Marketing: Design a Hub Website on the Cheap

By Alexander Hiam

Marketing online should start with a hub website for your company or business. Creating your hub website doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars. If you want to save a little money, just try creating it yourself.

To create your own hub site, start small and consider the following:

  • Look for providers of website templates and select the one that offers the features, style, and pricing you like best. Examine the many sources closely to determine which one is the best fit for you. Some options include

    • Google: Google offers good options, including an assortment of easy-to-use, professional-looking templates.

    • Firms that register domain names, such as Register.com: These companies generally offer do-it-yourself packages.

  • Hire an Internet service provider (ISP). You can find an ISP to host your site quite easily. In fact, dozens of ISPs may be trying to find you to make a sale. Pick one that offers the fee structure, services, and flexibility you want — and change ISPs if that ISP winds up not satisfying you.

    If you’re planning to build your own site using a template, then search for an ISP (working with only one is easier, if possible) that offers a template you like. Also, if you plan to set up a store on your website, look for an ISP that offers a shopping cart template.

    Many of the basic website templates do not include a shopping cart, so make sure you find one with a cart you like. (A low-cost alternative is to use an eBay store for your shopping cart function and link to it from your hub site.)

    Consider using your domain name and ISP to provide your own e-mail addresses, too. Having your e-mail done through your own domain looks more professional and helps you promote your brand name and web address.

    For example, if you register www.excellenthairproducts.com, you may also want to have your personal e-mail be yourname@excellenthairproducts.com.

  • Check out the latest edition of Building Websites All-in-One For Dummies, 3rd Edition. This book by David Karlins and Doug Sahlin gives you the essentials of website construction as well as information on mobile site planning and social media integration.

  • Use responsive design for mobile devices. A traditional website is programmed in HTML with lots of tables — some of them managing the content, and others managing its positioning and look on the page.

    Such sites don’t change size and look when displayed on a smaller screen, like a tablet or phone. Although it can be a real hassle to peek through a tiny window on your phone’s screen, trying to move around a giant website designed for a computer screen, many websites are still unresponsive to this need for flexibility of scale.

    Sometimes it may make sense to create a special website optimized just for smaller screens. For instance, a landing site for a promotion that will be marketed to cellphone users may be designed for phone use as its priority, with a fill-in form to capture the participants’ information.

  • Hire a freelance designer who will shortly graduate from college: If you need a good custom site and can afford at least a few thousand dollars for it, look for a new graduate or someone who is about to graduate. Either way, be sure your candidate has already designed a number of good commercial websites.

    You should be able to find several up-and-coming designers on web projects and save a lot of money this way. Note: Freelance designers who are new to the workforce need fairly close supervision, so if you don’t have the time or patience for that, look elsewhere.