This decision table will help you create an action plan....
....to get the website of your dreams!
Find the spot in the table below that most closely matches your situation, and take note of the numbers there.
Then scroll down to those numbered sections for my advice on how to proceed with your web design project.
If you haven’t already read through this site’s home page, I suggest that you do that first — then this will all make much more sense to you!
Because there are four different factors that determine your spot in the table, I’ve set it up with a colour code.
- Light and dark shades are for whether or not you want to be able to update the site yourself, such as with
Contribute or a content management system.
- Blue and brown are for whether the site has advanced technical features, such as a shopping cart system, that may require custom programming.
|No frequent updates; technically simple website.|
|I want to edit the site myself; technically simple website.|
|No frequent updates; website is technically advanced.|
|I want to edit the site myself; website is technically advanced.|
|Time \ Budget||Zero budget||Up to $150||$150 to $2500||$2500 to $50,000||over $50,000|
|I want to do as much as possible myself.||5||5||6||6,7||1,6||1,7||1,2,7||1,2,7||2,4,7||2,4,7|
|I can put in an hour or two a day, ongoing.||5||5||6||6,7||1,2,6||1,2,7||1,4,8||1,4,8||3,4,8||3,4,8|
|I’d like to do some things, such as text, but nothing technical.||8||8||8||8||1,3,8||1,3,8||3,4,8||3,4,8||3,4,8||3,4,8|
|I want it done with a minimum of time & effort from me.||8||8||8||8||3,8||3,8||3,4,8||3,4,8||3,4,8||3,4,8|
The action plan....
Once you’ve looked up your numbers in the table, just locate them in the list below so you can read my advice on how to proceed with your website design.
You can then choose the one that appeals to you most, and read on:
1. Get an all-in-one design & hosting package
There are a number of services on the Internet that can help you automate the website design process, without having to know HTML, graphic design software, or application programming.
Some are definitely better than others, and they range in price from free to $45 (£25) per month or more. I can tell you about several of them, but the one I recommend is Site Build It .
2. Work with a mentor to build your site
If you know — or are willing to learn — some of the basics of web design, then you may be able to find a web or graphic designer who can work with you and guide you towards making your site profitable.
You can always get technical help from a local designer through word-of-mouth; or you can find somebody online by posting a project on a freelance site like Elance or RentACoder . But most programmers don’t really know what it takes to turn a website into a successful online business.
3. Hire a web developer
It may seem like an obvious choice.... simply hire a web designer or a development firm to create your site for you. But there are a zillion different web designers out there, who all have different standards of quality in their work.
So how do you narrow down the field? What criteria do you use to select the best designer for your needs — one who can give you the results you want at the most reasonable price? And how much should you expect to pay?
4. Have a CMS-based site designed for you
A content management system (CMS) is a piece of software that runs on your website’s host server. It allows you to log in through your web browser — from anywhere in the world — and make changes to the site’s content.
The initial cost of a CMS-based site is higher than you’d pay for a static site, but if you expect to be making many changes and additions over time, it will almost certainly save you time and money in the long term — and it makes it very convenient to manage your site.
5. Create a website yourself for free
It is actually possible to get yourself a website without paying a single penny. Yes, even without needing any technical skills to get there.
Everybody has to start somewhere, and if you really can’t afford the $100 (£60) or so that it will cost you to get set up professionally, then here’s all the info you need....
6. Develop a low-budget site yourself
It doesn’t have to cost a lot to create your own professional website. But there are some basics, such as a domain name and web hosting, that you will need to have if you want to get yourself set up right.
It also makes a difference whether you are willing or able to do your own HTML coding — there are some inexpensive services available that will take care of the technical side of things for you, but they are never quite as good as programming the site yourself.
If you have the time, it is perfectly realistic for you to be able to put together an effective website for under $150 (£100).
7. Set up your own CMS-based site
There are lots of different content management systems available — ranging from free, open-source programs that you can set up yourself, to enterprise-level solutions that come with everything and just need to be customized to your business.
If you want to take the time and develop the technical skills to do it yourself, you can set up your own CMS-based website. It will take some work, but the big payoff in the end is that once it’s done, it is very easy to add and edit content on your site.
8. Partner with a web developer
If you have a truly unique and visionary idea that’s likely to be profitable enough to attract business partners, then you may be able to find a professional web developer to work with you on your site concept, in exchange for a stake in your business.
Keep in mind that when you find a web designer whose work is good enough to really make your business succeed online, they will be used to getting paid well for their time. And if they are taking a risk on your business success as well, then you will have to make sure that your offer is generous enough to make it worth their while.