How much does it cost to build the 4 page website of my dreams?
March 18, 2013 9:13 AM   Subscribe

I want to have a website to sell the neat stuff I make. In my mind I can see exactly what I want it to look like after having spent an absurd amount of time looking at other websites.

I have written all my copy. I can make a wireframe (I just learned about that step... cool!) My friend who is filled with illustrator-awesome-sauce is going to do all the icons/illustrations for me. (But I don't have anyone to do the little banners, and zigzags and color blocks and such for separating sections... see examples at the bottom...)

So-- this is the freak out: How many bazillion hours have I looked at off-the-shelf themes with no luck? There are so many websites that look just like what I imagine (see below for 5 examples)-- but there are *no* templates (that I have been able to find) that do it.

QUESTION: To get what I want do I have to hire an agency? Is this $50,000 and an impossible dream, because I have like one percent of that. Or can I get this built for my budget? And who do you hire? Is it a designer (is that the search term I use on a place like or an html5 programmer? So the big questions: --how much should this cost? --How do I find the person who will take my words, images, wireframe and inspirations and make it be?

Here is probably what you need to know. I am just a regular web surfing design-know-nothing, but I think these websites are beautiful and excellent and they are the 5 inspirations for what I want. (The 4 pages I want are= Home page, Price Page, Blog Page, About Page)

(1) grabaperch
(2) teamtreehouse
(3) giftrocket
(4) rateus
(5) kajabi

Thanks for either: crushing my dreams on the rocks of capitalism, or giving me much needed hope that I can really have my own little slice of internet with a website that I like looking at every day. Either way, I am happy to know :-)
posted by gravitypanda to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Dude. Just use Shopify.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:23 AM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

WordPress should be able to provide you with all the tools you need for a simple 4-page website. I must say that a lot of people focus on the aesthetic of a website first, and consider usability second (if at all). I would consider trying to make the site usable first, and once you have sales and can afford it, focus on aesthetics sometime in the future.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:23 AM on March 18, 2013

You should be able to get this done for under $10,000, and a lot less if you take more of a risk and got out to web designers in India or Eastern Europe using Odesk or elance. Your best bet if you want your own standalone site is a simple Wordpress site with an ecommerce plug in if you plan to sell directly through the site. You don't need to reinvent the wheel on wireframes. There are hundreds of decent templates out there to use for free/buttons.

I have worked with this person before and she's good, has reasonable rates and delivers on time.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:25 AM on March 18, 2013

Thanks KokuRyu, but I won't really make any money with this. Its not like that. It is more like I want to get the stuff I make to the people I want to have it, and for that conversation to happen I have to care first and foremost about how it looks.

(I hope the way I wrote that it makes sense?!)
posted by gravitypanda at 9:26 AM on March 18, 2013

Yeah, wordpress. And all the "types" of page examples you listed are themes for WP. There are lots of free ones. I've been very happy with paying for the themes at Elegant Themes. That said, if you do want something custom, find a designer. I'd venture that for 4 pages you're looking at less than a couple thousand. A lot depends on how good your designer is and what they charge.
posted by bfranklin at 9:27 AM on March 18, 2013

The first of your links is to a CMS (basically, a framework for a website). Have you checked out the templates they offer (sign up for their demo account)?
posted by ssg at 9:28 AM on March 18, 2013

Thanks for the response bfranklin. I tried plugging them into this tool:

"What Wordpress theme is that?"

And no theme suggestion came up. So I figured these were all custom jobs.
posted by gravitypanda at 9:34 AM on March 18, 2013

Your quickest, most realistic path to sales is Shop Locket, Shopify, Etsy, Store Envy, or any combination/all of these. (Also, check out Celery for pre-orders).

Do not attempt your own custom shopping cart. (WordPress is x% custom, so don't do it; especially if you don't want get mired in the constant upkeep of all the tax/legal stuff and chargebacks).

A couple more things worth pointing out. Any of the above will give you a complete storefront that plays well on mobile. For $10 a year you can register a domain name and redirect it to your storefront so people can go directly to

To reiterate, do not go custom. If you have any money at all, you need to spend it on (a) gorgeous pictures of your product and (b) driving traffic to your site.
posted by rada at 9:51 AM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

Post this in Mefi Jobs, there are quite a few WordPress (and other) developers around these parts.
posted by humph at 9:53 AM on March 18, 2013

Not necessarily, gravitypanda. From a quick whizz through them* the sites you listed may not be built in Wordpress.

*note: I just appended /wp-admin after the homepage as a quick check.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:55 AM on March 18, 2013

I only know about this site from their ads on Earwolf podcasts, but Squarespace looks like it might deliver what you want.
posted by chowflap at 10:13 AM on March 18, 2013

Another one like Shopify is Volusion.
posted by Dansaman at 10:15 AM on March 18, 2013

Could you sell your items through Amazon? Let them handle all the money stuff. Your website could have the product pages and a button to take them to Amazon to buy the product.

I'm not experienced in online shopping, but if I was my goal would be to abstract away as much of the complicated money stuff as possible.
posted by Folk at 10:43 AM on March 18, 2013

If you are making your inventory it might be worth checking out Craft Launch
posted by halseyaa at 12:24 PM on March 18, 2013

Big Cartel.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:43 PM on March 18, 2013

To reiterate, dude, do NOT host this yourself. Pay nothing (or very little) and build it in a service that does everything for you. All of the ones in this thread are pretty good. Please don't waste your money recreating the wheel.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:23 AM on March 19, 2013

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