Never Pay For Web Development Again
10 Free Solutions To Give You a Complete Website
When I first began working in e-commerce I was regularly "quoted" seriously high six figure amounts just to build a website, with another similar amount required for implementation.(It wasn't that long ago.)
Mercifully, things are so much better now. Today there are so many free solutions and services that it is possible for anyone to build a fully featured website for nothing. And in almost no time.
Obviously there will still be design and set up costs involved, but for the most part the change has been radical.
Here then is my list of 10 free services and applications to get you on your way. They are not in any order, so you can choose at random.
1: Wordpress - Originally developed as a blogging platform, this free download contains almost everything a new user could want. It comes with a range of free plugins that extend it's functionality to email newsletters, forums, surveys, a shopping cart, search engine optimisation, social networking and the list goes on. There are over 1,000 plugins on the official Wordpress site, and they are growing all the time. There are also many, many free design "themes" to choose from, so you don't even need to hire a designer.
Setting it up only takes about five minutes for anyone familiar with web servers, and maybe an hour or two for those who aren't. Wordpress provides full instructions on its website.
If that is still too hard, it even offers a hosted solution, to make the process even easier.
2: Prestshop - this shopping cart is French, Fantastique and Free. It offers just about everything you could want from a shopping cart. Again, it is relatively easy to set up, and even if you do find it intimidating, anyone with a modest level of technical know how should be able to install this in an afternoon.
3: Content Management Systems - The leaders in this field are Drupal , Joomla , Modxcms and CakePHP . Content Management Systems require a bit more technical knowledge to set up, but the fact that they are all free, means you shouldn't have to pay exorbitant amounts to get a serious CMS system going. If you're the DIY type, then one of these will more than adequately suit you.
4: Google Analytics - There is no longer any excuse for not monitoring what your customers are doing on your website. Google Analytics provides a free traffic reporting and analysis solution that everyone can understand. (I used to pay four figures a month for the type of information Google Analytics now supplies for free.)
5: Dada Mail - a free email campaign and list manager, what more can I say. You may need help setting it up on your server, but otherwise it's a bargain.
6: Feed Burner - If you're planning to write a blog then Feed Burner is one solution to help you feed your blog posts to the world.
7: Feed Blitz - like Feed Burner, except it sends your posts out as email.
8: Survey Monkey - a fully customisable survey solution. Free for 10 questions and 100 responses per month, and just $20 per month for more than that.
Allows all sorts of questions and response types, provides full reporting, validation and respondent management.
Do I have to tell you yet again that I used to pay four figures a time for surveys like this?
9: Firefox and Webdeveloper Toolbar - the Webdeveloper Toolbar plugin for Firefox allows you to analyse 100's of different parameters about your website and your competitors website at the touch of a button. If you're serious about your website performance, then this tool is a must.
10: The Gimp - an open source alternative to Photoshop.
For Those of You Who Can Count
There's actually 21 free services listed above, which just proves my point about not needing to pay large amounts of money for web development. In truth, I could have listed over a hundred free solutions, and I may yet do that in another post.
The Advantage of Using Professionals
Professional design and set up can make or break any online business, so while the above solutions are free, I highly recommend using a professional services if you can. Their knowledge and experience can save you a lot of aggravation and headaches.
Also, while many of the technical solutions are now free or relatively economical, proper business planning and marketing are still essential. If you are serious about creating an online business, then you must budget adequately for these items.
Or, if you are really parsimonious then you can just keep reading my blog where I reveal the necessities of successfully doing business online.