So You Need a Website: Where to Start | DIY Website Design - amandascottdesignco.com

Website

So You Need a Website: Where to Start | DIY Website Design

Ooooh, man. It’s the big one, right?! If you’ve never had your own website or you’re just starting your business, building a website seems like a daunting task, am I right? You probably have so many questions like “Where do I even start?” or “ What should I build my website on?” or even “What needs to be on my website?”. Don’t you worry bud, I’m going to give you allll the details so you can go out and just start already!

Get a Domain

The very first thing you need to do is get yourself a domain. This is where your website will live and where you’ll point people to if they want to get more info about your business. Usually, your domain is your business name or at least close to it. Don’t have a business name yet? Check out this post that is super helpful! 

Domains are cheap (~$12) so if you have a couple of ideas, just grab them if they are available. I like to purchase my domain with Google Domains because I also have G-suite and it keeps that all in one place.

Set up Your Business Email

Speaking of G-suite, after you know what domain you’ll be using for your website, you’re ready to set up your very own business email with your new domain. I highly recommend getting set up with G-suite because it’s easy to manage and it includes Google Drive, Google Meet, and everything else you’ll likely use in your business. And it’s only $6 a month!

Get all the details on G-suite here

You can choose an email like “hello@yourdomain.com” or “name@yourdomain.com”. You can be creative with this! Just don’t make it super long because that will make it harder to remember.

Choose a Website Builder

After you have your domain and your email set up, it’s time to start looking at website builders. There are SO many different options and it’s hard to know what will work best for your business. In my experience, three of the best options are Showit, Shopify and Squarespace. Each has its own pros and cons, so you’ll just have to decide which one will work best for you. Here’s my take on each of them.

Showit

Being a certified Showit Design Partner, it’s no secret that this is my favorite builder for many reasons. It’s incredibly easy to use and customize to make your site look one of a kind. It also integrates with WordPress so you have all the power of blogging integrated into your site. But here’s the awesome thing, the team at Showit manages your WordPress account for you so you don’t have to worry about keeping everything up to date or breaking in the process.

While you can integrate e-commerce with options like Shopify Lite or Woo Commerce, it’s best for smaller shops with less than 20 products. You can still integrate with a CRM, email marketing tool, and other things you use in your business. 

Bottom line: I’ve seen Showit be the best option for service-providers that create blog content, and want a unique, one-of-a-kind website. 

Shopify

If you have a product-based business, the best choice for you will be Shopify, hands-down. They have all the tools and plugin you’ll need to create an online store that is easy to manage. You can create subscriptions, sell digital products, and manage inventory all within Shopify. They also have great templates to get you up and going in no time.

Squarespace 

If you’re looking for a no-frills, easy-to-use, straightforward website builder that will get the job done, Squarespace is for you. It has beautiful templates to get you started and has all the basic things you’ll need for a website.  

It does have a lot of tools like blogging and e-commerce, but the tools aren’t as powerful as WordPress or Shopify. Squarespace has a predefined set of apps that it will integrate with so you are more limited that way. 

Bottom line: If you’re looking to just get started with something, Squarespace will be the easiest stepping stone for you with all the basics.

Content for Your Website

Once you have all of that figured out, you need to start working on the written content for your website. You’ll need content for all of your main pages (Home, About, Services, Contact). You can choose to write this yourself or hire a copywriter, but either way, you want to communicate to anyone who visits your site what you do and who you serve. Here are some questions each page should answer:

Home

What does your business do?

Who do you serve?

What are some of your offerings?

About

Who are you? 

Who do you serve?

Why are you the one that can help?

Why did you start your business?

Services

What are your offerings?

What does your service cost?

What’s the process like?

Contact

How do you want to be contacted?

If someone reaches out, when can they expect a response?

If you have a location, what is it?

Want more help on knowing exactly what your website should have? Grab my free Website Ultimate Checklist.

Photos

There are a couple of different ways you can go about finding photos for your website. You can work with a photographer to have a full photoshoot unique to your business, or you can look for stock photos. I highly recommend working with a photographer because you’ll have a set of photos that are unique to you and you can repurpose them for social media and any collateral you may need in the future.

If you need help defining the style of photos you’ll need for your site, check out this post.

Legal

I know this stuff isn’t super sexy, but if you are going to have a website, you need to make sure you have it set up legally. Part of that is having a Privacy Policy that explains how you use user’s data when they visit your site. You don’t want to be caught without one because it can lead to some serious headaches. There are lots of Privacy Policy generators out there, but I always recommend The Contract Shop’s template because it’s very thorough and I’m confident knowing that a team of lawyers wrote and reviewed it.

Want more info on why you need to make sure your site is legal, check out this post

Bonuses

Want to go above and beyond to give your site a little extra oomph? I like your style. Here are three things that I would also include on your new site.

Email List

One thing I wish I would’ve started sooner in my business is collecting email addresses. When you have a head start on growing your email list, it makes a lot of things easier down the road. So give people some sort of freebie or coupon in exchange for their email and start building that list!

I love Flodesk for its ease of use and beautiful templates! You can get 50% off when you subscribe with the code “amandascott”

Google Analytics

There is so much data that you can see about your website visitors when you connect Google Analytics. And with this data, you can make better business decisions like what time people are active on your site and if you’re getting a lot of traffic locally. 

Hotjar

If you want to see exactly what your website visitors are doing, sign up for a free account with Hotjar and you will be able to see heatmaps of activity along with recordings of users on your site. With this info, you can see where there might be holes in your website and ways you can improve!

Want more help on knowing exactly what your website should have? Grab my free Website Ultimate Checklist.