Think everyone has a website for their business? Think again. Two-thirds of small business owners report not having a site at all. But, half of these business owners report they’ll be doing something about this in the coming year, a heartening finding in today’s Google, Bing and Yelp-centric world.
Business owners preparing to build their digital footprint are often left asking themselves how to launch their website; should they try and do it themselves, or should they pay an agency or freelancer.
As attractive as outsourcing the job might sound, the price point is anything but. Standard websites built by agencies can easily cost $15,000, if not more. Freelancers will charge just under that. Thankfully, building your own website has never been easier. With five simple, straightforward steps, you can create an attractive, compelling DIY website.
1. Use A Website Builder. While coding a website from scratch used to be the only way to create a website, that’s no longer the case. A wide variety of website builders allow anyone to publish stunning websites with limited effort and zero technical expertise. This includes builders like Squarespace, Wix or Weebly.
These website builders come with standard templates that you can customize to create a unique look and feel for your website. With drag-and-drop modules, you can add any type of information you might want, from images and videos to ad copy and pricing information.
You can also select a frequently-used platform like WordPress, which is one of the earliest website builders. With companies like ThemeForest offering professional templates built over the WordPress platform, you can be assured you’ll have a great-looking site. Keep in might though that WordPress’s greatest benefit can also be its greatest weakness: it’s customization. It’s an unbelievably flexible website builder so you can build whatever you want, but oftentimes that robust functionality makes it a far more difficult template to work with.
2. Add A Little HTML & CSS. While templates look great out-of-the-gate, you can change up the look with a little CSS, which is one of the key languages that govern the web. Most websites have a place where you can add custom CSS code to control a wide array of your site’s visual elements, including font style, font size, colors and layouts. These visual adjustments can make a generic site look truly unique.
Along the same lines, updating your site’s HTML code, which can help search engines find your site, can be the difference between being found or not found by prospective customers. Like with CSS, website builders typically come with a place to update your site’s HTML and ensure that Google, Bing and any other search engine list your site.
3. Enable Tracking & Measurement. It’s one thing to make a site look great. It’s another to make it functional so that it can help drive new customers to your business.
One common functional feature is an email capture form. It’s a great way to record the email addresses of business leads so you have an opportunity to reach out to them in the future. This requires an email capture pop up on your website. Another function most business owners want is being able to track how site visitors are behaving on their website. This requires a small bit of code added to your website to allow tracking tools to keep tabs on this.
4. Process Online Payments. If processing payments on your site is on your to-do list, you’ll want to add a payment processing tool. One commonly-selected service by entrepreneurs is Square. As a secure credit card processor for small businesses, Square lets you process all major credit cards at a relatively low fee.
Another commonly-used tool is Stripe. A bit more complex, Stripe is useful if you have more nuanced invoicing needs or want to issue recurring payments for things like subscriptions.
5. Add Your Own Custom Improvements. Sometimes the difference between a beautiful, custom website and settling for something that’s just okay is adding in a little of your own custom code. Consider spending time taking a few web development courses, either with a free online coding course offered by popular learning platforms or a local community coding bootcamp. Allocating time to get the fundamentals of web design best practices down pat can help produce an enhanced web experience.