Building a site yourself
– Before we go further into the overview of building your own website, I suggest asking yourself a fundamental question. Can you afford time to spend building this website? Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a lot of value in doing it yourself, but depending on your current skillset you may have a lot of learning ahead of you. The knowledge you’ll gain is, of course, valuable but only if you can’t invest your time more effectively in other ways. What I’m really trying to say is building a website can take a lot of time. It can be hard work and it’ll have a lot of moving pieces. Even using online website builders, there’s always a lot to do.
Weigh out the pros and cons of this DIY project before jumping in. Remember, your website is the most important piece of your online real estate so if you’re going to roll up your sleeves and build it yourself, be ready to invest the time to do it right, or give yourself an exit strategy if you end up in over your head. There are many routes to building websites. You can learn to program, design and build your site from scratch or you can explore prebuilt templates or even online web applications that build it for you. You can even implement semi-custom solutionsthat are a little blend of everything, if you’re looking for solid results without the need to learn everything about web development, I’d suggest looking into WordPress.
You can create powerful websites on WordPress without learning much coding. They have a huge library of custom plugins, an endless amount of pre-designed templates and a very thorough knowledge base that you can use to build and create some really great websites.WordPress used to be for bloggers, but it’s really evolved over the past few years as a very capable content management system. I find it intuitive to use, easy to scale and you can even delegate management responsibilities with its user account capabilities. WordPress is free for self-hosted projects and is ad supported, if you have WordPress.com hosted for you.
They even have hosting plans suitable for businesses, starting at about $99 per year which will allow you to have a custom domain name, no advertisements and access to a ton of advanced options. What’s great with WordPress is you’ll find tons of premium templates for the foundation of your new website. A quick Google search for WordPress templates will leave with you ample options. But I recommend taking a look at themeforest.net. They have thousands of templates so you’ll be bound to find something suitable. And you can always read the reviewsor even contact the developer for advanced support if you run into any issues.
WordPress themes are easy to install and most of them come with responsive design so that gives you that headstart on mobile marketing right out of the gate. You’ll find more about hosted sites at WordPress.com. And for downloading and installing WordPress on your own server, you’ll want to explore wordpress.org. There are some great courses right here on WordPress, so be sure to use those to your advantage if you take this route. If you’re looking for an even simpler route, take a look at squarespace.com. You’ll pick from a selection of modern layouts and then customize each element by using a site building wizard.
Prices start around $12 a month and increase from there, depending on your needs. The results are nice and it’s easier to set up than WordPress, if you can consider yourself a novice. Both WordPress and Squarespace have eCommerce options if you’re doing any sort of online selling.They’re not a core focus for these brands, so if you’re going the eCommerce route, I check out another popular site called shopify.com. They make it really easy to build and launch your eCommerce project, plus they’ve got credit card acceptance built right in. You’ll want to explore the different pricing options and the fees associated with each, but the time and cost savings are worth it in many situations.
Now, I’ve only listed a few options, but whether you leverage these routes or another route you discover, remember to think through the total time investment to get your site up and running.Even a simple site on WordPress can take weeks of tinkering to get off the ground. As you build your site, be sure to leverage the other concepts in this chapter on effective website building and creating web copy as they’ll help to increase the likelihood of your new site’s success.