- Why do you need a website?
- How is it going to help your business?
- How are you going to promote your website?
These are very important questions to address when planning for a new website. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be a protocol that everyone follows. Instead, what I've seen a lot is talking about money before defining the needs and the return value. Estimating cost can never be accurate even with a thorough planning so how could we talk about money before getting to know all the detail?
As a web professional, how to bring the best value should always be the first objective. You could take on any projects to make some immediate cash but it won't do you and your client any good in the long term. If a website is not deemed to be the best solution, creators should be brave enough to point client in other direction.
It's not unusual to see people with unreal budget and unclear goal. It's totally up to the service provider to turn down this kind of lead but it should be remembered that people find professionals because they need help. To put it differently, web professionals know about web very well but not quite so about other topics. Professionals are responsible to feed clients with necessary knowledge and help define a clear goal.
Who can benefit from a website?
Almost anyone in any industry can benefit from having an own website;
You can be a writer promoting your book.
You can be a winemaker selling wines online.
Whatever the case may be, people need a website because they want to reach out to their audience. Some people expect to see results right away. You need to understand that launching of a website is only the beginning of a puzzle. Whether it's for your personal brand or your business, you need to be the one who fills out the gap in the puzzle by actively putting out fresh, reliable and relevant content consistently. That's what people expect from a reliable business and that's what Google loves to see. You can, of course, invest in advertising to promote its presence but this shouldn't be the primary method of promoting a website as it won't be effective in the long term. The only way to reach out to more audience is by putting out valuable content frequently and that has to come from a client. If it doesn't sound like something you can do, you won't get the best value from a website.
I want to build one myself
"I'm not ready to hire anyone for my website so I will build one myself".
You're not alone. I'm one of those people who like to do things on my own when possible.
Anyone can put together a website with some learning. But it's questionable how professional the end result may be. If you're uncertain about the result, consider using a web template. It's a quick and easy way to build a professional quality website.
How does template system work?
A typical website consists of header, image banners, primary/secondary content, footer, contact form and the list goes on. Without a template in place, you either have to build all these components from scratch or find suitable plugins that match your needs. A website template, however, is packaged with almost everything you need to build a website. You can customise style of a header and its position with a click of a button. A similar example may be IKEA products. Every IKEA product comes with small blocks of assembled components. All you need to do is put them together. Every model is manufactured in a high volume, resulting in reasonable consumer price. What you get is one of hundreds of thousands other same furnitures but you get good quality at a good value.
Most web templates, however, focus on how things would look to their potential customers in a demo play. People buy it because they look so good but when they actually try to use it, it's not easy to customise and fit in with their business needs. A carousel banner is often not as useful in a pratical website but people get hooked by how they look and feel in a template demo without considering practical usage. Also what you normally see in the demo are professional quality images that would look good in any scale. You need to try and visualise how your actual images would fit in place of the demo shots.
Choosing right template is not easy when you have hundreds of thousands options. Some may not look as nice but they could be easier and more flexible to taylor to your unique needs. By drawing a clear picture about how a template would fit with your business goals, you will be able to make a better choice.
Now, let's talk about website asset. Web asset is generally known as a logo, photographs, illustrations, fonts that define a style of a HTML page. Many websites you see today are structured in a similar fashion but feel different because of their style. Over a decade since internet was introduced, people have found a convention around the web page structure that is easy and most efficient to navigate around. This makes web assets the only differentiating factor to set you apart from the rest. People give credit to reliable businesses and how things look has a direct impact on how people perceive reliability.
I strongly suggest to get help from a professional for asset development but if you absolutely can't afford to hire anyone, you can look at image stock sites that sell off-the-shelf logos, images, illustrations.
If you're going for a website template, make sure it's built for Wordpress. It's the most widely used platform that enables you to manage your website content. There are other CMS tools like Wordpress that may suit your needs better so be sure to check them out.
"I have a budget but it's tight".
You're on a tight budget but you still want a website built by a professional? Let's say, you have $2000 budget for your website. What is the best use of this money?
As previously mentioned, you can get a web theme and set it up on Wordpress. A good theme will cost you around $50. If you can't set up yourself, hire a professional. All you will be asking is a basic configuration of a Wordpress site so it shouldn't cost you much. Then spend the rest on asset development. You can find talented designers on sites like Dribbble, Behance. You should be able to find good talent there with the remaining budget. The worst you can do is spend all on the web development itself and have nothing left for the asset. $2000 is not a lot of money for a custom web development. It usually costs a lot more if you need a functional custom website that is taylored to your needs. It depends on the level of customisation but you won't get a quality result with that budget.
Alternatively, you can look at a website builder service like Squarespace. You pay as little as $10 monthly to set up, manage content, monitor performance in one place. It also includes hosting which means you don't need to worry about ftp and all that jazz anymore. It took me only a few hours to get my site up and running. There is also a range of quality themes to choose from. Squarespace is a great company with a team of super talented designers and engineers and they constantly make these great resources available. With all there great offerings, it convinced me to move from Wordpress. I needed a tool that will enable me to focus 100% on content generation and Squarespace did just that.
Whichever route you're taking, I cannot stress enough on the importance of having strong website asset and consistent content production like blog writing. That's how you are using a website to its full potential.