5 Questions you are afraid to ask about starting or updating your website.Saturday September 29, 2012
So you want a website? Or you want to update your website and you’ve been procrastinating for months...
You would rather be in the studio working, but you want to show people your new work, and you would love to get pictures up online in time for holiday sales, but you really don’t know where to start, and you would rather be in the studio working...and you find yourself stuck in that loop.
It’s one of the biggest bugaboos I get questions about.
Everyone is looking for an easy answer. So here is the good news, and the bad news.
1. Should I hire a web designer to do a site for me?
Here is the analogy I use:
Will you hire a plumber the next time your toilet starts acting up, (like mine right now), or will you google how-to plumbing and figure it out yourself. It becomes a time and cost issue. If a plumber is going to charge a 3 figure amount for the house call, and you think you can figure it out yourself , spending the better part of your weekend, including making multiple trips to the big box hardware store for “just one more part”, it might make the plumber's bill much more palatable.
The same is true for websites.
Just how much time can you devout to the steep learning curve of website creation? Or will it end up a “good intentions” project that never gets off the ground?
2. What’s the first step I need to take in building a website?
A number of years back, you could usually find someone who knew someone who was dying to learn "html" and would do your site for free. I had a client once for whom this was true. Her business had grown to a six figure online business, and her site was still built on the framework done by a family member who wanted to "play around" with website designing. Needless to say, it was painful to update her site; but even more painful to her was the realization that she would have to start over again at some point in order to continue growing. So, the number one important thing to do BEFORE website building begins is to spend time getting clear about what you want. Whether you want to launch the next amazon.com or a small personal e-commerce store, you want to establish a blueprint of what you want and what you expect your website to accomplish.
3. How much do I pay a website designer?
Here is the analogy I use for that question:
If you went to a builder and said “Build me a house, please” there would be lots of discussion about what your needs and your budget before a hammer ever met a nail. Plus, you would probably shop around and talk to more then one builder. The same is true for websites. One way to get started is to find websites you like, and look for the website builder's link. The link is usually at the bottom of the site. It’s a good way to take a look at the designer's work before going any further. Ask the designer to give you a range of charges, and you will know up front if this is a good fit for you.
4. How do I update my website without feeling like I have to hire someone every time?
If you work with a website designer, make sure to bring that up. There are a variety of easy software interfaces that can be used in the website design to make updating fairly easy to learn. If you are designing the site yourself, make sure to look at blog software programs like Wordpress. There is plenty of support for that platform, both in online forums and free tutorials.
5. Where do I start?
Just like Maria sang in "The Sound of Music", you must start at the very beginning. Spend the time thinking through all the aspects of what you want your website to be, and then get visual. Start laying it out on paper. Tack it up on the wall so you can see just how pages will flow and where links should lead. It’s much easier to fix things in the layout stage where you can discard a bad idea in the garbage and re-sketch, than in the coding stage, when it takes when hours to re-do.
Moral of the story; do the research and homework first and the success rate of a website that you love, will be much higher.