As of January 2023, there are over 33.2 million active small businesses in the US alone. You need an impeccable online presence if your organization stands out among all that competition. After all, people spend more than 6 hours on the internet daily, and you’re most likely to reach your audience via the internet.
For that online presence to be effective in driving business growth, there are two main channels you’ll need to focus on:
- Social media — the place people go to do product and brand research and gather inspiration for things to do and buy.
- Your website — the 21st-century calling card for your brand and the destination where people are most likely to go to convert.
Admittedly, social media won’t pose much of a problem — even if you’re working with a limited budget. All you’ll need to do is implement the right strategies, and you’ll be able to achieve an impressive ROI with minimal funding. However, if you don’t already have a website, you can expect that creating one will be a slightly more expensive. Not that it cannot be done well with limited funds. But you’ll really have to know what you’re doing (and what you want to accomplish).
So, if you’re looking to save money without risking results, here are the 20 best tips for creating a website for your business if you’re working with a tight budget.
20 Tips for Creating a Website for Your Business on a Tight Budget
Know What You Need
Deciding to create a website for your business is a pretty straightforward path. But how do you choose the best possible design and features that will allow you to achieve your business goals?
If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll have to think hard about this. Yes, an award-winning site will present your brand in a positive light, attracting prospects, leaving a better initial impression, and positively impacting trust.
But if you don’t need any specialized functions, you can achieve this with a one-page website that you can create, for free, in Notion. For example, if you check out the Hula homepage, you’ll quickly see that it was made in Notion. Yet, it still does everything it needs to present the brand in a positive light.
Of course, if you need a more professional website or refined eCommerce properties, you’ll want something a bit more advanced. But that doesn’t necessarily mean a substantial price, thanks to the numerous website builder tools available.
Opt for the Right Website Builder
If you know that you want something more professional than a Notion website, the best thing you can do to keep within your budget is to pick an affordable website builder tool and a template.
Right now, there are numerous options out there. The best ones, however, include:
According to statistical data, WordPress runs approximately 43% of the internet, with good reason. It’s excellent for primarily content-based sites. It is easy to use. There are numerous available templates for it (as well as integrations). Moreover, WordPress supports ecommerce functionalities and, most importantly, is DIY-friendly. Best of all, you can get started for free, which can be a huge plus if you’re a startup with a very limited budget. However, remember that you will have to find a hosting solution, which can be challenging if you’re not sure what you need.
For ecommerce businesses (and brick-and-mortar stores wanting to sell a portion of their stock online), Shopify is the best option out there. The basic plans start at just $24 per month, making Shopify a super affordable way to run an online business. Plus, you get nine basic templates that you can use for free. You can create your own or pay for a premium template if you want something more customized.
If you don’t want to limit yourself by choosing WordPress or Shopify, you can opt for Squarespace, one of the most popular website builders. It’s an excellent option for all types of businesses. And, thanks to features like the out-of-stock labels and the point-and-click editor, it’s a superb choice for those who want a professional-looking website at an affordable price, starting at $16 per month.
Finally, if you’re looking for an affordable but easy-to-upgrade website builder, Wix is worth considering. This tool is hugely popular because its basic functionalities are free (offering hundreds of templates plus hosting services). But, if you’re willing to pay around $13 per month, you also get access to Wix’s handy SEO and analytics tools, which will inevitably help you make the absolute most of your website, automatically allowing you to maximize your ROI.
Make the Most of Discount Codes
Here’s one tip for creating a website for your business that most resources won’t let you in on: You can get a discount for most of the website-building platforms mentioned above.
Admittedly, the discount won’t be substantial. But even 10% off the annual fee or a couple of months free can be the wind in your back for getting your website off the ground.
And, of course, the best thing is that acquiring a discount code is pretty simple. All you have to do is perform a Google search or, alternatively, find an influencer sponsored by the platform of your choice and see if they have any special offers you can take advantage of. That’s it.
Furthermore, remember that searching on Google could also allow you to find some aesthetically stunning templates for free. So don’t hesitate to do a bit of Googling, as it might help you get a unique website at an affordable cost.
Pay Attention to the Website Structure
Once you’ve decided what you need from your business website and found a way to get it at an affordable price, it’s time to start optimizing for maximum performance (and, consequently, returns).
In this regard, one of the crucial things you must do is optimize your website’s structure. After all, if 94% of internet users say that easy navigation is a crucial website feature, the least you can do is ensure your site has it.
And, if you’re not so sure that paying attention to website structure is worth your while, consider these benefits:
- Intuitive web navigation helps minimize bounce rates and increase visit duration.
- It boosts conversion rates by making it easier for prospects to find what they’re after.
- It’s good for SEO, as it helps search engines crawl your website more effectively, thus improving your rankings for relevant keywords.
How complex your website structure needs to be depends on the type of business you run.
If all you need your site to do is inform your target audience about the products/services you provide and give them a way to get in touch, then you’ll do perfectly well with a pared-down site like the one by One Sec.
However, if you run an eCommerce store and sell hundreds of products, you’ll have to think more about site structure and, ideally, create logical and user-friendly product collection pages. For a good example, check out Native.
Consumers love beautiful websites. And that’s not only because they’re good to look at but also because people form opinions based on aesthetic factors.
One study discovered that when assessing health sites based on trustworthiness, 94% of people’s reasons for mistrust were design-related. If you combine this with the fact that 59% of people will choose to consume beautifully designed content over that which looks plain and simple, it’s easy to conclude that investing in your business website’s appearance is well worth the cost.
But the truth is, getting design right can be challenging — especially when taking the DIY route. Fortunately, minimalist design can help you circumvent mishaps and get a visually stunning online presence that doesn’t involve a large investment.
For a standard example of a beautiful minimalist website, check out the brand Few. However, if you’re looking for something slightly more ornate (and feature-packed), the Ratio homepage is another excellent instance of minimalist web design.
Optimize Page Layout
Another high-impact thing you can do to get the biggest bang for your buck when creating a website for your business is placing each element where it’s most likely to attract user attention and encourage conversions.
Based on UX studies, there are three design principles to keep in mind when creating a website:
- Use visual hierarchy (color, contrast, scale, and grouping) to guide users toward high-value elements on the page, which will inspire conversions. Google is an excellent example, seeing that the site’s primary function — the search bar — is positioned front and center while accompanying functionalities are given less prominence by avoiding color and using a smaller font size.
- Optimize content to support popular reading patterns. For instance, if you employ a lot of imagery, creating web pages that work alongside the zig-zag or lawnmower content consumption patterns will make it easier for web visitors to notice page elements that inspire conversion.
- Remember that people spend most of their page-viewing time in the first screenful of the website. That’s why creating a killer hero section is truly worth the effort, especially knowing that you only have a limited amount of time to engage web visitors and convince them to continue interacting with your website content.
The Perfect Unique Sales Proposition
The next tip for creating a website for your business on a tight budget is to do everything in your power to guarantee that your sales proposition resonates with your audience.
Ideally, there are three things that a USP needs to accomplish. It should:
- Effectively grab user attention by addressing their pain points head-on.
- Communicate that your business offers an effective solution to that pain point. And;
- Prove your business’ authority by calling attention to the things you do best.
For instance, if you check out the Momentum homepage, you’ll see that the value proposition does the first two things splendidly. Then, to prove the brand’s authority, a social proof element is included in the first screenful, helping web visitors understand that this is a competent business they can trust.
Choose Impactful Imagery and Videos
People respond to visual information much more intensely than they do to text. So, if there’s one area where you shouldn’t try to save when creating a website for your business, it’s the images and videos you use — particularly in the hero section.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing visuals for your site.
First and foremost, prioritize quality. Secondly, skip the stock photos. They’ve been shown by science to prevent consumers from being able to identify with the people shown in the pictures. Instead, try to opt for original visuals.
In addition to employing images that evoke an emotional response from your audience, you could also choose to replace photos with video. According to Wistia’s latest report, short videos (up to 5 minutes long) accomplish an impressive 48-50% engagement rate. That’s why design-oriented brands like Gubi regularly employ videos and GIFs instead of just photos.
Optimize & Repeat CTAs
When you have to create a business website on a tight budget, you must explore ways to get the most conversion-inspiring functionality without spending a fortune on design. The great news is that this is relatively easy to do by optimizing and positioning CTA buttons on your site.
No, we do not mean choosing a red CTA instead of a green one. We’re talking about implementing CTA button design strategies guaranteed to impact conversion rates positively. Generally, these strategies include:
- Ensuring sufficient contrast between the button and the background, which you can achieve by using a free tool like Adobe Color.
- Repeating CTA buttons when logical creates a natural flow and gives web visitors the option to convert after every purchase-decision-impacting section on your site. Check out the Figma homepage to see this strategy in action.
- Optimizing CTA copy to encourage web visitors to take action and solve their pain points. You’ll find a good example of this on Sketch, where CTAs invite prospects to “Get started for free.”
Another thing you should keep in mind about the calls to action on your site is that you can effectively use them to drive the success of your business.
For instance, you can specifically create CTAs that help you build an email list (considering that email is one of the most effective sources of traffic). Plus, you can customize them for special occasions, landing pages, and even specific customer pain points. Check out the “Shop pregnancy” button on the Ritual homepage.
Prioritize Authenticity Over Impressive Claims
Creating a beautiful and functional website can be challenging when you’re on a tight budget. But there’s one piece of good news: prioritizing authenticity over design or impressive claims is guaranteed to drive results.
In a recent consumer report, Nosto revealed that as many as 86% of consumers think authenticity is essential when choosing brands to shop from. So, if you can employ design features that will prove to your audience that your business is for real, you’re sure to see better results than those competitors who do not do the same.
Now, when it comes to authenticity, it’s good to remember that the most authentic type of content you can employ is UGC.
Businesses like La Croix turn user-submitted visuals into homepage content that acts as social proof, which you can recreate on your website. However, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly way to include UGC on your site, the easiest thing you can do is automatically pull reviews from Google My Business.
Invest in SEO
No matter how much you spend on creating a website for your business, it won’t deliver the desired results you’re after unless you invest in SEO.
Two strategies will help you rank high on SERPs (people are 10x more likely to click on the first vs. the last result on a Google search results page).
- Develop a robust backlink profile. This won’t just help improve rankings. More importantly, it will allow you to boost your brand’s authority and generate relevant and organic traffic for your website.
- Pay attention to technical SEO. Checking how your website scores regarding Google’s Core Web Vitals will help you create a better web browsing experience by focusing on load speed, interactivity, and visual stability. Generally, aim for a maximum 2.5-second load time for the largest element on your site. Try to avoid significant layout shifts on a page during the loading period. And lastly, do your best to improve the interactivity (responsiveness) of links, buttons, blank fields, and drop-down menus.
Publish Next-Level Content
A high-performing business website is not as much about how much you spend during the development process. It’s about what you can do with what you have — even when on a tight budget.
Now, along with the outlined SEO practices, one additional tactic can help even a basic WordPress site built on a free theme transform into a powerhouse: strategic content marketing.
By ensuring that you publish genuinely valuable and original content that targets relevant keywords and helps your audience solve their pain points — like the dividend reinvestment calculator on MarketBeat — you won’t just attract organic traffic. More importantly, you’ll show prospects that you’re an authoritative and trustworthy business they can rely on to hold their best interest in mind.
Check Website Copy for Grammar & Readability Issues
When trying to create a business website on a limited budget, hiring a professional copywriter may not be high on your list of priorities. However, that’s no excuse for your website copy being less than ideal in terms of grammar and readability.
Firstly, publishing copy with lots of typos or grammatical issues will make you appear sloppy, harming your brand’s image as a competent business. Secondly, if the text on your website is too technically oriented, you’ll alienate non-expert prospects. This way, average consumers won’t understand the benefits you offer and will conclude that you don’t have what it takes to solve their pain points.
Fortunately, there are two free tools you can run all website copy (and blog content) through to ensure you’re doing well:
- Grammarly will help check your text’s correctness, clarity, engagement, and formality levels to help achieve top-quality writing.
- Hemingway will check for readability issues, guiding you through making website copy more accessible and thus a more powerful tool for converting a larger audience.
Promote Product Benefits, Not Features
While we’re on copywriting, remember that the best way to inspire web visitors to consider investing in your solutions is to promote product benefits, not features.
Following this approach will encourage potential customers to perceive your solutions as the answer to their needs. Plus, you’ll guarantee that they see the value in your offer without risking the possibility of them not comprehending the value you deliver.
Brands that do tremendously well in prioritizing benefits over features include businesses like Lattice, which understand that describing the outcomes of consumers using their products does a far better job of describing what a product does than trying to explain how the result is achieved.
DIY Ecommerce Product Photos
Just like you don’t have to hire a professional copywriter if your budget doesn’t allow for the expense, you can also DIY the product photos on your eCommerce website.
The great news is that this is far easier to do than most people think. All you need is:
- You can get bright lighting by picking a spot with a lot of natural light or strategically positioning artificial sources.
- White or dark background to allow your products to pop.
- A smartphone with a decent camera.
- Some basic editing skills, which you can learn on YouTube.
It’s also not a bad idea to research what makes product photos more attractive to buyers. One scientific study revealed that consumers prefer images with a larger key object, low entropy, a warm color tone, high contrast, high depth of field, and more social presence.
Use Screenshots for SaaS
If you’re a business that operates in the SaaS industry, you’ll have an even easier time with product photography, as you won’t have to organize dedicated product shoot sessions. Instead, all you’ll have to do to help prospects see your solutions in action is take a couple of screenshots (or screengrabs if you’re feeling fancy).
Brands like Slack have perfected the art of employing screenshots to describe features and benefits, so make sure you look up to them for inspiration.
But the best part about this particular visual strategy? It’s completely free. All you need is a computer or smartphone (any OS will do), and you’re good to go. If you want to elevate things a bit, you can utilize tools like Giphy Capture, which are free and super-easy to use.
Employ Social Proof
Brand trust and credibility are two of the main drivers of business success. Especially considering that consumers don’t necessarily trust businesses by default and will actively seek out instances of social proof when making purchasing decisions.
And the good news is, adding social proof to your business website doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, you can do it for free with just a few basic tools and practices:
- Embed Trustpilot, Google, or Yelp reviews on your homepage or relevant product pages. Check out how Lazy Oaf does it near the footer section of its homepage.
- Point out media mentions on your website. This will boost your brand’s authority by calling prospects’ attention to the fact that your solutions have been recognized as effective by publications they already trust. This is what Evernote does, displaying quotes from articles published by Forbes, Inc., The Verge, and other publications.
- Show that your solutions deliver results by pointing out that they’re being used by successful clients. A quick look at the Monday homepage shows how this SaaS brand points out its product is used by companies like Coca-Cola, Hulu, Canva, and others.
- Get experts to review your content, like on Eachnight. This brand highlights that its mattress Quiz was created in collaboration with an orthopedic surgeon, making it much more likely that web visitors will perceive the results as trustworthy and valuable.
- Show off relevant awards and certifications. A quick look at the Balolo homepage shows how this eCommerce brand displays a “German Design Award Winner 2020” badge, which is super-effective at proving the company’s dedication to creating innovative and quality products.
Use Interactive Features
When aiming to increase the effectiveness of any of your claims, the best thing you can do is make them interactive.
A report published in February 2022 found that interactive content attracted 28% more views than its static equivalents. Moreover, the same research found that interactivity increased engagement by 52.6%.
In other words, if you want to guarantee that your prospects notice and remember your claims, try to enrich them with a dose of dynamicity.
The easiest way to do this is to create quizzes with free quiz builders, like this SUP board finder from Gili uses. But you could also invest a bit more in interactive content (especially once you’ve already launched your site and are looking to make improvements with interactive calculators, infographics, ebooks, and even webinars (which are budget-friendly and highly popular).
Even though it might not seem that important, the footer of your website is where web visitors are most likely to look for contact information. So, by ensuring that it’s functional and aesthetically pleasing, you’ll maximize the chances of your prospects getting in touch or walking away with a positive impression of your business.
Generally, you don’t have to go overboard with web footer design. A simplistic look is all it takes. But you do need to include relevant links to sections of your site visitors might want to check out.
Businesses like Nifty achieve a superb effect by enriching the footer with links to product pages, educational resources, trust-building pages (like security and privacy overviews), comparison resources, and popular blog posts.
However, if this seems a bit overboard, you can choose a more simplistic approach to your website footer, like on the Space Posters site. This brand chose to reserve the footer for its newsletter sign-up form and an Instagram link that encourages web visitors to become followers on social media.
Use Google Analytics
Last but not least, whether you’re working with an unlimited budget or have to create a business website with zero funds, the one thing you mustn’t forget to do is to set up your analytics software properly.
For those on a tight budget, Google Analytics will be the best choice (as it’s free). It will:
- allow you to measure the performance of your site
- allow you to identify any problems
- reveal growth opportunities that will help you get a better ROI from a minimal initial investment
Anyone can launch a website, even on a tight budget.
But if you’re working with limited funds, choose practices that will guarantee the biggest bang for your buck.
The strategies we’ve covered in this article will help. But remember: to guarantee that your business website delivers the results you’re after, you’ll have to monitor its performance continually and make improvements.
So, no matter whether you’ve DIY-ed the entire thing or paid a professional to design and develop the site for you, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that launching your site is where the hard work ends. On the contrary: that’s when the real grind begins.