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DIY Your Website: Web Design Wisdom for Newbies


Hello friends! As promised, a recap of what we went over in our WDS meetup...


What this recap covers:

  • Questions to get clear on prior to building your site

  • How to choose between Wordpress, Wix, and Squarespace as your CMS (content management system) platform

  • Helpful tools for getting started

  • Your action steps



QUESTIONS TO ASK PRIOR TO SETTING UP YOUR WEBSITE


What is the PRIMARY purpose of your site in terms of the 3 site types?

  • Brochure style (gives you cred and is a point of reference for folks to find out more before they contact you)

  • Lead Generation/Opt In (have folks sign up for your mailing list where you will continue to communicate with them)

  • Storefront (sell products/services right then and there)

What is the specific action you want folks to take?

i.e.

  • Schedule a call with you

  • Opt in to your mailing list

  • View your portfolio

Who is your site for on a demographic and psychographic level?


Bonus question: what device do they primarily use to get to your site?

This may not be possible to surmise at first before you set up google analytics (which I highly recommend), but let’s say you’re an influencer and your marketing is primarily on Instagram. You put a lot of links to your content in your Swipe Up Story or in the Bio. Well then it would be cuh-razy to choose a template that has a great desktop experience but a poor mobile one. Because who on earth uses Instagram on their desktop?!


WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING WORDPRESS vs WIX vs SQUARESPACE


WORDPRESS (as in .org NOT .com)

  • Best for writers w/ frequent publishing schedule

  • Great for plugins to make your site do cool things (but gets hairy if you use too many and they don’t like each other or your hosting plan is the smallest one and can’t handle the ‘weight’ of more than 3 plugins)

  • Lots of templates, and you must purchase a premium one that averages around $60… don’t use the wordpress freebies!)

  • Requires that you organize your own hosting provider.

    • Siteground is the host I recommend for speed + value. Plus they have an EXCELLENT support team should you need to contact them. If you scope out siteground and dig it, please use this link so I get a little affiliate love from them :) https://www.siteground.com/go/wds2018

WIX

  • Excellent for brochure-style sites (this site is built on Wix!)

  • Literal drag and drop if that’s how you prefer to work

  • Extremely customizable

  • Can add ‘Apps’ to boost your site’s functionality but not as robust as Wordpress offerings

  • Handles hosting for you

  • Lots of beautiful free templates (included with your hosting price)

SQUARESPACE

  • Excellent for brochure style sites

  • More drag-and-drop-y than Wordpress, but nowhere like Wix

  • Handles hosting for you

  • Lots of beautiful free templates (included with your hosting price)

TOOLS + RESOURCES

  • Find Wordpress Templates on CreativeMarket and Themeforest

  • See what wordpress theme a site was built on (and what plugins they're using) with wpthemedetector.com

  • Speed test a demo page of a template you’re eyeing on Google Page Speed Insights and Pingdom

  • Lost about color palette? Experiment with coolors.co

  • Lost about typography (fonts)? Explore Typewolf's Google Font pairings if you want your font choices to be free :)

  • See all the free google fonts in one place

  • Want to know what font a website is using? Install the WhatFont Extension

  • See who already owns a domain you're dying to have (and if they're not privately registered, you can straight up call or email them! I've done this for clients before and purchased a domain from previous holder for $200 which client was happy to pay because they wanted it so badly!) whois.icann.org


ACTION STEPS


ANSWER THOSE Qs

You know, the ones I just outlined in the first section ;)


RECON

Spend a quick and dirty 15 minutes looking at sites you LOVE.


Make notes of what works for you. Both aesthetically (I love that color palette) and functionally (I love how the menu pops out when you hover on it).


Spend 10 minutes looking at sites that you get annoyed by and make notes of what annoys you (I hate how it keeps loading more content and I can never click the footer because it disappears faster than I can click it OR I don’t like how it’s all on 1 page and doesn’t have multiple pages)


TEST DRIVE

If you’re undecided on what CMS platform to use, spend an hour (set your timer!) on each CMS platform creating free accounts on Wix and Squarespace, tootling around, browsing templates, and getting a feel for what the ‘backend’ looks like. Unfortunately Wordpress only lets you experience the dashboard once you’ve purchased a hosting plan, so if you want to explore it you could just buy a 1-month hosting plan from a place like Siteground for $6 and cancel if you’re not feeling the wordpress experience.


EXPLORE TEMPLATES

When you’re demoing a template check it out on both your desktop and mobile. Experience what it’s like to actually hold the phone in your hand and use the site (don’t just use the mobile simulator on some demo sites, actually open the demo link on your phone!).


DESIGN TIPS

Use your ‘above the fold’ space (especially on your homepage) wisely. Folks should have a general sense of what you do the moment they land on the site (don’t make them scroll, unless witty copy that entices people to scroll is part of your strategy!)


Choose no more than 3-5 items to be in your Navigation Menu. Remember the more choices you offer people, the less likely they are to make any choice.


Stick to 2-3 fonts. Just 2 if you’re new to this design thing. Make the fonts significantly different. You don’t want them to be the same font and weight and only different sizes. That is not pleasing to the eye. Differentiation is key. Play with size, weight, color, serif vs san-serif, scripty accents vs. for-reading-purposes. Here's some examples of differentiation...



Speaking of what’s pleasing to the eye, be sure to break up your pages and posts with various headings (H1, H2, H3, paragraph) and imagery. Which brings us to…


For the love of all things holy, do not use cheesy stock photography or video. Instead use things like Unsplash and videos.pexels.com. That said, don’t always use the most popular images on those sites… because they’re the most popular and lots of people are using them!


No


YES

See the difference? Don't the NO pics feel lazy? And the YES pics make you feel something? Or at the very least, enjoy looking?



Schedule a Free Consult Call 📞

And if you decide you'd rather pass this web building work off to someone who really digs it while you focus on what you dig, schedule a free 20-minute phone consult with me.

If I feel like it's a good fit by the end of the call, I'll make you an offer based on my packages, and we can decide together whether or not we want to move forward to level up your web presence.


If you’re not looking at the moment, I swear I won't sell you anything. But take the phone call because it's FREE, sound good?