You’ve probably come to the point where you realised that you need a website for your business. After all, what on earth are you waiting for? It doesn’t matter what type of business – from selling scrap metal to offering tarot readings there is a website for everyone.
And why not?
People are LOOKING for your business either locally or internationally. Not having a website – you are doing a disservice to them (actually, they will go to the nearest competitor who HAS a website).
So let’s say you take the plunge and you are out in the market to shop for a website for your business.
Enter the world of endless searching. You will probably come up with a few thousand options – a designer has a beautiful website but doesn’t say prices, so you are too scared to contact her for a quote. An agency has a huge portfolio but you see Nike amongst them – not for you.
Another designer has prices but when you dig a bit, you see that they offer additional elements which cost even more.
So you end up on Quora, Reddit and several Facebook groups to ask around to find out how much a professional website costs.
You end up with hundreds of options – with 5 pages, 4 pages, 10 pages, with contact forms, with plugins, without plugins, being on Shopify or WordPress – even my head is spinning right now.
Depends on options, they say.
Websites start from 1,000 Euros to 9,000 Euros, maybe more.
So how can you create (the real question you want to ask is, how you can have a website created for you) that doesn’t break the bank?
As your search indicated, there are many options.
Step 1: Start With The Platform First:
The two leaders in the market are Shopify and WordPress.
However, there is one deciding factor in choosing:
Will you be selling physical products or services or will it be just an online presence?
If the second, there is no need to select Shopify as it is used for eCommerce In this case, you only need WordPress.
So let’s continue with our reasoning – but first, for you who want to sell stuff online, let’s do a little comparison between Shopify and WordPress.
What are the major differences between Shopify and WordPress, in OUR experience?
Whilst Shopify has its own servers and runs fast, it forces you to pay a monthly fee (as you would in WordPress hosting), a percentage in every sale and a monthly fee for nearly every plugin you decide to use. Want a loyalty program? You pay per month. Want a pop-up? if your theme doesn’t have one installed already, you pay this per month.
On the other hand, on WordPress, you have to be very careful with your theme selection. If the theme you select is slow, then kiss goodbye to sales, leads and site visitors, as a slow website means fewer people visiting it (and also is a ranking factor).
However, on WordPress, you do not have to pay anything on a monthly basis, except hosting. Plugins? You buy them once and IF you want you to pay a yearly fee for free “updates”.
Plus, there are a ton of drag and drop editors which can help you design new pages, like Elementor, Divi, and many many more – which are free.
Whilst we like Shopify as an agency – my heart lies with WordPress, so I am a bit biased 🙂
With that, let’s say that WordPress is more for you (pun intended).
Step 2: Take “Inventory”
So the next step is – BEFORE you find a web hosting company and start designing your website – to (unfortunately, I know you are shutting down now, I can see it) make a list of what your business does, and also make a list of your competitors.
The reason for this preparation?
To avoid getting charged a monthly fee for a hosting plan you will not use for at least two months. Yes. you read that right. I have noted that it takes an average of at least 2 months for new websites to launch – and in the meantime you pay hosting fees, for a site that’s not there.
Growth hack: if you insist to spend money on a hosting provider before you properly assess your needs, including researching your competitors and your market, finalising your copy (the text) etc – simply put up a landing page that says “Coming Soon” with an email form.
This way, any potential customers may sign up to receive your updates and when you launch you can “go to the market” faster (obviously this is more complicated than this, but you get the point).
Anyway, back to our train of thought (which was obviously derailed).
So, in another post, we will be discussing HOW to gather intelligence on your competitors, what free and paid tools to use, and how to write effective copy (text, yes, yes).
For now, I have a list for you (for those who do not know me, lists are my second name)
Step 1: Write down what your business does. Do you sell services? If yes, how many? What are their prices for each? Do you sell products? List them, along with prices and characteristics.
Step 2: Once you have that list, write down your goals. So, what I mean by that. Obviously, your END goal is for someone to buy from you. Yes, but you are forgetting that in order for someone to do that, she/he needs to earn your trust. And in order to earn your trust, they need to pass through some stages (called the customer journey).
And you thought marketing your business was easy. Ha! (well, it beats being an employee at a bank – sorry bank employees).
What I mean by goals. Let’s say you are a photographer. Your obvious end goal is for people to buy your photography services. So before they do that, they need to see your work. In order to see your work, you have to upload samples of your work on your website (called an online portfolio).
So goal one for the photographer – I want people to see my online portfolio. This translates into having more website visits on the portfolio page. Goal 1 accomplished.
Goal two: once people see my portfolio, I want them to sign up for my email newsletter. So goal two accomplished – send people to a lead capture form that is connected with an email service (which is free, for up to 2,000 users – now how about this for a goal huh?)
Goal three: once people see my portfolio, and signup for my newsletter, I want them to contact me to get a quote.
After that, it’s on you.
Ok, I am having a feeling that we are derailing the entire objective of this post so let me gather my thoughts and get back to you.
(after a two-day break for coffee)
Ok, we are back! So what were we were saying? Ah yes.
Fantastic job on writing down your goals (if you have actually done that, send them to me and I will reward you with 50% off for any plan for a year!)
Step 3: Design Your Website Architecture
So now it’s time to actually start scheduling your website architecture.
Based on your goals, what pages will you need?
Let’s use another example (sorry photographers, but … ). Let’s say you are a yoga instructor.
You already have your goals, so if I were you I would need:
- A Home page to briefly explain what is the site about
- A Services page to list all the Yoga classes you offer
- A Contact us page for people to contact you
- A Booking page for people to book directly – which needs to be integrated with online payments. The last thing you need is to have a class where people book online, and they do not show up (at least, you will get paid upfront).
- A Newsletter page, connected with an email service.
- Maybe a video section where you could upload tips
And lastly, a blog, where you also write about exercises, tips, lifestyle – even dieting – and distribute it via the newsletter and your social (see how everything is connected?)
So in total, you need 6 pages.
Here is an example of a design architecture I created in less than 5 seconds:-)
1500 Euros please, thank you. I do not take checks, just cash, double thank you.
Ok, joking aside, since you have your site structure, what you need is to start looking for a design.
Step 4: Find Someone To Design Your Website (Or Try To Design It Yourself)
Take a look at your competitors. What websites do they have? Who is the industry leader?
Make a list of what impressed you on your competitors’ websites. Go even further by visiting other service or product-related websites and make a list of what you liked.
It’s a lot of work, I know. But you have a business, and businesses require time and investments (I am not going to say money – oh wait, I just did).
Then what you need to do is design what we call a wireframe.
Start by pulling a piece of blank A4 paper (ok, any size, whatever) and draw your home page. How would you like it to be, based on what you saw from your competitors?
Here is a design I pulled from Hubspot (a CRM system) that I liked and matched our colours too:
The basic structure is:
- A headline that communicates what benefit someone gets (and not what you do)
- Text that explains a bit in detail
- Any video that you have and briefly explains or gives a sample of what they can expect
- A signup form and reason to signup
Continue as the above for the rest of the pages, i.e. in the Services page you will have:
- A headline
- A sub-headline about what they are about to read
- A list of services with proper explanation, keywords and possible pricig, a book now button
- A closure at the end like “Lets us know if you need any help choosing! Contact us today to change your lifestyle for the better” (or something like that)
Since you have the structure now, it is time to think about the design.
So many options here. Who will design your website? Will you go with a bespoke agency? Wil you try make it on your own?
Everything depends on your budget and THE PERCEIVED and FUTURE value you believe your website will give you.
To put things in perspective, a designer agency (or a freelancer) can get a basic site working in under 5 weeks time. She/he will need all the above to start with (see how much time I just saved you) and then they will need one week to think about it, and a couple of weeks at best to come up with designs. When you approve a design, they will start to design it and then you will have to be able to change stuff if you do not agree/change your mind. Normally you get 1-3 revisions on an approved design.
Typical design services charge between 5,000 to 10,000 Euros for a custom-made, bespoke design specifically made for you.
Will you try and make it yourself? Services like Wix.com, GoDaddy.com and or self-hosted WordPress allow you to experiment with designing your own website. This will cost you a small monthly fee plus lost of time experimentation and mistakes (aka time).
Or maybe, cut the development to zero, and go for a semi-custom web design service – there are agencies out there who will show you a few premade websites, which can be customised to meet your needs. These designs already have a suite of plugins that are already purchased, and you end paying like 90% less to have this created, with your own text, images, videos and colours.
One of these agencies is Centis. When you decide you need a WordPress website for your business, you have the option to go slow.
Plans start from 129/month for a 5-8 page design, including all the plugins, web hosting AND we write a newsletter for your subscribers on a monthly basis. We hate setup fees, so we do not charge to set up with anything – Google Analytics, Facebook Pixels or newsletter.
You have beautiful lead capture and contact forms, access to optimised blogging, and you can select from a collection of semi-custom sites that we customise to your needs, including text and images.
As you have the website and brings you leads and sales = making money off it, you can upgrade to any of the other plans that include ads on Facebook/Instagram and Google Search, with laser targeting your clients.
At the end of the day, the semi-custom website will look nothing like anyone else’s website – it will be your own branding.
Step 5: Start Wondering. What happens if you prefer to go with designing it on your own?
The sky will come crushing you, and the fires of hell will open and ….
Nothing really, you will just trade your time with experimenting, until you make it right:-)
If you decide to go with self-hosted WordPress, you will need to
- Select a WordPress hosting provider (we recommend SiteGround)
- Install the WordPress app (SiteGround does this with a few clicks, no coding)
- And then, either find a theme to install and customise or create your own.
What about plugins?
In any typical installation of WordPress, you will need (at least what we recommend)
- A Google Captcha plugin to save yourself from thousand of spammers sending you emails via the form
- A form plugin which you can use to have people contact you (i.,e. ContactForm7)
- A drag and drop editor, like Elementor which makes adding text and images like there is no tomorrow
- A newsletter plugin which connects with your preferred email service – this typically includes Mailchimp, Klaviyo and others
- A “Insert Headers & Footers” plugin where you insert scripts from Facebook (their pixel), Google, Pinterest and others.
- The above simply replaces the Google Site Kit (we love this plugin by the way, but the less plugins you have the better) and Facebook Plugin.
- Any booking plugin that can connect to payment gateways like Stripe, Paypal etc if you sell services
- WooCommerce and various extensions if you sell products or downloadable assets, like photos, ebooks etc
All of the above, except the booking plugin (which you can possibly find something out there), are free!
If you need advanced “systems” like Adroll (for retargeting) or enhancing your posts with calendar, social shares etc, this adds up:-)
Plugins come and go – each week/month you will be wondering how to enhance your website, make it better, faster and more. So you will start searching for plugins that do just that.
All the above means, if you are creating a new website and have no experience whatsoever (if you do, you know what to do) that if you do not have the budget, or if you do, but you do not see the value in having someone creating a website for you, that you will spend some considerable amount of time designing, redesigning, deleting and recreating.
That’s where Centis comes in. For just a very small monthly fee, you sit down with (virtually) a product design expert and helps you to select the design you need. Then, you write your content for each page and send him your images and logos.
In just a few days, you will have a brand new website, lead capture forms, a blogging platform to express your thoughts and create leadership and a newsletter (which you will NOT have to write it, just approve the content every month.
All for just €129/month.
So you do not have to break the bank, shell out thousands of Euros and end up in frustration. All these options are for the taking – you just have to decide which is best for you and your business.