Building a Website?
8 Steps to Make It Easier
by Bryan Evans
With so many online website builders, more businesses are building their own sites. Two big reasons are low cost and easy online editing capability. Squarespace, Weebly, Tumblr, Wix, Webydo, Jimdo, make a very good case for not pounding out sites the old CSS/html way. Clean templates, mobile optimization and big bandwidth all for a reasonable cost.
Before you start
Like building a house, some general planning goes a long way. These are some steps you can take whether building your own site or hiring someone to do it for you.
Start now, if you haven’t already. As you come across things you like, great copy, images, even site designs, download them and make a simple set of folders for reference. Nothing beats specific visual examples for clarity or good writing for reference.
Find out what navigation and page structure you like on other sites and make a map of your site on paper. Revise this constantly until you have a working layout plan. It is likely to change once you start building and see how it works, so be prepared to make adjustments at every step.
Those Wordy Things
If you are going to write it yourself then this is where the collection of text you have from the first step comes in to play. The act of gathering text helps to zero in on the language that you like and makes it easier to write your own.
Write as you would speak to get the ball rolling. You can also record your thoughts on your phone and transcribe it later. Be patient and try to not to write too much on the site tool. Good writing is hard, so if possible, hire a copywriter.
Take pictures of everything remotely related to your site. Enlist your photographically inclined friends. It is better to have too many images to choose from than being forced to use the only ones you’ve got. If you have no friends just take pictures of everything, try and be creative, play with lights. People expect great images. If possible hire a photographer or illustrator.
Make Friends With Video
Like it or not YouTube and Vimeo are probably going to be part of building your brand. Get used to it. Make friends with it. Shoot some video. Pay attention to the audio. If possible, hire a professional. If not, start making clips. They don’t have to be long, in fact, the should not be long, unless you are a young woman who looks great while whispering into a camera for twenty minutes (ASMR).
In a practical sense, this is a way to get the word out. You don’t have to like it, but you should understand the principles of the big players and at least know how they work. Do some homework, or maybe you are already up to speed on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and any other platform relevant to your site.
Often considered late in the game, marketing is a constant garden to tend. Try and find a way to offer real value to people in concert with your site business. This can come in the form of helpful tips, volunteering, free services or anything that shows that you are not just a skeevy business prick. Some marketing naybob might well have said, Every interaction is also a potential relationship, so make them good ones.
When it comes to assembling the website, too much material is never enough. Image folders should be stuffed to the brim with usable material, as nothing grinds a site build to a slower crawl than stopping construction for a photo assignment.
House building and cooking recipes go so much easier with good preparation. If you have spent a bit of time doing it you will be a-ok and look smart to your web builder.
Another great website design article.
Bryan Evans is a web and graphic designer, illustrator, photographer and director at Bug In Box Studio. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org