Can you really design your own website and do a decent job?

Now I’m not going to tell you not to hire a designer for your website if that’s what you’re thinking or planning. I started this business designing websites in Squarespace so I’m all for you going down that route if that’s where you’re headed.

If you have the budget, have no time to design your own site and/or simply aren’t interested in doing it yourself, then it’s more than likely that’s the way you’ll go.

But hiring a designer isn’t for everyone.

What if you simply don’t have the budget? Or actually quite fancy giving it a go yourself? Does that mean that your website will inevitably look a bit, well, crappy?

And this is where I’m going to say a big ‘no’. Making the decision to DIY your website definitely does not have to mean that your site will look second rate or that it’s not going to serve your business well.

In this post you’ll find 4 tips to help you design and build your own website.

1. Choose the right platform

Your choice of website platform can greatly affect your experience of designing your own site but also using and managing it once it’s finished.

If you Google ‘what website platform should I use?’ you’ll find thousands of opinions. There are firm fans of every platform – WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify and Showit are a few of the most popular. Ultimately, you need to think about how good with tech you are and how long you want to spend working out how to use your platform of choice. Another thing to bear in mind is the cost – for example, WordPress requires paid for hosting but Squarespace doesn’t. However, you’ll pay a monthly subscription to Squarespace and it takes care of everything in return (except for the cost of your domain name).

Squarespace is a great choice for many small businesses. It’s intuitive, easy to work with and to build a good looking site to show off your products and/or services to their best.

If you want to find out more about Squarespace you’ll find my free Intro to Squarespace course here.

2. Keep it simple

Don’t overcomplicate what you’re setting out to do.

In order to launch your website you need certain key pages in place. That’s likely to be 5 or 6 pages so there’s no need to set out to build a 20 page website. That would be so overwhelming that you’ll be likely to not even start! The key pages of your website should be the home page, about page, contact page, blog (if you want one), shop (if you have a product based business) and services page (if you have a service based business). There are also those compulsory pages containing your cookie and privacy policy but you’ll only need to paste the policy content in there so I’m not counting those!

If you need to add more pages later, do just that. Your website doesn’t need to be all-singing, all-dancing from day one.

3. Preparation

You’ll be excited to get going on your website but before you jump into your free trial with your chosen platform, I’d urge you to get each of your pages planned out on paper (or in a Google doc), at least to give you a rough idea of your content for each one. And that includes your images as well. I always say to my course students to separate out the page layout design from the content. If you try to do both at once it can quickly get overwhelming, especially when you realise you’ve still got work to do on your content. You’ll feel slowed down and frustrated. So get that content prep done first – preferably before you even start the free trial on your website platform to avoid wasting precious days of that free trial while you pause to get your content ready.

4. Don’t lose sight of the end goal

Look, you’re not a website designer, you’re a business owner. The aim of your website is to show off your products and services, not your cutting edge website design skills. Unless of course you are a website designer! That means the priority for your website is to very clearly show your potential customers and clients what it is you do and how your products and services can help them. Believe it or not your website visitors are not checking whether you have the latest website gizmo on your site. The fact that you spent four hours deliberating over the colour of your buttons will, I’m afraid, be lost on people browsing your site. All that they really care about is being able to sign up for your email list, place that order or book that discovery call with you. And that should be your priority too when designing your website.

So will your website look OK if you design it yourself?

If you give yourself the best chance then yes, it will look a lot more than OK! Using a platform like Squarespace, and with perhaps some guidance to get you using it confidently, it really is possible to build website pages with beautiful layouts which also help convert visitors to customers and clients.

If you want to design and build your own Squarespace website, my course, Website in a Week, will guide you through the whole process in seven days. Find out all the details here.

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