Monday, January 24, 2011

How to create a Website for a Cheap Entrpreneur

You are an entrepreneur with a low budget, lack of experience, and limited time.  You want to create a website that would rival Coca-Cola and make Apple quiver! You only know how to use the internet to search for your horoscope, you don't know what CSS or HTML is!  You want your customers to buy from you after one glance.  How do you create a website that will be effective and stand out in the crowd? That is a question that many entrepreneurs have and don't know how to answer.

First I will regale you with my mistakes!  I thought creating a website was easy.  I thought that I could just go on line and press a button and that was it.  That's how I ended up with Go

They lured me with their cheap domains and colorful graphics!  They also tricked me with a quick way to create a website with a program called Website Tonight.  I tried it, but my page looked static.  After I finished, it looked like I had purchased a cardboard box instead of something that was breathing life.  But the worst part of it all was the customer service department.

Customer Service
Usually when I called customer service I had tried everything I could to figure out how to change a graphic or design to the page. I never called customer service as my first line of defense. Customer service was often my last resort.  I don't know if I was calling at the same time and speaking to the same customer service rep, but this guy spoke to me in a very condescending tone and kept using words like, obviously, or phrases like, It's really simple, didn't you see.... Unfortunately, it wasn't obvious to me nor did I see whatever he was talking about.  I thought the template would work automatically. It didn't.

Go has McDonald's beat when it comes to upselling. As soon as you decide to leave, they have so many pop-ups and additional things to purchase that you can easily be confused into thinking you need all of that to start your website.  You don't. Focus on the basics and the rest will come later.

The Web Designer who will do it for cheap!
In my neighborhood there was always a street mechanic who could change your car oil for 10 bucks or put in an engine for $100.  We all know what happens next...the street mechanic will puncture the oil valve or the engine would take a week to drop.
Customer Service
A lot of times this designer will not call you back when you want them to.  They will insist that they know what they are doing.  They will argue with you about small things like photo placement.  The site may look good, but they won't test it out to see if it will work.  If they aren't doing this full-time or they don't really need the money to live off of they will put their 9-5 first.  You will have to wait in the background. They will miss deadlines and dates and you won't be able to do anything about it.
A lot of times, they really can make a site look great! The problem is do you have the time to wait?
Expensive! It can be very frustrating to ask a lot for a little. If you are just starting out, why waste time trying to work with someone who is in the same boat as you.
I found while I was searching graphic design pages.  It was listed as the best free site online. It is great! All of the files can be uploaded easily with point and click buttons.  The website is bright, cheery and the range of options is amazing.  But there are some things you should know! Especially in the android world!
Wix has loads of pictures to choose from and a variety of styles to make your page stand out.  If you want child friendly pages, then you can design it one way, if you want a serious photo blog click another button.  I know two people who I suggested this site to and they are using it for their business.
Customer Service
I never called customer service with Wix. I started the site, but didn't finish it.
It's free! Unfortunately, you have to deal with banner ads and other things floating across your page, but if you want something cheap, then Wix is a good place to start.
I have to add a cons section because this one is a biggie! As of January 2011, you can not read a wix created website on an iPad, iPhone, or any other android.  The flash based content makes it difficult for android devices to read. I currently reside in Japan and most people use their mobile phones to search for things before they use a home computer.  In the second incarnation of my website it was all designed in flash.  Unfortunately, I had a lot of complaints about the site being unreadable.  I even tested it out myself at a variety of internet cafes, Apple stores, and other places and I couldn't access the flash site on a regular basis.

Site Build It!
Have to be honest, I haven't used this method. However, Lisa, from How 2 Create A Website has loads of information on her youtube channel! Watch this video and all of her other ones for more info about Site Build it!

I'm using WordPress to create my current site. It was very easy to upload through BlueHost and start using the templates. But there is a catch!!!!!! Wordpress has lots of templates, but you have to customize them.  When I say I am a computer novice, I am not exaggerating.  I tried to use a template called Arras.  It was difficult for me. I spent nights trying to figure out CSS and HTML code. I was trying to customize my page and make it look like the demo. That was too much work!!!!  Fortunately, a friend suggested I download a template that still uses the functions of WordPress without reading any code. I downloaded Elegant Themes and got to work!
Graphics from Elegant Themes
Looks great and easy to use! See for yourself Camp Roadless Summer!  My friend Alan uses Elegant Themes for his website Real Talk Japan.  Alan is a lot better at designing websites than I am.  If you look at my header, that was done in Photoshop.  Alan designed it, I didn't.  The images look vibrant and sharp.  I used a regular camera to take the pictures for the site and they look pretty good to me.
Customer Service
Fantastic! I designed my website over the New Year's holiday. Now you and I know that in any country, New Year's is party time!  Fortunately, the moderators at Elegant Themes doesn't know that.  f you post a question in the Forums section of your theme, the moderators will respond pretty quickly.  I still had a few problems with setting up the site. Sometimes a link didn't show up properly or a page would disappear.  Luckily, the moderators would give me or anyone else, step by step instructions on how to make the changes.
You can't beat it! You have to pay for Blue Host which was about $84.  Then I paid an additional $34 for the theme. The membership fee gives you access to other templates and the moderated forum! If you are a small business owner like myself. Then you need support that you can get at all times.

I hope some of my tips helped you! There is no need to go out there and make the same mistakes that I did. There is a lot more I could say on this topic, but I'll leave that for another time.  Just remember, just because you are a cheap entrepreneur doesn't mean you have to keep stumbling and falling.  Do your research! I didn't and it cost me a lot of time and money. Check out the links and the different services I highlighted and let me know what you think!


uzoma said...

Thanks for this great info. And I love the Camp Roadless Summer website. Looks totally cool.

Roadless Wandering said...

Thanks for reading! I hope you don't have to make the same mistakes as I did. Uzoma, I clicked your name, but your page didn't pop up. Can you send me your link?