Affordable Web Design
When contemplating the cost of a website it is best to include factors related to the long term maintenance, time and resources that will be necessary. If these considerations are made then it is likely that the most cost effective website is the one that is the easiest to operate, most expandable and most flexible. Your business website should streamline your work-flow and adapt to business changes.
I have created and used many different types of websites. From free Google sites to plain html sites to Drupal and custom flash and I can make fairly reliable conclusions as to which type of site would best suit a small business. These sites need to be flexible and cost effective yet powerful and flexible to help grow the business.
For a small business that only needs a website for, well the sake of having one I guess.
Of course, you're doing fine, business is going well, not great, but going, and you're fairly content. So why build a website? Perhaps to stop trying to explain why you don't have one when someone inquires. Or maybe, to help provide your current customers with a point of reference, for direction, number and such.
Well, whatever your story, you're here and you want to know that is the most affordable web design (cheapest) you can get. How about free, or $12 per year? It is possible to get a website for only the cost of a domain name registration (www.yourwebsite.com). You would just need to spend a few hours looking at some interface, clicking on things, adding bits of information and basically making yourself miserable (unless you are an aspiring geek, like me :)).
How about a business website for only $180 which includes 1 year of free hosting? (if you want that deal and need help getting setup, send a web design quote request and ask for small business starter site)
That is how about much it will cost you to setup a basic website hosting platform and use a pre-installed website builder, or setup a content management system, such as Wordpress, Drupal, oscommerce or Joomla. If you have some basic html skills and some time you can customize the look and feel and add all of the content yourself. (many video and text tutorials available online for common issues)
Sites built using standard content management systems such as Joomla and Drupal are used to build business websites globally. If you need to customize your site to look and function according to your specific requirements it may be best to go with a widely used framework rather than a system that is proprietary to any one company or individual. This will also spare you the expense and inconvenience should you ever need to upgrade or move your website to a different server.
Popular open source website content management systems are supported and actively maintained by thousands of individuals and businesses all over the world. No one single company can ever hope to compete.
For Small Businesses (non-technical) - Small Business Websites on Joomla
Joomla provides an easy to use interface. Once you get familiar (video tutorials available on Youtube) with the system you will be able to control the elements on your page. You or your website content managers will be able to easily add pages, content, images, video, audio and links, all without needing to know any computer programming. (just some light reading on "how to")
For small businesses (technical) - Custom Development on Drupal
For many common businesses there are likely to be companies selling prepackaged websites. Many have sprung up offering niche web design services, such as websites for realtors, chiropractors, hotels, etc. Many over charge for hosting and website maintenance but never really become a part of the business, rather a place for it online.
Proprietary systems are designed as a one fits all solution and are much more expensive in the long run. In most cases, after a business decides to build their own website in-house they will have to trash their old website losing all of their time and investment thus far. Systems designed by private companies on their own platforms are not designed to be transferred.
So, how about plain html sites? wouldn't that be the cheapest? Of course, all you need is some cheap (but not so cheap that it stinks) hosting $10-20 per month, notepad and some basic html, images, content and presto! This is by far the most cost effective solution, and if you have those skills then this article is over, now go build your site.