Before I started building websites, my first site (for a recruitment business) was a complete mess. If you remember the time Homer got a job designing his own car, and it turned out something like this:
If my first website was a car, this is what it would have looked like. The web designers listened to everything I asked for, and tried to include it all at once. It didn’t work so well. Is was visually unappealing, had poor function, and the user experience was terrible.
Fast forward to now, and there are so many fantastic online resources to help you get your first site up and running. The thing is, without some help you risk making the same mistakes Homer (and I) did. Here are some points to consider:
1. What is the purpose of your site?
Ok, this sounds pretty straightforward, but it’s not. Imagine you’re a martial arts school owner. You have lots of cool photos and videos to show of your classes, and you probably want a social media feed running on the site as well. But, what is your primary purpose? Its probably to get more students, right? So, the sign design and functionality needs to reflect that. It will probably need to have a form, and you might even want an online chat widget. Food for thought.
2. Logo and Colours
You can get a relatively inexpensive logo from places like Fivvr or 99 Designs. Along with the logo, you should have an idea of what colours and imagery is going to be across your site. What best suits your market? Whatever you do, don’t get a friend of a friend or a student to design a logo for a pittance – you may end up with something that’s not quite right.
3. DIY or Designer?
These days, there are a lot of options for DIY websites, like WordPress and Wix. These can be useful options if you need to get a website up fast, and you have zero budget. There are some great templates, and they are reasonably easy to use. On the downside, unless you know what you’re doing, there isn’t much scope for customisation.
If you’re looking at getting a website designed, there are a multitude of options – from something for $100, right up to a site designed from scratch for $20k plus. Work out what your budget is, and what you want to achieve. The upside to paying for the initial design is that you’re more likely to get something that is stable, and supported by a person.
Do you need basic functionality (i.e. a site and a contact form), a fully fledged online store, or something else? If you need a custom app designed, that falls into the domain of web development – which is another thing entirely. Think about what you and your customers need.
You’re going to need something on that website! Write a complete list of the pages you’re going to need (e.g. home page/contact us/about us + more specific pages about your service and products). Start writing that content, so it’s ready to drop into your site. You also need to think about images. Just Google ‘Free Stock Images’ or look at something like Bigstockphoto.com, which offers a free trial. Just make sure any images you use are your own, or you have permission to use them.