Inland Applications


Web & Mobile App Development



How to build a website for free or low cost

How to build a website for free or low cost

Web and app development is similar to home or commercial construction. When we create an app or website, we are building a set of materials into a finished product with our expertise. When we write code from basic libraries, that’s as close to scratch as it gets, but there are also tools to automatically build websites within a hard-coded structure.

Website and app development is an investment into the digital infrastructure of your company. How much you decide to invest can be dictated by a greater vision or just bare necessity.

If you hire web and app development services, all of this is taken care of for you. Website building materials, design, and underlying systems are chosen based on the requirements and available technology. To build your own website, deciding what is required of the website will help you decide which materials to use.

So, what is your desired outcome? Let’s explore two basic types of website architecture: the business card website and the e-commerce website.

Many options exist, these are my recommendations.

Business Card Website

If all you need is to get your contact info onto the Web, go the free route.

Create a Gmail account, register your business on Google Maps, and accept their offer to create a website for you. Since they’ve already got your business location and contact info, they create a website using that information and allow you to add things like images and written details.

The most basic option is free, but you can pay extra for the website to be hosted with a domain name that you purchase. These costs end up being only a few dozen dollars per year at the time of writing.

Pamphlet Website

One step above the Business Card Website is essentially a trifold pamphlet. If you need more than one page, and you might want some basic plugins, but the website doesn’t depend on a changing pool of data, you can opt for a website with multiple static pages.

Think of any website that has a homepage, an about page, maybe a directions page if the business represents a physical location like a restaurant, and maybe a few pages specific to the company and audience.

In the digital world, the sides of those pages can do a bit more. WordPress has a massive and open library of plugins to automate most common business tasks.

Some plugins are priced, but there are many free plugins. In 2020, I created a WordPress plugin that gives your website a calculator to instantly estimate a price range for any service which can be inferred by one or two variables. You can commission custom-built plugins for your website if you want to take your functionality a step further down the road.

WordPress is also so common that many hosting providers offer turn-key solutions to spin up a WordPress instance and address it with your custom dot com domain name.

Shop around for website hosts which offer easy WordPress installation, follow their instructions, and your website is quickly established and ready for you to customize the latest theme from the core team. You can change the theme, add or edit pages and plugins, and many more elements of the website depending on the theme from the dashboard.

E-Commerce Website

Business card websites are very basic documents on The Web. Once you get into functionality like displaying up-to-date items, with a shopping that can be filled and then checked out with a payment processor – you’re in more advanced territory. E-commerce is a huge industry, so many tools and platforms have been built to make it easy to access this technology without requiring someone to write custom code. Here are a few options.


Square is a digital Point of Sale platform who makes processing payments easy in exchange for a ~3% fee off the top. If you are already using Square’s POS platform, you might know they allow you to create ‘items’ to quickly select inventory to make a sale. They’ve already got your inventory in a database, so it’s easy for them to simply port all that product data into an e-commerce website visible on the open web. Everything from displaying item arrays, item details, shopping cart functionality, and payment processing is all handled by Square.


If you are not using a Point of Sale system that allows you to port all your product data over, you’ll have to choose a system that allows you to input and manage inventory independently. To keep things simple and minimize confusion, you should choose one system to be your central inventory management system.

WooCommerce is an extension of WordPress, which is a technology, not a platform. You’ll have to decide which platform will host your WordPress instance, many of them have button-press installation processes. You’ll pay for hosting, you might pay extra for traffic, and you’ll also pay to host your domain name to make the website addressable.

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