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How to build your own website on a budget

Friday, 19 June, 2020

With an estimated 1.5 billion websites currently live, there’s no shortage of content for people to visit.

Even so, there are numerous reasons to build your own website.

You may wish to share advice and experiences, promote or sell goods and services, or simply indulge a hobby or passion.

Historically, creating a website involved HTML programming, or outsourcing the job to an expensive professional website design company.

Yet today, you can create and launch a website from one platform, armed only with some ready-made content and a credit or debit card.

And while prices fluctuate, you should be able to launch and host a site for a year for around £100.

Confidence building

The explosion in DIY website publication is thanks to a concept known as WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get.

Whenever you upload a photo or reposition a menu on pre-designed templates, these tools adjust the HTML code used by web browsers to interpret and display webpage contents.

Once you’ve finished editing a page, press a button to save the code. Press another button to publish the site at an address you’ve already reserved.

You don’t need to understand the mechanics of HTML, or learn how WYSIWYG editors adjust standard templates.

Once the site is published, you don’t have to maintain or edit it – though regular revisions impress the search engines which are constantly analysing it.

Adding new content is one way to improve your site’s ranking in Google and Bing results. Others include links to and from other sites, lots of site visitors and original content.

Writing your own content costs time rather than money, while taking your own images (or sourcing them from Creative Commons Zero websites) also keeps costs down.

Platform wars

A few affordable website-building platforms have risen to prominence in recent years.

WordPress started the trend back in 2003, evolving from a blogging tool into the world’s most widely-used website building platform.

WordPress’s basic framework can be enhanced with standalone code blocks known as plugins. Each performs a specific function, though installation requires a degree of technical acumen.

There are 56,000 plugins, allowing unlimited customisation of site functionality. Installing only the ones you need helps the site to load quickly – another key SEO factor.

Wix is intended for simpler sites, and beginners will find it easier to build your own website than through the more complex WordPress platform.

Wix has hundreds of pre-designed templates which can be endlessly customised, though it isn’t necessary to install plugins to expand a site’s functionality.

First-time users receive training emails after signing up, while video tutorials are also available. An intuitive interface also makes tasks like blogging seem easy.

Weebly While Wix and WordPress allow you to build your own website and effectively own it, Weebly is more of a rental service.

There are over a hundred templates available for customisation, though the choice of slideshows and suchlike is far more limited than elsewhere.

However, there are fewer extra costs than you’ll encounter on other platforms, and it has a more intuitive interface than Wix.

Squarespace deviates from the ‘W’ theme of its rivals, though it mirrors their WYSIWYG editing model and stylish ready-made templates.

Twenty categories of templates are aimed squarely at certain industries – small businesses, online sellers, and creatives with portfolios they want to publish or promote.

This makes Squarespace less flexible than other tools in this list, and it’s harder to improve a site’s SEO – though it is very affordable.

Neil Cumins author picture

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Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!

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