This week we’d like to introduce you to the “what if?” content series.

The purpose of these will explore what could happen if you’re handed a small (but usable) budget to explore different areas of online business from starting a website to growing the business.

The first in this series takes is through the “what if” of having $500 at our expense to build a website.

Do you go the bootstrap route or do you pony up and strive for the high-end?

$500 isn’t a whole lot when you think about what it takes for world domination but let’s play along with this prompt and see where it can take us …

The Low-End

What constitutes as a “low-end” website?

Based on my personal experience I would say it would be one which is “out of the box” as in that it uses a variety of templates and plugins to implement the features you desire.

$500 is more than enough to build a basic website whether it’s for a personal blog, small business, or acting as a corporate “business card” of some sort.

You may have money left over after the initial investment, too:

  • Domain: $10 ~ $20 per year
  • Hosting: $10 – $20 per month
  • Website Theme: $30 – $80 (depending on source, design, and code)
  • Premium Plugins: $50 – $100

The low-end keeps the cost at such a great steal because much of the work has been template so all that’s required on your end is the willingness to put in the time to fill in the site content. Any money left over could go toward adding rich features that may not have been included in the template or toward services to aid in your website ranking and marketing efforts.

The Mid-End

The mid-end begins to mix the needs and desires.

When you aim to create a mid-end website what you’re thinking is that it will have unique, brandable features along with the flexibility for your ideas and goals.

If you were to ask me, I would say that those seeking to create a mid-end website want enough customization so that the site doesn’t look like a template and that they want to sell a product or service through the platform.

This sets you off on two different paths:

  • Working with a designer/developer to make custom tweaks
  • Using a paid platform that comes with additional features needed by the business

Freelancers are available across any number of freelance marketplaces, word-of-mouth, or by doing a search and sorting through portfolios. Once reached, you can begin working with these individuals to help design and implement key features to your website (as long as they fit the budget). You may not be able to have a full website developed by them that competes with the bigger competition but you can certainly utilize their skills to tweak a template so that it becomes your own.

The other option would to seek the use of paid platforms such as Shopify or Magento; these are great for ecommerce and digital delivery – a match for those wanting to sell products or services online. The paid platforms often come with tons of templates, built-in features, and support to craft a website that goes beyond a few pages and a blog.

The $500 is going to get stretched at this point so it’s vital that you understand exactly what you need in a website before you hand over the money.

The High-End?

Is it possible to build a high-end website on just $500?

That’s debatable because if you truly want to ensure a unique design, solid SEO practices, proper website structure, and flexibility than you’ll need to sport the money because there to trust in a Web developer’s best practices and expertise is incalculable.

Yes, you can certainly replicate many elements of the site when you’re launching on the low to mid-end but you’ll make a few sacrifices in areas you may need behind-the-scenes such as inventory management, customer support channels, and flexibility of the platform.

However, since the purpose is to keep us on a budget we can rule out that this would be the type of website you would launch in the very beginning. In fact, it’s probably best to avoid over-spending at this time because it’s very easy to sign off on a contract that’s tens of thousands of dollars – it’s better to at least get something started, now, to get indexed and found by your community than to be held up by months of planning and development.

Once you’ve hit the “glass ceiling” of your design you’ll know when to make the next investment for the high-end site.