Mike Esordi – Million Dollar Style On a Hundred Dollar Budget – Big Digital Adelaide 2016

Mike Esordi – Million Dollar Style On a Hundred Dollar Budget – Big Digital Adelaide 2016


After a very last minute change to the schedule on Day 2 of Big Digital Adelaide, Mike Esordi from The Marketing Center took to the stage early to share with us how to get a million dollar style on a hundred dollar budget. Sounds impossible, right? Wrong!



Mike started with a $100 on the screen and planned to count down as he spent it buying different website elements.

First we needed to buy a domain which was $11.99 from Go Daddy.

Budget left – $88.01

Next, we needed some hosting which was $0.99 a month for 12 months – so a total of $11.88 for 12 months.

Budget left – $76.13

To make the website look like a website we then needed to buy a theme. Mike chose the Avada for $59 from Theme Forest. There are free ones out there but we don’t want a free one as we want million dollar style.

Budget left – $17.13

Uh-oh, $17.13? How on earth are we going to do anything with that?

Now we need to set up, so install WordPress and get it ready to be designed. If we had a big budget we’d get an agency to do it, but we don’t so we need to keep going. When it comes to branding, consistency is key. Many companies go so far as to have a branding manual which includes everything you need to know about the brand. There are 3 main visual elements – colour, typography and imagery.

Mike Esordi – Million Dollar Style On a Hundred Dollar Budget – Big Digital Adelaide 2016

1. Colour

You can start by looking at colour psychology but you need to take it with a grain of salt as everyone sees it differently. Start by building a colour palette – Adobe colour tool (link in slides). Mike started with red as it represented excitement which was fitting of having a new website.

Then you need to find a palette that works well together. He recommended a rather awesome looking (and free) app called Adobe Capture CC. You point your phone around, it scans the surroundings or image you are focusing on and picks colours that work well together.


Mike Esordi – Million Dollar Style On a Hundred Dollar Budget – Big Digital Adelaide 2016


2. Typography

Mike recommends sticking to one or two typographies because you are most likely to get a better product this way.  Using Google fonts you can find a font you like and then use the pairings tool which gives you other fonts that work well with the one you have chosen. Stick with easy to read fonts.

Another free app or website you can use is WhatTheFont which tells you what the font is called if you see one you like (anywhere – on a screen, written down, on signage – anywhere!)

Budget left – still $17.13


Mike Esordi – Million Dollar Style On a Hundred Dollar Budget – Big Digital Adelaide 2016

3. Imagery

There are 3 kinds of imagery – graphics, illustration and photography. Mike threw down a challenge to the audience at this point – they had to take photos during his presentation and then share them with #bigdigitalADL on Twitter. He also introduced a great app which he said has been around for a while called Hipstamatic and costs $2.99 (in US dollars; its $4.99 in Australia) and was one of his favourite apps.

Using images often is so important as you have less than 50 milliseconds to form a first impression with your users.

Budget left – $14.14

Next you need to focus on the look of your site. Develop a consistent visual style and then people will start to recognise it. Think about what you can do to make images stand out. You can use filters but be subtle, don’t force it when it doesn’t fit the image. Sometimes you don’t even need to use a filter. Think about using a different point of view, cropping the image in a certain way or using colours or simple black and white.


When taking your own photos, composition can make or break a photo. So don’t just take a shot, take a second to look at what’s in the frame and when in doubt, use the rule of thirds. You can even enable these lines on your smart phone or digital camera and it can make the image much more pleasing on the eye. Odd numbers are more interesting than even numbers so when considering your composition try and include objects in odd numbers instead of even if you have the choice – 3 is the magic number. You can also use diagonal lines to create motion by crouching down to a lower viewpoint and then take your shot looking upwards.

Using emotion in images is extremely eye-catching so consider using storytelling through your photos. Using people is often the best way to create emotion. You want your audience to pause and be drawn into the story. And don’t forget you can always convey emotion through colour.

Mike’s final rule of images was that you can break the rules! But first you need to understand the rules and then use them to your advantage.

Mike gave the audience some more homework – to create their own brand manual (even if it is just a poster) including things like colours, fonts, colour codes, filters and any image rules.

Budget left – still $14.14!

Now it was time to design. This is where you prepare your website and get it ready for the world. But we need to use some more tools. Mike proceeded to share one of my favourite tools – Canva. It’s free and is great for anyone that wants to create awesome imagery but doesn’t have the design experience to do so using other more complicated software and tools. Once your images are prepared you’re ready to add them to your website.

Using the Avada theme, you can choose the design you like the look of best and all you have to do is pull out the stock images and add your own beautifully designed ones. Don’t forget to be consistent.

Budget left – still $14.14!

What shall we do with the rest of the budget? Mike whacked the last $14.14 on Facebook ads to promote the website and we’re done!

Budget left – $0.00

This was such an interesting presentation and despite the really last minute time slot change, the room was packed so we clearly weren’t the only ones who thought so. So next time you’re quoted tens of thousands of dollars for a new website design, why not see if it’s something you can achieve on a much smaller budget?