How can you create a website with no development skills and without commissioning an engineer to do the work?

My wife is starting a new local service business and has a business name. She needs to create a website, buy the domain (it is available) and then get it hosted somewhere at a low cost. She wants some static pages for generic content, sell a small product offering (shopping cart) and have a blog on her website. Any ideas for the best way she can go about this? Needs to create logo too.

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6

I could teach you how to do just that; but I know the secrets...I'm a web designer and biased towards the use of a professional. But, if and when, a professional is not available; I confess that there are options for the DIY crowd that can perform magic. What was once out of reach can now be done with just a little effort. By little effort I mean that nothing will ever be as hard as Microsoft Word was to learn. The new web builders can do a lot. But they don't do everything that web designers can. Thankfully, I like my work.

The question now is; should you hire a web designer to make your website for you or just use a web builder and build it yourself? A balanced assessment of your options can be found at:
http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/should-you-hire-designer-use-web-builder/

The author, Ream, points out that Web builders like Wix, IMCreator, Weebly, and Jigsy "have helped millions of people create websites easily, even without Photoshop or coding experience." This is a good thing. My favorite of these tools is Wix, but you may like another tool.

My advice is that if your needs are simple; building your own website via a web builder is practical. But if you need to open an online store, a membership site, forums, etc.; I highly recommend looking for professional services. Save time, money and energy.
-The Pragmatic Web Designer

The attractiveness of your website and cost of web design is easily controlled within WordPress by using themes and plugins. Being unique is not an issue as there are 4800+ premium WordPress themes and professional WordPress templates on ThemeForest to cite one source. And plugins can extend WordPress to do almost anything you can imagine. There may be no need to do any custom programming on your project. Programming is what causes the cost to rise.

You have not shared with us the nature of your wife's services. It could make a difference, There are specialized themes and plugins for different industries. Sometimes an industry expert can save hundreds of dollars on a project.
- The Pragmatic Web Designer

5

1. Before you go ahead with developing the website, you need to create the businesses logo that fits the core values your wife wants for her business and how she wants to be perceived. I would highly recommend hiring (commissioning) someone — with experience especially — to create the logo.

As an alternative you can go to an art school or university and hire a student to create a logo for the business, but it may not be as strong perceptually as an experienced professional because they generally don't have the experience to know what questions to ask to draw out the appropriate visual image the business requires.

2. There are multiple options available for creating a website. First, almost all domain registrars offer web hosting services. As part of those services they have free website building tools. They are for the most part relatively rudimentary.

The second option is to go to a service like Squarespace, Weebly and alike. Here's a link to them. http://mashable.com/2011/07/10/small-business-website-budget/. The downside to some of these services is that you may not be able to maintain the domain you want and become a sub-domain of their service. You should investigate the various services to see what they allow.

A third option is to use free tools like Wordpress and install it on your web hosting service and build the pages yourself using a variety of free and premium themes. Typically, there is some learning curve to using Wordpress and most if not all hosting services offers Wordpress service as one-click install.

Once again, your website needs to convey the same perception that your logo is projecting. Furthermore, while static pages are great, content is essential to being found on search engines and for attracting prospective clients. So take a deep breathe and take some time to understand the market and your target audience to determine what information they want and need to make purchasing decisions. Try to define and map a blueprint of what you need in your site before starting.

In the end, as with the logo, you might be better off in the long run to hire a professional to create a website for you — or at the very minimal guide you along the way.

Thank you all for your awesome input so far. I am leaning towards professional services to get better quality. Any suggestions on reputable, not-expensive prof services provider for the dev and logo design?

It depends on where in the world you are in. A good logo and corporate identity can run USD $500 to $3500. A Wordpress site can run USD $750+. The more experience the more the cost will be because you are paying for their expertise and knowledge. Keep in mind that depending on what your country's tax codes these expenses in many cases can be written off as a business expense.

5

I agree with the general advice here about corporate identity. Many startup and small businesses underestimate the importance of a strong corporate ID, logo and so forth. I strongly advise that you engage a professional to handle this.

Regarding websites: a managed or self-hosted WordPress site is one way of going. However if you're getting involved with eCommerce there are a number of legal and technical requirements and leglisation that need to be followed.

Surprised that no-one here has mentioned Shopify.com - it's built for businesses such as the one your wife wants to start. It's inexpensive ($29/month), reliable, handles all the legal and technical aspects involved with online trading, and is really easy-to-use. You can always move up to a self-hosted proposition when the business takes off and more funds become available.

Hi On The Radar, I think people have given you good advice about getting professional help to develop the logo and website for your wife's business. It will get the business off the ground to a great start. We specialize in logos, branding and websites for startups. If you would like a quote, please private message me. We would be glad to help. Good luck with your venture.

5

You should look at some solutions such as WordPress for the site. Use that as the main brochure site and then link out products to a selling site such as shopify. In any case if you are in startup mode, you will need to spend some money on hosting, domain and probably some consulting. Engineers are not programmers so if you do need someone, look for someone with web development creds.

Set up social channels to support the site and brand - Facebook and twitter to start at any rate. Have you invested in proper design such as your logo? Looking like you spent no money or thought on marketing is the sure fire way to scare away any prospective leads or customers. Spend some money to get a proper logo and design style created. Do not go for those $5 logo offerings.

Use Google to find what you need for solutions. Invest in some Google paid search ads to drive customers to your site.

Remember - you have three tenants: Time, Price and Quality. Be prepared to sacrifice one of those if you want the others to work your way (Quick Expensive and Good vs. Quick vs. Cheap and Bad or Slow Cheap and Good).

5

Congratulations on deciding to build a business! It's an exciting time and, often, a confusing one for first-timers. I'm sorry to say that my response will be among your first of many reality checks But, take heart, it's not all negative..

The short and sweet answer is, "You can't."

You can no more 'design a logo' or 'build a website' with absolutely no skills or experience than you could drive a semi truck when you've never been behind the wheel of even a go kart.

Now, if you're willing to put in the work to lean the basics--an endeavor that will result in your becoming a novice, at best, and will likely take you several weeks at minimum--you could probably eventually hack something together. The problem is, whatever you put together is PROBABLY going to look like something you hacked together yourself. This is not the most trust inspiring image for a new business. After all, if the company doesn't care about their own image, why should your prospective customers perceive that image as anything more than haphazard and homemade?

So, what CAN you do?

There are a lot of sites that let you advertise for and/or hire experts on a per-project basis. Many of them are good places to find a less expensive means of getting something at least passably professional done by someone with some experience in the work that you need performed. But beware -- there can be a few pitfalls with this approach as well. A lot of these so-called experts barely speak English, seem willing to work for an amazingly low hourly rate--and then quite happily bill you twice the number of hours that you originally expected to be billed for in order to deliver work that looks like it was hacked together by someone in India on Timbuktu.

The solution? Interview your bidders! Check their personal portfolios! Can they do the type of work you need done? Do they have several competent examples of similar work to show you? Find someone who understands the market for your new business venture and is reasonably priced. Asked for a fixed fee bid for the job so you don't get any nasty by-the-hour bill surprises later. Don't pay them a dime until you see what they have done and approve of it.

A few hundred dollars will go a long way toward getting your wife's business off on the right foot. No, it wont end up looking like a high end design done by a professional agency--but it probably won't make people think you're a 30-something running some fly-by-night business out of your mother's basement, either.

Good luck!

4

Purchase a theme (WordPress themes cost $40 - $60 on ThemeForest for example) and load the demo content to guide you. I don't recommend the free ones.

4

Well, I would say either you have to start learning things over here otherwise you may need to hire someone who can do this for you ! Sometimes its good to outsource things as you can get it designed at pretty much cheap !

4

So there are two different types of people when it comes to creating a website, web developers and web designers. I have an art & design background but I know very little code. However, I have created some pretty kick-ass websites utilizing my creative mind and keen eye for design. If your wife would like her website to have ecommerce capabilities I would suggest going with something like Squarespace or Shopify. These are sites that you can customize and design within their already coded templates and you pay a flat fee every month to the Website Content Management Platform. Does you wife have any art experience, can she use Photoshop or Illustrator? If you are talking about someone with bare minimum graphic design background doing everything on your own is going to look very homemade. There are people that can build you a site and logo utilizing these platforms at a much more effective cost and a bit nicer/higher quality than if you were trying to do it yourself. If you can give me more insight into what you need, I can structure you a proposal of what it would cost.

4

Wordpress is a great CMS platform that is very user freidnly.

I would caution however, building a website on your own without any knowledge. This is not to say that a great website cannot be built by someone who is learning as they go, however, there are a lot of things that go into building a website that later feed into search engines and help rank your website that someone who is learning as they go will not know how to do. Also, submitting your website to search engines, Google Webmaster, Bing Webmaster, configuring Google Analytics and about 20 other things most web developers do without thinking, will be passed over by someone who does not know the industry.

Websites do not have to be outrageously expensive. If you are interested, send me a private message and tell me about your goals and your budget.

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