Glad you’re here, friend – setting up a website is pretty much necessary these days if you want to own a business, but the process can be a bit overwhelming. So I’m here to help you! I’ll walk you through when it’s a good idea to build your own website and how to do just that.
It’s a good idea to build your own website if:
1. You’re just starting your business and your funding isn’t quite there yet.
Starting a business is a leap off of a cliff. The wind in your hair, the free-falling exhilaration and commingled terror, the constant learning and growing, the coupled responsibility and freedom to do it your own way – and the simultaneous lack of money coming in and incessant flow of money going out. It’s a fun (and sort of stressful) time – and sometimes you just don’t have the capital to throw into a professionally designed website at first. That’s okay!
Likely, your business is going to morph into twelve different somethings that you didn’t anticipate (even over the course of a single year)! In the first few years, your target audience might shift or change completely, your vision or your goals for your brand may change, etc.
In some cases, charging out of the gate with a custom site is premature.
Typically, if you’re worried about how to make your money go furthest, I would suggest investing in other things first (keep reading for a few recs!) while saving up to hire a web designer. A really stunning, effective and conversion-focused website generally starts in the $5,000 range, and it would be a huge bummer to spend that on a website before you really know what your brand will become.
Unsure about whether or not this describes you? Click here to book a call with me to have a very candid chat about whether or not you should hire or DIY. I won’t lock you into anything, I promise! Here to help!
2. You’re not exactly sure who your target audience is or what your goals are.
When you’re in the beginning stages of running a business, there’s a lot to figure out – and for a lot of things, time spent equals understanding. You don’t typically have a deep understanding of your target market or of your goals until you’ve spent time really digging into what those are – you gotta let things settle in a little! (This was hard for me! Lots of self-reminding that *patience is a virtue* – you, too?)
And this is important because two of the most important things that a web designer will ask about are your target audience and your goals because having an understanding of these two things is what will result in a strategic, user-experience-focused online home that converts browsers into buyers.
In other words, your website should make you money and you can’t make money without A.) knowing who you’re selling to and B.) knowing where you’re headed.
3. You have the time, patience, and tech-savviness to learn how to build a site.
Believe me when I say that to build a website yourself you will need to memorize the mantra, “Patience is a virtue” – it takes a bit of doing (and a lot of time).
You’ll want to choose a platform that has good customer service and a user-friendly builder. Most of them have pretty good tutorials available, which will save you lots of time and trouble! Make use of those!
If you’ve been tracking up to this point but you realize that you are not the *patience is a virtue* type, you might be a perfect candidate for a Web Design Intensive! Click here to schedule a no-strings-attached chat about whether that might be a good solution for you!
4. Your website is not your primary money-maker
Maybe your business is completely referral-based and the best way for you to spend your time and money is to nurture the relationships that you’ve built so that your referrals can keep on cranking. Or maybe you have a brick-and-mortar shop that brings in 90% of your revenue. Maybe you’re a social media manager that sticks mostly to social media and has a client relationship management system that does all of the heavy lifting for you.
There are lots of reasons why your website might be lower on your priority list – and I’m all about prioritizing the things that will give you the most bang for your buck.
In fact, keep reading to get my take on a few investments that might be worth more to you at the stage you’re in than hiring a web designer to build you a custom site!
How to Build a Website Yourself
1. Purchase a domain name
Your domain name is your web address, and there are a handful of places to purchase domain names from. GoDaddy, Google, through the building platforms themselves, the list goes on! Main thing to note here is that you want your domain name to be
easy to spell
After your site is built, you’ll have to connect your domain name to your site, which should just take watching a Youtube video or two.
Pro tip: is your business name already taken as far as domain names go? Try using a part of your tagline!
2. Choose the right platform (and a template to go with it!)
There are lots of user-friendly website builders out there – and a few things to consider about each when choosing yours!
Wix - great for service-based businesses and super user-friendly! Lots of good tutorials for first-time users built in (this is the website builder that I typically use for clients that want to manage their site themselves in the future. You can’t beat how user-friendly it is!)
Squarespace - great for service-based businesses and pretty user-friendly. Lots of opportunity for designers to redesign in the future because there are lots of designers that design on Squarespace!
Shopify - industry standard for e-commerce businesses. Definitely a learning curve when you’re starting! But powerful tools for e-commerce!
WordPress - great for service-based businesses and bloggers. Lots of opportunity for custom features if that’s something you’re interested in down the road!
Not having a designer’s help doesn’t mean you have to be totally on your own. A lot of designers create templates for you to use based on the type of business that you own.
You want to make sure that the template you’re choosing has the features that you need and is easy to use! Here are a few template resources that I know of to get you started!
Wix - Super Hero Design Co
Squarespace - Squarestylist
Shopify - The best way to purchase themes for Shopify is just through their store!
WordPress - Flothemes
3. Make sure that you're optimizing your site for mobile!
Recently it was discovered that, globally, more than 68% of website visits came from mobile – read: people scrolling on their smartphones instead of on their desktops!
I cannot stress how important mobile design is! If you’re not catering to 68% of your website visitors, then you’re only getting 32% of the sales that you could be, my friend.
Make sure that your website looks just as good on a mobile device (if not better than!!) as it does on a computer screen.
4. Stick to this short list of design best practices:
Keep it simple! If you don’t have a brand identity, here are a few tips:
Stick to 2-3 fonts throughout your website (titles, subtitles and supporting text, and body)
Stick to 3-4 colors, mostly neutral with one or two color(s) that can be used to draw attention to important information
Make sure to leave enough space between elements - white space is so important and helps users to have a better experience on your site!
5. If you’re not ready to invest in web design, it’s a really good idea to invest in these things first:
Hire a copywriter - messaging is as important as design! In fact, a lot of times messaging and the copy on the site is what drives the design! Need a rec? Sara / BTL Copy hits it out of the park.
Hire a brand photographer - another extremely important, often overlooked money-maker is branded photography. Websites are extremely visual and beautiful, captivating, on-brand imagery can contribute to (or detract from) the success of your site as much as copywriting and design can.
If photography isn’t in the budget yet, there are amazing ways to find free, high-quality stock imagery. Start with Pexels and Unsplash. Pro Tip: Use Tiny PNG to optimize your images so that they don’t slow your site down and so that search engines place your site higher up the page!
Schedule a strategy session with a web designer - many designers offer website strategy to provide guidance to people that are building their websites on their own. During strategy sessions, I help my client to determine their specific goals for their website and walk them through how to implement solutions that will help them to see results – read: engage and convert. Interested in scheduling a session? Click here to book a no-commitment consultation.
Schedule an audit with a web designer - You built a site already and you’ve got a bit of data to analyze, but you’re not sure A.) how to do that and B.) what you’d do with the analysis if you had it. During audits, I walk my clients through what’s working well on their site and what isn’t and I provide them with a few suggestions for how to boost conversions, decrease bounce rates, increase engagement – that kind of thing. Want to hear more? Schedule a no-commitment consultation here.
Whew! You’ve got this. And if you need help along the way, send me an email! Happy to point you in the right direction at any point. Cheers to your leap – I’m free-falling with you, pal!
If you want someone to walk you through the process in a more hands-on way, sign up for the #WebsiteWorkshopChallenge series – which will walk you through setting up a website in Wix over the course of 10 days – from login to launch! An email with the day’s prompt will be delivered to you each morning. It’s completely free. It’s couldn’t be easier. It’s a no-brainer. Click here to sign up!