Website Construction 101: It’s a very big decision for a business owner, particularly a small business owner, to spend the money to have a custom website created. So Getting Social With The Curious Cowgirl is consulting an expert!
Website Construction 101
Marc Lee, owner of Friendly Martian Digital Marketing is a friend and a colleague whom I’ve worked with for years. He designed my Curious Cowgirl website, and I have worked with him for almost eight years now, as he has designed websites for clients that I worked with during my nonprofit consulting days. He has lots of good insights and tips about things that you should consider prior to making the decision to have a website built.
Following is a transcription from a Podcast Episode we recorded in April 2020.
Before Contacting a Website Designer
FIRST: Decide what your website is about. If you’re a blogger, are you a fashion blogger, a travel blogger or a lifestyle blogger? Are you a retailer who wants an on-line presence? Do you plan to do business from your website? Basically, how do you want visitors to use your site?
SECOND: Take the time to look at a lot of sites that do what you want to do. Look at them in terms of design and the way they look and how they make you feel. You really want to go in there and use those sites, because this is this is how you’re going to learn what’s going be good for your own website.
THIRD: Make a list of several acceptable site names. This will be your link address, or your URL. For example, my site name is www.friendlymartian.com. Some people use their their name. And the reason you might want more than one option is, when you go to sites that sell domain names, your first choice might be taken. A few places to look for available names are hover.com. or godaddy.com or siteground.com, or bluehost.com. You can also just Google your desired name and see if anything pops up in a search.
FOURTH: Now you need to decide which company you want to use to Host your site. Don’t choose a site name or Hosting site until you have spoken with your Website Designer, as they make have valuable input.
FIFTH: And then finally, what do you want your site to look like? There’s a couple of things to consider. One is, of course, your personal taste, and then you also want to consider your customers or your users, because really a website is for them when you think about it. What you are trying to do is entice people to visit your website, so fonts and colors and general aesthetic decisions are important.
A “Shopable” Site
There is a difference between having a website that is an interactive site where people can really buy things, and a site that is more of a static business site. There is a big difference!
In either case, you have to start with a basic web site. Making a site “shopable” is an adjunct to a business site. They’re both kind of two websites built side-by-side. All websites should have basic information like an address, if you have a brick-and-mortar, your hours and phone number and some sort of contact information. Think of it like a digital business card for business. Once you have that in place, then you start thinking about adding on a “shopable” store.
It all does not have to be done at once. It’s perfectly fine to build the first site, and include images that represent what the typical goods are, and then later add on the “shopable” site.
But, it’s for sure that more potential customers can shop with you if your site has that capability!
The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Website Designer
There’s two basic considerations, and it all comes down to knowledge and time. If you have some basic background on building a site you can probably do it. And if you are not in a hurry and can spend the time, that’s a consideration.
More than likely, the website designer has all the background knowledge that you probably don’t have. And there are a lot of things that most people don’t realize that they need to know. Also, most business owners need to be running their business, and just don’t have time to build their own website. The best entrepreneurs know how to delegate things, like website design.
I also see a lot of really old websites, and I get inquiries to salvage what they already have. Most of the time, with older websites, it’s a start over again, just because the sites are so old, and they’re sitting on servers that are outdated. It’s actually cheaper to start over. Sites built six years ago, or older, don’t have access to the latest social media integrations. Nor do they work on mobile, and the amount of Web traffic that is on mobile now, far outpaces desktop or tablet. So most of your customers are going be coming to you by looking at their phone. And if if a website doesn’t work on mobile, you are losing out on customers and new business.
What About Website Graphics?
Go to a Web designer first, before going to a graphic artist. The Web designer is going to be able to provide specifications to a graphic artist that they will need in order to create a logo, in terms of size and file type and things like that. Many Website designers do have graphic designers they can point you towards.
Where Can You Find Quality Website Designers?
The best thing to do is find the sites that you like that seem to be well built, and then look at the bottom of the site. If the website designer is smart, there’s always going to be a link to the Web designer’s own site. Then you can go to their website and look at their portfolio. Another way to find a good Website Designer is to ask friends or colleagues for referrals.
Beyond simply building a good site, there’s typically an ongoing relationship with the client. As time goes on, a website is not something that sits there and is static. The website is is almost like a living creature. The biggest ongoing work is maintenance. It’s the thing that nobody wants to think about. Software updates, security updates, plugin updates. The site needs to be backed up. If you don’t do those things, your website will become infected with malware, or be hacked at worse. As a Website designer, I just go in every week and do all the work that’s necessary.
And sites can change over the years, as a business grows and changes. Your site is a reflection of your business, and most businesses change over time. That’s why I think it’s important to have a good relationship with a Web designer that you trust, because you may need to have those conversations.
To Blog or Not To Blog…
Adding a Blog to a web site is a great addition for a business site. Even if you build just a very simple business site, you can add a Blog to it. Remember that a Blog is basically an article you write, and publish on your site. You can share your thoughts about some product that you offer, or discuss any area of expertise that you have as a business owner.
Blogs are really beneficial for you, in terms of SEO and social media, because you can then take those Blog Posts, and share them on your Facebook platform or your Twitter platform. And then Google also begins to recognize you as an expert in a certain area. So you will start to rank higher and higher in search results. So a Blog is a really simple thing to add to a business website that can really provide a different dimension, or way, to help market and promote your business.
In a way, you’re essentially writing your own articles about your own business. You’re not waiting for the Chamber of Commerce, or anybody else to come write an article about you. You’re writing your own articles, that you can share on social media. And all that does is elevate your authority, demonstrate your knowledge, which is really smart self marketing.
My thanks to Marc Lee for his insights and candor!
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