Yes, and No
How to know if you’re a good candidate for do-it-yourself web design:
- You need to be the webmaster for your business because you don’t have the funds or time to work with a developer
- You’re the main content creator for your website, or you have a small team
- You need to be able to add pages and make changes quickly
You may not want to do your own web design if you:
- Have a complex e-commerce site with lots of moving parts
- Have tens of thousands of dollars in your marketing budget and are short on time (in that case, hire a web developer)
If you’re ready to tackle your own web design project, this post will outline exactly what you need.
Create your website with a Content Management System
The most essential tool you can use to create your own website is a content management system. What’s that?
A content management system gives you tools to update your website easily. You can also collaborate with others to create your website by giving everyone their own login credentials and roles, which controls their access behind-the-scenes.
The most popular content management system on the web today is WordPress. Why? Because it’s so easy.
The self-hosted version of WordPress, which you can download for free at WordPress.org, powers some of the most powerful (and high-traffic) websites in the world. Take a look at this list:
The TED blog
Reuters news service
The New York Times newspaper
Reader’s Digest magazine
Pop star Katy Perry
The Wall Street Journal newspaper
Vancouver Convention Centre
Toledo Museum of Art
The advantage of a content management system like WordPress is that it makes online web design easy. It’s perfect for people with no technical background. I like to say that if you can use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress.
Install the WordPress software at your web host, and in less than five minutes you’re ready to start.
Combine self-hosted WordPress with a premium theme for a powerful, easy-to-use web design tool you can use to make your own website.
Break it into chunks
The best way to start creating your website is not on a computer, it’s with a pencil and some sticky notes or note cards.
Think about what your ideal customer will search for to get to your website. Plan out the pages of your site so they most-searched topics are accessible and easy to find.
Decide which items you want in your main navigation menu, and what you’d like to feature in your sidebar and footer areas.
Then break down the process into chunks. I like to plan website creation in stages starting with the web header art. Creating this first will help you make color decisions you can use consistently throughout the rest of your site.
After the header, you can set up your basic navigation menu, work on your pages, set up your sidebar and design your footer.
When you tackle each area of your site individually, you won’t get overwhelmed by the process.
Your website is never done, and that’s OK
It’s the best and the worst thing about website design: it’s never completely “done.”
Ask any website owner if their site is 100% the way they want it. You won’t find a person who’s completely satisfied. There’s always something else that could be done.
And you know what? That’s OK. When you do your make your website yourself, updating, tweaking and reorganizing are easy. There’s no need to hire an expensive web developer to changes a few words.
So embrace the impermanence of your website. Think of it as a perpetual work in progress!