My first ever website was for the business I started in High School. A clothing line that donated all the proceeds to charities in Africa. It wasn’t a sustainable business model but I was 16.
I built it from scratch in a class where I was learning to code.
The logo, the design everything was my own. And for 2007 and being 16 it was pretty impressive. But only for those two reasons, because really it was hideous. I wish I had a screenshot to share with you how bad it really was.
In 2019, you should never have this problem.
Websites have come so far from where they were 10 years ago and with cheap sites that will host your site, give you a template and pretty much do all the work, you really have no excuse for having a bad site.
Because you have no excuse, your customers will also make a quick decision about whether they want to trust you with their hard earned money. And let’s just say, great design builds trust. Bad design is pointing your customers to the door.
My go-to website host for new businesses just getting into the swing of things, or for those who are a little less tech savvy is Squarespace.
Yes, there are similar sites to Squarespace including Wix but to be honest, the templates on Squarespace are just better and the companies that build 3rd party templates are even better and usually only for Squarespace.
Squarespace will allow you to drag and drop elements on your site. It comes with a great stock photography gallery which should be used sparingly on your site since you are trying to sell something – a product or your service. Those things should be front and center of your site while the stock photography can be the sprinkles on top.
For a monthly fee of under $20, you’ll get your domain name, a host and a template to build your site. GoLiveHQ creates my favorite templates for Squarespace for $200-$400. But you only have to buy the template once and it will last you a few years until you’re ready to redesign (and in the graphics world that’s anywhere from 2-5 years).
Here is the only downside to Squarespace and depending on your business will decide how big of a factor it is. SEO capabilities are limited. This will limit how often you come up in search results or where in them you show up. It’s something they continue to work on since it’s the hot topic in marketing but it will never be as good as being a WordPress site. You can still add keywords into your text and create ALT text in your images but the capabilities are limited.
This really won’t affect businesses that focus a lot on PPC (Pay per click) marketing like Facebook Ads or Google Adwords, and if you’re just starting out it’s not something to be worried about. I know quite a few businesses that are growing and doing just fine on a Squarespace account. If you want to be the next Nike you’ll probably want to get onto WordPress.
This is what I’m currently using for my website, although I consider going back to WordPress all the time.
WordPress has some basic free templates but the best designs come from 3rd party designers. The kicker is if you don’t know anything about building a website this is NOT the place for you. It’s complex with coding, plugins, and widgets and if you didn’t understand any of those words you should just stop reading this now.
While I have a basic understanding of coding and am an expert in Googling even I will come to my limitation with WordPress especially as updates occur with both my template and the platform.
Basically, there is a LOT of room for error.
So while WordPress will give you the freedom to make a website exactly as you want it you either need to know a decent amount about website building or you need to hire someone who does. If both those things are a reality for your business then stick with Squarespace and get an amazing template from GoLiveHQ. You’ll thank me later!
Wherever you decide to call your website home, know that the design of your website is key. Limit the words, invest in the images and have a design that matches your brand and is enticing to the people you hope to buy from you. In a future post, I’ll talk more about the key elements you need in a great website design!