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Web designers have always disliked the idea of business owners creating their own websites.
Business owners are traditionally much better at running businesses than they are at coding and design. Over the past few years, this reasoning has lost some of its lustre, particularly for startups with very limited budgets. It is possible for you to create a functional website for your business, whether you run an online retail store or a bricks-and-mortar operation that needs the web equivalent of a shiny brochure. There are two basic options for small business owners that want to design their own website: hosted web design services or open-source content management systems. When choosing a hosted service, it’s important to investigate how easily it will integrate with your existing systems. The only trouble she encountered was that she didn’t have the technical expertise to make use of these APIs, and had to hire a freelance web developer to make the changes for her. Besides the need to outsource these types of modifications, there are a few drawbacks to using hosted web design services. He suggests that services like Shopify or BigCommerce will better suit businesses willing to change what they do slightly to suit the design platform.
In addition to SEO troubles, de Berg found that the software wasn’t well suited to retail stores with large ranges of products.
Making a website using an open-source CMS may prove to be a more challenging proposition to someone with little experience, but it’s by far the preferable alternative to hosted design services. As with Shopify, the open-source CMS approach starts with the user choosing a template that will dictate the basic look, feel and functionality of their site. Typically, the best templates or themes have to be bought, but the cost is rarely more than a couple of hundred dollars. Although there are a number of open source CMSs available (most notably Drupal and Joomla), the most commonly encountered system among small businesses is WordPress. He points out that another benefit of choosing WordPress is the ease with which it allows users to shuffle through themes until they find one that best suits what your business needs. Although WordPress makes it simple enough to begin making a website, those without a small amount of web design experience are still likely to struggle with the more technical aspects of fine-tuning it to their requirements. As soon as you bring a web developer into the equation, it changes the nature of the ‘do it yourself’ approach significantly.
Regardless of whether you settle on WordPress or a platform like Shopify, creating your own site requires you to think like a user experience designer. She notes that the same attitude should apply to the platform’s back end functionality, as this is what you’ll be using every day to update the site once it’s live. This entry was posted in Web design and tagged business growth, communications, marketing, small business, technology, web design. Articles, ‘How To’ pieces, interviews and news, these small business web design ideas and advice will help ensure your company has a website to rival all others. This isn’t because it means less work for them, but because, more often than not, the resulting site offends their sensibilities.

Open source content management systems (CMSs) like WordPress and Joomla, along with drag-and-drop, self-design services like Big Commerce and Shopify, have given those with relatively little knowledge of web design the ability to create business websites cheaply and easily. Sites like Shopify and Big Commerce are tailored specifically to create e-commerce stores, while alternatives like Squarespace and Google Sites offer more open-ended options for web design. One of Brough’s motivations for choosing Shopify was its wide range of APIs (application programming interface). The most notable shortcoming is that any template you choose is unlikely to be unique to your business, meaning that other web stores that also use the service may have a very similar feel to your site. The more specific and complex your requirements, the less suitable these services will prove to be.
It gives you more control over the design of your site, and makes it easier to modify and expand as the business grows. The major difference is that the software is free – anyone can use it without having to pay a licensing fee or subscription.
If you run up against problems when piecing the first draft of your site together, the best course of action is to outsource. In order to get the best value for your money from a designer, you have to be able to give them very specific instructions about what you need for the site.
You need to be able to weigh what you need against what the CMS and template you choose are capable of doing. Follow a development process.Before you begin development, have a clear map for the site as a whole as well as your individual pages.
It’s also much more cost-effective to get a web designer to create a site for you – you waste less time learning to do it yourself, and are more likely to get a good result. An API is a feature of a website that helps one piece of software (ie Shopify) talk to another (ie your offline inventory system).
Another downside is that these services often only cater to the most basic of web design requirements – many businesses will need to outsource a fair bit of modification to get the site they really need. This means visiting sites like Freelancer, Guru, or Elance, and finding a web designer that fits your budget and has experience with your chosen CMS. Oola’s Kelly Brough suggests that considering your customers’ needs will help with this process. The strategies involved shouldn’t just include design and architecture basics, but also a distinct plan of how each page will address your personas and help you to achieve your goals.
Users choose from an array of templates – or basic structures – on which to build their site, and then arrange the site structure, look and feel with a drag-and-drop interface. David Kellam, founder and IT director of CoreMind, used a number of hosted template-based design services in his former role as managing director of a web development firm. This means that there is a much greater range of templates to choose from, and users aren’t limited to those offered by the CMS itself – there are countless ‘theme’ libraries, such as WuThemes, that have thousands of templates for sale. If you need to add a Facebook button to your site, or need a tool to improve its search ranking, you can find plug-ins to help. Every element of a template is changeable, but users are usually restricted to the options set by the template.

It’s also important to understand that if you choose to use a CMS, you will have to host the site yourself, at an additional cost of between $8 and $30 a month. Whether you’re a new company designing your first website, or a company who is ready for a redesign, read on. These services also offer the ability to edit the code of templates, but for someone lacking experience in web coding, this defeats the purpose a little.
Launch the first phase of your site!Traditionally, the launch of a website is the final phase of the site, but the opposite is true for growth-driven design. Leave your idea of traditional web design in the past.Chances are, everything you thought you knew about the web design process is now wrong. It is meant to launch quickly and serve as a starting point that you can improve upon over time.11. Improve your site continuously.Your continuous improvements should follow a cycle that includes four phases, all of which should revolve around your personas and how to provide value for those personas. Each of these items will be an experiment to see how it impacts the performance of your website. This approach shortens launch time and focuses on learning and constant improvement of your site.
GDD mixes web design with marketing and focuses on website iterations rather than doing everything to your site all at once (unlike traditional web design where sites are typically updated every few years). GDD focuses on making improvements to your site more frequently based off testing, research, and continuous learning based off visitor behavior. The more you repeat the cycle, the more of an impact your website will have on its visitors.Have you applied the growth-driven design process to your site? These are just a couple of the many questions you should be asking yourself to put your vision together.4.
Develop your buyer persona(s).GDD centers around the user, so you want to ensure you are providing the information your visitors want and need.
The more you know about your visitors, the more you can make educated improvements to your site to assist them. Personas will help you make informed decisions about offers to develop, information to include on your site, what devices your personas use to view your site, and so on.5. Additionally, you need to do this analysis to see where the gaps are within your current site so that you can address those as you develop your new site.6. Get creative, think of what you would want to have on your site if money, time and development skills weren’t an issue.
Develop your must-have list.As mentioned, you will only use about a fifth of your wishlist to launch the site, and this will be a list of your must-haves.
What needs to be done to this item to consider this it complete?How will you measure the success of this item?8.

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