An alternate to paying for a website and website designer, is to create a DIY small business website.
If your business is relying on generating business through your website, it is vital that you understand everything you need to include.
For many people, web design is seen simply the creation of a few web pages. That suggests it shouldn’t be expensive to get a designer to do it for you.
So when small businesses are confronted with the asking price for all but budget websites, they naturally start to look towards a DIY solution.
The rest of this article tries to arm you with as much information as possible when considering creating a DIY small business website.
Essentials for a DIY Small Business Website.
Building a DIY small business website can be broken down into two steps:
Creating a web presence
The first step is to create a few web pages.
Systems such as Squarespace provide existing layouts or templates on which your design can be based. They usually have a drag and drop interface. You can make various changes within each template.
A CMS like the popular WordPress or Joomla provide more flexibility as anyone can write and contribute code. They can require more technical knowledge, but are well supported through the open source community.
All of these systems require an investment in time to learn. Some basic technical skills are advantageous.
It is also wise to spend time assessing the relative merits for each as they apply to your small business. With many commercials CMSs, moving to a different system at a later date can be problematic if you change your mind.
Once you have chosen and mastered a CMS or website builder, you are able to create a web presence.
There are some additional steps and costs needed to put it all online, but there is plenty of advice available.
Making a web presence into an effective website
It is vital to understand that for a DIY small business website to be effective, you need far more than a simple web presence.
Many of the things you will need to master are included in our page on what makes a good web design.
But what may surprise you is that a website is primarily a marketing tool. And behind marketing is a whole different set of skills than simple creation of a web presence.
Website marketing concentrates on :
- the layout of the site
- menu navigation
- colour palates
- calls to action
- “irresistable offers” and other sales tools
- graphic placement
- keyword research
- keyword competition
- targeted writing
- user attention span
- the specifics of writing for the web
- the client business model
- monitoring and experimenting to increase sales
- conformance to web guidelines
- and more
The bulk of the work in making an effective small business website is well beyond the simple creation of a web presence.
Without this, your website might not get visitors, or if it does they may never actually buy from you.
Unfortunately a CMS will not cater for many of the above essentials.
However it is certainly possible to invest the time to learn and apply them. One of the best resources I’ve found is Ben Hunt . On Ben’s site is a wealth of information covering all the above aspects of web design, and more.
I found it particularly comprehensive since Ben ran his own design agency for many years. (I have no affiliation with Ben Hunt and earn no revenue or otherwise).
If there’s one thing you take away from this article, do not underestimate the effort required to create an effective DIY Small Business Website.
To simply create a web presence using Squarespace or WordPress and a template will ignore many of the elements that will ultimately result in more customers from your website. This will ultimately lead to disappointment, because the time and effort to master Squarespace or equivalent is unlikely to be returned if you are expecting increased revenue.
It is interesting to note that many budget and package web designs create a basic web presence using a fixed template or website builder like Squarespace . You could arguably compare the cost of hiring a budget or package design company against the cost in your time to follow the above advice on creating a simple web presence. You may prefer the latter if you are technically minded and can learn quickly.
However if you research and master the skills required for effective internet marketing, you can expect more significant returns (depending on your market and competition).
Only you can decide if the investment of your time to learn and practise those skills is justified.
You might also find this article on “Do I need a Web Designer” useful.