How to Build Your Website the Lean Way – Save Money & Time
Running low on resources, money and time to build your website? Find out how to build a website the lean way to market your products and services effectively.
You have the brilliant idea, you’ve brainstormed for the last two weeks and found the perfect name for it, put all the puzzle pieces together and now you’re in that awkward moment when you have to present it to the world.
Let’s just say; you want to create magic but haven’t been paired with your wand yet.
Most startups and small businesses have the exact same problem, they’re having a hard time allocating resources and more importantly, budget for necessary items like a website. You might be familiar with putting a ton of money forward on things like building the actual product or service — there’s often not much left. Yet, you know very well you won’t be able to sell the product without building a trustworthy website for it.
Luckily, there are ways build your website on a lean budget.
Just follow these five expert tips to build your perfect website that drives consumer engagement without having to sell your car to get it done.
1. Use free resources.
Don’t have the money to hire a professional web designer?
It’s ok, you’ll get there later. Meanwhile, use WordPress. It’s free, it has tons of functionalities, it’s easy to set up and update. Just buy your domain name, host it somewhere, install WordPress, grab a free theme and the first step is done.
2. Less is more.
Think about what’s really important to you when you’re a potential customer. You want to get to the product as fast as possible and find out about it without any hassle, right?
The same applies to your customers as well. Create the smallest possible number of pages on your website. The product or service should be on the first page, the first thing the visitors see when checking your website. Have a detailed description, but keep it short and simple, nobody has time for romance anymore. Most visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a website, unless you grab their attention, so be concise and respect everyone’s time. Next, an About page with a short introduction to your company and contact info, a Blog section where you can post some news and more detailed info and you’re good to go.
No need for bling and unnecessary info – you don’t have to create multiple pages in order to look “professional.”
Avoid installing plugins just for the sake of it. They may slow down your website and churn visitors away rather than keeping them. Integrate the Google Analytics code so you’ll get data about who and how is visiting your website, install a caching plugin to increase speed and everything should work just fine.
Be sure to check your website’s speed with Google’s page speed tool and GTmetrix from time to time while you’re building it, so you’ll know right from the start what to keep and what doesn’t make sense adding. It’s better to do it right from the beginning rather than fixing it afterwards.
3. Mind the aesthetics.
Keeping it minimal doesn’t mean you can’t do a great job building a beautiful website. Functionality and speed are important, but so is the appearance.
Use images of similar style, preferably shot by the same photographer. As you don’t have the budget at first to hire a professional photographer specifically for this task, you can use stock photos and graphics that match the look of the website, but make sure you are choosing illustrations or photos from a small group of contributors.
On Dreamstime, for example, it’s possible to search by the primary colors from an image. You can use this tactic as a starting point to have a good matching palette for your website: to put the viewers at ease and allow them to focus on the content, you want to use colors that work well together. If you’re mixing illustrations with photos make sure they match well (for example you can use a minimalist photo with a complex illustration or the other way around).
Whatever images you will use, make sure you resize and compress them well in Photoshop, don’t forget that the speed of loading is crucial. The devices in use nowadays are asking for larger images, like 1000 pixels on the long side, however you need to compress them at about 50-60% quality so they will be light enough to allow your pages to load fast.
4. Keep in touch with your audience
Blog short, but blog often.
The paradox is that, while nobody has time anymore, everybody’s expecting to see fresh content daily. Vlog, if you find it easier.
A lot of freelancers and small business owners don’t update their websites often enough, despite obvious data showing the correlation between updates and traffic increases. You don’t need to invest that much time and money to post on your blog. Keep it short, but make it impressive. If you don’t have the time to write lengthy articles, use quality stock images or videos (purchased through an inexpensive stock image subscription) and catch visitors’ attention with good imagery.
And don’t ignore social media. You need to attract visitors to your website in any way you can. The funny thing is that each channel will help with getting visitors from the other channels. If you’re doing good on Facebook and Twitter, this will help you with better placement in Google searches. If you’re doing good in Google, you’ll get more visitors and chances are you’ll do better in Facebook and Twitter. It’s a vicious circle, but make sure you don’t stay out of it. You need to do it all, not just one of these. If you’re doing good in social media, don’t skip posting on your blog: the content you own and control is king.
5. Keep it legal.
Text and images that you’ll be publishing online are created by their authors (sometimes you are the author, sometimes you’re paying someone else). You can’t just take and use them because you found them, that’s not how it works. Most texts and images you will find online are under copyright and require consent from their authors or paying a fee to use them. Especially those that are looking professional and stand out.
So ignore the temptation to just use whatever you like because you don’t have the resources, and make time and money available to license or create your own.
I can’t stress enough about the importance of branding.
If you get caught red handed, it affects your brand, but it may as well affect your budget, because copyright lawsuits usually make you pay 20-30 times more than what you would have paid if you had legally licensed the content.
No budget available at all?
There’s always a solution. You can use free photos, donated by photographers. Even if the selection will be a bit limited, it’s still legal and you’re up for a good start.
You can get the most out of every image, whether it’s a photo, illustration or a video by introducing simplicity and ease-of-use to your website design. For many freelancers and small business owners, the ability of the website to convert customers is the single most important outcome, while it must be managed on a limited budget. Following these five tips to build a lean website design will help you attract and retain a quality base of potential customers.