In my 7 years of helping coaches and other service professionals build their websites, I've learned the following tips that you absolutely MUST know before stepping into cyberspace.
You may already have a handle on a few of these and, if you do, congratulations! Super kudos if you have a handle on them all.
- Own your domain name! Too many people hand their website development totally over to the website guru of the hour, empowering them to do it all, from the design to registering the domain name.
Bad idea! Make sure you get your domain name BEFORE you seek out a website professional.
I have seen too many people trapped when their web designer goes out of business and forgets to renew the domain name.
Their site disappears and they have no way of transferring their domain name to themselves.
This is most heartbreaking when the domain name is an actual name (like JaneDoe.
com) Buy and register your domain name yourself, THEN seek out a website professional to help you put up your site.
- Plan your site out ahead of time.
Decide what you initially want on your site.
The cool thing about a website is it's not like a print book.
You can change it pretty much any time.
But you do need to know what you want your site to look like before you start.
Decide on colors, content, and how many pages to start.
Then take a moment to gaze into the future and see what you would like to have your site look like a year or two down the road.
This is important so your web professional can help you find a hosting service and a template or design that will grow with you.
- Decide on your content.
While some website professionals write copy, many don't.
Essentially your copy should have your essence.
You certainly don't want a website with copy that reflects someone else's values and writing style.
You CAN write, so write! And remember, nothing is carved in stone.
You can edit and add later on.
But start working on your content now.
- Look at other websites.
Spend a few days surfing the internet looking at sites of other professionals.
Check out the sites of people in your business sector.
While you don't want your site to look like someone else's, you will get ideas and inspiration from seeing what other folks have done.
Contact them to see who did their sites and what software they used.
Ask them about their hosting.
Is it reliable and is the support top notch?
- Find a website professional.
Many virtual assistants are quite excellent at creating websites and your options are plentiful.
There are templates and site designers in abundance.
You may even check in with someone who did another site you saw on the web that you liked.
Have an initial consult to see of you are a good fit.
Don't just settle for the first person you talk with unless you unequivocally feel a connection.
You want to be totally comfortable with your web professional and they must be totally comfortable with you.
- Question, question, question! Don't just take your website professional's word for anything.
Become an active partner in the process.
Ask questions and insist on frequent updates.
Manage the project with awareness and attention so you always know where the process is on any given day.
- Know and stick with your budget.
There is more than one way to accomplish something and a good website professional will know a lot of them.
You may want a site that looks like a big internet player, but may not have the funds to buy into all the bells and whistles.
In many cases there are ways to achieve a lot of the same results without the big price tag.
Talk with your website professional about this and get all your options.
Later on, when your site is pulling in the big bucks, you can upgrade to the more expensive software systems.
But you can't do any of that if you're stuck in a website nightmare because of a missing-in-action designer and your domain name being held hostage by an absent registrar.
Do your homework up front and then take pleasure in the delight of hearing people say "I saw you on the web!"