigning WomenHomeBusiness.com
WomenHomeBusiness.com was launched in 2005, and it was starting to look dated (not to mention slow loading). The site was designed with Microsoft Frontpage in such a way that updating universal features (e.g. yearly copyright information) means painfully going through each page to change the information.
The new WomenHomeBusiness.com site is a huge improvement over the old look of the site: it is easier to navigate, has stronger aesthetics, and sports a cleaner (and definitely fresher design). Managing the site and changing global elements is now easy to do. Best of all, the new website was created for under $100.
How to Create a WordPress Website for Under $100
How did I do it? Here are the steps I took to create a WordPress site for under $100:
1. The first step is to understand your needs.
Before looking at any content management systems or templates, know what you want from a new design. Look at what’s working in your old design, and what you need to change. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What contents will I have? Group your contents by corporate/company information (about us, advertise, contact us, etc) and your content categories
- How do you want to present your content?
- What do you want to show on the homepage?
- Are you selling or planning to sell advertising? What ad spaces do you need?
- Do you want to feature some of your content?
- Are you going to have multimedia features, such as videos?
2. Use a free content management system or CMS such as WordPress.
There are a number of content management systems out there that are free, such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and many others. I went with WordPress for WomenHomeBusiness.com.
It took me about a month to decide on the template I want for WomenHomeBusiness.com. WordPress is famous for its 5-minute installation, as they try to make installing WordPress as painless as possible. If you think the installation is too hard for you, check with your web host if they can install WordPress for you for free.
When I decided on the WordPress platform (Joomla and Drupal has too steep of a learning curve for me), I looked at all free and paid WordPress templates. I looked for templates whose design and style suits the content of WomenHomeBusiness.com and how I envision the site to look like. In addition to the aesthetics, my main criteria for selecting the template is to determine how easy it will be to customize. Some themes are easier to configure than others, so I tried looking for those where I don’t need to master CSS or php to be able to change the theme to incorporate the customization I want.
Read the feedback of others in various forums to see the pros and cons of using the CMS you are most interested in. I highly recommend checking out the Content Management Systems section of WebmasterWorld.com, which typically offers discussions on various types of CMS.
3. Search for an inexpensive (and there are even free) templates for your chosen CMS.
Start looking for template/s that already allows for what you need. Or find those that you think can be easy enough to customize to suit your needs.
I found a template I like from Solostream.com for only $59.95 (and for $99, you can download and use all of their templates). Solostream.com, the vendor I used for Women Home Business template, has a tutorials section on how to configure and customize the templates, from changing the background color to adding thumbnails on the homepage. For specific questions not addressed by the tutorials, the forum attracts users, web designers and programmers adept at using the design theme. They can help troubleshoot problems and address customization questions.
4. Configure the theme design based on how you want to present your content and how you want its aesthetics to look including colors.
If you are going to buy a template, do not just consider the design and aesthetics. Consider availability of free customer support, including an active forum of users of the theme.
Of course, the level of customization – and how far you want to push the template to avoid making it look the same for hundreds of other sites using it – depends on your skills and willingness to learn.
5. Configure WordPress to your liking.
What I like about WordPress is the presence of a huge number of plugins available, from search engine optimization to securing the database to even creating surveys for your users.
6. Use the forums.
However, before you hit the forums, read and re-read the instructions of your chosen CMS and template. Only when you can’t make heads or tails of the instructions should you go to the forums. You’d be surprised to see many experts willing to help you. The key is to ask the right questions. Be specific in the questions you ask in the forums. Here is an example of good and bad way to phrase your question:
Bad: How do I move my WordPress?
Good: How do I move WordPress from its current directory to root directory?
Better-phrased and exact questions allow you to get better responses. Don’t be afraid to ask even the simplest of questions. I even went to the point of asking what “root directory” means because I honestly did not know!
7. Enlist the help of friends.
There will be portion where your limited know-how demand that you seek outside help.
For WomenHomeBusiness.com, it was the header design. I enlisted the help of a graphic designer friend. For the cost of one lunch, I was able to have a nice-looking and eye-catching logo and header that encapsulated what WomenHomeBusiness.com is all about. Note that I requested quotes from other designers and the quotes I got ranged from $400 to $2000 for the logo and header design.
8. Back up your files regularly.
You are going to make mistakes, and it is best to regularly backup your WordPress files and databases.
The key point: If you want cheap, you have to know how to do it yourself, or be willing to learn and do it yourself. It is not easy, but it IS doable. With WordPress, you can create professional looking websites on the cheap.
If you are really stumped and you think that you can’t really configure WordPress, enlist the help of friends who can help you. Then check out freelance websites such as Elance.com for experts who can help you create your WordPress website. You can find real good freelancers for a really good price (though remember that not everything low is good). Don’t just look at the price, but the portfolio of what they have created, and any fees that they may charge for customization.
Recommended Books on How to Create a Website with WordPress:
- WordPress To Go: How To Build A WordPress Website On Your Own Domain, From Scratch, Even If You Are A Complete Beginner
- WordPress for Beginners: A Visual Step-by-Step Guide to Creating your Own WordPress Site in Record Time, Starting from Zero!
- WordPress Revealed: How to Build a Website, Get Visitors and Make Money (Even For Beginners) (Volume 1)
- How To Create A Website Using WordPress: The Beginner’s Blueprint for Building a Professional Website in Less Than 60 Minutes
- WordPress For Beginners: Build, Optimize And Design A WordPress Website Or Blog From Scratch, In 3 Easy Steps! (Stoked About WordPress Series)