Create A Website

Save money while getting your site completed faster

The design process itself can take weeks or months. This translates to time and money for you, the site owner. Using a pre-designed website template allows you to skip that costly process while guaranteeing that the site you get looks exactly how you want it to.

GetWebTemplates offers a huge variety of website templates, ready for purchase and immediate download.

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Questions answered on this page:

  • Planning, research and your site needs

  • Getting good advice about your site project

  • Planning a budget, knowing the costs of running a website

  • Decide on template or a custom design

  • Choosing a web template design

  • Finding a competent designer

  • Getting quotes for your design and production

  • Paying for a website, when should pay your developer

  • The Design process, choosing the right design, testing the design wireframes with friends or focus groups

  • Find A hosting and backups costs

  • Managing production and coding

  • Getting to a Beta

  • Revisions, tweaking to meet your needs

  • Pre-launch testing your site

  • Announcing your site and the importance of SEO

  • Getting linking partners

  • Upkeep, changes and support costs

 

How can I get a web site?

There are a lot of roads you can take if you need to make a web site or want to get a website. First it’s important to understand your needs. If the site is just for fun, then you probably don’t need to spend much money on it and you might consider a free website builder like Wix.com or Weebly.com. There are a lot of free website builders out there – and these days they are surprisingly good for people who are comfortable with the internet and computer basics such as using programs like MS Word or PowerPoint.

Using a free website builder

Creating a website on a free website builder is very similar to using PowerPoint and creating a slideshow. You can choose colors, fonts, add photos easily, create pages and more. Often it’s very cheap or free for the most basic small sites, and they charge a reasonable fee for users who want more options or pages.

One thing to be careful of if you decide to use a free site builder is to try to keep consistency across your site – don’t get sloppy. It’s real easy to use one font size on one page, and a different font size or color on a second page, and then maybe change the font style entirely on a third page and perhaps each page has a different amount of space before the first line. It’s easy for beginners to end up with a very disjointed looking site if you don’t try to keep things consistent.

Hire a web developer to help you if you need a high quality site

But if the site is for a business or a professional purpose, then you will want to make sure it’s of a high enough quality to give your customers or viewers trust in your site and thus, in your business efforts.

Typically, if you need a better looking site or one with custom features, you will need to know how to do it yourself, or you’ll need a web developer. A web developer is a person who knows how to create a website from beginning to end. You can find one locally (check your local listings, craigslist, phone book, Yelp, etc.) or you can hire one online. Try doing a search for “web developer sacramento” (use your own closest large city obviously).

Web design templates can save you a substantial amount of money

The biggest decision you will make about your site is whether to use a pre-made web design template, or to have a web designer create a custom design for you. You should have this discussion almost immediatel with any web developer you are considering to use for your site. Ask them if it’s OK to use a web design template as your main design.

Please note that not all web developers are good web DESIGNERS. A designer is someone good at creating attractive visual layout, colors, and the look and feel of your site.

The difference between web developers and web designers

It’s MUCH easier to locate a web DEVELOPER than to locate a good web site DESIGNER. Good design is much harder to learn, plus you really have to have a creative flair and an innate feel for it. Not to take away from the skills needed to actually make the site work, but there are a lot of people who learn those technical skills who are poor designers. So keep that in mind!

Many web designers also know how to put the entire site together, or they may work with others who are better programmers than they are, to handle the technical chores. So often there is a lot of overlap between a designer and a programmer/developer.

In some other articles on this site we explore the question of how to find and hire a good web site designer, and more about the process of working with a developer to create a web site.

How can I get my own domain name? (riley?)

Are there any good free site builders? (riley?)

Planning, research and your site needs

Your website planning and research phase is critical and can help you save enormous amounts of money. A lot of clients I’ve had over the years have told me stories about how they went off building a site before they had really researched things, and ended up scrapping large amounts of work that it turned out were not usable or were not needed.

There are a lot of different types of sites you might need and it’s important to really understand the landscape of the type of site you want to have, before you start committing to things and hiring people to build it.

To give you some example of the gamut of website types – consider the differences between these types of sites and their needs:

Type of site: Specific needs of this type of site:
Attorneys website Very business/professional looking
Personal recipe blog Simple blog, with photo upload ability
Ecommerce store selling clothing Must take credit cards, and tie into inventory system
YouTube style video sharing site Ability to upload, stream and share videos
Musicians website Ability to play streamed music samples, can have a loose, relaxed look
Home builders website Needs photo gallery of past projects, clean, professional look

So my point is that all sites are different and you need to make a list of all the things you think you’ll need in order to start to figure out how and where to get your website built.

Researching sites similar to the website you want to build

When you talk to a web developer, it’s really helpful to be able to point to a few sites and say “I am looking for something similar to this”. So spend some time on Google and bookmark all the sites you want to show your developer.

Ask the developer how much it will cost to do various features on your site to help you understand the balance of needs vs. budget. In the end, you may decide to forego some features and focus on others until you have the budget to build out the others.

Getting good advice about your site project

When you need advice about your website project, it can be hard to find someone who will be honest with you, and someone who knows enough about websites and building a website, that they can really give you solid valuable advice.

Ask your friends and family if they know any good web designers or developers. If you can locate someone on the referral of a friend or family member, chances are that they will treat you properly and not try to take advantage of you.

You may belong to clubs or professional memberships such as Rotary Club, Masons, Optimist Club, Elks Lodge, or maybe you’re active in a sports league or local government. Ask everyone you know – it shouldn’t take long to find a strong recommendation from someone, as there are a lot of web developers out there these days.

Explain everything you can to the developer about your website needs, plans and project. Get their candid opinion and advice. Often they will send you away from that first meeting with some critical revelations about how you should proceed and what steps to take next.

Planning a budget, knowing the costs of running a website

Knowing the costs of building a website and the costs of running and maintaining the web site are critical to your plans and financial stability. Many people who want a website (particularly a complicated custom website) have no idea about what it will cost to build, and maybe more importantly, what it will cost to run and maintain.

Download this Excel spreadsheet (LINK HERE. MAKE A SPREADSHEET)

Some of the costs you’ll see in the spreadsheet are:

Planning and research
Design
Content creation
Domain name (annual fee)
Hosting account (monthly fee)
Programming
Ongoing maintenance (making changes and adding new content to the site)
Customer Support (if any)
Ecommerce costs (if any)
Gateway (monthly)
Secure server certificate for “https://” secure shopping domain (annual fee)

How to choose between a web design template or a custom design

You need a web site design, but is a web design template a good choice, or is it better to hire someone to create a custom design?

Web templates are an excellent choice for anyone on a small or medium sized budget who doesn’t need to have a 100% unique design. What does that mean, a “100% unique design”? It means that when you buy a template, it’s possible that others have purchased the same design, and might continue to do so in the future. So you might not be the only one with that design. But practically speaking, the web has tens of millions of sites on it. When you purchase a web design template you normally alter it to some degree to fit your own content. Not every person who purchased the same web design template you did, will actually end up launching a website with it (sometimes plans fall through). So the chances that you will feel like you don’t have a unique design or that you will see other sites with your same design are slim.

Web design templates are a huge time and money saver

Templates are an enormous time saver – creating the art and programming and other files takes a lot of time, so if you choose to use a web design template you’re automatically saving a few thousand dollars.

On the other hand if you have a larger budget and want to go the custom route, and if it’s critical for your business that nobody else should have your design (you’ll want to own the copyrights to the design if you get a custom design created), then a template would not be a good choice.

What is a small or medium sized budget? And what will a custom design cost me?

Generally speaking a 10 page website will cost you anywhere from $500 to $5000 from beginning to end. That means from hiring a designer or developer, to getting the site live and completely finished.

A medium sized budget might be from $5,000 to $15,000 if you need 20 – 50 pages, or if you have special programming needs. Again it all depends on where you live and what level of professionalism you need, so there will be a wide range depending on who you talk to.

Using a template and a web developer with enough experience to really know what they are doing (always recommended!) will run you on average, around $2,500 for a nice professional design, around 10-15 pages and assuming you have a few bells and whistles you want added, past the standard Contact Us forms.

Why use a template? Isn’t it easier for a designer to start from scratch sometimes?

Templates allow web developers with minimal design experience or those in a rush to create beautiful professional-grade web sites in a fraction of the time.

Sometimes learning to work with files from another developer has a learning curve… but the web template designers these days tend to be so good at creating really professional looking designs that you will have a hard time locating a designer who can create such slick professional looking design in your local market. You can try a crowdsourced solution such as 99designs.com but these designers are willing to fight other designers for work and many times they are not doing very high quality work (there are some exceptions though).

When you pay for a custom design, your designer will ask you questions about what you want and eventually give you a few designs to choose from. You sort of have to choose one, or it could cost you more $$ for a new round of design comps. Eventually you settle on one design direction and the designer will tweak the deign for you until you’re happy.

Thousands of design choices to choose from when you choose a template

When you purchase a website template you have the benefit of choosing from thousands of excellent designs right off the bat, before you pay a cent! From there, you can purchase one for around $65. To get to this stage with a custom design will cost you normally a couple thousand dollars or more. Then you need to actually program the site. With a template, a lot of the programming is already done. With a custom design, the programming will take a few weeks and cost you a few thousand dollars more.

Choosing a web template design

How do you choose the right web template design? What is best for your needs and your site?

By now you have probably noticed that there are a lot of choices – thousands and thousands actually, if you want to use a web design template for your site design.

If you know you want a WordPress site, or a blog, then you should choose from the available WordPress themes here.

Or, perhaps you know you want a Joomla or Mambo template, or some other third party system like Presta or Magento (Google all these terms to learn about them) – then you can review the Joomla or Mambo or Presta, etc. templates using the template search form here.

Finding a competent designer

It can be hard to find a GOOD competent web designer. There are a lot of designers out there, who will all tell you they are great, but in truth, most are not great. Most are average to poor.

The first thing to look at when trying to determine how good a web designer is, would be to look at their website portfolio. Seeing their past work is the best indication of their future work.

Any competent web designer should have at MINIMUM, at least 4 pieces of work to show you. Most seasoned designers will have 5-10 at least that are reasonably current and that they would be willing to show you.

If you are not sure of good vs. bad web design, try to locate a friend or colleague who you think has excellent design sense, or a good sense of visual aesthetics. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you don’t have a good sense for visual design, for many people, it’s just not their strength.

Sometimes a web designer will be a “one man show”… a single person running a small business, and other times you may find a designer who is part of a larger group. It doesn’t matter much how big their company is, as long as you feel comfortable with their ability to make good on the promises they make to you.

Typically, it’s a good idea to ask for references and check them, and you should never make a final payment to a web designer or developer until every last bit of your site is done.

Getting quotes for your design and production

You will need to get quotes from developers for your project. You should get quotes from 3 or 4 before settling on one.

Get everything about your web site project in writing

After you feel you have a developer you would like to work with, go over the details as needed and get written estimates and agreements for timeline, payment dates, due dates for project milestones.

Paying for a website, when should pay your developer

The first payment should be perhaps a third of the overall payment. The second payment, the second third, should be made once the website is up and running on some level. The last payment should be made only after everything is 100% completed to your satisfaction, or to the letter of the agreement you have with the developer.

Changes and revisions: they come with the territory

Be sure to ask the developer what they will charge for changes and revisions. You may not think you’ll need many, but you will. You will make changes and learn things that you need to change, and you want to make sure your developer knows that they will be coming and doesn’t jack up your charges much when they do.

The Design process, choosing the right design, testing the design wireframes with friends or focus groups

Your web designer will create a few design looks for you, and ask which you prefer. Hopefully there’s one design that you like, and if not, you should try to explain to your designer what the designs are missing.

This process could take a week or two, and you should be able to get to a design you like soon hopefully. New designs take the designer a while to do… they are not real simple or real fast to do, so be aware that it would be unusual to ask for more than a handful of design revisions before you choose one that can be fully refined.

After you have a refined homepage, the designer should create an inner page design for you. Typically, most of the other pages in your site will use this inner page layout. Of course there may be some other layouts needed as well.

After you are satisfied with the homepage and inner page designs, show them all to some friends, family and colleagues to get their honest opinions. Be careful not to put words in their mouths or ‘lead them’ into saying what they think you want to hear, but rather, try hard to get them to promise to give you their true and honest feedback, no matter what. This can be hard to do!

Ask them some questions like “What do you think this site does?” and “what would you click on to contact support for this site?” and “How do the web site colors make you feel?” Ask as many questions as you can to learn about what they think.

Go back to your developer to make any changes you think are needed and re-test the designs with some more friends until you’re satisfied.

Find A hosting provider and backups costs

Everyone with a website has a web hosting account, which is supplied by a web hosting company. You can find a lot of web hosts who will provide a website hosting account for around $20 a month.

Don’t be confused by prices of several hundred dollars a month that you might see at hosting provider websites. Those are prices for a full dedicated server. You don’t need a dedicated server unless you are creating some kind of monster site with huge traffic and computing needs (you probably wouldn’t need to read this if you were creating that type of site).

WordPress set up is normally free

If you need a WordPress site, these are normally the same price as other simple web hosting accounts. Just ask if the provider will set up a current version of WordPress for you — they should be able to do that free, since it’s quite simple and just takes a few minutes.

Make sure that you site is backed up frequently

The website should be backed up, to prevent losing the site if the web server somehow dies. Most web hosts do this automatically and do not charge you for it. Some may want to charge you a little but for it. Whatever the case, make sure you ask about it.

If you want to really sleep well at night, ask about whether the backups are kept “off site”, at another facility. This is nice because if the main facility were to burn to the ground, you would still get your website back.

Managing production and coding

During the process of having your website built, be sure to check in frequently with your developer to see how things look and make sure they are doing what you think, and your site is looking like you think it should.

If you wait until the very end to see the site, you might have a unpleasant surprise – and the developer will not be happy when you ask them to re-do the work, so check in with the developer frequently to make sure things appear to be on track, and done as you were hoping.

Getting to a Alpha, and then to Beta

The first major goal during the production (building) phase of your site is to get to an ‘Alpha’ version of your site. This is the first visible version of your site where things are all in place, although they may not all be functional yet.

After everything becomes functional, we call that your ‘Beta’ version of your site. You should check things backwards and forwards, on every page, proofreading and clicking everywhere and everything. It’s amazing how many things might actually be broken, but you wouldn’t know it unless you tested every button and every link from every page — so make sure to test, test, test.

Revisions, tweaking to meet your needs

Generates a list of things you want your developer to address, as clearly as you can, and present it to your developer.

Resist the urge to call or email every time you see a problem — instead, go over the entire site and type up a list of problems, and present that once. Your developer will love you for it, knowing full well that most newbie website owners call and email every time they locate a new bug, which can really burn up the day. Far better to present everything together, at once.

Pre-launch testing your site

Once you are happy with the site, tell all your friends, family, etc. about it, and ask them in email to go to the site, and send you ALL their HONEST feedback. It won’t do you any good to get their not-so-honest feedback… so impress that point on those who can help you by looking over the site and testing it out.

Testing on different web browsers – extremely critical step!

While you’re testing the site, you will need to make sure people who don’t use the same web browser and computer type as you do can also see the site the same way you see it on your computer.

Many people don’t know that there are often inconsistencies in the way that different web browsers like Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome or Safari (those are the biggies these days) see and display your site.

For example your site might look great in Firefox, but in Internet Explorer, there are buttons and text and other elements that look misplaced or out of whack. This is unfortunately very common with Internet Explorer :-( but you need to look out for problems like that.

If you are a Mac user, you need to also test your site on a PC. Those are the two main ‘flavors’ of computers, Mac and PC. There are about 90% PCs and 10% Macs out there. It’s worth saying that there are a lot of Unix-based users too, but for the purpose of this article, you can mainly worry about Mac and PC.

You will need to test current versions of those four browsers (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome or Safari) and as much as you can, also test outdated versions of the major browsers because a lot of people are not using current browser versions. Incredibly, a lot of people out there are using browsers that are many years old and very outdated. In the end, you will not be able to make your site look perfect on all browsers, but you should know which ones are not presenting your site properly, so you can decide if you can live with it.

Announcing your site and the importance of SEO

Once the site is done and tested to your satisfaction, email all your friends and acquaintances and let them know. Post on Facebook and any other social groups you belong to. Tell the world!

How to let Google know that your site exists

Here’s a link that will allow you to tell Google to start paying attention to your site: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/submit-url.

After you submit your site URL there, Google will start ‘crawling’ your site every so often to make sure it’s records about your site are up to date.

Tell all the other search engines about your site too. Add a listing to big website directories like dmoz.org. Do a Google search for ‘how to announce a new website’ or ‘how to promote your new web site’ and bone up on all the techniques there are to marketing your site.

Getting linking partners

One major way to market your site is to make simple agreements with other website owners to share reciprocal links. The way to do this is to look for other sites that you think have similar-minded users and email the site and ask if they would be interested in a reciprocal link back.

If they agree, you both post a link to the other guy’s site on your own site. This is a great way to boost traffic and it also lets Google know that your site is somewhat popular and thus, somewhat important. The more popular you are, the higher up your site will come in Google search results when they do a search.

Upkeep, changes and support costs

Depending on what you are doing with your site, you will have some various ongoing costs. All sites have a monthly hosting bill, normally about $25 a month.

You will need to pay a renewal fee for your domain name annually…about $15 per year.

If you are running an ecommerce site, you will pay a monthly gateway fee to your credit card processor in order to be able to accept credit cards. Your bank account will charge a small fee.

If you have the kind of business that needs customer support, you may decide to hire a person or a company to do the support for you. There are outsourced support companies that you can hire to do live chat, support phone calls, email support and more.

Changing, editing and adding things to your site

This can end up being the most costly part of your website – the things you want to do to it AFTER it’s launched. Make sure to budget for adding more pages, products, content, etc. 99% of the time you will start thinking of new things you want to add to your site to improve it after the dust from the initial launch settles. It would be a very smart idea to add 25% minimum to your budget for these changes you will probably want to make and to ask your developer how much they would charge to do changes and additions after launch.