If you read part one you might be thinking to yourself: “My business website looks like it is from 1998 and that is kind of gross.” You probably want to do something about that but dang it html and css are hard, and designers are expensive. Needless to say, a great designer is a great investment in the long-term success of your business, but not all startups and small businesses are making the kind of cash to be able to afford a good one. So what do you do? There are two ways out of this dilemma.
Teaching yourself to Build a Website
The first is that you, or someone on your team can teach themselves how to create a website. This can be a long path, especially if you want your website to have all the snazzy new features that you admire on other more professionally designed sites. However, if this is the path for you there are plenty of resources to help you in your journey. If you are someone who learns best in a classroom environment, then why not take a class at a local college. This can be one of the best ways to make sure you are learning the correct things and that the information is up to date. However, one of the beautiful things about living in this day and age is that you can teach yourself pretty much anything you want to learn using the internet. Your success is determined not just by the time and effort you put in, but also by your learning style.
If you are someone who learns best by reading, then the first place you should checkout is the World Wide Web Consortium, otherwise known as W3C. The goal of the W3C is
“…to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure the long-term growth of the Web.”
One way they work to achieve this goal is to provide free, and easy to follow tutorials that adhere to the most up to date standards of web design.
If you are a more auditory/visual learner, then there are a couple places you could try. Youtube is a great place to start, mostly because it is free and there is truly a plethora of videos; some of which are awesome, and some maybe not so great. You should start out with videos about html, then move on to css, and maybe even java if you find the process interesting.
Another great site for education videos is Lynda.com
Lynda avoids some of the pitfalls of Youtube’s democracy and diversity by having certified professionals create their videos. Many of these are available for free, but the drawback is that you usually have to pay for a membership before you can view an entire series. However, if you are serious about design this might be a worthwhile investment.
Using a Website Theme
Some of you might be reading this and gradually finding a deep anxiety growing in the pit of your stomach. You might be thinking to yourself “I don’t want to do all that work, I’m doomed!” The first thing you need to do is relax, maybe watch this video of sea otters holding hands, and then proceed to the next section were I explain how you get a beautiful, professional, and non-generic website without hours of study.
On the eighth day they invented WordPress, and the people rejoiced for it was good. So what is WordPress? Here is a definition taken directly from their website. “WordPress started as just a blogging system, but has evolved to be used as full content management system and so much more through the thousands of plugins, widgets, and themes, WordPress is limited only by your imagination. (And tech chops.)” Using the free WordPress software, and combining it with one of the seemingly endless themes created specifically for it can leave you with a beautiful and professional looking website. There are many sites that provide both free, and paid WordPress themes, and to find these you need look no further than your search engine of choice.
My dear reader I hope this information providing you with a good starting point, and I hope you are not feeling overwhelmed. If you are, go back and watch that video with the otters. After that, remind yourself that you are living in time and place where education has never been more accessible.