What It Takes To Build Your Own Website
Weekly tips, strategy, and advice for building & leveraging your website to maximize your business.
Welcome to episode ten of Websites Made Simple podcast where we are covering What It Takes To Build Your Own Website.
In this episode, I want to discuss the hard truth about web design & development. It is simply not enough to throw a website on the internet and think it is enough for your online business. There is so much more that should, must be considered to have a successful website.
Plus, what’s the deal with one web designer charging $10k, when someone else says they will do the same design for $400? It is confusing I know. Plus there is the overall design, the technology/platform to consider, then there is SEO and how to get organic traffic, page load speed, security, and on it goes.
The bottom line is it takes work. Serious work and effort to get the right website. So if you want to know the hard truth of what it takes and learn what others are not telling you because they want you to think it is easy…well stay with me as we get after it in this episode.
3 Categories People Fall In That Are Selling Web Design
- Professional web designers and agencies
- These are mostly people who have years of experience and formal training in web design, SEO, UX, have expertise in coding languages like HTML, CSS, PHP, etc.
- The second group are people who can build a website but mostly use templates and other short-cuts to speed up the time it takes to deliver a finished product
Many do not have years of experience or for that matter do not understand the basics of HTML/CSS, the importance of user experience, and the impact it plays in conversions.
- Then there are those who want to sell you on the idea that it is super easy to create your own website and save thousands of dollars. For that matter, there are entire products on the market today promising that very thing.
- Can you build a website yourself? Absolutely and it is the entire premise of this podcast. However, like most things in life, not all are created equally.
- It doesn’t matter which platform you are considering (WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, etc.), I’m sure you have seen some promise that “building a website is easy, let me show you how”
The hard truth is it’s not easy. Frankly, it’s rather complex when you consider everything it takes to create a good website and one that enables your business to grow and convert visitors into paying clients.
But before anyone starts raging about how you have built a website (or know someone who has) and it looks amazing, let me explain.
The Easy Part of Building Your Own Website
Through the use of technology and drag and drop software, creating a beautiful website is in fact easy. There are some really great templates out there for all sorts of platforms that you can simply import, customize the copy, and add your own images. And boom. You have a professional-looking website on the internet for everyone to visit.
But wait. How will you get “everyone” to know your site exists? Unless you are a Kardashian and you have millions of people just waiting to visit your site, how do you get your website to stand out in a crowd of 2 billion sites? I’ll come back to that in a minute.
So what else is easy? All-in-one solutions for your website, courses, email marketing, lead pages, webinars, etc.
There are some great all-in-one solutions on the market today and frankly, the only hard part is deciding which one you want to give your money to. All-in-one solutions like Kartra and Kajabi offer checkouts, webpages, lead pages, funnels & campaign management tools, memberships, and more.
They have several pricing plans that vary based on if you are just starting out or if you have a large audience and team that you need to support.
Sounds good right? For some, it does make sense especially if you can afford the monthly payments.
But before you jump to that conclusion, there are many other factors that you should consider like page load speed, site security, are the pages using best practice code that won’t get you penalized on search results.
So What Does It Take Really?
If you want the best website you can have then this is what it takes to create your own website. Or pay the price down the road. It doesn’t matter if you are using WordPress, Shopify, or an all-in-one.
These 5 things are all required and can make or break your website.
1. The webserver technology
We all accept not all computers (desktops or laptops) are created the same as some are faster, lighter, can run more applications without crashing than others.
The same is true with your webserver. The webserver is the actual computer that hosts your website and is connected to the internet. Without going into all the details on this episode, for simplicity sake let’s break this down into two primary buckets: A)Shared Hosting vs. Dedicated and B) Hardware and technology itself.
Shared hosting is simply a web server that has multiple clients, or websites, installed on it at the same time. Each website shares the computer resources installed on the webserver like computing power and memory. This does not mean shared hosting is bad. To better understand we need to look at the technology itself that the webserver is using.
Dedicated hosting is the opposite and is a webserver that is dedicated to just you. As you can imagine, dedicated hosting is far more expensive than shared hosting.
Just like before, not all shared hosting is created equally. Some companies use outdated technologies and/or they put far too many clients on a single server. Both can be extremely bad for your business as it can drastically impact your website performance.
The bottom line, slow websites get punished by Google Search Results, and most visitors will not wait for the site to load. Speaking of website performance…
2. Website Performance/Speed
To really make your site load quick you need to use a CDN and enable caching.
Content Delivery Networks (CDN) are services that provide servers around the world that work together to deliver internet content quickly. In simple terms, if your webserver is located in the US, the time it would take for someone in the UK to have your site load is very different. And someone in Australia would even be slower yet.
A CDN allows for your website to load quicker for all locations by utilizing the server network. And you should use one.
OK, let’s talk for a minute about caching. This can be a complex topic but I will keep it high level for a basic understanding.
The simplest definition is cache storage is temporary storage (caching) that can serve your website assets like images faster than the primary storage.
This simply means if you are using a caching service then your website will load much quicker than without one.
There are different types of caching that can be enabled for the browser and server-side respectively. So make sure your website can take advantage of caching. If you are using WordPress, then WP Rocket is the go-to plugin and with its minimal configuration, it can really improve your webpage load times.
One of the biggest issues I see all the time that adds to slow page load times is poorly optimized images being added.
You have professional photos taken or you get high-resolution stock images and you place it directly on your site. The image size is 4000×4000 pixels and is about 5MB. Please don’t do that.
You should first scale the image for the correct size you are using on the site. For example, if you are placing the image as a hero image on your home page, you might want the image to be 1200×800 pixels. A far cry from the 4000×4000.
Next, you need to further optimize the image by using compression. There are a few methods out there that are free like tinypng.com but my recommendation for WP users is ShortPixel plugin.
Just add your scaled images to your site and ShortPixel will automatically compress your image. Using both these methods can take a 5MB image and cut it down to just a few KB without compromising the image quality.
3. Website Security
By now you are likely familiar with the “s” in https. But if not the difference between http and https is that https is using an SSL certificate to help secure your website.
For simplicity’s sake, just know that https is the standard and a couple of years ago Google even made changes to start giving preference to more secure websites (or punishing those without).
Is an SSL certificate enough? Not even close. Do not be fooled with the idea that “my website is just a small site about xyz. No-one would want to hack my website as I don’t have anything of value.”
This thinking is exactly what hackers are hoping for. Why? Because every website has something of value…an access point and server they can use to attack a website that is of value.
Let’s take a simple example of a DDOS attack. This is the type of attack that sends an enormous amount of traffic to the targeted website rendering the site unavailable or in essence shutting the website down. DDOS attacks happen by using a large number of locations to send requests at the same time. So every website a hacker can get control of allows them one more location to use during a DDOS attack.
And of course, there is a malware attack. Typically this form of attack occurs because the attacker is after personal information like credit card numbers or other sensitive information.
Website security is a must to block bad traffic from ever reaching your website and in the event it does, you want to keep them from getting access to any files or the site itself. If you are using WordPress, then my recommendation is iThemes Security Pro plugin. It is a fully robust security solution for your WordPress website.
4. SEO, Search Engine Optimization.
Again this can be a complex topic all by itself but let’s keep it simple. SEO is simply the means to improve the quality and quantity of the traffic you receive on your website. This is organic traffic and is the opposite of paid traffic. Paid Traffic comes from paid ads through places like Google, Facebook, YouTube, etc.
Who doesn’t want free traffic right? Well to get higher organic traffic your web pages need to be built in a way to help search engines find and understand the content on the page.
Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to better understand how search engines decide to show your web page and where it places it on the list from 1 to infinity.
This is based on two primary factors: 1) searcher intent and 2) relevancy
Searcher intent is the search engine trying to determine what the user is looking for by the words they are searching on.
Relevancy is the search engine finding content that matches user intent.
Knowing those two definitions then having the right information built into the meta part of your pages and having content that matches helps get your web page listed higher on the search page.
If a search engine shows your page to a user and they click to visit the page, then for any reason they quickly click back off your page, this tells the search engine your page was not what the user was looking for. If you think about it makes total sense.
If you get enough of these back clicks then your page will drop like a rock in the search engine rankings and be buried on page 100.
So bringing this back to SEO, all websites need to have ways to help them understand if they are missing any key elements on the page that would help the page rank higher.
This is called on-page SEO. And my favorite for WordPress sites is RankMath plugin. It is 100% free and provides a ton of tools to help get your on-page SEO in top shape.
5. Overall design
I’m not going into detail as we covered it a little earlier and frankly, this is the easy part if you use some of the ready-made templates or page builders that exist today.
The problem is that most designers or web design courses focus only on this part. Mainly because it is the part people see and believe to be the only one that matters.
You could have the most beautiful website with all the latest design features, forms, and calendars for your clients to book appointments with you but…you never get high traffic to your site.
Why? Your website is built on a poor web server, your pages are not optimized for the content you worked so hard on to create, and your site is as slow as a sloth before nap time. Your website will struggle to ever get picked up by search engines and you will be left with paying for advertising to get any significant traffic at all.
This episode is less about picking a specific platform but far more about knowing what it takes to create your own website and what to look for before making a decision. There is no quick website.
Building your own website takes real work and time. Anyone who tells you otherwise is simply like those people promising you can get rich overnight while you sleep.
Can you build the website of your dreams? One that not only looks amazing but covers all the important aspects we discussed today? Absolutely. It isn’t easy but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
So before you rush into picking a platform like WordPress or even an all-in-one solution, or before you spend your hard-earned money on a website course, think about what you really need and take the time to research how you will accomplish it all.
If you are trying to decide between a single platform like WordPress or the all-in-one platforms I want you to consider what type of person you are.
Are you someone who wants simplicity and you will take the really good parts with some that are maybe not best in class? If yes, then one of the all-in-one solutions might work for you.
However, if you are like me and want the best for your business and are willing to put in the time and effort to get it right by picking the best of the best…building it one piece at a time. Then I recommend WordPress as your main platform.
Of course, that doesn’t mean if you have courses to sell or even a membership that it all has to be on WordPress. Many people use WordPress as the main platform to build their website, but still use platforms like Kajabi, Kartra, and Podia so house their course content, memberships, and digital downloads.
This is at the heart of my primary point today. Don’t settle for anything less than the best for your online business. And sometimes that means using several solutions that work well together.
I am a proud affiliate of some of these tools. That means if you click the links and then make a purchase of those products, I will earn a small commission. Affiliate links absolutely do not cost you anything additional.
All of the affiliate links are clearly marked for your benefit. Please know that I recommend these products and chose to be an affiliate because I truly believe in them, use them, and know they work.
WMS 009: How to Hire Brand Photographer
About the Show
Created for the non-techie entrepreneur, John Dockins reveals all of his website and online business strategies, income sources and killer marketing tips so that you can be ahead of the pack with your website and online business.
Self proclaimed “coffee addict”, you’ll learn how to build authority online using content management systems like WordPress, email marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, and much more so that you can create something amazing without burning yourself out.
Websites Made Simple Podcast
John is a family man who also owns his own web design agency and has won several design awards for his work.