The Time-Pressed Entrepreneur's Guide to a Workable Website
You can set up your site in under 24 hours. No, really, you can.
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Whether you are looking to create a fully developed ecommerce store or a portfolio website to showcase your art pieces, you need only 24 hours to get your website up and running. Really!
The latest, cutting-edge website technologies have made it that easy to build websites from scratch, or to fine-tune existing templates according to your needs.
As a time-pressed entrepreneur or startup founder with limited time and funds, you probably don't want to spend a lot of time building a website or hiring someone else to do it. So, here's a short guide to get your workable website up in under 24 hours (provided you take only short breaks and cat naps in between!).
1. First, read this essential guide.
Time Remaining: 24 Hours
There is a ton of material on the internet that can guide you to create websites. However, this "Website Setup" guide from Robert Mening is the most succinct and simple I have come across. It has been featured on Entrepreneur, Mashable and 99 designs; and the guide's creators claim that their tutorials have helped more than 25,000 people launch websites. Spend an hour or two reading this guide to ensure smooth sailing.
2. Next, buy a domain name and hosting platform.
Time Remaining: 22 Hours
You might spend a minute -- or months -- looking for a good domain name. Most good names will be taken. However, don't waste too much time on this task, as it can be not only taxing and a never-ending process, but also futile. Most websites provide alternative names if the name you have chosen already exists.
Most domain-name providers also offer hosting services. Choose a hosting provider depending on what kind of a website you are building. For example, if you are looking for a WordPress site, you could choose WP Engine, Bluehost or a number of other providers. Once you determine the pros and cons of various hosting providers, you can set up your website host in less than an hour. On the other hand, if you're an online retailer, you'd best go with a ready-made ecommerce platform, like Shopify, which provides fully-managed hosting.
3. Now, choose a theme.
Time Remaining: 20 Hours
Once you have finalized your domain name and set up hosting, it's time to choose a theme for your website. From fancy portfolios and magazine templates to professional themes, wide-ranging theme providers on the internet will help you choose the best one to match your domain name and strategy. But don't dwell on finding the perfect theme; wading through hundreds of thousands of themes and templates could eat away your precious time.
If you don't wish to go the template route, your best option will be to crowdsource your design. And here, a marketplace like Designhill will help you find a design that works for you and is friendly on your wallet. What's more, you can get feedback as well as unlimited revisions in the same place for free.
Just remember to choose a responsive and SEO-friendly theme. In addition, recognize that themes with fewer customization options can work in your favor, as they come with pre-set color and layout options. This makes it quicker for you to tinker around and finish the website.
4. Tinker around.
Time Remaining: 16 Hours
After settling on a theme, you should next tinker around to find the best look for your website. From widgets to plugins, you'll find a lot to add, remove and customize. For this task, realize that a lot of platforms come with web editor or the HTML editor, which helps you change text, color and the overall look of your website in just a few clicks. Frankly speaking, this can take weeks as you tweak and tune your website, but most of the heavy hauling can be done within three-to-four hours.
5. Solicit testimonials.
Time remaining: 13 Hours
Everyone who runs a business knows how important customer testimonials are. This is even more so in the online world. According to a survey by Marketing Land, 90 percent of buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
What's more, it's a big mistake to think that you need reviews only for products. Testimonials are especially important for ecommerce and professional services firms alike. Think about it: You wouldn't dream of going to a dentist or hiring a lawyer without digging into what past customers have said about them!
"Testimonials are extremely important to start off in our line of work. While we have a number of happy clients, we try not to go overboard with testimonials on our website as it might come off as desperate. After a while, providing top-notch service speaks for itself," Nick Oberheiden, principal partner of Oberheiden Law Group, told me.
So, if you have a happy client or two, get these people to say a few words about you, and put those quotes up on your website.
6. Finally, add content.
Time Remaining: 12 Hours
Adding content is an ongoing process, as you'll be adding new content regularly, be it for a blog post, product promotion or other material on your site. But you can easily get started with basic content that will take you only five to seven hours. For a small site, you'll be able to get the website copy and a couple of blog posts done in 12 hours.
In addition, a lot of platforms come with a bulk-product uploader that allows you to import, combine and export products and variations to and from a platform, using a CSV file. These extensions or plugins can be on the expensive side but are great if you have an extensive product catalog.
Meanwhile, HTML isn't the only way websites display content -- PDF is a great format to upload reports and white papers. PDF Candy is an online resource that helps you convert all kinds of content to and from PDF and quickly modify them to your liking.