Firelight Web Studio is a U.S. based company, offering Web Services to the United States and Canada.

Web Marketing and Content Solutions

Building Your Own Website

 

They Said it was So Simple,That even a child could do it...

They LIED!

Truth is, building a website is hard work.

Many business owners can successfully build a website. But if they do, they will take at least FOUR to EIGHT years to learn how to make the site as professional as it would be if they hired a skilled designer (notice I said "skilled", not just any designer, there are plenty out there who are unskilled).

Some business owners have an instinctive gift for it, some do NOT, and may never feel competent to produce a working website.

I've already provided a listing of resources to use if you want to build your own (they are in the right hand sidebar under Website and Business Resources if you don't think you need to read any more of this). I mean, I realize that for some business owners, that's about the only way you can get a site. But if you do choose to do that, you should be aware of what you are getting into!

This all holds true if you are going to have your teenager, your neighbor, or a friend build you a site also, if they have never built a site before (or if they have only built a family website or operated a blog).

It comes down to two things:

  • Skills Website development is a combination of specialties, not just one.
  • Time and Money. Even if you pay for it all, you still need to invest the time to prepare YOUR part of the content, policies, pricing, etc. And even if you do the work yourself, you have to pay for a domain name, hosting, and perhaps software.

If you have basic skills, and time, you can build a website. The set of skills needed is extensive, and they are all fairly complicated to master well:

 

  • Web Usability Knowledge. You need to know what site visitors expect, and how your site will perform across different computer systems.
  • Graphic Editing. You'll have to know how to make your images show right on screen, and how to keep them small enough to keep your pages fast.
  • Copyright Laws and Legal Issues. There are a few very important ones to know.
  • Copy Writing. How to write for the web. It's not quite the same as writing for other purposes.
  • Search Engine Optimization. How to structure your site, and how to write your information, and how to organize your pages so that they are indexed accurately to get the most free traffic (without using 'tricks' that will get your site banned).
  • Web Marketing. There are a lot of things that can really mess you up, that only sound like a good idea if you do not have the experience and knowledge to know better.
  • Website Technical Skills. You need to understand what a website IS, how it is constructed, and either know how to construct it from HTML, or how to install and use a site framework. You need to understand hosting, domain names, and browser issues. This is the most visible hurdle for most people.

The above facets are made up of both Skills and Experience, both of which help to avoid horrible mistakes, and to speed up the work.

  • Skills take time to get. I have been at this for more than 15 years, and I am still learning new things at a very rapid rate.
  • Experience. The flip side of skills, is experience. There are some things that are not taught in web design classes, and there are some things you only learn to understand the importance of with time.

I think back over some of the mistakes I made during my first year of web design work. Back then you could get away with some mistakes, because the web was new, and everybody was making those mistakes. But now there is a different expectation, and if you listen to the wrong voices, you'll end up doing your business more harm than good.

I recently rebuilt a site that was built by someone who knew how to do more tricks with a popular piece of software than I do. But she lacked experience, so her site was inconsistent, awkward, and unprofessional. She built a site that looked ok, and worked ok most of the time. With a few adjustments, I was able to turn it into a site that looked GOOD, and that worked right every time. That is the difference that experience makes.

If you intend to build your own, plan for the following:

  • Time - Lots of it. It is going to take you a lot of time to learn to do it right. A quickie site builder online won't produce a site that looks like it has been designed by a professional.
  • Mistakes - You'll make them. And you'll spend some more time figuring out how to correct them, to make the site really do what you want it to do.
  • Technical Learning - You'll have a lot of it to do. You'll have to learn, step by step, how to do what you need to do. Sometimes you'll feel lost and frustrated (I did! Still do sometimes!), so put it aside for a bit, then come back to it, and don't expect to learn it all at once. It is HARD to learn, because there is a LOT of misinformation out there, written by people who really don't know what you HAVE to do, and what you can skip.
  • Hard Work - Plenty of it. There simply is no quick and easy way to build a good website. Shortcuts have their own nasty backlash. It's a lot of work, even for a skilled professional.

If you decide to build your own site, feel free to email if you get stuck. We'll be happy to offer you tips in exchange for a link on your site, back to our site. If you end up feeling overwhelmed, and like you just might be able to earn more in the time it takes you to do it than it would cost for us to do it, or if you think maybe it would earn better if we did the job, please talk to us.

We never pressure sell, we'll be happy to discuss options with you.

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