A recent study has shown that approximately 95% of all web visitors determine within one second or less if any given website is worthy of their business. What is the difference between a website that a user will navigate away from vs. a website a user will stay and perhaps purchase from? In most cases, it's a matter of aesthetics. A professionally designed site will often install trust into the visiting user. It shows that the owners of the website have put both time and money to produce a site that is highly professional and appealing for their users. Take a moment to think of some of the sites you have bookmarked in your browser. Chances are the vast majority of the sites will share a professional design where content is well defined, navigation is user friendly, and the page layout is visually appealing. In an increasingly competitive market where literally billions of websites exist, websites without a high quality professional design will never reach their full potential. A site that is built upon a professional design and layout is more likely to succeed over a competitor without a professional design. It's a fact that cannot be ignored.
The Web Design Myth
Professional web design is expensive. Web design companies will charge you a base fee for the initial design and layout, and then charge an additional fee for each page in your website (usually starting at $75.00 per page). You can expect to pay upwards of $1500 for even the most basic of sites consisting entirely of HTML. That is a pretty hefty chunk of change that can easily triple or quadruple before your website is complete! Not everyone has the financial means (or willingness) to drop that kind of money into a website, especially when just starting out. The only way to put forth a professionally designed website with beautiful aesthetics to draw a user in is to hire a professional company to do it. If you plan on doing it yourself you'll need to be an expert in HTML and have some sort of degree in design or the IT industry. That's the myth. . . now here is the reality. You can put out a professionally designed website without ever needing to enlist the services of a web design company! The best part of all, you don't need to be an expert in HTML or web design and you can do it for less than $60! All you need is this guide, some basic HTML skills, and a few hours of time and you'll be on your way to owning a truly professional quality site that your competition will envy!
Getting Ready for Your Design
Before the secrets of designing on a dime are revealed, take a moment to think about the website you want to create. Ask yourself the following two questions: “Who is my target audience?" and “What service or product am I providing?" Once you have it figured out, try to categorize your website. Perhaps your website is going to provide SEO services. If so, your site would fit into an IT business category. Maybe you plan on selling beautiful wedding cards in which case your site falls into a wedding category. Try to narrow down the most relevant category for your site content. Now that you have your category, I'm going to share one of the best kept secrets that web design professionals don't want you to know about!
The Best Kept Secret for Web Design
Two words. . . Template Monster! Template Monster is revolutionizing the web by providing webmasters with pre-designed highly professional website templates at a fraction of what you would pay from a web design company. In fact, all the templates on Template Monster are designed by true professionals and rival that of any web design company. Template Monster is the secret that will give you the edge over your competition! At Template Monster you can browse thousands of high quality professional designed website templates in any number of categories. Remember that category you choose for your website earlier? Now's the time to apply it. Visit Template Monster and choose your category from the drop-down list that appears in the center of the home page. A listing of a hundred or more category-specific web designs will be displayed. Hovering your mouse over the image will display a larger preview of the template. When choosing a template, try to find one that appeals the most to you. Chances are if the site is appealing to you, it will be appealing to your users as well. Now that you have your template chosen, purchase that template and you'll be WELL on your way to web mastering a high quality site that will rival your competitors!
The Competitive Edge
Congratulations! You've just gained the competitive edge over your competition and are now the proud owner of a professional website template! Best of all it cost less than $60.00 and required no effort on your part what-so-ever. Of course, the web design templates are just one piece of the puzzle to designing on a dime. Next we'll walk you through the process of finding equally cost-effective web hosting and domain registration services.
Know Your Domain
Now that you have your website design, you'll need to secure a domain name. The domain name is the URL that users type into their browser to visit your site (ex: http://www.freelinksdirect.com). Great domain names are becoming very difficult to come by. There is a lot of competition and once a domain name is purchased, it's gone (with some exceptions which we won't cover here). The simple rule to follow when choosing a domain name is to try to keep it short and keep it relevant to your website content. Alternatively, if you can come up with something that is catchy and people will remember, it can be just as effective. Before you go out and purchase your domain, take a moment to read the next section. Chances are, you can get that domain name for free.
Hosting for Less, Domains for Free (and more)
When it comes to hosting, your goal is to find the hosting service that offers the most bang for the buck while also providing a stable environment and excellent customer service. Here we present two viable and cost effective hosting solutions. In fact, they are amongst the most competitive in the industry and offer outstanding customer support and tools.
Our highest recommendation is Yahoo Small Business hosting. Remember your domain name? Typically you'd spend $8.95 or more to register it for a year. It's FREE when you sign up with a hosting plan at Yahoo. Also included with your hosting plan (for as little as $11.95 per month) is an invaluable $50.00 Google AdWords credit, $100 Yahoo Search Marketing Credit, free search engine submission, 100 free leads on infoUSA mailing lists, and much more! When you break down the overall cost against the credits and service you receive, this is an outstanding value! You'll be doing yourself a huge favor by signing up with Yahoo Small Business hosting, one of the most respected companies in the business.
For those of you on a tighter budget that are looking to host a multitude of websites, a very viable and more affordable alternative to Yahoo Small Business is Host Gator. With Host Gator you pay $10.00 per month for UNLIMITED website hosting! That's right, you can host any number of websites you want and only pay $10.00 per month for the whole lot of them. It's a bargain that can't be beat and is just one more way you can design on a dime!
SEO For Free
As important as great content and a professional presentation are, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is equally important. SEO is what will drive traffic to your website. After all, what good is having the greatest site in the world if no one knows about it? Since SEO is itself a huge topic to cover (and one often of debate), it's suggested that you visit Free Links Direct for free SEO articles, one-way links, Google AdWords hints and tips, and SEO services. They have an excellent tech-support team that is always open to fielding questions and helping new webmasters optimize their site.
With a little effort and knowing where to look, you too can have your very own professionally designed website on a stellar hosting environment at a fraction of the cost of outsourcing it. Using this guide as your resource, you are already well on your way to success in your online business!
David is a Senior Programming consultant and SEO expert with over 10 years experience in the IT industry. David currently owns several successful websites, including Free Links Direct , a free SEO service that provides one-way links and quality SEO articles and tips.