We’ve been designing and developing websites for a while now. We’ve worked with businesses of all sizes across many different industries. However, we say about 90% of the business websites we’ve created were for local, smaller businesses, mainly service-based.

When it comes to affordable website design for small businesses, it’s important to remember that you’re paying for your developer and designer’s skill and years of experience above all else.

As a small business owner you have unique needs and problems that often require unique creative solutions. A professional and user-friendly website is more important than ever but not everyone has the design or technology skills, nor the time, to create a functional site.

Hiring an experienced developer and designer is a significant expense and not a one-and-done deal; every website takes time to manage and maintain and it’s generally not something that can be done without the know-how and time.

How to choose the right affordable website design service for your small business

The truth is, finding an affordable website design company for a small businesses is not always an easy task, but there are some things you can keep in mind to make the process easier.

1. Should you do it yourself?

Of course, the cheapest way to build a website is to DIY. If you’re tech-savvy, building a simple, usable site can be possible, but for many that is simply not an option. We’ve all seen the businesses that do it themselves even though they probably should have hired out.

The truth is, there’s nothing inherently wrong with an amateur website. It can have a charming appeal for a small family-run business. However, it may not create a professional first impression for online customers, and without proper management, it may not endure over time.

Online customers are searching for sleek, efficient websites where they can easily find what they need. A clunky site that appears a decade old won’t impress anyone, and it won’t make a positive impression on search engines. In fact, it could have the opposite effect and harm your business.

If you choose to do it yourself, you’ll need to do your research and figure out what you need when it comes to the right framework, CMS, hosting, DNS, domains and code/no-code solutions.

For example, do you know programming or will you need a drag and drop feature to design your site? Do you need VPS hosting or shared hosting? What the heck even is a VPS!?

Unfortunately, online page builders such as WIX, SquareSpace, GoDaddy, and others promote the simplicity of creating your website with their tools. However, they often overlook the fact that there’s a TON more to building an effective website that can rank well on search engines and attract visitors.

It’s also important to note that most DIY website services are extremely costly in the long run. Every small business owner we’ve encountered has no idea how much they could save with the right technology stack. When you own and operate a small business, saving on overhead costs and expenses is paramount.

Here are some important things to keep in mind when you are thinking about DIY alternatives:

  • Lock-in pricing and hidden costs: Every DIY solution comes with a subscription model. Not only that, but a vast majority of the items included with your subscription are oftentimes completely free on the open web! Things like SSL certs and site backups are free if you know how to do it. GoDaddy is notorious for hidden costs and charging for open source tools.
  • The ability to scale is crucial: For instance, a small local auto parts store may not thrive on cheap shared hosting or require a large instance with 16vCPU and 64GiB, which can cost hundreds of dollars a month. However, they’ll likely want the option to add Ecommerce functionality to their site eventually, so they should be able to scale their hosting stack whenever they want.
  • Site maintenance and management: Websites cannot just be built and left alone; they break and become outdated and need someone who can fix them and ensure they’re working as intended. Nothing is worse than a restaurant website with an out-of-date menu or a home remodel company site where none of the pictures load correctly.

Taking on all this work can quickly become overwhelming, and you may start to think if it’s worth hiring an entire tech department just to avoid the headache. But not so fast! There are ways to have the best of both worlds in affordable website services for your business without putting yourself into the red.

2. Hire smarter, not cheaper

You’ll always be able to find someone who will work for pennies but a website that cost you pennies is only going to generate a penny’s worth of sales and new customers.

The most important thing you can ask any website agency you’re thinking of working with is to see a portfolio. Ask for examples of their work. Pay attention to how easy the designs are to navigate, whether the sites feel cluttered or too minimalist and how simple it is to navigate the website.

It also may be worth asking how many years experience they have, although one doesn’t need decades of work history to be an expert.

Most importantly you should know that a basic, functioning website built by a competent developer and designer is far more valuable to a small business than a trendy, eye catching site that’s confusing and has a terrible user experience (UX).

3. Focus on function and design over bells and whistles

The truth is, the average consumer doesn’t care about the expensive animation or avant garde design elements you’ve added to your site. They just want it to work!

We touched on this earlier: a basic, functioning website is a hundred times better for business than a pretty but confusing one. Unless your business happens to be in certain tech, high fashion, or one of a few other industries whose clients may prefer design over functionality, it is very likely people are visiting your site to learn something about your company or find a way to contact you.

Those people will be frustrated if they type in your web address only to find a blank screen with some pulsating symbols in the corner, or a welcome video that auto-loads and cannot be skipped. Those people will also probably not continue to try to figure out how to navigate your website and may even question your business after the painful experience.

Overwhelmingly, consumers want to visit a clear, easy to navigate site. Consumers don’t care about expensive website design. Your customers, especially those who find you online, want to visit your website and find the information they’re looking for quickly and efficiently.

4. Get a customized web package

Every business is unique, and that means every business website is unique too. However, big design agencies often have only two or three package options. These packages include a lot more services as the cost goes up. This can be a problem for businesses that don’t fit neatly into one of those price tiers. What if the second-tier package doesn’t give you what you need, but you can’t afford the third-tier, which costs twice as much? DIY alternatives utilize the same tactic.

Smaller website design agencies can create custom packages to match your needs, ensuring you only pay for what you use. Your developer will chat with you directly to figure out your budget and requirements, then give you a personalized project quote.

Some offer basic packages that you can customize with add-ons. Smaller agencies like ours can tailor everything to your project, while large design agencies from those Google searches you see may not offer such personalized services.

5. Keep it local and keep it simple

Our agency, Shepdesign, is a local full-service design agency that equips you with everything to build and maintain your ideal business website. We offer website design, hosting, and management services to ensure your site runs smoothly.

We’ll always walk you through the entire process and pricing options, and we enjoy teaching! If we can assist you in becoming more self-sufficient and sustainable, we believe we’ve delivered some of the finest technology services available.

We believe that businesses of all sizes should have access to the resources necessary for building and maintaining a well-functioning website. That’s why we’ve committed our skills and expertise to fill the gap in an industry that was previously underserved.

Whatever you decide…

Whether you choose to invest time and research to build your own site, hire a freelancer or an external company, or use a combination of these approaches, remember the two most crucial elements of creating an affordable website: pay for only what you require and keep it simple and user-friendly.

We’ve recently introduced an affordable website development model tailored for small business owners. It’s called our “Starter Site” package, and every new build is conversion-ready, SEO-optimized, and built to stand the test of time.

For businesses in their early stages, shelling out thousands of dollars for a custom-built website can be excessive. Our Starter Site package offers an excellent solution, providing a premium website without the hefty upfront cost.