Setting up and running a webpage can range from free to fairly expensive depending on one’s knowledge of programming languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript or PHP; time invested in creating and maintaining the website; the amount and type of content, and finally how professional-looking the website should look. The process does not have to be expensive and whether money is spent on professional programmers or time is spent on learning to code, there are a variety of inexpensive options to fit one’s needs.

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The Quality is in The Price

Free websites don’t have to look basic and limited. If one wants to set up a website for free and has a very limited knowledge of programming languages, a good option is to create a webpage on wordpress.com. The most basic webpage is a blog, but for $99 a year, the webpage can be upgraded to include a personal domain name, 10GB of storage space, ad removal, a customized design, and the ability to add video content.

Looking Under The Hood

Though it is fairly easy to just add content to a WordPress blog and not worry about the layout, investing time in learning how to code is well worth the effort. Websites like codecademy.com and w3schools.com provide free online tutorials in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The exercises are step-by-step, hands-on, and provide instant feedback on whether the code runs correctly. After learning to code, the next step is to download a free editor like the one offered on notepad-plus-plus.org, which is an offline program for writing code and testing it on one’s computer in a variety of browsers. Once a webpage is working correctly, it’s easy to copy and paste the code from notepad++ into a blog, and voilà, the customized webpage is now working online.

Why Make It Simple When We Can Make It Complicated?

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Another thing to consider in developing a webpage is to determine the kind of content there will be. A webpage can be as simple as a description of one’s hobbies or interests with a list of links to recommended websites; it can be a simple description of one’s service or products with a few pictures and contact information, or it can be a media-rich, complex online business with many dynamic pages where customers can place and pay for orders, create an online account, and track shipping like Amazon.com. The more sophisticated the website content is, the more recommended it is to hire a professional programmer to help make sure things run smoothly.

Freelancer.com is a great place to find such programmers who offer the lowest bid to accomplish the requested programming tasks. On average, projects that add complex user-friendly functionality to WordPress webpages can range from $30-$50 or $200-$500, depending on the budget and programming difficulty. It’s a good idea to browse the list of offers on the website to get an idea of the cost of a project. Beyond initially creating a webpage, website maintenance, making updates, fixing bugs, and increasing cross-browser compatibility are expenses to take into consideration. Freelancers is one of the cheaper options for budgeting for certain tasks with short deadlines, but in the long run, it may be better, though more expensive, to contract a programmer on a long-term basis. This can guarantee that the maintenance is done on a regular basis and there is an ongoing dialog about how to improve and adapt the website.

Making The Most of a Host

Website hosting can be free as mentioned before on WordPress, but getting one’s own domain name, online storage, and an email account can cost a few dollars per month. There are a variety of sites for domain hosting and 1&1 website builder services, and each has different pros and cons. Make sure to check all the prices in advance because some have many hidden costs. Depending on the type of content and information, it may not actually be necessary to pay for storage or a server as it is becoming easier to store information in the cloud for free. Parse.com is an example of free information storage. Codecademy.com provides a simple tutorial about how to learn to use the Parse API in order to upload and retrieve content stored on Parse.