Designing and building a website is a fascinating project of business and marketing strategy, design smarts, and tech challenges. There’s many moving pieces, and if you’re going to do all of it yourself, you get to wear many hats in the process.
Do I think you can do it yourself? Yes, I absolutely do. Do I think you should do it yourself? Well, it depends on you. With the technology, platforms, and templated solutions we have available today, I think you should at least consider designing and building your website yourself. Unless, of course, you have extra $5k, then you should hire me to do it 😀
In any case, this video will walk you through the decisions you need to make before you build your website — the same decisions that in a very concrete way will affect the success of your website. Check it out and let me know in the comments if you have any questions.
The purpose and business goals of your website, and how they might affect what kind of website you build and the kind of platform solution you might need.
Your products and services, and how they might affect the features on your website, or even the platform your end up using.
The content you’re going to put on your website, and how it affects your platform choice and related technology.
Different platforms you can use to build a website for yourself, and what are each of the platforms suitable for.
Where to get hosting?
How to come up with an URL for your website, and what to do if someone already has the URL you would want to use.
How does your branding affect your website?
How to design your the pages on your website?
And who is going to build your website…
Further resources for building your website:
If you need support in the process, join my free Facebook group DIY Brand Design & Strategy for Soulpreneurs This video is also available in the group in addition to branding and design support and awesome people. Welcome!
And if your website is already under way, but you’re not sure how to move forward or how to improve your current website, sign up for my free website design audit. Right now, I’m conducting free web design audits in my free Facebook group DIY Brand Design & Strategy for Soulpreneurs.
Join the group and post: 🙋#designaudit [ -and add your website URL- ]. I’ll be selecting a few brave volunteers for a website review. 👉 You’ll submit your website for a design review. And I’ll take a look at it and give you my honest, professional opinion (free of charge) on anything you should change or revise.
Check out this video (22 min 50 sec) to learn what are the most common design related mistakes I most often bump into with small business websites. And of course, if you’re still on the fence whether you need a website or not, learn why having website is beneficial for your business.
Do you really need a website to run a successful business? You can definitely do business without a website. But if you’re going to grow and scale, you’re going to need a website at some point… Let’s take a look at why more in detail…
6 Big reasons your business needs a website
1 – Your business needs a “home” in the digital world.
You may have a physical office or a brick and mortar storefront somewhere. But your business needs home in the online world. An extension of your brand, if you will. And I call it a “home” for a very specific reason: it’s more permanent than your social media presence and you make the rules in your home, right?
2 – Trends, rules, and even laws with social media change periodically.
You have no say in that. Imagine you have a thriving Facebook business page today and most your business comes via that page. And now imagine that Facebook decides to shut down that feature on their platform. All the customers who were contacting you through that page are lost to you if that was the only touch point you had with them. So, your business needs home online where only you can close the shop if it comes to that
3 – A well-crafted, professional-looking website increases your credibility, authority, and influence.
This is your opportunity to introduce yourself to the world as the pro you are. You can tell your origin story and you have full power over where it appears and how it looks like. Whether you want to use video, images, or simply words or an audio recording to tell your story — it’s all up to you. With social media platforms, they give the same template for everyone.
4 – Your website is your calling card.
It’s a place where people can come find more information on your products and services. So, you only need to learn an elevator pitch and then handover your URL – website address that is – and this is where people can find more information about you and your business.
Have you ever been excited about a business and then tried to google them only to find out they don’t have a website? I have, and it’s always disappointing.
5 – Your website also works as additional info supporting your marketing and promotions.
Now, you can do a lot of promotion and marketing simply via social media, and it can be very successful. But if I then want to know more about the business who’s Facebook ad I just saw only to find out they don’t have a website… well, it gives a little shady feeling. Who am I giving my money to?
So, if you use ads and market to cold audiences, I would strongly recommend you build a strong website to support it. Now, if you only market to warm audiences who already know, like, and trust you, it’s less of an issue, because like said they already “know, like, and trust” you, and they don’t feel like they have to check your background or credentials.
6 – It reinforces your brand image
…if you align your website with your brand strategy and visual identity, of course. Websites today are very visual, and give you a tremendous opportunity to build and strengthen your brand story. You can emphasize your brand tone of voice and messaging by having all the text aligned with your brand strategy. And of course, your visual branding will be at the heart of it all with colors, font choices, photography, and of course you logo at the top.
9 Most common mistakes I see on small business websites
For more details on what these mistakes are and how to avoid them, watch the video above.
Primary logo is illegible
Multiple completely different versions of the logo
Inconsistent use of color & fonts
Too many fonts and colors
Font size is too small
The font (style and design) is difficult to read
Photos are poorly lit or pixelated
Hero area — tbe “hero” person is cut off on responsive states
Weird or inconsistent use of margins
For more details on what these mistakes are and how to avoid them, watch the video above.
So, you have a great business idea, but the thought of putting a website together seems overwhelming. Where in the world do you start when you want to build a professional looking and beautiful website?
A quick google search on ‘how to build a website’ comes up with a million results telling you to purchase a domain name, get some hosting, and you’re good to go. In reality, it’s not as easy as that. But this doesn’t mean you can’t put together an amazing website that will have your viewers turn into paying customers.
To help you get started with your website, I’ve listed five things you need to consider and decide before you jump to building the actual site.
What is the website for? And what is the priority behind it? Are you creating a blog, shopfront, membership space, or a course platform? Now, you can have all of these aspects on your website, but you need to have one as the main focus of the website.
You need to be efficient with your time when running a business. While you can have a blog, course platform, and shopfront all on the same site, a clear focus will help you prioritize your time and efforts. It will also help guide you on the technical side of setting up your website. And be super clear with your marketing and communications.
Many solopreuneurs who are just starting out are often looking to do one of the following:
Provide business information
Demonstrate their products and services, making them available to customers
Produce an “About” page that highlights their background and a little more information about them.
A contact page making it easier for potential customers to reach out to them
Content could be in the form of blog posts, videos or podcasts. This is a great way to build authority in your niche and engage customers and followers.
Marketing communications and funnels
A website can be very helpful in marketing your products and services. This can be done through using banners or sales pages on the website.
Marketing funnels are essential for capturing client details to send out emails regularly. One way to do this is through opt in pages that can be found on your website.
A website can be used to host your online store selling products and services, by having these available to purchase on the website.
Other aspects to consider
Online courses and membership areas can be added to your website to further provide services and offers to your users. These can be hosted on your website directly but are slightly more technical.
When starting out, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with how many different areas you can have on your website. Focusing on one thing will help you produce a better and more informative website that looks amazing — and is easy to navigate.
That being said, think about whether you need a website in the beginning at all. Perhaps your business model only requires a landing page for opt ins and a facebook group or social media page to build a community. This can be a great way to capture clients or customers without splashing out on developing a website.
2. Content strategy
The next thing to consider is what type of content you will be producing, and where it will go.
Will the main type of content be blog posts, podcasts or videos? Will these be produced on a weekly or bi-weekly basis? The key to a successful website that converts readers into paying, loyal customers is consistent content.
Again, deciding the type of content is important in helping you decide on the style of your website and helping you to determine which technical strategy to go with.
Perhaps your aim is to create a number of landing pages for opt ins connected to other content you are producing on social media. This could be created used platforms that are quick and easy to customize, such as Leadpages.
Note: Leadpages is a paid service. There are a variety of WordPress themes that enable you to make landing pages quickly.
Consider where you will place this content on your website. Often, the homepage can be used as the page where new content is posted to. However, there is also the option of having a complete separate area such as a “blog” or “podcast”. If this is the case, what might you have on the homepage? This could be a landing page with an opt-in freebie or perhaps an overview of what to expect on the website and from your services.
At this point, it’s also a good idea to think about your navigation. To make finding content easy on your site, the main navigation links should be descriptive and meaningful enough for the users to understand where they are navigating to.
Also, be careful not to create too many top level links on the navigation. While you might think that showing as much as possible is the easiest way for the user to find things, actually the opposite is true. With too many options to choose from, users can get confused and abandon your site.
Decision fatigue is a real thing.
3. Platform and technology
Now, we are moving into territory that can seem daunting, but it can be broken down into bitesize chunks. Before you’re building your website, you need to choose the technical platform you’ll be building your website on. The main focus of the website and the content strategy discussed above will really help you make this decision.
To break it down, here are some platforms that you could use depending on what you’re goals are and what types of content you’re planning to publish:
WordPress is an online software that is used by millions of websites. It allows you to develop your website on the back end, to upload content and develop multiple pages for the various areas you want to cover.
It can be used to make business websites to blogs to ecommerce to membership sites. There are two services available: wordpress.com and wordpress.org. The former is a free service that is used on your own web host to create a website in your preferred design while the latter is a paid for service, hosted on the WordPress platform with limited flexibility in design.
Squarespace is maybe the most intuitive website builder there is. The templates are beautiful and easy to use. At the same time, it’s not super easy to customize the code and there’s less integrations and plug-ins available then there are for WordPress.
Squarespace offers online shop, portfolio, basic web pages, and blogging templates, among others. It’s great for beginners because it’s so easy and quick to get started. However, it’s not the most affordable option there. And the price adds up quickly if you need to add more advanced e-store and business capabilities.
Wix is another website builder that uses modern and flexible designs. This is a great starting place, if you want to house simple content. Unlike WordPress, Wix does not allow building large and complex sites.
Shopify is a web application that is designed to online shop owners to build and launch their own online stores. There are a range of templates offered that can be customized to meet your requirements. Shopify targets those who have no or limited web development skills.
Kajabi is a platform that offers a number of different services. Not only can you use it to host your website, it can be home to all your lead pages, list building and courses. This is, however, reflected in the pricing Kajabi has to offer.
Leadpages is often thought of as a wordpress plugin however the platform is not restricted to using just on wordpress. If your aim is to capture email addresses from your social media followers, simply having a lead page may suffice.
4. URL & Hosting
You may have come across the terms “Domain name” and “Web hosting”. The domain name is the name of your URL. For example, www.google.com would be the domain name. Having a domain name alone does not create a space on the world wide web for your website. Web hosting is needed to house all of the files that make up your website.
The domain name is the address of your house, and the hosting would be the actual house the address points to.
All websites require web hosting. Some companies will host your website
and provide a domain name, like shopify, however others may require you to
purchase two separate services.
Common places to purchase domain names and hosting include GoDaddy and
5. Look and feel
Now comes the best part of creating the website: the design. Developing a brand for your business is important. While branding is more than just the look and feel of your business, ensuring you have a color palette and selected fonts to maintain a consistent look is important.
Other things to consider include a logo that represents your brand and photography that depicts your services, products, and of course yourself.
That being said, remember your branding can be adapted and evolved as you grow and develop your business. Nothing is set in stone.When you’re starting out, it is better to start somewhere than have no website. To get started establish some rules about colors and fonts you will be using:
Are you using light, regular, bold, extra bold or italic font?
Will your headings have a different font to the main text?
The most important thing is to have something set in place so you can start developing a community and relationship with your customers. Whichever path you take, like mentioned above, is not set in stone and you can always change your style or the technical methods you choose.
If you haven’t already done so, come check out our free Facebook group DIY Brand Design & Strategy for Soulpreneurs where I teach soulpreneurs like you to build their own branding and create their own designs.