Websites can be expensive to build and to maintain if you are not an experienced webmaster. Even minor changes or updates can be frustrating if you have to rely on outside programmers.
If you only have a limited budget and cannot afford a web designer, you can consider to build your website by using a website builder software, or by download a web template file. Both would cost much less than hiring a web designer, and you can update the website by yourself.
There are many website builder software available. Even if you do not know how to use them, you might have already heard of products such as Dream weaver, Flash, GoLive, etc
However, unless you already have the skill sets and experience, the learning curve of these software might make it difficult for most home or small business owners. These commercial software usually cost several hundred dollars just to purchase. You would then have to learn the coding and do all layout design by yourself.
Not everyone is a web designer. For experts who know HTML well, they could build the whole site using Windows Note Pad. But you have a lot more things to do beside HTML coding and web design. Therefore an easy website builder or web page creator can be very helpful, they usually cost less than $100, and can save your time.
When choosing a website builder, ensure the website builder you purchase is a software, not a service.
Many online website builder companies insist you must sign up, and build your website by log in to their online service, and you cannot host your website anywhere else except theirs.
You need to pay a subscription fee (monthly or quarterly) for your website, and the created website cannot be uploaded to any other web host, or to your client’s server. As soon as you cancel your subscription with them, your entire website will be deleted including all your content and images. There is no option for you to buy your own website with an once-off payment.
A website builder software, in contrast, can be installed on your local desktop, so you and your staffs can all use it to build or edit websites any time for your own company or for resell purpose, and upload to your own web hosting account.
There are more websites selling templates than website builder software. Template sites provide all types of templates including HTML template, flash template, Power-point template, etc. Templates can cost anything from $5 to $200.
While it might be easy to add your own photos and text into templates, to fully customize a template is not an easy task. If you need to change the template page layout, menu header, text area size, left column width, or add new pages and sections, you would still need to use commercial software such as Adobe Photo shop and Adobe Flash.
Some basic HTML knowledge is always required to modify the template. For example, if you want to insert a banner to your site, or embed tracking code from Google Analytic, or optimize your website using meta tags, you must know HTML to insert the related code correctly.
If you decide to use a template, the total cost is not just the template. You must include the cost of template customization service. You should also estimate how often you need to update the website, and the on going updating cost.
Before you pay for a website builder software or web template, you should have your website content including text, menu titles, image files organized and ready to use.
Have your website well planned so that you know how to choose the suitable website builder or web template.
For example, if you want to build a website with drop down menus, then you would instantly filter out those website builder and templates which have no drop down menu support.
Using a website builder or web template can be a much simpler solution to build website. They can be great solution for building basic websites with a low budget. If you need a web site with features such as customer database, forum, shopping cart, then you still need a professional web development team to help you, and a more sizable budget.