Yes, you can build a world-class website for less than £500

Charles Orton-Jones can't believe more small businesses aren't taking the DIY approach to building their own website.

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How much is a website? A friend of mine with a dog grooming chain recently paid £20,000 for a full service design and build. My jaw dropped. How much? Robbed. Many small firms don’t bother. Websites are seen as too expensive, despite the cost of building a website being remarkably low.

Too expensive? Too complicated? Nonsense!

In fact you should be budgeting a mere £500 for your website, maximum. You’ll end up with a fully functional online platform that can be updated, take payments for goods, and is search engine optimised. For a basic site try This is a no code site. Which means you don’t need to know any code! Need to go a little more sophisticated? Webflow is a hugely popular platform, which again offers a no code interface. There are templates to use. But Webflow is a powerful tool. It is possible to build complex sites from the ground up. The Webflow University (free) offers tutorials in every aspect. There are other user and cost friendly platforms on offer;  Squarespace, Shopify, GoDaddy, and Weebly to name but a few. Shopify, for example, is a powerhouse for retail and ecommerce.

Don’t fear the technical

If you search the database of electricians on the official Find a Tradesperson search engine and around 4-in-5 lack a website. Clearly, plenty feel put off by the idea of putting one together. But there’s nothing to fear. The most difficult part of building a website can be the technical aspect of optimising for different devices. Monitors, laptops and phones all operate different screen resolutions and ratios. A website must be viewable across all screen formats. But, the best website builders will help you see how your site looks on different devices, and assist customisation. 

If you don’t want to DIY

Note! You don’t have to build anything yourself.  You can hire an expert. These platforms all offer ways to find an agency to do the job. A designer on Fiverr or Upwork may be cheaper – but the quality is more variable. The fees can be very, very low – down to £100. Expect to pay a designer £200 to £300 for a basic website. Look at the reviews of the designer on offer. Obviously, the more functionality you need, the more the site will cost.

Avoid brief briefs

And what about art work? Again, if you lack confidence, outsource. Fiverr and Upwork offer access to thousands of designers worldwide. The trick is to be really specific with your brief. What *exactly* are you looking for? Do you want the designer to be creative, or follow your direction? Your instructions should run to a few hundred words. The cost is low – think £20 to £50 – but you’ll be wasting money if you aren’t extraordinarily clear in your commissioning. 

AI is your friend

You can also use an image generation engine such as MidJourney or Dall-E. These will produce an endless variety of logos and digital artwork. A warning: images of people can be glitchy when produced by AI. Count the number of fingers of any human character generated artificially. Look for errata in the background. That said, generative AI is the future of design, is improving month-by-month, and priced at £20 a month. 

What are you waiting for? Get building…

It really is that simple. And can cost as little (or as much!) as a round of drinks or a month’s Netflix subscription during a cost of living crisis. Every business needs a website. Every single one. Whether you are starting up you side hustle or an established entity, with tools like these on offer, even the tightest budget can compete.

Final tip

Whatever your company does, say so in clear prose in your About Us section. As a business journalist I can tell you:  no one understands terms like ‘end to end solutions provider’. If you bake cakes, say ‘We bake cakes’. Be clear. Your audience will love you for it. 

Written by:
Reviewed by:
Business journalist Charles Orton-Jones profile picture.
Charles Orton-Jones is the former editor of EuroBusiness magazine and deputy editor of Real Business magazine. A winner of the PPA Business Writer of the Year award, he's written extensively on entrepreneurship and startups for The Guardian, Financial Management, LQ, Real FD, The Marketer and the CBI's magazine, Business Voice.

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