Step 1. You need to decide if you want to hire someone to do it or to do it yourself. Hiring someone is much easier and if you hire the right person they will guide you through much of what you need to know. You will of course have to provide a lot of the information about what you want to have on your web site. My recommendation would be to hire someone. I do realize that some don't have the capital to do that so if you want to do it yourself then we move to step 2.
a. Using a site builder such as Wix or GoDaddy site builder and there are tons of them. They are easy to use but there are two negatives. One is they are more expensive and the second is that they usually are not as portable so if you ever want to change hosts you have to start over.
b. Using a CMS such as Wordpress, Joomla, etc. Wordpress would be the one I would recommend. It is free, there are lots of tutorials on YouTube. It is easy to install and you can do about anything you want. There are lots of free templates including educational ones and some cool paid ones. Your cost would be around $ 15 for the domain and $ 75.00 a year +/- for hosting. Warning, never let your host control your domain name. Most of the Wordpress templates these days are responsive (display well on a computer, tablet or phone) which is very important now.
Step 3. You need to figure out what you want on the site. Look at other sites in your field and make notes about what you like and don't. Work out your text and photos in advance. That can be as simple as creating a word document and typing the content for each page. It is better to use real photos not stock photos and give as much information as you can. Think about what you would want to know if you were a potential customer. Plan to spend a lot of time in the planning stage. It will pay off later.
As someone with yerars of experience building and creating educational and knowledge based online platforms, here are some suggestions and tips to help along the way...
Before going ahead to create an educational website, there are a number of things you may need to consider.
1. Planning Stage - What kind of ed-baesd website are looking to create? - Is it a knowledgebase, ecommerce, editorial or an online application. Is it going to be user managed, where is the content coming from and how often will it change. How will you mamage your users "members" and what will be the process from visiting to becoming a user. All of these would help you decide on the form and functionality of the website
2. Design Stage - Who is it for? - Who are you designing it for and what typre of audience(s) do you expect to visit. Consider colour schemes, style and content.
3. User Experience - What would their experience be? - Navigation, accessibility, relevance and userbility. What type of content would they consume and how relevant is it. What are you going to provide that they can't find elsewhere - making your website inviting and interactive.
4. Engagement - How will you enage with them? - Online support systems, feedback, support tickets (especially on membership based sites), sales and easy subscription applications (ecommerce and membership based sites).
5. Accessibility - How and Where can they fond you? If you're online based only, SEO is key. Also the domain name and relevance to your business offering or niche, support availability, promotions, landing pages, social media engagement and networking.
It is important to keep in mind - the user persona(s), their current and prevuous expeiences (the competition), their behaviours, needs and most importantly, habits.
Hope this helps and feel free to connect if I can be of further help.
Best of luck.
Three words: hire a professional. Think about how you would answer these questions:
1. Do you have experience and skills in design and web programming?
2. Do you have experience and skills in marketing?
If the answer is, "just a little", "I can figure it out", or "no", you need to hire a professional. This is an investment in your business and the success of that business.
I've got 20 years of experience with web design/development and marketing and I can't tell you how many times my agency has been approached by a small business who tried to do it all themselves and just did not get the results they hoped for, or worse, they did more damage than good.
What I always recommend to prospective clients, however, is to be the experts in their business. You are probably an expert in your specific online courses. Who are those courses designed for (who is your audience)? I would want you to know all about them so you could tell me all about them. Next, what are your personal goals with the site? What's your bottom line? Again, I'll need you to relay all of this to me so that my team could build the most effective, goal-oriented website for your business.
Websites are about form and function. Here are the steps I would recommend:
-- I'm assuming you will be delivering, as well as promoting, your courses online. If that's the case, the first decision to make is whether you want a fully integrated platform for providing courses and promoting, or do you want a front end brochure-ware type site and then embed or link to a course delivery platform. There are dozens of e-learning platforms out there (search "sell courses online"), and many for building basic websites.
-- Decide how much you want to manage yourself. Weebly is the easiest for brochure-ware, but not great for ecommerce, although you can plug in something like Shopify or Ecwid. And you would need to link to the courseware or embed it. I've been using Coursecraft.net -- pretty easy to set up. However, an integrated e-learning platform may be easier to manage in the long run, although more challenging to create in the short run. Often, the more functionality, the more complex -- so really understanding what you need from the outset is important.
-- To avoid getting lost in all the choices, start by making a list of what you want from the platform, i.e., how courses will be delivered, how you'll charge for them, what students can do to interact with instructors, email marketing, etc. Compare and contrast.
-- And finally, to address the effectiveness question, that has a lot to do with the courses you're offering and how you describe them on your site. And of course, are you driving qualified traffic to it that is likely to convert. That's another topic entirely.
Perspective helps. Look up your competitors and see what they do. I think clarity in knowing what is effective in your vertical is the first step in knowing what to do with your own website.
Websites are a tactic. Make sure you have a good grasp on your strategy. That will guide and inform you with your website and the myriad other tactics you will likely need.
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The best way to create an effective website is to hire a professional web designer and web developer ... initially it might cost more but in the long run you'll see the benefits. Site builders are a possibility but you asked for an effective website. Finally just be wary of people who are charging minimal fees, again you might find yourself be stung and future costs out waying what you potentially could have paid for a bespoke effective website. As well as the website, make sure you got a good host in place ... you don't want to pay out money for your site to be hacked or just have poor performnace because of a bad host.
It's not as difficult as people are making to out to be, but it is a lot of work, and constant. A website it like a baby, you have to pamper it, and attend to it. Its like a piece of art in the works, and you will constantly being updating it and making improvements. I can teach you how to create your site yourself and optimize it for Search Engines(SEO) or we can help design and build the site for you. Let me know how we can help!
Adobe Certified Training & Consulting
Consulting | Design | Development | Training
The short and sweet of it is this. Whoever builds it should definitely use WordPress and if we talk further, I'll explain why.
The best site in the world is still no good if people can't find it when searching for the products or services offered, so you'll want to rank it on page 1 of Google, Bing and Yahoo. That's my specialty and I do it right and I get fast results. So, you have to very carefully optimize the site for the search engines without creating a penalty which moves you backward, or worst. Then empower the site from behind the scenes to push it forward and up.
In my opinion, it would honestly be impossible to do this all correct. Companies have come to me after paying SEO agencies for years to get on page 1 with no results, then I fixed things within a few months and gave them multiple page 1 rankings for what their ideal customers are searching online for and ready to spend money on.
If I can help you just let me know. I'll always give you the truth and proof of what I have and can accomplish...and guarantee it.
An effective website rests in excellent content, superior SEO and Marketing. Harnessing Social Media for marketing will become an important part of your planning pre build; By my definition of effective.
Make a list of these suggestions...you gather here and elsewhere; you will see recurring suggestions. Make them your map to your website.
Getting a website SEEN, if it has a solid product or message, will be your focus. Yet you need to think about this BEFORE you build to include these technical features. You can draw a visual of your website- nothing fancy- just pencil and paper- yet get the LOOK in your mind's eye on paper to show your developer. You can also find a couple websites you are drawn to already to share with your developer as a visual example. Do both!
Make decisions NOW. A undecided client is very difficult for a developer. You will have more ease and dynamic progress if you have what you want firm in your mind. NOW- I am not speaking of content and what features- as for fonts, colors, etc..that does not need to be set in stone- those creative pieces emerge organically as you begin to fill in your content and arrange the pages and the features of the website. They may also change over time to reflect your dialing in and tightening up your optics.
Yet effective is an interesting word- what is the goal- to effectively SELL a product? Yes? So Sales will be your measuring metric? Or will reviews of peers, sharing on other sites, visits? what is your measure of "effective"?
Sift through that. Once you are firm with what the success will look like you can speak that to your developer. Get really clear on this point- what is effective to you and what would that look like in 3 months, 6 months and a year? 2 years? 5? Know those answers!
Good luck and if you would be so kind please send me a link to your completed website, save my name and email, as I'd love to take a look at it published and live!
Jade T Hunter