How Easy is it to Build a Website?
Building a website can be a complicated process if you don’t know what you’re doing. It requires a lot of thought. Being involved in building a website for our own business and building websites for our customers, I think I could write a book. But if you are a novice it can be challenging because you wonder how hard is it to design a website. Do you need help or can you do it yourself? What do you need to know in advance?
Whether you are building a brand-new website or revamping an old one, both require website planning. My hope is this article will give you a few insights to help you have a better website building experience. It is possible to build your own. But even if you decide to hire a designer you need to be a part of the process. You need to have control of the website planning. It’s your website. It’s your business. Have the designer build it to your specifications and needs.
Why You Need a Website!
Before you go to the expense and trouble of building your own or hiring someone, your first step is to determine why you need a website? Is it basically a calling card where people can get information about your products or services or are you looking for prospective clients to find your website organically through Google? Do you need an ecommerce site where you are selling a physical product or are you service based, requiring an appointment scheduler? That will determine what type of website is best for your business.
This is important as it affects the cost and time required to build your website. If you just need a page or two, you may want to just create an About.Me Page or purchase a do-it-yourself website builder like WordPress.com, Weebly, Wix, or Square Space. If you need ecommerce integration you may want to research Shopify or BigCommerce. They may satisfy your needs. But if you want to own your site, blog, and have the best SEO (we will talk about that a little later) you will want either a WordPress site (built on WordPress.org not to be confused with the .com version) or a custom built. Blogging is a very important component for SEO. If blogging is part of your strategy, that is another good reason for a WordPress site.
A custom built site can be very expensive so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a lot of money and need some specialization. Otherwise, WordPress is an excellent choice. It will allow you to own it, add the right bells and whistles and be SEO friendly. The rest of this article will focus on what you need for a WordPress site. Though if you decide to rent with Shopify, Wix, etc, you will still get invaluable information to decide which is the best platform.
Choosing the Right Web Hosting Company
If you decide you want a full-blown professional website using WordPress, you will need to choose a web hosting company like GoDaddy, Host Gator, or Bluehost. You will also need to buy a domain, which you will have to renew each year. While it’s not mandatory, it makes life easier if you buy your domain from your web hosting company. If you can get a discount when you purchase these products, you may want to buy a few years in advance.
Note: Always make sure you own your domain as that will allow you to move from one hosting place to another. Make sure it is transferable.
Another thing to consider is when creating your domain name. If you have a for profit business use a .com at the end. If you have a nonprofit you can use .org. But I recommend you stay away from .co or .us or .life as examples. Also no dashes in your domain name. Most people will not type those in and will end up in the wrong place. Just a word of advice. Save you a lot of grief.
Next up is purchasing a WordPress Theme.
While there are some free ones, they should be avoided like the plague. Free Themes can have security issues and may not be current with the continuous WordPress updates. Our favorite WordPress Theme is Divi, which can be purchased from Elegant Themes. Depending on your business, you can choose the template that makes sense for your audience.
Make sure you purchase an SSL certificate to keep your website secure for your customer and give you better ranking in Google searches. I have a graphic below to show what that means. One fault we often see, is someone buys the SSL certificate and doesn’t attach it properly. If you see the https in the browser with the padlock closed, you were successful.
Extra Stuff – Extra Costs
Finally, a few extras that we also recommend purchasing from your web host provider is a back up plan, security protection against hackers, and a premium email account.
As you can see, expect to pay a few dollars right out of the gate. Some of these costs will need to be renewed every year, so keep that in mind. Don’t buy a website package unless you know your business is going to be around for a few years.
I thought it would make sense to cover some things on “how to plan a website” before you actually do so. Research saves you a lot of grief. So I have put together a list of 10 things to consider.
I0 Things to Consider Before You Build That Website
As I said, whether you are somewhat tech savy and want to build your own, or you hire someone else, some of this needs to be done by you. Be involved in the planning. The more you can tell your designer what you want, the more your expectations will be met and the cost will be less.
#1 Audience: Know who you are building your website for. Do you have one ideal customer or several? Make sure your website answers the questions they will be asking when they visit your website. If you aren’t sure about this you might want to use our Avatar workbook. Your ideal audience is important as that determines your messaging and design.
#2 Colors and Fonts: It supports your brand identity and sets the tone of what your customers can expect from you. The rule of thumb for the color is one dominant color, one complimentary and one background. You may want to check out some color psychology articles to make sure you pick colors that will attract your desired audience. Font choices should be complimentary and limited to 2 or 3 max.
# 3 Layout: How many pages do you want? For example, a 4-page layout would have a Home page, About page, a Services or Product page, and a Contact page. A 5-page layout would also include a Blog page. How do you want the layout for each page? Research other websites with your type of business. What do you like? What do you want to avoid? You want to be sure that you have a website that is modern and responsive for mobile devices, since most of your customers will be seeing your website from their phone or tablet.
#4 Content: It is a good idea that even if you are hiring someone to write your content, that you write some basic information to give your content/web designer an idea of what you want to express to your customers. Otherwise they won’t know what you want, and you may not like what they write. Save everyone time, anguish, and money. It is always good to identify in advance, what is your client’s issue, how can you solve it, what is your call to action (CTA). You want to make sure that is clear. If they feel like they are in the right place, they will stick around to learn more. Reducing bounce time is a good SEO strategy.
#5 Graphics: Go find the graphics and photos you want. Ask your web designer what size they should be, so you get the right size and make sure they are clear. Graphics should have tags and descriptions so that the Google bots (another SEO strategy) can read your graphics. Also helpful for software programs for blind people. If you are doing your own website, you should learn the right pixel size. You may want to check out our blog on this, Want a Faster Website? Learn How to Easily Reduce Image Size. Save you a lot of headaches for website speed, an important SEO issue.
#6 Messaging and Call To Action: Create a compelling tag line. It will surely be the first thing they see when they click your website. Wow them if you can. Will they feel you get their problem? Don’t make it about you – it should be all about them. Will they know easily what to do for next action step? Make your Call to Action prominent and easy to navigate, whether it is to buy or subscribe to your newsletter. Writing the right content is very important. Decide if you want to write content or have them write it. Know what you want to communicate.
#7 Email Subscribe Box: So, so important. You can add a subscribe or sign up button on your website that links to your email program. Your email list is paramount. When someone visits your website they may not be ready to buy. Having an option for them to stay in touch will allow you to nurture them until they are ready.
I tell my customers, get your email program (ex. MailChimp or Constant Contacts) built before your website. You can use your social media to get people to subscribe. You can announce your new website on your social media and to your email subscribers. It helps to offer some sort of free gift (Lead Magnet) to get people to surrender their email address to you. Like a free eBook, free training, white paper, quiz, video, webinar, or free consultation that they would like and has value. For example we have a few lead magnets. We have a free mini course, an ebook, and a Workbook. All of them creating value and nurture our audience.
#8 Social Media: You can also add your social media links to your website like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. I would give a word of caution here. Only link to social media that you are actively using. It would be embarrassing to link to twitter and you only twittered one time when you set it up. Choose the social media platforms that both you and your prospects visit on a regular basis. WordPress allows integration with social media. Also you can add pixels for traffic for future ads (ie Facebook pixel is just a code you get from Facebook to put on your website.)
#9 SEO: Search Engine Optimization. Making sure your website is SEO friendly from the beginning is important. Saves you angst down the road. Having a beautiful website is not the only mission of your site. You want Google to like your website and index it for audiences. You will want to do some research or work with your web designer to determine what are the right key words or keyword phrases to have on your website. This is the phrases your audience is typing in the browser to find help. This helps optimize your website and blog for Google searches (SEO).
If you are struggling to learn more about this, check out our SEO Easy Peasy YouTube channel. We offer short Easy Peasy videos to help you learn SEO in baby steps. Make sure if you are planning a blog, you add the Yoast plug-in and then utilize that when you are writing your posts.
#10 Google Tools: To track your website’s performance, you will need to have your website connected with Google’s web tools. From Google Analytics and Google Console to a site map adding these programs will help Google index your site to help get found and drive traffic to your website. These should be added to your website at the beginning.
Remember This is Your Website – Not Theirs
One of the biggest issues we have noticed in working with our customers when building their websites, is that some of them have not thought out what they really want in advance. They leave it to the web designer. It sets someone up for disappointment. You need to know the end in mind.
Do some research before you hire someone. Ask for referrals. Just because someone says they can build websites doesn’t mean they are doing it correctly. Look at their samples. Do you like the look of them? Did they fulfill some of the top ten things I said above? Is the SSL certificate locked? I have seen many that add the certificate but don’t lock it properly. It will hurt your SEO if you don’t. Look over their shoulder as they are building it. Keep yourself engaged in the entire process.
Remember I said to do your research before you build your website. Check out your competitors’ websites. Do you like the layouts? What colors are they using? Do you like their choices or do you want a different look? The website you are building, or redoing represents you. Make sure you love it. It is the face of your business.
With this information, you will be better prepared to create the website you want and will be proud of. Most importantly, your website will attract your prospects and turn them into customers.
- Determine need of Website
- Web Hosting Company and fees
- Domain and fees
- Email Addresses
- Google Tools
- Color (3) and Fonts (3)
- Number of Pages
- Call to Action
- Email Subscribe Button (have an email program)
- Social Media Buttons (at least 1 or 2 social media programs)
- SEO – keyword phrases
- Blog Articles (optional). If so, add Yoast Plugin.
P.S. One last thought…..
Think about who will maintain your website after its built? You can’t just set it and forget it. Websites need to be updated with content and and monitored for various software updates. They need to be kept secure. Regardless of who is going to maintain your website I suggest you ask your web designer for the user id and password used to set up the website. This way you will still be in control and will never be held hostage. You can use that web designer, someone else, or yourself to do the additional updates that will absolutely be needed. But own your own website “keys”.
Have fun with your website. It is a wonderful feeling to have a beautiful website that represents who you are and what your business can do to help customers. Hopefully this blog will save you some learning issues and make the process easier.
How Can Launch4Life Help?
We focus on helping small business owners get found on Google. We have watched many people build their site expecting the people to show up. A website is just one part of your marketing journey. Its needs to be SEO Friendly and so much more. If you are in a place trying to make decisions about everything we have described above, you may want to consider a SEO consult. 30 minutes with us first may save you lots of time and money in the future.