Any business that doesn't have some sort presence on the internet is at a serious disadvantage, especially without an official website. While social media accounts are avenues for marketing and connecting with customers, websites are important because they establish you as professional and give your company credibility. At the very least, a website lets Google and other search engines know you exist, putting you and your business on the online map with SEO visibility.
Lots of web-building platforms like SquareSpace and Wix can make designing and putting up a website quick and easy, but they're still limited in what they can do. You don't have much, if any, control over the back-end programming, meaning if something goes wrong, you'll have to depend on the service to help you fix it. Also, if you leave the platform, you have to start over.
To bring your vision for a website to fruition exactly the way you envision it and maintain it, you'll need to learn basic web programming.
Fortunately, it's possible to teach yourself to program and design a website. There is an excess of resources online to help you learn web development and design. These resources are both paid and free, and range from articles to professionally taught video courses. Most importantly, these resources are used and recommended by web development professionals.
Below are several tools – free and paid – you can use to create your business's website.
Codeacademy – (Paid and Free) An online learning platform with hundreds of courses on programming and web design. These are interactive classes that are designed to walk you through concepts and practices. There are courses for all skill levels, including beginner and intensive, so after mastering the basics, you can move on to more advanced courses. Most courses are for premium users, but there are still lots of free courses as well. "I like the fact that practical lessons, like designing a responsive website and deploying websites come early in their lessons, and they also offer a wide variety of development lessons in the same format," said Joe Goldstein, SEO director and operations manager for Contractor Calls.
Medium – (Free) A simple primer for user interface design, freelance UX/UI designer Erik Kennedy details his list of rules for good-looking UI in this guide. "Erik does a great job of defining and justifying UI design principles, which makes his advice feel much less subjective than other design tips I've read," said Aaron Yoshitake, founder of Pickakit.com.
Udemy – (Paid) Udemy features a library of curated tech and business courses taught by different instructors. Each course has a detailed curriculum as well as reviews from former students. Courses are purchased a la carte, rather than through a subscription. "All the instructors are professional developers who have years of experience in web design and development," stated Sam Carr, marketing manager with PPC Protect Limited. "These courses are very detailed and even allow you to ask questions to the instructor if you get stuck."
GoDaddy's Garage Blog – (Free) After you purchase a domain from GoDaddy, check out their blog for web designers, which is filled with tips and guides for developing your website. It has plenty of categories for different areas of web design and web development.
Usability.gov – (Free) This is a government-sponsored educational resource. It has lots of how-tos and guides for making and improving the user experience for digital communication. It hosts several subjects, such as project management, visual design and the basics of UX. "People learning about web design should first learn more about their users before possibly creating a non-intuitive user experience," said Bennett Lauber, chief experience officer for The Usability People. "Usabilty.gov provides great background and resources for web developers that are interested in creating truly easy-to-use systems."
YouTube – (Free) "It might sound obvious to some and completely irrelevant to others, but YouTube is one of the best resources for learning just about anything in 2018, and web design and development are no exceptions," said David Alexander, developer and digital marketer for Maze Press. "If you are a visual learner and prefer to be engaged, you might find this free method trumps them all."