This post is also a podcast episode!
So you’ve started a business, or you’re starting a “side hustle” that you hope will grow into your main gig. . . The MOST important thing at this point is to look legitimate and professional, so potential clients/ customers know that you’re an expert in your field and that they can trust you to help them create the transformation they’re seeking.
Your website is the HOME of your brand. It’s where people will spend time before they meet you, building that know/ like/ trust factor. Generally, if you don’t have a website, your business does not look legitimate. It’s homeless 🙁
And if you do have a website, but it’s poorly designed, hard-to-navigate, or doesn’t evoke the feelings & emotions you want your brand to express – it’s NOT going to help you grow your business and bring in new clients.
But there are a lot of questions to ask before you embark on the web design process, and the number of options can be overwhelming! Where do you start?
Step 1: Decide what kind of website you’ll need.
You’ll want to get clear on who your audience is, how they will be using the website, how the website can best serve your business, and much more. At this stage, it is VERY helpful to work with a brand designer and/or a business coach. I offer Holistic Business Plan Consultations where we dig into all of these questions, look at your design assets (if you have any) and start to develop a clear plan of action (whether you work with me to build your website or not!). Contact me if you’d like support at this phase.
Step 2: Spend some time researching and deciding which web design platform (aka “CMS”) fits your needs the best.
Again, this can be overwhelming. Personally I love WordPress for several reasons (more about this in the podcast episode):
1. It’s generally the least expensive option. WordPress.org is free, open-source software. So no hefty monthly or annual fees (like Squarespace, Wix, Shopify, etc). You do however need to purchase hosting. and a domain, but there are tons of options there, at every price point.
2. Because it’s open-source, anyone can modify and add to WordPress. This means that millions of talented designers & developers are creating awesome plugins, themes, templates, etc. all the time. You can literally find a plugin to do whatever you need! So you can gradually grow into the site and add functionality (ex: e-commerce, client login portal, flashy animation) whenever you want to. Most plugins are free, but some you’ll have to pay for annually (but you only pay for what you need!).
3. It’s the most popular platform on the internet, and again since there are so many people using it, there are TONS of great options for support. You will never have a difficult time finding an expert to help you, no matter what your budget is.
4. It has great built-in SEO (search engine optimization) functionality, because it was first created as a blogging platform. More on that in the podcast episode.
5. Depending on what theme you use, it can be very intuitive and easy to learn. I always use the Divi theme, which includes a fantastic “drag and drop” visual builder.
Step 3: To DIY or not?
Hiring someone to create a totally unique, perfect-for-your-business website is definitely ideal. If you have the budget, it is definitely worth the investment. Especially if you need some specific functionality, or you have been in business a while and are marketing to a high-end clientele. Remember, your site is the HOME of your business. . . if it looks high-end, it will appeal to clients at the top tier of the market.
But maybe you just don’t have the budget for a custom site. Maybe you’re considering DIY options. . . If so, I want you to have as much information as possible, so you go into it with eyes wide open.
Questions to ask yourself:
1. What is my level of comfort with computer software? You don’t have to be a coder, but having some computer know-how and feeling comfortable and confident with various web programs definitely helps.
2. What are my design skills? If you know that you don’t have a particularly good eye for design, I would definitely suggest getting help before you dive into the web design process. Hiring a designer to help you develop your brand identity will make your site look 100% more professional, even if you build it yourself. Contact me for a free consultation if you’re interested in learning more about a branding package.
3. What is the value of my time? Like what is your life like right now, and do you have the time and mental space to commit to this right now. Or would it be more valuable for you to hire someone, so that you can focus on more important things?
4. What is my timeline? These things always take longer than you think they will, especially when there’s an unknown learning curve involved.
Let me introduce you to a possible solution to any and all of these questions. . . The Shiva Template. My latest fully-designed and built site that allows you to customize it yourself, or have me customize it for you (at 1/2 the cost of a standard new site!). Either way, it can be ready in as little as one week. Think of much more professional, valuable and profitable your business will be!