“I Need a Website” – My Latest Email

help me screenToday I clicked my Yahoo accounts to check my ever-growing pile of email to see this particular subject line that read, “I need a website”.

With grave hesitation, I opened it.

And it wasn’t as bad as I thought it could be.  🙂

Apparently I got a referral from a friend who doesn’t want to do web design anymore.  He’s too good for that now.  ;)  Actually, he enjoys print layout and I can’t say that I blame him.  😛

At any rate, someone needed an e-commerce website so that they could sell an online course along with a few sideline items.  They wanted to be able to edit the content for themselves and basically, as I’ve heard it before, “be in control”.

As a side note, I find this really funny.  For some reason, at the beginning of starting something new, we humans want to be at the captain’s wheel, or leading the charge and taking names.  Whatever you want to call it, it’s humorous because as soon as you learn what it is that you’re doing, you want to find someone else to do it for you as soon and as fast as you can!  I’m no exception.  I’d like to find another designer who’d work for me and yet make a profit from it somehow, but I digress.

Furthermore, this person listed a website which they admired and listed the reasons why. “Where has this person been all my life?”, I asked.  Someone who imparts information without me having to get the dental tools out to extract it from them…  Consequently, the Marathon Man would have made a great web designer.  He asked several times, making sure that the answer didn’t change, on exactly what he wanted to know.  Oh, the life of it all.  😛

A simple, “Would you be able to work with me?”, was very compelling since far too many assume that you’ve got nothing else going on at the moment.  So a wrote a reply — a reply that took over an hour to compose.  I wonder if I should back-charge?  That’s a joke people.  If anything, I give away more advice than I ever bill.

So here you have it, a complex response to a straight forward question.  I’ll save you some of the introductions for the sake of me remaining anonymous.  🙂

…I took a look at that site that you like so much.  I don’t see that would be too difficult — at least not with […], or anyone else for that matter, to make any logos, buttons, etc. that you’ll need along the way.

Yes, I do web design, but like […], we both have moved into other directions that we like better.   Not to say that I can’t help you, but I’m more into the search engine part of things than strictly design.

What I do recommend you having, regardless of whoever designs it for you, is to have WordPress installed on your host.

I may have to back up a step if that didn’t make sense to you.

I’m assuming you already registered a domain with some company, be it GoDaddy or someone else.  That domain needs to be hosted.  Again, typically the same place where you purchased the domain name offers hosting as well — for a price.  So you may or may not have hosting at this point in time.

On whatever host you choose, you will be able to install a framework that allow you to manage your site.  These are called Content Management Systems, or CMS for short.  Some examples are WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, TypePad, Weebly, etc. allow you to get in there and edit your own content without getting someone ‘higher up’ to do it for you.

Since you mentioned this, that’s why I’m presenting it to you.   😉

All those above programs work, but by far the most recognized (and supported) is WordPress and although I may be wrong, in my experiences it’s been easier to find someone who knows WP than finding a Joomla guru, but you’re mileage may vary. 😉

WordPress is actually a blogging platform, but since it’s so easy to use, people have developed web design software to allow further customization with its theme, or looks, among other things. These are typically called plug-ins.

So with WP installed, you can edit your pages yourself.

As far as a e-commerce site, again, I’m assuming that you’ll probably end up using Paypal’s buttons over signing up for another merchant account that would handle all the credit cards and statements.  For the shear simplicity (and support), I can’t think of anyone else other than Paypal to handle that responsibility, but that may just be me.

If you’ve already got a company that you’ve dealt with in the past and are familiar with processing transactions, then by all means continue as planned.

Integrating e-commerce (a shopping cart really) isn’t that hard.  Most provide code for the cart, or you can use other third party software to do the same thing, but again, in a different ‘skin’, theme, or look.  Zen Cart is one that comes to mind.

As far as your […] go — are they videos, downloadable PDFs, or just content pages with membership access?  If it was me, I’d try to avoid the membership option.  There’s always way too much support involved with people trying to access something they paid for — and in a hurry to boot.   Although, if you’re charging enough for each […], then it may be worth it, but pricing is a whole other discussion. 😉

If you already have hosting and that host offers a way to install WordPress (most do), then you could conceivably have a blog created in five minutes if you know what you’re doing. ;)  If not, it really doesn’t take that long to have someone walk you through it — say an hour or so to go over the basics.

So the time to get it running is really determined by your content and design needs.

There’s something else to consider, again I’m assuming, that this is a brand new domain.  If so, you are going to need time for Google to adjust to your new site and to build links and all that other jazz that you do to get noticed on the internet.

Of course, if you’ve already got a following, or a marketing plan other than “People will surely find me, right?”, then you can skip some of that.

What I’m getting at is that you may want to get the site online before you compose all your content.  Otherwise, you may end up waiting for your site to get up to speed.  I’ve seen it before so it’s worth mentioning. 🙂

If I didn’t address all your requirements, please let me know and I’ll try again. 😉


I'm your mild-mannered, marketing guy. I love maximizing returns for businesses using imagination and low-cost approaches.

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