Sunday, August 20th, 2017

How to Build a Small Corporate Website on a Shoestring Budget

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Just because you are a one person shop doesn’t mean your corporate website has to look like you threw it together between breakfast and coffee. This post will detail how you can create a professional looking website for your small business/corporation using a few common tools.

Decide what you want your website to be. In my case, I just wanted my corporate website to convey information about myself and my company. I also wanted a way of blogging information like this. To sum up I wanted some static content and some more dynamic content that I could update/add regularly. What you want your website to be will influence the software you use to create/update your website.

Select a content management system. Given the above basic requirements, I chose WordPress as my content management system. I know what your thinking, “Isn’t WordPress blogging software?”. Yes, it is, but I’ve found WordPress so easy to use and configurable that I chose it after only a couple of hours playing around with it. WordPress has a ton of free plugins, themes and tools that you can get it to do pretty much anything you want it to do. Other possible content management systems out there include:

  • Joomla
  • Xoops
  • Drupal
  • a ton more that won’t be mentioned. Just search for content management and you’ll find them.

Setup your content management system. I was lucky, my hosting company uses an automated software installation script that installed WordPress at the click of a button. If you’re not as lucky, you may have to install your content management system manually. Fortunately with WordPress, there is the famous five minute install which should have you up and running in no time. Consult the documentation of your particular system as appropriate.

Decide on your website structure and layout. There are literally an infinite number of ways you can layout and structure your small business/corporate website. I suggest you tak a look at a few examples of small business websites, some that highlight WordPress’s capability can be seen here at the WordPress showcase. I decided that I would like a sleek dark look with navigation at the top.You’ll also want to determine the pages and hierarchy of navigation for your site. I recommend you play with WordPress or your content management system for a while to get a feel for how pages, navigation, posts, links etc all fit together.

Use a theme for your website look and feel. One of the really slick things with WordPress is that it supports website themes, you can literally change the whole look of your website with the click of a button. Tons of themes can be found at WordPress’s theme repository. Many themes are free, however I opted to go with a non-free theme available from StudioPress. StudioPress themes are very modern, easy to work with and professionally packaged. I figured the small price I paid to license the theme is worth it over spending hours upon hours tweaking or building my own theme. Also, I can manually change the StudioPress theme if I desire.

Include professional photographs as appropriate. Another aspect of your website will be images/photographs that are related to the type of business you run. Now I could have had someone take pictures of me sitting at my desk working on my computer, since that is the nature of my business, but luckily there are tons of services out there that offer stock photos for use on websites at very reasonable prices. Some of these services are:

I chose Big Stock Photo since it was easy to sign up, cheap and they had a huge selection of images.

Install plugins to add functionality to your web site. WordPress can be easily extended to add functionality to your website, some of the plugins I use and recommend are:

  • AddToAny – a nice little plugin that helps people share your web pages/posts. Even has a ‘print’ view for whatever page it is added to.
  • Ajax Calendar – provides a nice calendar widget that you can add to your website. The calendar highlights days that you have posted an entry to your WordPress blog.
  • Fast and Secure Contact Form – provides a contact form on a page using Captcha (image code entry to prevent spam).
  • Super Transition Slideshow – provides a nice little widget that transitions through a series of images.
  • WP Security Scan – performs a scan of your WordPress installation and setup to ensure your website is secure.

This is all great but what did it cost you? Well lets get to the nitty gritty of the whole setup: cost. The following is an itemized list of the items I paid for to get my company website up and running in Canadian dollars:

  • Domain and web hosting – $112 for one year
  • Theme from StudioPress – $60
  • Ten stock photos from BigStockPhoto – $22

Grand total of approximately $194 (plus applicable taxes). Thats not a bad price to pay to have your company website up and running.

I hope this post has helped you along the path of getting your business website up and running. WordPress and the associated tools I’ve described saved me a lot of time and headaches and allowed me to quickly get my website up and running. Please feel free to share this post and provide comments or feedback. I would love to hear of any other great tools out there that are helpful in running a small business/corporate website on a shoestring budget.

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Comments

5 Responses to “How to Build a Small Corporate Website on a Shoestring Budget”
  1. Good posting but I recommend Antenna by Stormdance. It is especially valuable for the more technically challenged! I am redesigning a web site currently using the latest version of Antenna and it’s pretty impressive. My first try was rather mundane but my current attempt is w-a-y better.

  2. Nice post Rob, pretty slick and professional and you summarized pretty nicely. Congrats on the new website as well.

  3. Hey Rob!

    Love the new site and great article. I’m a big fan of WordPress also.

    One additional consideration when choosing a CMS is to ensure that it is (or can be easily made) search engine friendly: http://www.ozonesem.com/search-engine-optimization/seo-cms.html

    All the best and happy holidays!

  4. Hi Rob,

    good post, but I would advocate using seotoaster in place of WP for a corporate website.
    It does give you a platform form which to blog, but it is far superior to WP as far as user friendliness (no back-end whatsoever to deal with from an admin and content edition) and SEO capabilities. (deep-linking, Silo building using JS…)

    We’re compiling a list of the WordPress plug-ins you would need to install, patch, configure and troubleshoot to match what’s available with a basic seotoaster install out of the box:…keeping in mind that some of the seotoaster features simply do not exist in the WordPress worl;.

    – WordPress Duplicate Content Plugin

    – WordPress Sitemaps Plugin

    – WordPress Meta tags Plugin

    – All in one seo pack wordpress plugin

    – WordPress nofollow plugin

    – Meta robots wordpress plugin

    – Free seo wordpress theme

    – seo wordpress template

    On the Content Management & Design side of things:

    – WordPress php plugin

    – WordPress multiple content areas

    – Super Transition Slideshow

    – Fast and Secure Contact Form

    …and the list goes on…seotoaster is also free and open source.
    Merry Xmas to all…