The majority of businesses have a website from which give visitors gain information about products or services, plus contact details. It’s a shop window and will give first-time visitors an initial impression about you and your company.
You wouldn’t see a client or go to a networking meeting in scruffy clothes and give little information about you and what you do; that’s a sure way not to get many clients. The same goes for your website; it needs to look presentable and give the information a visitor is looking for.
Getting a website right can take a long time and in fact it’s a never-ending job, ensuring it’s up to date and in good working order. So when you are just starting out, how do you go about building a website?
The first consideration is to decide whether you are going to outsource the whole project and have someone else build it to your specification or build it yourself from scratch, or a mix of these two options which I’ll come onto later.
The DIY Option
There are many options out there to help you build your own website. You can have a basic site up and running in a day. Squarespace, Wix, Weebly and WordPress are among the most popular platforms available on which to build your website.
Squarespace offers beautiful elegant themes on which to build your website. It is particularly popular amongst businesses with online stores. Squarespace use the drag and drop method in their website builder. This means you literally choose the functions you want eg text, slideshow, image, drop them into the builder and can see how it looks as you build it. Drag and drop means you don’t need to have any coding skills.
You do have to pay a monthly fee for a Squarespace website but since they also host your website, there is no additional hosting cost to consider. Compared to WordPress, there are less options in terms of functionality but most health and wellness professionals will find it offers what they need.
Squarespace looks after all maintenance and updating. They also offer a big library of in-house tutorials to help you. Use their free trial to see if it’s for you.
Wix consistently rates as one of the best website builders. Like Sqarespace it uses the drag and drop method. You can build your own website from scratch or use one of the 500+ templates it’s offers that cater for almost any business type possible. Very easy to use.
One downside is that on the free plan, Wix will place adverts on your website. You also won’t be able to use your own custom domain. From £5.95 a month for premium plans.
Weebly is generally rated as one of the easiest drag and drop website builders to use. Again, you don’t need any coding skills, although if you are handy with the HTML then Weebly does provide for this, meaning you can tailor your site. This might be useful since the drag and drop options are limited compared to other builders.
Whilst Weebly offers a free plan, for professional purposes you’ll need at least the Pro plan starting at £8 a month.
WordPress is one of the most popular website platforms in the world, loved by sole traders, bloggers and big corporations. WordPress offers a huge amount of options in terms of themes, styling and functionality and this is probably its greatest advantage over other builders. Most themes don’t use the drag and drop method which means for someone with little or no coding skills, you may need extra help, but on the whole it is very user friendly. However, the ever popular Divi theme is drag and drop and extremely versatile.
I’ve used WordPress for two websites and a blog over the years and most of my clients use it too. Another bonus is that because it is so widely used, there are hundreds of tutorials online to help you.
Ensure you use WordPress.org rather than WordPress.com, the later being the free software hosted by WordPress but offering a limited amount of themes and functionality needed for a truly professional business website.
All the above are good options if you decide to DIY. Consider your current skills and available time, plus the functionality you want right now and in the future. There are plenty of websites that go into far greater detail comparing the different platforms.
Outsourcing to a Web Designer
If the thought of building a website yourself sends shivers down your spine and IT makes you want to run a mile then consider outsourcing your website design and build.
Having an expert build your website whilst you get on with the important stuff of seeing clients is going to be much better use of your time. Additionally, they will have greater knowledge of plugins, widgets and other code that will make your website look awesome. Carol Verity of WeGetDigital says “Having a commercially effective website requires thought and planning which is where most people go wrong.”
You’ll still have input in the way of actual content. Before building a website, a good designer will sit down with you and work out what you what, what feel you want from the website, colours, branding, voice and functionality. They can also deal with domain registration and hosting for you too.
When it comes to maintenance, updates and SEO, a web designer can help you here too. Or they will be working alongside a web developer who can carry out these tasks. There may be an ongoing maintenance cost to consider in addition to the initial build cost.
What factors do you need to consider when employing a web designer? Carol says “Make sure the person you engage to help you with your website truly understands design and semiotics (the meaning of design and symbols). Make sure that you are required to supply a brief so that everyone understands the requirements and there is no scope change mid project. Most professional Web designers will help formulate a brief with their clients. Make sure that when you engage someone they aren’t just outsourcing the work to third parties with no real project management or quality control.”
Halfway house – website in a box
There is a third route, a kind of halfway house between the above two options.
If you are someone who is has some degree of confidence when it comes to websites, and are happy to add content and play about with an element of design, then consider a ‘website in a box’ option. For this I highly recommend No Hassle run by Neta Talmor.
Neta will provide you with a ready-built WordPress site using the extremely user-friendly Divi drag and drop theme. All you need to do is customize it with your branding and content. No Hassle can also arranged hosting for you using Siteground.
Neta provides full step by step set up and customization instructions. Not only that, she offers full support via a Facebook Group for anyone who buys her product. Occasionally, you may want to add something to your site that requires HTML code. Neta or one of her team will happily help you with this, such is the level of her customer service. This is all for the one-off price of $99* (crazy right!). I used this option to build for the Wellness Workspace website.
Whatever option you use, don’t rush into it. Get a good idea of what you want your website and what you want it to do for you. Do your research and work out what is best for you and your business.
* For clarity, I am not an affiliate of No Hassle. I just think they are offering an awesome product with outstanding customer service for those with some degree of confidence around websites.