So you’ve decided you need a website. The good news is it can take as much or as little time as you want. You can pay someone to do it for you, but here is how I built matagi.me. It took me about 30 hours spread out over two and a half weeks. That included some missteps and getting up on the learning curve (I changed my layout and UX about 10 hours into it).
- Choose your service. I used WordPress. I had some familiarity with it and I like it because there are a ton of great themes and also a lot of resources showing you how to edit and tailor your site. That said there are tons of DIY website options out there, many of which I hear good thing about. Limit your researching and make a decision.
- Domain Name. Be classy and spend the extra bucks to get your own domain name. Daily Blog Tips recommends choosing a short memorable domain name with 8 character limit and “.com”. But sometimes those things are hard to find. Full disclosure I picked hcingram.me before changing it to matagi.me, the good news is was easy to make that change.
ProTip: Bryce Bladon from Clients from Hell, notes changing your domain after you launch will mess with your SEO rankings – not impossible but something to be avoided.
- Pick a theme. The one thing I don’t like about WordPress is that it’s hard to check out other people’s themes. The good thing is that the theme gallery is pretty robust and the demos are really useful! I recommend leaving your top contenders up in your browser to help you flip through then when you make a decision. There are plenty of free themes to get you started and start adding your content. Which I would recommend. Don’t spend money on a theme until you have a pretty good idea of how you want the user to access your site. The good news is if a theme isn’t working you can always change it, but if you spend money on it, that money is pretty much wasted. I eventually decided on the “Luxury” theme for $69 from organic themes.
- Design and Layout. Think about your minimal viable product (MVP). You want to get your website up and running ASAP so don’t dilly dally – make your decisions and go.
- I believe in being opportunistic when picking themes. Rather than getting a theme that matches my vision, I look at themes that speak to me visually and see how my content can fit into their structure. This lets me take full advantage of a designer’s off the shelf creativity.
- Don’t overdevelop it, especially if you plan on having a blog or are in the middle of growing your business.
- Ok so if you are like me and can’t help but overdevelop a wee bit, you can save yourself a lot of time by committing to your site taxonomy ahead of time. Specifically, I am talking about the navigation heading and subheadings. I decided on mine based on how I wanted people to engage with my content. (i.e. get visitors to buy-in of the strategy; then access practical tutorials on implementing it; and finally find inspiration from folks who are doing it and/or have some really great thoughts around. (Full disclosure, I kept changing my mind, so do as I say not as I do).
- Images. You can find free images on the web, but I recommend using your own photos to CYA. To get my website up and running I used a lot of my own Instagram photos. You can also take your smart phone (or borrow someone’s) and take pictures. My homepage image came from a mural in SoHo that I took when a meeting was pushed back an hour. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised with how easy WordPress is to edit images on-the-fly. This is especially useful because I don’t have a PhotoShop license at the moment, and a sharp contrast from my experience just 10 years ago.
- Build out some content. You don’t need it to be perfect but it should be close – this may mean finding copy editors or making your BFF read through your site. Personally, this is the hardest bit for me. I’ve been exploring hiring folks on Fiverr and Guru – more to come on that.
- Give yourself a deadline, better yet tell everyone your deadline. This will help hold you accountable and force you to pull the trigger.
Ok, that should get you started.
Meta note: This post took me 30 minutes to draft. 15 minutes to edit (with a delay of 4 hours) and about 15 minutes to hunt up all the links and photo image.