Building your first website can be an exciting stepping stone in your career. Whether you’re starting your very own business, or you’re a blogger with a voice that needs to be heard, a site is a great way to show off your brand and be found on the internet.
If you’re a local business here in South Florida, your website serves as a good indicator from the web design Miami community that you’re reputable. You can put your contact information and testimonials to further bolster your credibility. And when it comes to e-shops, an online store can enable you to take orders 24/7, ensuring you never miss a beat.
Of course, before starting, you need to plan accordingly. Let’s go into what you should consider before building your first website.
Should You Build It Yourself or Hire a Web Designer?
The million dollar question. Normally, we don’t always advise people get web design services if it doesn’t fit their budget or scale. Platforms like Wix and Squarespace allow users to create fully-functional websites through drag-n-drop tools. In the end, though, there’s a lot of factors, both internal and external, that will ultimately determine whether hiring a web designer is the right choice for you.
You should build it yourself if…
- You’re a blogger, hobbyist or a self-employed entrepreneur: Typically, if you fall under this field, you don’t need much more than a home page, a gallery, a bio page/section, a blog, and a contact page/section. With shops and e-commerce, it’s a little more complicated but website builders like Wix and Squarespace have in-depth guides on how to maneuver your e-store.
- You have the time and enthusiasm: One of the advantages to building your own site is…well, building your own site. Even if you don’t know a lick of code, website builders are a fun challenge for those who are willing to take it. If you’re tech-savvy, the learning curve is relatively easy and you’ll be able to control every aspect of your site without room for misinterpretation.
- You’re strapped for cash: Hiring a web designer can get expensive depending on what you’re looking for so using a website builder can save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Also, keep in mind, you’re building your first website. You can always invest in a new one down the road once your budget expands.
You should hire someone else if…
- You’re a small or medium-sized business: (For the sake of simplicity, we’re assuming large businesses already have websites) If you’re a sizable business, you’re better off finding a professional web designer/developer. Why? Assuming you go in-house and your employee has no experience in building a website, you could potentially run them ragged and take them away from their main responsibility.
Also important to note, if you have a store with a large inventory, or you’re handling sensitive consumer information, you need someone who is well-versed in website security. Protecting your consumer should be your top concern, and ethical reasons not withstanding, you’re liable for serious damages if your consumers’ info falls into the wrong hands.
- You have no time and aren’t tech-savvy: “Time is money” Think about the type of person you are. If you’re someone who spends hours obsessing over minor details, then there’s a strong possibility you’ll underestimate how long your website will take to complete. And all that extra time you put in could be going toward generating sales or relationship building. Not to mention, if you’re not comfortable with anything digital, your learning curve will be steeper and you’ll delay the process that much more.
- You have trust in your web designer or web design company: This is a tough one to gauge. Many people have been ripped off at the hands of a bad or fraudulent web designer. If you can get a cosign from a friend or colleague, that’d be great. If you don’t have that luxury, look through a prospective designer’s website, portfolio, and request if you can talk to prior clients of theirs.
- You’re not okay with limitations in customization: What you get in website builders is simplicity and ease, but what you sacrifice is the potential to scale your website in unique ways. Wix and Squarespace are not open-source and you’re limited to their customization panels when it comes to adding functionality and features. Basically, if they don’t offer it to you, you can’t put it on your site.
Branding and Identity
Whether you do it yourself or outsource it, one thing is for sure: your website needs to accurately convey your brand. There are over 1.28 BILLION websites and counting in the world. With so much dilution, you need to separate yourself from your competition by showing your essence.
And you might think branding is as simple as picking a nice theme with nice fonts, creating a good logo, and boom, that’s it. But branding goes a lot deeper than that, and knowing who you are and what your audience wants will put you in a comfortable position once you begin building your site.
Making an Impression Without Saying a Word
The visual component is crucial to your brand. Of course, great (high-resolution!) pictures of you and your craft are at the forefront. If you’re stuck using stock photo, at least use cool collections like Unsplash or Pexels and touch them up a bit using Photoshop or BeFunky.
And consider your website’s color scheme. Colors evoke distinct emotions and feelings, so choosing the right colors for your brand is key in portraying what you’re brand is about. You should consider your industry and your personality when contemplating your color scheme.
Think of some colors and what they convey. Green evokes feelings of health (Subway), nutrition (Whole Foods), and nature (Animal Planet). Blue holds notions of communication (Facebook, Twitter) and trust. Red is great for passion and boldness (Coca-Cola, Netflix). Click on the color chart below to see more about what certain colors signify.
More Than Meets The Eye – Your Words
Once you have the visual component set, you can now focus on your words. How you speak to your audience will determine what type of connection you’re able to establish with them. Two factors to consider when you’re writing copy:
In order to have success, your business and brand needs to appeal to your consumers. And your tone should reflect a degree of professionalism depending on the industry you’re targeting. For instance, lawyers and doctors need to use a much more formal tone in order to display credibility and trust because their audience is expecting someone who is skilled and no-nonsense. But if you’re in a more casual field, such as a gaming blogger, you have more liberty with using slang and colloquialism because your audience likely skews younger and would be more receptive to it.
If you’re struggling with how to cater to your audience, create a fictional consumer persona of a likely consumer of yours and be sure to focus on characteristics such as age, gender, race & ethnicity, interests and behavior. When you have crafted your persona, imagine how you would communicate with this person. Hopefully, that should serve as a spark on how to write toward your target audience.
Now that you know who you’re targeting, you need to where how your personality fits in the fray. Don’t ever try to be something you’re not. Making false promises, or displaying false merits, with the hopes of making money will backfire in the long run. With that said, it’s okay to try new things so if you’re looking to reinvent yourself with your new website, just make sure to stay consistent as you go.
No matter what direction you go, always focus on quality. Be vivid in your descriptions. Spellcheck and grammar check everything! If you’re not the best with words, you might want to consider hiring a copywriter or at the very least asking your friends/colleagues to review. And even then, read it to yourself to make sure the words flow right.
How Will Your Website Be Found?
Some might say that you should cross this bridge when you get to it and worry about finishing your website first, but having a plan of how people will find you before you even start will save you a lot of frustration down the road. Here are some tips on how you can get more traffic to your site once it’s done:
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is the most powerful connector. Tell your friends and co-workers about your new site. Go to networking events. Strike up conversations in coffee shops and bars. If people hear the passion in your voice about your website, they’ll be more inclined to get excited themselves and tell others about what you’re doing.
Many people already build solid followings on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or YouTube before even building a website. If you’re one of these people, great! You already have a solid base where you can start promoting your website on.
If you’re not, no problem. There are many helpful tips out there on how to build your Instagram base (Social Media Examiner), get more Facebook likes (Hubspot), or get more Twitter followers (Buffer). Just remember, not all social media networks are created equal, don’t opt for fake followers & build organically, cross-promote through all your platforms, and (good) content is king!
Search Engine Optimization
Visit our SEO section for a more in-depth look at what SEO is and does, but if you’re not familiar with Search Engine Optimization, it is the process of ranking up on the search engines through optimizing elements on your website. It’s not a quick fix as you won’t see results until several months down the road, but if you can afford to be patient, it’s a great long-term option.
Pay Per Click Ads
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or Google, PPC ads are a great way of getting some immediate traffic to your site. Just make sure you have an idea of what your website’s conversion funnel is or else you’ll just be wasting money. If you want some help with setting up PPC campaigns, visit our PPC section.
Your First Won’t Always Be Your Best But…
It’s still your first, for better or worse, and something you can always build on. We hope this primer helped make the process of building your first website a bit easier & less strenuous and if you have any questions or doubts, email us at [email protected] and we’ll be more than happy to help. Best of luck.