Build your own website FREE
Some callers, potential clients maybe, ask a lot of questions or ask us to send them a “Proposal”, with the sole intention of building their own website or taking the ‘advice’ and giving it to someone who will create a web presence for less money.
Why pay a Pro to do the job properly, when you can just pay a rookie peanuts for some form of “web presence”, as in images and text appearing at some url or other. That’s it, website done ! Box ticked, move on. This can maybe work for a sports club or community group where there is no business involved and there is marketing or sales element required. This ‘Noticeboard’ website is much better than using Facebook as a sole platform – maybe not as easy to use, but better. Facebook is rented land where you have no control, so get your own plot of some sort, that you can control. Facebook is NOT the right option, it just looks like an easy familiar one. It is just a Social Channel that some people like – ok a lot of people like.
Examples of low cost sports clubs platforms would include:
Tip: Be aware of your limitations in skills or time and be honest with yourself, so that you do not offer to do a lot of work for free and then be unable to deliver, which will have a very negative impact on your enterprise.
Basic website solutions
Developers can offer a solid DIY web site platform which is a great scalable modular system like the Joomla platform or a Wordpress solution, but rarely do people get their head around the plugins and patches, themes and navigations, updates and styles, never mind the layouts, CTAs and conversion techniques, without even looking at the SEO or Hosting intricacies. Nevertheless, a good web partner is there to support you when times get tough, because it is the same platform that many use for full service business websites. So, by all means, give it a try and spend some time at it. You will learn what is needed, mainly time and experience.
Our best DIY tips include, doing what you do best and outsourcing the rest, to competent specialists. A good Developer is rarely a good Designer, a good Designer is rarely a good Marketer and a good Marketer is rarely a good Developer. A good Project Manager can work with all four and get a great result, but yes, it involves more outlay or costs more money to get done. But conversely this investment will generate more income, more profits and ultimately be much more successful, more profitable than the attempt at low cost DIY. Many low cost options simply lead to no return whatsoever, so it is a net cost and a time suck, as well as the loss of opportunity that you might have had with the right solution.
DIY Website options for small club or hobby sites or Bloggers include:
Wordpress – FREE Open Source Blogging tool with loads of Plugins and the ability to be a decent website, with loads of Themes and plugins. Probably the best free open source business platform available and getting better all the time. Google likes the structure in Wordpress websites. Wordpress powers 32% of the worlds websites and over 70% of business websites. For more details see here.
Joomla – FREE Open Source with loads of low cost themes and plugins and the ability to add Modules that give the options to structure the site in moveable blocks, which makes it easy to use, once you learn the basics. But it is clunky. Where once it was the go to ‘business’ option, it has been left behind because the Wordpress platform has become so dominant and easier to use..
Wix – FREE templates, easy to use, simple basic interface. Not really for business, but can be suitable for first time web presence, as long as you appreciate that it will not scale, so if you grow, you will need to start over again with a more robust platform. Having a basic interface means that everything is basic, so there are limitations, loads of them. Wix accounts for less than 1% of all websites. Read a good comparison article by Colin Newcomer here, it details the good, the bad and the ugly of Wix versus Wordpress
Weebly – Easy to use and very friendly, ideal for a small personal non business website where you want to create a basic presence or fancy learning a bit about websites. Again, it is much of a hobby site rather than for business. It is a good way to learn about putting a website together.
Squarespace – SaaS based low cost solution, with a Personal or Business monthly rate, but very limited in its scope, so not at all ideal for a business. Limited number of design themes available and not suitable for eCommerce. Beware so called web developers who offer to create a ‘business’ website in Squarespace. You will just end up having to do a new site all over again. Keep Squarespace for the hobby sites.
Tumblr – A MicroBlogging site now owned by Yahoo
Typepad – Solely for Blogging
Bear in mind that FREE will have limitations, so at some stage you will probably have to start all over again using a new platform. Some FREE options will have Adverts running inside your “website” and some will push for Addons or Pro versions or hosting. The charges may not be huge, but suddenly FREE is not free and costs increase whilst the cost of lost opportunity also increases – this is the bit that most people miss. The FREE options cannot be personalised or customised for your specific business or reshaped the way that suits your business. But, the experience is a great learning process, if you have the time to study.
Warning: Beware the websites like Go Daddy or Blacknight or Simplsites that offers totally FREE just to get your domain registration fees or annual hosting fees. What they offer in a very basic platform will not work well for business and will lead to pain. FREE and LUNCH – you know how it goes.
Website return on investment.
Determine your investment in a web presence, not based on cost, but rather based on the desired return. If a good website has an outlay investment of €10,000 is that expensive ? What if it generates sales of €100,000.00 a year ? Or €250,000.00 – when does the cost or outlay start to look insignificant. If a Farmer were to plant too little seed, you would not be surprised when he had a poor harvest. If McDonalds left the candy chips out of the McFlurry would it sell as a McFlurry? Would it sell at all ? And what would it be called? McIce? McBland ? – it just would not be a McFlurry. Invest in a little bit of candy chip to make a basic platform work work well for you.
Website basic planning
Start from the desired end result and work backwards to see how much time and investment you will consider for your new or revamped web presence. The biggest mistake made by potential clients is not the savings on costs, but the loss of potential sales due to having opted for a web presence that does not perform. Why waste a year waiting for a poor website to perform, when you could be generating sales within weeks using a good website. A glass jar is not a honey pot. Get some honey for your money and make it sweet for your audience.
FREE – If you have a hobby, community or small club, there are FREE tools you can use that will work better than Social Platforms. All you need is time, loads of it or a capable volunteer with time, for entering and managing content. A passionate, dedicated team can manage this at very little cost other than decent Hosting.
Here is our FREE Guide to Building a Website WEBSITE BUILDING – PLANNING PROCESS – 4 SIMPLE STEPS Another good technical step by step guide to building your own website is Dustin Hartzlers here.
Business – If you have a business and want to use the web to generate leads or sales, then you need Business option. FREE is not for you and you already know that. Start with a plan, a Digital Strategy. Ask yourself WHY are we doing this, what are the exact aims and objectives, who is the target audience, how will we use this website, market it, manage and maintain it. Get all the basics on paper, talk it out, tweak it, design graphically it for both desktop and mobile, review it all and then do the developing. This process will in itself reveal the necessary costs involved. Only then can you work out the investment required. As a rule of thumb, expect that 25% of your budget will be for developing the site and 75% to market it to your audience.