Small business small budget...

  geoff47 01:27 22 Sep 2004

I am here because I know I will get a realistic answer to my opposed to the advertising hype when visiting hosting sites.
I am toying with placing a presence on the web for my small corner shop.The site would be an advertisement for the shop,and also offer a mail order service for the goods we normaly sell over the counter.Cost is paramount....I am trying to create another form of income.I have played about designing sites but have never gone further,using various freebie programs.To cut a long story short I want some advice as to how much a basic site would cost me.
Any advice would be most helpful.

  Taran 02:21 22 Sep 2004

the UK Web Design Association at click here

Run a search for your area and then make some calls from the list of designers featured. If you explain your minimal requirements you should get some ball-park figures in return, possibly even over the phone. Some designers have a small site startup offer where several hundred pounds gives you a six (ish) page site, feedback/contact form and whatnot. This is probably not the way to go if you want to include some sort of branch to your mail order system.

The trouble is you say you have a limited budget (don't we all) but that you would like your budget to create additional income. It seems reasonable to assume that your expenditure to return ratio expectations are probably quite high. Perhaps this may affect the amount you are considering for your intended budget and maybe a rethink could be in order.

When you mention a point of contact portal that is exactly what most websites can and should be. Your mention of mail order is cause for concern though.

At its simplest, mail order via the web can consist of little more than a series of products on offer on your web pages, each one with a link to a form that allows your visitors to fill in the necessary information to complete their order. The form results are emailed to your for processing. And this is the point where we hit several real issues. Either your customers fill in quantity of goods, name, address, telephone number and so on, and then you contact them to arrange payment for goods ordered, or you start looking into a live e-commerce facility to allow financial transactions in real time. There isn't really much that falls in between the two and if you want to offer a product range on your site then this will send the price of it up, up and away.

If you give a bit mre detail one of us may be able to make a few suggestions so that at least you know some of the questions to ask when you start approaching designers. I strongly suggest that you check out the UKWDA in the first instance though.

I don't ever post details of my own prices in this forum; I can't think of any designer who would be willing to commit to a firm quote based on the tiny amount of information you have provided. It may even be that on completing your requirements analysis a designer may advise against having a site at all. I have done this on several occasions during an initial consultation.

You also need to think about updates. Designers charge for updates and if your site is likely to require regular changes (prices, product(s) etc) then you either pay per update, buy a yearly update package where a fixed amount allows you regular updates for the whole your, or you look at a small scale Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to update your own site content via your web browser. Any good designer can offer a CMS (I offer several with a range of features that cover small, medium and very, very large site demands) but again, the cost factor could well prove impractical. Web programmers also have a living to earn and tend not to give their products out freely.

If you want to ask some specifics then go for it and we'll see if we can help. As I said above though, nobody can really make a stab at offering you a figure without covering all the bases with you, so you either need to provide as much information as possible or start talking to designers. All that will cost is your time.

  Taran 14:38 22 Sep 2004

With all due respect to Matt45 I don't think that the forum is really an appropriate place to offer personal services or discuss the likely costs of them.

This is a place where help and advice may be given and problems (hopefully) solved.

Some of us are commercial designers with years of experience but I can't recall an instance where any one of us has used the forum for business purposes.

Given just some of the points I have covered in my first post, I'm curious how you can suggest £250 without knowing the full requirements geoff47 actually has. I'm rather surprised that you discuss/suggest cost at all without a full consultation to establish actual requirements.

The similarities between your own site and the hosting site you linked to were obvious and a brief search on the domain reveals that it is indeed your own. There are lots of hosts and lots of designers out there, and I would still suggest that a search of the UKWDA to obtain possible contacts in the local area is the best first port of call.

No offence intended but I do feel very strongly that the forum is and should remain a system of help, and not a place of business. Perhaps I'm just being old fashioned.

Best regards,


  Gaz 25 17:16 22 Sep 2004

and mainstream webdesigners will charge a nice cost, then why don't you give it a go: Designing your own website.

If you need any help, you can always ask.

Remember the amount of tutorials on the net to help you as well.

  Talented Monkey 17:16 22 Sep 2004

These forums should remain free from people touting and advertising thier sites and services, if you allow one person to do it, then who knows how many will start.This is a help forum not a business forum. Naughty Mat.

Taran more or less covers it all, so I wont say much more .

As a web developer, I also have doubts as to if you really need to be having an online shop, firstly what kind of product where you thinking of selling, if its something unique or exclusive to your shop or chain then yes go ahead, otherwise I wouldn’t bother. People shopping online have a vast amount of shops available, including all the major supermarkets, therefore most people will go to the online supermarkets first rather than a corner shop which, in all due respect, will be charging a few pence more.

  geoff47 17:26 22 Sep 2004

Taran thanks for the link....
was impressed and underwhelmed in equal measure.Some of the listed members where dead links others had dead links in their portfolios....while others impressed me greatly with the designs and packages on offer.
I believe now that I only want a hosting deal...cos I think I can design my own site to a suitable standard to satisfy myself and to satisfy the needs of the business.You are right with what you say about payments but the simplest method would suffice I think.Having browsed around and sought out DIY (for want of another word) deals.... it seems that a site could be in place for about £50 ish per year with tools to manage it myself.
I would only want a facility to email order enquiries that could then be taken up over the phone.The business is Afro hair and skincare products and as such most people would know what they want but not have the outlets locally within the UK to purchase them.As I have said I have made two or three sites that remain on my PC that could do the job....A simple introduction and a page or two of products and a contact link would probably suite all my needs.I am artisticaly minded but deficient in the technical requirements.But I am almost confident I could master it.....Any suggestions as to pitfalls or other requirements I may have missed.
I agree with your previous post and on principle wont contact Matt45 (am old fashioned myself too)
Thanks for your help.

  Gaz 25 18:01 22 Sep 2004

You could upload the sites you have tried to make, and we could suggest any improvements?

It's up to you though!


  geoff47 18:12 22 Sep 2004

Gaz 25 would I do that?
Technically deficient here.....
Where would I upload it to?

  Forum Editor 19:09 22 Sep 2004

and work from there. Once you have some web space you can upload your work in progress and show it to us if you like. You'll get plenty of input from us, and it isn't as daunting as you might think.

Quite a few people have come here as complete beginners and ended up with perfectly respectable sites - you can do the same if you're prepared to work at the learning curve. Come here as often as you like for advice and help - you're among friends.

  geoff47 00:03 23 Sep 2004

I have made at least 3 perhaps 4 or more multi page web sites on my PC using various free utilities,these were just for fun,like a high tec doodle if you like.
I looked for them today and at some time I have discarded then,spring cleaning I suppose like you do.There is only one page I Googled for a free host so I could show you people on here,signed up at Tripod found out I couldnt upload my own site but only alter their no go there.
Then I went to a another Free host (forget who) "File extension not supported" was their message when I tried to upload my example....compiled with DHE editor.So bear with me till I find a suitable host or format to practice with.So many hurdles to overcome on this new (to me) journey.

  Taran 02:46 23 Sep 2004

wasn't all it might have been for you.

There do seem to be a lot of dead links and some of the sites or their content are sometimes not what you may have wanted to see. Having said that the UKWDA is doing pretty good job at what it does and it is a useful resource for finding designers, as long as the designers you want to find are registered with it of course (I'm not for starters).

If you think you could get away with an introductory site of just a few pages and then work up, I have a suggestion for you. Following on from Forum Editor's excellent suggestion to get your domain name and hosting package, once you have both of them sorted out you could set the whole lot up yourself in short order.

Recently the covermount CD ROM on PC Advisor magazine contained the excellent NetObjects Fusion MX. Although this is now several years old, it is still a nice web authoring program but it also has one very useful trick up its sleeve. NetObjects has an upgrade path like most other software products. For £70 you get the version 8 upgrade which, I assume, will bring you right up to date. I'd prefer to confirm this with someone who has done the upgrade - I'd hate to make this suggestion only to find that the version shipped on the magazine covermount may not be used as a basis for the upgrade, but I'm sure we could confirm that one way or the other easily enough.

NetObjects is (relatively) easy to learn, capable of very professional looking output, it is one of my all-time favourite web authoring programs and always hits top of the list of my recommendations for beginners or newcomers to web design. It comes with a variety of good looking templates, it can upload the finished site direct to your web space with its own FTP utility and it doesn't take months to get your head around it. About all you might need to do is arrange for some supporting graphics to become available for the site, and anyone with a digital camera and an hour to spare with an image editing program can supply all you'd need in short order. You could also ask suppliers if images from their advertising media are available for use on your web, but don't hold your breath on that front.

Programs like NetObjects can make anyone look good, so don't think that you have to invest huge amounts of money in software or long periods of time to learn it. If you don't have a copy of that issue of the magazine it can be bought on back order for just a few pounds and you don't need to buy the version 8 upgrade if you don't want to since MX is still a very capable program.

Domain names are under £10 for two years for a and web hosting can be had for very little. Talented Monkey originally brought Web Mania click here and Web-Attention click here to the attention of forum members and both are inexpensive and well featured hosts.

Total cost for the magazine back issue, domain registration for two years plus one year of web hosting will be under £50. All you need to invest then is some free time.

Just a thought.


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