Building your first website – a guide for small business owners
Allan ChaoStartup ConsultantStartup V8allan@startupv8.comSan Francisco Small Business Week 2012
The Agenda Website Planning… Budget and Time Components to a website DIY Website - Ways to build a website yourself Comparison of tools Wordpress walkthrough How to Hire a Freelancer Website building process and companies
Websites… before we start Think about your target budget first!!! $0 = Ask a friend to do it for free… (more on this later) $10-$100 = Do-It-Yourself website building tools $500-2500 = Individual freelancer $1500-7500 = Full service company $20,000+ = Hire someone full time in-house Also think about your target timeline 2-6 weeks = Full service company 2-3 months = freelancer 3-6 months = a friend doing it for free You get what you put into it (money, time, effort)
Components to a Website Domain Registration … $10/year = the data record of who owns what virtual property Email … (free with google apps) = what happens to an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Web Hosting … $10/month = actual physical server cost, with hard drives, networking, and electricity Web code … depends on type. WP is free = the HTML, PHP, or anything else that happens when the website is accessed by a visitor
DIY Website Building Advantages: FREE! (or very low cost) Total ownership Change content at your will Easy? (if tech-savvy) Disadvantages: Lots to learn Most time consuming Always template-based, not customizable Must be moderately tech-savvy
DIY Website Building Tools Best and the worst… based on ease of use, flexibility Best Wordpress.com Medium Wix Weebly SquareSpace MoonFruit Worst Web.com Vistaprint Instant Website GoDaddy Website Tonight
What is Wordpress? Wordpress.ORG A free, open-source platform. Managed and improved by the goodwill of many programmers around the world. Built for all (simple) websites, NOT just blogs. Easy to use, but requires installation Wordpress.COM A company (for profit) that makes it simpler to get started with wordpress. Free to start, but charges for “add-ons” Can be limiting, and doesn’t have the full flexibility of Wordpress.ORG
Let’s Build a Basic WP Website Are we going to learn HTML? NO!!! For this example, we’ll use Wordpress.com Any ideas for the topic? http://www.randomwebsite.com/ Choose a template design Write some basic content, add a picture or two Add a contact form We’re done!
Hiring a Freelancer Finding a Freelancer Craigslist Online web browsing ($$$) Online freelancer sites: (high risk for the non-technical) RentaCoder Odesk Elance In-person Networking and Referrals Most Common Mistake: Having someone you know do it for free (or for almost nothing) Never finishes Low quality Eventually end up re-doing it completely
Questions to ask a Freelancer What area do you specialize in, and who does the rest? Graphic Design = the look and feel Programming = the code Marketing = the search engine placement Copywriting = the content on the site What CMS platform do you recommend (if any)? Wordpress – popular, but not a silver bullet Joomla / Drupal / dotnet None Project cost and timeline? Most importantly, ask yourself: Do you trust them?
Common Freelancer Pitfalls Strength in a single skill, weak in others Great designers don’t program! Great programmers don’t design! Neither designers nor programmers do marketing! Jack of all trades, master of none Mutually exclusive skill sets… E.g. auto mechanic vs paint job Poor project planning Goes over budget in both time and money Constantly feel “out of the loop”
Why use a Company? Specialists in every area Architecture and platform User interface design Graphic design Programming Copywriting Marketing SEO (organic) SEM (keyword bidding) Ad Networks (display ads, banner ads) More expensive, but better results Better as a long term investment
Getting people to your website After you finish building your website, what’s next? Traffic! Marketing Offline Marketing Print the URL on your business cards, flyers, etc. Newspaper, Radio, TV ads Online Marketing SEO = Search Engine Optimization SEM (PPC) = Search Engine Marketing (Pay-Per-Click)
SEO = Search Engine Optimization aka “organic” listings “I want to be on the top of Google!” For small businesses, target “long-tail” keywords. E.g. “San Francisco flood repair”, not “flood repair” Very complex algorithms, constant changes Can be very challenging, depending on market saturation “Guaranteed rankings” are “blackhat”! Google will ban the site! Trust is very important, fraud/cheating is pervasive
SEM = Search Engine Marketing aka Keyword advertising Google Adwords, Bing, Yahoo Pay per click, $0.50-$20, depending on keywords Much more stable source leads Must be set up correctly, or else could be wasting money Many factors still at play, such as quality score
What about Social Media? What is Social Media? Blogs (Wordpress, Blogger) Social Networks (Facebook, LinkedIn) Microblogs (Twitter) Location-based (Foursquare) Events (meetup.com, Eventbrite) News and Bookmarking (Digg, Delicious) Much, much more Free or very cheap, but massive time investment with questionable payoff Useful for branding as a “modern” company in touch with community Technically easy - Mostly unrelated to your main website Additional services could be offered by a company or freelancer
Other notes about websites Technology platforms PHP vs .NET, Wordpress vs Joomla, etc. Very difficult to change platforms after much use Must be strategic about technology platform choice Ecommerce and payment processing Ecommerce sites have much more complex requirements Paypal, Google Checkout, Authorize.NET High tech web startup idea? “I have an idea!” (next Groupon) Software development teams (internal or external) Management and Product Development can be very complex Unlimited cost potential… $$$$$+ (e.g. Google is a website…)
Thank you! Please fill out the evaluation form Ask me if you have any specific questionsAllan ChaoStartup ConsultantStartup V8allan@StartupV8.comStartup V8 helps entrepreneurs turn their vision into reality.We handle the entire engineering and product developmentfor new web and mobile startups. Contact us to learn more.