Designing your own website

If there is one thing that defines the age we live in, it is technology.

We are simply inundated with it. Whether you love it or hate it, your business is going to involve technology.

One of the first strategies is a presence on the internet. Whether a blog, landing page or website, you must have some representation on the web.

And, there are many options available to you with a variety of price points.

Like most anything, the key factors will be: What do you want? How much do you want to spend? How much do you want to do yourself?

The latter is an area where many entrepreneurs balk. Their strengths and talents do not include the technical arena. And, that is okay.

Nobody can be expected to be skilled in all avenues. If your budget permits you to hire out all your technology needs, and it is compatible with your strategy, go for it.

If your revenue is not quite where you want it to be, you don’t have to go without. Or settle for mediocre.

If you want a visually stunning web masterpiece, you will probably pay a graphic designer several thousand dollars. And, when you need changes, you will be paying high rates for those. Trust me – you will need changes. One of the benefits of the internet is the dynamic nature of information. Yours will shift also.

There are several hosting solutions that offer integrated web builders. Essentially, websites in a box. They are pretty intuitive to use once you get in there and start doing.

A key point to remember is that you must have a clear idea of what you want your website to do for you. Just like you would not build a house without a blueprint, you don’t want to start constructing a website without a guideline of how your site will appear and work.

Don’t let this part bother you – you do not need to know anything technical to design your site. You will always have a home page and pages such as About, Contact, etc. Take a blank piece of paper and draw a box at the top. This is your home page. Underneath that, draw a row of additional boxes. These represent the pages you will navigate to from your home page. Note that navigation will be consistent and each page will have the same look & feel.

If you require additional options for a given page, simply draw more boxes underneath the box for the page.

When you get this hierarchy defined, you have just defined the organization and layout of your website. Wasn’t that easy?

The next step is to design how you want your website to look. Look for websites that you like, and that connect with you. You are not going to be duplicating anybody’s work, just getting a clear idea of what you want.

You can then create your template. This will be a base page that will be used to create all other pages from. If you are using your internet provides tools, you will get to select one of their pre-defined templates. Although simpler, you may not get a template that is quite ‘you’.

Presuming you are going for a more custom solution, you will be designing your own template. Again, you don’ need to know anything technical – you are just drawing how you want it to look.
Take the time to get the template looking exactly the way that you want it before you create any pages. If you don’t do this and you need any changes, you will need to change every page that you have created.

Creating the html page is actually fairly straightforward with the right software tools. There are many great html editor programs out there – many of which are free.

If your preference is still to have someone else build the page, consider having them just do the template. Once that is built, you simply copy it for each page you want. This will be much cheaper than paying someone to do all the pages for your site.

I highly recommend you look into either learning how to make simple changes to your web page, or find a resource that is readily available to you. When you do need changes, chances are you will need them quickly, and you won’t want to wait.

Tip: Before you change a page, take a backup copy first.

Whether you do your own changes, or retain someone else, ensure that you receive all the components – html, images, etc. – that comprise your site.

A good technical resource will support you in whatever level you desire. If you want them to do everything and leave you in peace, they will do that. If you want to know how to do some changes yourself, they should be able to give you some pointers on how to do it. You may even get some limited support, dependent upon the arrangements and their fees. More importantly, a good resource will communicate with you in an effective, engaging manner and not baffle you with techno-speak.

Although a good plan now is better than a perfect plan later, take the time to choose wisely. If you are going to use an autoresponder, some have more features, some have better deliverability rates. You want to ensure you have the right choice before you start building your list. Yes, you can transfer them to a new provider if you opt to change albeit everyone will need to opt-in again.

In summary – you don’t need to know how everything works in order to get yourself or your business on the web. You simply need to be clear on what you want and how you want it to look. Obviously, focus your talents & passions where they will serve you the best. Consider learning some of the basic concepts to enable you to make quick changes with minimal expense. Choose your designers, developers and software carefully. Ensure you know what you are getting and that they will support you when you need them. If you’re not sure where to start, check in with those you know and find out what they recommend.

Mark Semple is a Certified Comprehensive Coach, Founder of Successful Together Coaching and the 2007 International Coach of the Year. As a recovering IT guy, Mark enjoys assisting others with their technology needs, in addition to making a difference with his unique coaching perspective, speaking & writing. Click here for details on the web services Mark provides.

Comments

  1. says

    Nice article! And I must concur with your tip (and actually encourage you to bold the entire tip), backup before making changes. As a programmer I am typically working with version control software and do not have to worry about this so much. I can’t tell you though how many times I’ve received calls from clients asking how they can recover files that they changed with out backing up. Ouch.

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