Do you need professional web help or can you go it alone?
By Lori Bratz
Yes, you CAN build your own website. It’s not really that hard. You can build it using Google Pages, WordPress, blog site, etc. and it may look as pretty as your business card. A pro writes and organizes your content in a logical, SEO-rich, intuitive way and does all the valuable behind-the-scenes stuff that makes your site a functioning, search-engine-indexed, income-generating entity on the web.
Building your own website can be a lot like stuffing your business card in the mail slot at the public library and expecting it to magically be a part of the card catalog. Let me give you some tips and their associated trips.
DIY Tip: If you decide to go it alone, do yourself a favor and keep it simple. Bells and whistles are like jewelry. Less is more. Remember, the goal of your website is to be your company’s first impression. It’s your business’s eHome and people are dropping in at all hours. And they’re judging. Keep it simple, well-organized, clean and for goodness sakes water the plants. (Don’t have dead links, broken images, outdated info.)
DIY Trip: Simple is good – but it’s ok to add some razzle-dazzle. If your site is TOO sparse, then it can look weak and unprofessional.
DIY Tip: Buy a domain name and buy your own hosting. My recommendation, GoDaddy, and Dreamhost. Choose a plan, pay your bills on time, remain on top of those things.
DIY Trip: Don’t just buy your domain name and hosting and walk away. Make sure you renew your domain name AND make sure you pay your host. Otherwise, you will lose your domain name and/or your host will take your site down for non-payment. Seems pretty basic but I’ve seen this happen over and over and over again to smart, well-meaning business owners.
DIY Tip: Start a blog. You can use your domain name as your blog name. It’s nice because blogs already have databases and other handy infrastructure. And the big bonus is that they can be updated by YOU any time you want!
DIY Trip: You can’t really customize your blog without technical or programming knowledge (because you need to get at the CSS to make changes and customize layouts, etc.). So, you choose any available template and just try to be happy. Also, you might not know how to manage the comments that people and spammers leave. Be diligent about monitoring for inappropriate comments and keep the moderation cue tidy. Deleting 3000 spam messages gets to a person. (A pro can run a script thru the SQL and clean those nasty things out lickity split.)
DIY Tip: Content Content Content. Remember, your target audience is a search engine spider looking to find out what your website is all about.
DIY Trip: Unnecessary content. Repeating and repackaging your elevator pitch over and over on your website is a huge waste of 1’s and 0’s. Unless you are talking about Marie Antoinette, do not overuse words like “revolutionary”. If you have a store that sells boulders, please clearly state that you sell boulders, which are a lot like rocks and stones and gravel…. You get the idea.
Good luck! Let your creativity flow!