3 cheap, easy ways to make a great-looking website

By Anand D | Friday, 8 April 2016

It's 2016, as everyone loves to remind us.

Yet there are still too many businesses who are struggling with sites that look like they were designed in 1999. What looked state of the art then is shameful now.

That's too bad, because there are so many ways to create a site that looks great without breaking the bank. Let's look at a couple of them and see if we can bring the world into the 21st century.

1

HTML Templates

There are so many of these out there, with lots of them available for free. That's free. As in, no money. That's enough to sway a lot of people.

And they work great for simple portfolio sites. People in the creative professions really only need a site that displays some text and pictures, loads quickly and looks good on all devices. Plus, they're usually broke.

That's where HTML templates can help you. They have the downside of requiring some knowledge of HTML and CSS to personalise, but you can't beat the price tag.

But not everybody can get by with such a minimal site. Luckily, there are more options.

2

CMS

We've written about WordPress before, whether it's how to make money with it or a guide on keeping it safe. It's a great option, as are Joomla! and Drupal.

The basic versions of these are also free, but there's a catch in that – if you want to seriously personalise your site or add a lot of extra functionality, these are often packaged as extras. People work hard on these, so it makes sense that you should pay for them.

Let's break down how much it can cost to have a site that's professional and personalised on WordPress (not including hosting and the domain, which are only a small part of the cost):

  WordPress: Free
  Premium theme: $50-$200
  Plugins for added functionality (marketing, ecommerce, etc…): Some of these are subscription-based, so it turns into a long-term expense.

So the yearly total could easily add up to a couple of hundred dollars. Pretty pricy for a free site, but for a lot of people this is a very manageable expense.

3

Site builders

These are by far the option that's easiest to use. They come with a set of functions that you can add to your site at any time, usually in a drag and drop interface that allows you to change the appearance and function of your pages.

They usually have the disadvantage of being proprietary technology. That means you can't migrate your site every week between hosts, since each creator of each site builder doesn't want their software to become public knowledge.

On the other hand, with our Site Builder you get web and email hosting included. It's a subscription-based service, but it comes bundled with everything that you need to get online – like web hosting and your own email service.

Best of all?

Prices start at less than five dollars per month. You can get a site that will look great on all devices, has a lot of functionality and includes most of the bells and whistles for an amount of money that's probably in your couch cushions. Well, maybe not literally, but you get the idea.

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