How Not To Build Your Own Website
By Pete Griffin
There are many articles online teaching you how to build a website these days, and this article is a bit different; it’s about how not to build a website.
Before we begin, have a think of the business function that your website will serve. Will it be a portfolio to showcase your work or products? Do you plan to sell directly from your site, or it is a customer touch point with valuable information.
Here are five ways not to build your own portfolio website
If you don’t know about design, hire a designer
If you don’t know a plan, use a website builder with marketing tools
Find a website builder that reaches your audience via social media
Use a builder with great features, so you don’t have to put in extra work of your own
Choose a website builder with great customer service
That’s not an easy set of things to pull off, especially if you’ve only ever done one or two sites, or maybe you’re brand new to web design and this seems even more daunting.
You’re going to need help, but where do you turn? From expensive to free, there are loads of people and companies that offer great services to get you online.
Unless you're a more technically minded person, avoid the great temptation to learn every inch of website building, for example, HTML (the website building language) from scratch. Before you do, take some time to consider if there's a simpler path up the mountain.
You can have a personalized service by hiring a design pro, or you can learn how to make the best out of self-publishing platforms like Webs and Wix to make your personal or business website.
Make sure the function of website is well defined and easy to understand
So, you've come up with function of your website. The website will showcase your work, and have a blog page that gives you a chance to tell the story of how you work. The website has commercial potential, and let’s hope it's also something that you'll have a lot of fun designing and running.
So we’re ready. It’s time to choose a way to design your site, and make sure we sidestep those ways not to build your own portfolio website.
And we’re agreed, a self-publishing platform is a good option for you. It’s time take the step to build your own portfolio website, and thanks to busy support forums and live chat help, you’re not alone! Let's have a look at a few of them.
Why not make use of the awesome site builders and their forums
There's a huge array of website builders out there who will take care of most of the technical aspects for you. This can get you up and running in next to no time, and there's nothing more rewarding than seeing your own site live and functioning in the real world with real users.
Don’t forget to make a plan
These website builders are actually really fun to use, the present loads of cool ideas for your site and it’s very easy to just jump right in and start designing a site.
But - be warned: without a plan, you could find yourself tied up in knots and soon confused.
Weebly has an awesome online planning tool to help you make sure you know your plan and don’t waste time.
Don’t look shabby – make sure you use a decent brand
Be careful, you only have a few seconds to make a first impression. And with just a little bit of simple design nous, you can avoid looking shabby and impress your site visitors.
A couple of simple rules: less is more, and keep it simple. Sometimes, overdoing something is the best way not to make a website look good!
With a bit of time playing with website builders, you’ll find ways to present your business, and have good fun doing it.
Don’t give a poor user experience.
That’s jargon that says, ‘make them enjoy the site’. It really is up to you! And that’s both a great thing, and a tough question to answer. Avoid a poor UX by researching sites that offer the same kind of thing you are, and look for ways you can find similarities in your design. We all learn from others!
Luckily, modern day website builders have an impressive selection of really nice templates. It means you can take inspiration from professional designs, and tweak it to suit your needs
If you want whistles, don’t have bells.
Remember the phrase Keep It Simple Stupid! Just because a widget exists on a self-building site like Wix or Webs, it doesn’t mean you have to use it, unless you know how and have the time to do so.
Keep your site focused on its function, and your users will have a clear idea what you expect them to do, e.g. sign up for a newsletter or buy your latest product.
Make sure you have a map before you set out on the journey
We'll readily admit it's not the most fun bit of advice, a bit like your mom telling you to be careful when you're a kid, but any time invested in properly planning your website will pay you huge dividends in the long term.
However good your initial design is, if you haven’t planned it out properly to allow for expansion, eventually you're either going to end up with a website that offers a poor user experience, or you're going to have to go back to square one to start a new site that can properly accommodate all the content you want to provide your users.
Don’t spend thousands of dollars if you don’t need to
Remember, one way not to build a website is to spend thousands of dollars hiring a professional designer before your business is ready to evolve to that level.
For people who want to build a website that’s on the small side for a few friends, family members or fellow enthusiasts, a free website builder solution is probably ideal for them.
However, if you have greater ambitions for your project, factor in a phase 2 where you bring in a design pro to help you realize your vision and a technical expert to make sure your site has great functionality, as well as a marketing assistant to make sure you get found online.
You’ll be making great savings for your bottom line by at the start using a free website builder.
The market place has also opened up freelance designers who specialize in website building software, check out arena.wix.com for a great example of a website building company harnessing the creative skills of some of the world’s best web designers.
Equally, spending thousands of dollars on features and functionality that you have no need for in the early stages could mean that you're out of business in no time at all. If you have a short, medium and long term strategy, AKA - a plan, you’ll make best use of the resources you have.
Building your own website is not just great fun, it is at one of the best ways to get great results is to study how not to do it. So, take some time to research the themes we've mentioned (you'll no doubt find that they open up other topics to investigate and learn about), and we're sure that soon enough you'll have a website you can be really proud of.
Learn more about one of the top website builders in our Web.com review.