‘My DIY website looks great but gets no traffic, where did I go wrong?’ This is a question we’ve been getting a lot lately. We thought we would put a guide together so that if you are determined to build your own website at least you know where to start! We want to simplify the whole process whilst ensuring your finished product gets you the right results!
There are a couple of options that are meant for the non-professional to build their own site. You either build the site yourself using one of these simple to navigate and operate DIY platforms. Popular choices include:
- or you use a web designer.
If you are not particularly computer literate, we suggest heading straight to option number two, Weebly. The DIY platforms are user friendly, and you need little SEO knowledge, copywriting or design competency. You can be up and running with an attractive looking website in just a few short hours (probably 20 or so). If you’re after a complex or bespoke website solution you should probably speak to a web designer.
What are the considerations when deciding how to build a website?
Cost vs performance. It’s as simple as that. The benefit to many of the DIY options are quite cheap. Where they may be perfect for a lot of people or businesses, they’re not going to be the best performing websites. Be careful not to confuse performance with aesthetics. Many of the DIY options, such as Squarespace, are known for their amazing designs and great user friendliness. But you should beware. In the majority of sites, they will not perform well from an SEO perspective. You could of course seek help from an SEO expert upon completion of the site. This might still be the right option if you don’t want to spend a few thousand dollars on a website.
How to build your own website
If budget is a key factor, you’re going to want to build the site yourself. Each of the DIY platforms allow you to buy your domain name (www.example.com.au) directly through them. If you want to set up after a professional email address (i.e. email@example.com) this is again, something that can be set up through them. With most of the options below, you can actually build the site for free before paying to connect the domain name and ongoing licensing. There is a tonne of resources to help you learn how to use their platform. If there is anything you can’t find in there you’ll find it in one of their forums. If you are facing a challenge, chances are someone has done so before you!
Here’s a quick overview of some of the more popular platforms:
- GoDaddy: Probably the easiest platform to build a website in. If you are looking for a quick and easy solution, this is worth considering. The site designs aren’t the best and we find it is quite restricted in how much you can customise those designs. You will get a fairly generic-looking site.
- Squarespace: Our experience of Squarespace is that it offers a great solution for artistic professions. Well suited to photographers and designers for example. Consider using Squarespace if you’re after a beautifully designed website but don’t need a lot of changes to their templated designs.
- What Wix lacks in the designs of Squarespace, it makes up for in:
- The ease of the site builder which takes you by the hand and leads you through. Intended for people with little or no design experience those who have used it, love it
- The ways in which you can chop and change your site to suit your needs
- Shopify: If you’re going to be selling online, this is an easy choice. This is currently the best all-in-one e-commerce platform available. Simple.
- WordPress: is not as user-intuitive or exactly and an ‘out of the box’ solution as the options above. If you are prepared to invest time and effort into making your site exactly as you want it, this is the right option. There is a huge choice of free templates and plugins. These are available in order that you can customise your site and make it yours. There are also some SEO options that will allow you to ensure that your site is visible. Be a little wary that many of these templated designs tend to be a bit code bloated and include stuff you don’t need. That may mean that your site runs slower and that is not good for SEO. You can buy plugins that can help identify problems with speed. We would definitely recommend this if you are experiencing challenges with speed. WooCommerce is a plugin designed to turn your WordPress site into an online store. We would only recommend this route if you are either familiar with and want to stay on WP or if you’re adding an e-commerce option to an existing WP site.
What to include in a brief for a custom website build…
If you’re not comfortable building a site yourself or if you require some advanced features, you’re best off working with a web designer. If you are lucky you will find a web designer who is also a copywriter or has one as part of their team. Between them, they will build exactly what you need.
For the most part, web designers now build sites using the above tools – i.e. Shopify or WordPress. There will be an option, though to use existing templates or build custom solutions to suit your needs exactly. We suggest shopping around as website prices can vary a lot. The price can depend on how comfortable developers are at building specific solutions. The minority of websites are built from scratch these days. The days of coding a unique website are long gone. There is no need unless you’ve got your business requires something super specific.
Regardless of whether you use a developer, or you build the site yourself, it is incredibly important that SEO is factored in. This is where many DIY projects fall short and why so many sites sit there unvisited!
It will be extremely costly if major changes need making to the website once it is live and considered completed. Make sure that your web developer can handle the SEO element of the project. The SEO needs to be part of the project right from the start and should be considered throughout.
Information Architecture and keyword research will make a difference in performance. And of course, a great performing website is worth its weight in gold!
Whichever route you take we wish you all the very best and if you need help in deciding which way to go we would be happy to help.