I'm against D.I.Y. websites. There, I said it.
We do judge a book by it’s cover—so you want to WOW with your first impression! Image and design are important to making positive, lasting impressions.
I compare D.I.Y. websites to do-it-yourself haircuts and photoshoots. Unless you're really good at what you do, hire a professional to do the job. Then, do your own thing with their work until it's time for an update or upgrade! Having a professional design your website offers:
- Brand Strategy (What should your domain be? Do you want firstname.lastname@example.org?)
- Design and Development (Website design isn't just making things pretty. It's making your site easy-to-use, understand and navigate... across all devices!)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO helps you show up on Google... your site, photos and videos!)
- Social Media Integration (Social icons are so 2015! Websites should have social feeds and one-click buttons in 2016.)
- Page Load Times (People will "bounce" if you take forever...)
- Launch Strategies (You invested time, energy and/or money into this. How do you get people to come visit... and keep coming back for more???)
Instead of D.I.Y., I recommend you Do Y.O.U. Do your own updates! We offer our clients full administrative access to their websites and custom video tutorials on how to update every area of their site. I compare it to designing the dream home, then handing you the keys to hang new photos on the wall and just keep things dusted!
Now, I'm a bit hypocritical here, because I've always built my own websites. However, I've been building websites since I was ten! I also now have years of research, marketing and design experience. If you insist on doing it yourself, here are some dos and don'ts!
DO create a mobile site
50% of the visitors (looking at the analytics of our ~50 websites) are on their phones and tablets. Google will punish your search results if your site isn’t mobile-friendly. I suggest creating a website that’s mobile-responsive. This way, it adjusts to every phone, tablet and phablet in between!
DO NOT make me "enter"
For the love of cellular data, please include more than your photo and an “enter” button. Let me in right away—treat me like an honored guest in your home!
DO create a "menu"
If you think of it like a restaurant, all of the dishes aren't out on the table right away. The menu (or your homepage) helps me decide what I want to consume. Give visitors a nice taste test (or preview) of the content available on the various pages of your website—then let them request more of what they want or need. Your website is a 24/7 content buffet!
DO NoT forget contact info
I recommend including "Contact" in the header and footer. This way, it's on every page and twice as easy for people to get in touch with you!
What are your pet-peeves for DIY websites? Comment below!
Tony Howell is a digital strategist dedicated to helping you design your future—creating offline success from your online presence.