It’s been a while since I wrote an entry on my blog, it’s very demanding when your starting up your enterprise. It takes time as I’m sure you can imagine. However, I promised a while ago [after my last start-up post] to give some pointers on setting up a website on a shoestring.
In order to do this you’ll need moderate IT skills, by moderate I mean able to use common packages such as word [or its Open Source equivalent] reasonably well.
There are lots of packages out there to set up websites in a moment. I use two specific packages at the moment: the first [as you might imagine] is WordPress, that’s the software that houses this blog site and the second is one called 1and1.
WordPress is completely free, if you use a Domain name with [.wordpress.com] at the end of your own unique name. You can also use WordPress to with a bespoke Domain that is more suited to your business idea, but then like most others there will be some charges that apply [not massive charges though].
WordPress is quite simple to use. It has hundreds of templates so you’ll probably find one that suits your business branding and style without too much difficulty. It also has a simple ‘backend dashboard’ and ‘widgets’ which enable you to bring content such as Twitter feeds into your pages. Inserting pictures is simple too.
The second package I use is 1and1 a stable platform that does a little more. with 1and1 it’s very simple to search and register your domain and the basic package [which costs £4.99 per month] will include web mail and hosting your website.
1and 1 has a range of different add ons which you can pick and chose from, for example Website Builder a very simple website builder software package that a novice can use. There are other add ons for example Outlook synchronisation, e-commerce, dynamic content etc. Each add-on will increase the monthly costs, but what I like about them is you can turn them on and off as and when you need them.
Of course finding the right package is just the first step in building your website. You’ll need to consider the content and the time it will take to write, proof and publish your content, as well as making sure it fits your brand. Many make the mistake of getting too complex with the page structures and layout, you need to remember your clients need to find what you do easily and quickly [one click should be all it takes].
Finding the right package and getting the content right are just the first steps in building your website. The next stage is making sure people [and more particularly search engines] can find your website. It’s not much point having a great website that nobody can find. You’ll need to consider Search Engine Optimisation [SEO]. This is where you ensure that phrases in your web content are attracting hits. You also need to consider ‘meta tags’ e.g. search engine phrases. A good starting point to understanding meta tags and SEO is ‘Really Simple SEO’
So when deciding whether to do it yourself a few points to consider:
- Is there a package that is effective and you are able to use?
- Have you got the time to spend developing the website?
- Do you understand enough about SEO and meta tags?
If you’d prefer to get a website building company to do the work then I have the following advice:
- Make sure that the site is going to be built using a Content Management System [CMS] and that training for staff is built into the agreement. You will need to continually update your website and this needs to be simple and within your/ your staff capabilities.
- You will still need to think about the branding and the content, most companies will build the system and insert your content as part of the detail, but they won’t write it for you.
- Build into the agreement SEO and some maintenance of the site. Most developer will also host the site for you, and this will be a yearly cost as above.
- You may want to have a tiered payment system so that final payment is made when you’re completely happy with the sites functionality, look, feel and the training you’ve received to keep it updated – If you can’t update your site, you’ll be paying again for the website to be developed in a few years time.
There are other more complex free packages for example Joomla, which may be more appropriate to your needs so do a little research and take some independent advice before you start.
Good luck with your website building!
This site is built in WordPress
My company website is built using 1and1′s ‘website builder’ see here.