We know you’re busy. You’re running to estimates, quoting jobs and planning what the next season of your business will bring. Finding time to sit down and learn how to build a website, while incredibly important, is something most of the PROs we talk to simply cannot do. That’s why our team of experienced digital marketers and industry experts have identified 5 easy to follow steps (with step by step instructions) to get your website launched in about 30 minutes. Building a website is much easier and more cost effective than it used to be and with this straightforward guide, you’ll be up and running in no time. If you can, we do recommend taking more time and planning (outlined below) to perfect your site to your liking, but this is a great resource to begin with.
Make a Plan
Building a website should and could take more than 30 minutes. In fact, it could take months, but if you want to quickly get a site up and running, skim these to-do’s and come back once launched.
Identify Your Site’s Goals
The most important step in building your site is to identify the goal. In other words, what problem do you want it to solve or what purpose do you want it to serve? Most PROs feature image galleries of “Before and After” work, easy to access and find contact information, along with a brief on the company and it’s history. The brief is a great place to share your story. Family owned business? Inspired by something special? Your About Us page should paint a picture and give reasons why a potential customer should give you a call.
What sites have you visited lately that you really like? What are your competitors and industry leaders doing that stands out to you? What non-industry related sites do you frequent and like? For example, maybe you like the responsive feel of our new SUPPLY.com PRO site or the way a site like Skillshare incorporates video introductions on their home page? Make a note of impressive design traits or site functionality that you’d like to include in yours.
Create a Site Map
A site map is essentially the framework and foundation of your new site. This is for your eyes only and not for a visitor of your site. Think of it as the blueprint for your project. For the examples below, we’ve included a 6 page site: Home, About, Blog, Contact, Testimonials and Gallery. If you can, sketch out a rough draft of each page and how you’d like it to look (based on steps 1 and 2 above) to include all the content each page should include.
Site Map Mock Up
Page Mock Ups
Below is a sketch mock up of what a page could look like. I used the Home page (on the left) and the Contact page (on the right) for the examples. This is a great exercise to perform as we head into the next step, in defining your style.
As a side note, when starting your blog, we went ahead and put a great guide together to walk you through Why Home Builders Should be Writing Blogs (and What They Should be Writing About).
Define Your Style
Taking steps 1-3 into consideration, it’s now time to decide what you want your site to look like. Identify your company colors (if you get stuck, just look refer to your logo), font choice and images to include in your headers and gallery. Need some great looking, free stock photos? Check out Unsplash and download as many as you’d like.
Write Text in Advance
Use Microsoft Word or Google Docs to draft your website content. Include bolded and different size fonts to show header or main topics. Also, include your call to actions “Contact Us” or “Request an Estimate” and place accordingly. You’ll be able to edit the text once on the site, but this way you have content to include and it makes for an easier and more fluent editing experience.
Select a Platform
Your Content Management System (CMS) is the platform you’ll use to build and then edit/update your site. Some are easier to use than others, but each appeal to a different work style. We’ve identified 3 of our favorites below (they’re all pretty easy to use and don’t require any kind of coding experience).
Select Domain + Hosting
Depending on what path you chose above, you may need to purchase a domain and/or a hosting package. We recommend checking out Godaddy, a fairly inexpensive and user friendly solution to use. Godaddy also integrates effortlessly with Squarespace and WordPress, taking the transfer and technical skills of domain/hosting off your plate. They also have a great support team who helped us walk through a few sticky situations (especially when using WordPress).
PRO Tip: Try searching Google for “Godaddy Coupons” to see new offers prior to your hosting or domain purchase. Once you’ve bought your domain name and set up your hosting, you’re well on your way!
Alternative options to Godaddy include:
Build Your Site
Set up Your Site in 30 Minutes Using Squarespace
Based on our research, Squarespace is the easiest and fastest way to get your business online. They’ve integrated everything you’ll need with user friendly tools and step by step instruction. Premium plans are only $12/mo and include a domain and hosting.
Need more help? Check out this great video from WebsitesMadeSimple. It’s longer than 30 minutes but is a great explanation for taking you through some parts of the process in real time.
Set up Your Site Using Wix.com
Wix is an intuitive and easy to use inline website editor, providing a different approach to creating a site. They have a few plans, with ad free starting at $9.92/mo and include a domain and hosting.
The Wix.com platform does provide more in-depth editing and while it’d be difficult to get a finished product up and running in 30 minutes (as opposed to Squarespace) we wanted to provide some other solutions to getting your website launched. We don’t go into full detail, but below are some simple steps to get you started. Wix.com has an awesome Help Center. We recommend checking that out for more info.
From here the options are pretty limitless, but we’ve covered the basics to get you set up. Watch this awesome tutorial from WebsitesMadeSimple to go deep into making the most out of the Wix.com editor and get your site up and running like a PRO!
Set up Your Site Using WordPress
WordPress is possibly the most well known of all CMS platforms and one we trust to use everyday (this site was built on WordPress)! WordPress is an open source (free) solution that will require a little more work on the back-end, but if you’ve got the time, it’s worth diving into.
There are 2 ways to build a site using WordPress. The first is similar to the way we’ve built sites using Squarespace and Wix.com process. You’ll register an account, select and modify a theme with your custom content and go from there.
Let’s get started using this method.
The other way to build a site using WordPress is to install the open-source (free) software on a server for full customization.
Prior to setting up your WordPress site this way, you’ll need to purchase a domain and hosting package, (following the steps in the previous section) before you can start editing your site.
Watch this easy to follow video from WebsitesMadeSimple for step by step instructions on setting up your site for full customization.
Before launching we recommend showing your new site to a few close friends (a few extra eyeballs can be really helpful). This is also a great time to reflect and self evaluate. Do you like the way your About page showcases you and your services? Does the color scheme still work or does it need touched up? Also, double check and make sure all of your links work and contact info is all correct. If you ask someone to email you, when they click the button, they should be able to do so!
Once live, invite your friends, family and network to check it out via social media and email. Not sure how to use sites like Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin to market your small business? No problem, click here to learn more about getting started with social media marketing.
So there you have it, everything you need to build your website from start to finish. We highlighted some important planning steps, went deep into the weeds of the technical aspects and came out the other side with a shiny new site! The last, last, last step is to send it to us. Tweet us at @SupplySays with your url (www.yourawesomesite.com) so we can have a look and share with our network.