If you're like a lot of small businesses, you're operating on a shoestring budget. An internet presence is essential in the digital age, and if your budget is lacking, you may be considering making your own website. You might not be a developer that can code their own platform, but this doesn’t mean you can't create an aesthetically pleasing, professional website.
It's possible to make your own website on a tight budget.
1. Start by Determining Your Site's Purpose
Every website has a purpose. Some websites are informative, others sell products and don't offer much more than a storefront. You can create the ideal website for your business, but first determine if:
- You're trying to build your brand
- You'll offer information to drive local sales
- You'll sell products, services or advertising
A lot of businesses will use their website for branding, and this means that they'll offer content that makes them an authority in their niche. Local plumbers, for example, may offer articles that deal with local issues. Pipes freezing in Detroit in the winter may be a topic of discussion that people are searching for in the area.
Once you have your site's purpose, it's time to move on to the design phase.
2. Outsource or DIY Website
Years ago, I would not have recommended that you make your own website. While there's enough information online to help a motivated person create their own website, builders simply weren't up to snuff until recently.
Now, you have WordPress, plugins, themes and complete build-your-own website services that are robust.
- Drag and drop function
- Responsive design
- Ecommerce stores and solutions
- 100s of themes
But what about your logo? Not everyone can create their own logo, and this is definitely not something you can pick up in a day. There are a few low-cost services that can help you get up and running with a professional logo, including:
Aside from the logo and any custom coding required, I suggest you sit down and make your website yourself. Small businesses need to save all the money they can when starting out, and you can always pay to have your website revamped in the future.
3. Organize Your Website Properly
You need to have a hierarchy for your website. Menus are a must, but don't overdo it either. A lot of people will create menus that are too long, and on mobile devices, it can be tricky to scroll down on a menu.
Keep menus for main pages so that there aren't 100 different menu options.
- Keep the design simple
- Use a maximum of 5 colors
- Choose legible typeface
- Use graphics sparingly
- Keep navigation near the top of the page
- Include a search box
- Make use of breadcrumbs
- Make use of internal links
If you make your website user-friendly, easy-to-read and easy-to-navigate, you'll start with a website that is perfect for driving business.
4. Follow the Best Tips and Practices
There are new books about web design coming out every month, and while this article is too short to cover everything, it's important to follow the best tips and practices for your small business.
A few tips to remember are:
- Own your domain name. Free domain names can be taken away from you – never a good feeling.
- Hosting can be cheap, but make sure that above all else, your hosting is reliable.
- Explain, in a service or product business, what you can do for your customers.
- CTAs, or call to actions, are what convert. Ask customers to buy, or tell customers what steps you want them to take. I.E. "click here, buy now, call today."
- Free themes are not the best option and are often left outdated.
- Contact forms and information are a must-have.
- Include reviews, testimonials and any other information that adds credibility to your business.
- Images need to be purchased or have a license that allows their use for free.
- Speed is everything, so avoid large images and annoying videos that slow down your website.
If you keep these four tips in mind when making your website, you'll be on your way to creating an online presence that your business can be proud of displaying to the world.