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shindigger

Website Self Build. Online Templates/solutions Etc.

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Hello

Im looking to set up my own web presence for my small Hire/Service company.

I know zero about web design, hosting etc, and need a schmucks guide to what to expect, and to do to set up some sort of low maintenance site.

It wouldn't need to be a site that took payments etc, just to serve as a credibility measure, as much as anything else.

Any pointers gratefully received.

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You need a domain name registered. Secondly you need to host the website after designing it. Some domain registration sites actually have a website building wizard as well as hosting all under one roof.

If you want to design yourself you can could look at something like Joomla or wordpress or go down the Dreamweaver/Photoshop design route.

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Try weebly if you want to do it yourself, don't want to spend much and want it to look acceptable and be easy to modify without having to pass through a web design company.

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You need a domain name registered. Secondly you need to host the website after designing it. Some domain registration sites actually have a website building wizard as well as hosting all under one roof.

If you want to design yourself you can could look at something like Joomla or wordpress or go down the Dreamweaver/Photoshop design route.

I've found Joomla to be a bit horrible to use....I'd second something like Wordpress, or if you want something flashier, try wix.

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Yes, WordPress and I strongly recommend Vidahost for hosting - cheap, reliable and their support is first class. No affiliation with them but have several web sites hosted by them.

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Guest unfunded_liability

I used wix three years ago to develop and customise a new wesbite, it was fairly straightforward and they have many templates to choose from.

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I used wix three years ago to develop and customise a new wesbite, it was fairly straightforward and they have many templates to choose from.

I currently use it...I've managed to convert an old flash website to HTML5, so it all works with iOS...

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Guest eight

Hello

Im looking to set up my own web presence for my small Hire/Service company.

I know zero about web design, hosting etc, and need a schmucks guide to what to expect, and to do to set up some sort of low maintenance site.

It wouldn't need to be a site that took payments etc, just to serve as a credibility measure, as much as anything else.

Any pointers gratefully received.

I use namesco, they have a thing called sitebuilder which I don't actually use but it looks quite good.

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I think some of the suggestions here are pretty sound.

Wordpress might be a bit overkill. If you have the time and the skills find some basic HTML5 templates online.

Someone mentioned Namesco's site builder which will most likely be HTML5 based with differing templates for individual niches and markets.

1. Register a domain (123-Reg, Namesco, Heart Internet, Godaddy...etc)

2. Find generic shared crap host (someone mentioned Vidahost - best of a bad bunch but fine unless you are intending to become another Twitter)

2. Bung wordpress on (one click install these days)

3. Don't use the default 'admin' username (to avoid hack attacks) choose something else

4. Create pages, not posts for a static business website

5. Turn off discussion/comments (unless you really, really want this).

6. Use on the standard Wordpress.org themes. Twenty Ten, Twenty Eleven etc.. nice and slick, look good on a mobile/tablet or any device and with various plugins can give them almost premium theme features (such as easy columns in posts/pages etc to create a pinterest or magazine look if you want)

7. Get someone to design you a really, really nice header or prat about with photoshop for an hour or two.

8. Create default pages, a basic about you or your business page (set this as a static default page)

9. Create contact page, privacy page, terms page, cookie page (there are plugins that generate all this for you)

10. Install 'All in one SEO' or Yoast SEO plugin to optimise for local search (local keywords) which alse create google sitemaps

11. Put your biz name and search terms into the Page Title, Header and tagline ie: 'Hobbs Flange Manufacturers - Huddersfield'

12 Install Contact Form 7 + Maths capcha + so people can contact you (the maths capcha is so you don't get spammed to high heaven)

13. Possibly install various social widgets so people can 'share' your content on Twitter/Facebook, or show your own Twitter page (if that floats your boat)

14. Disable wp-cron in wp-config, get one of the support guys to setup real cron (Plesk or cpanel allow the setting up of cron jobs -if your crap host permits this).

15. Probably install a cache plugin to try and speed Wordpress up a bit, but as you are on a shared host, server load is really their problem I tend to do all my caching server side (as I self host with Varnish + NginX + Apache + php-fpm + MySQL stack)

That just about covers up setting up a basic 'business card' site telling the world what you do, unless I can think of anything else.

Some additional things to make a Wordpress less bloggy looking and more business orientated.

16. Disable the bloggy looking sidebar for your static business pages (Page/Post Attributes > One Column, no sidebar)

17. And / or remove Meta, Tag Clouds, Archives, Categories.

18. Calls to Action everywhere (without looking desperate) 'Hire Me!/Hire Us!" . Make header image clickable to your call to action or contact page.

19. Social Proof page (testimonials)

20. If using Twenty Ten, Twenty Eleven etc etc themes, install 'Styles' plugin so you can customise fonts, colours etc without in depth knowledge of CSS).

Probably people on Fiverr that will do all this for a fiver.

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Hello

Im looking to set up my own web presence for my small Hire/Service company.

I know zero about web design, hosting etc, and need a schmucks guide to what to expect, and to do to set up some sort of low maintenance site.

It wouldn't need to be a site that took payments etc, just to serve as a credibility measure, as much as anything else.

Any pointers gratefully received.

Frankly if you know zero about web design then I suggest you let a professional web programmer do the job. If you try to do it yourself you will waste countless hours on this and the result will still look unprofessional which will turn away customers.

Of course when you choose a professional check his references as there are loads of self proclaimed professionals out there who don't have a clue what they are doing.

Maybe get it touch with DTMark? ;)

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Frankly if you know zero about web design then I suggest you let a professional web programmer do the job. If you try to do it yourself you will waste countless hours on this and the result will still look unprofessional which will turn away customers.

Of course when you choose a professional check his references as there are loads of self proclaimed professionals out there who don't have a clue what they are doing.

Maybe get it touch with DTMark? ;)

I'd agree with this. Zero experience is not a recipe for credibility unfortunately. Personally, I'd suggest finding someone locally to help so you can meet them in person - it could even be the teenage geek offspring of a colleague (providing they've done it before).

If you are planning to do it yourself, then you could do worse than set up a facebook page for your business as a start. It's pretty straightforward and you'll be found in Google etc.

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Frankly if you know zero about web design then I suggest you let a professional web programmer do the job. If you try to do it yourself you will waste countless hours on this and the result will still look unprofessional which will turn away customers.

Of course when you choose a professional check his references as there are loads of self proclaimed professionals out there who don't have a clue what they are doing.

Maybe get it touch with DTMark? ;)

Depends on what the OP wants. We don't know what he does.

If he's a plumber or a tradesman, people won't be expecting much in terms of fancy web design.

Its an online business card website, with some brief 'about' and 'contact' pages with perhaps some testimonials.

Many web designers will charge £400-500 for such a basic website.

Obviously if the OP is intending to become the next Amazon, then some more thought and investment has to go into it. (the design and the backend).

Also used to make me laugh, how a small business would hire a fancy designer to sell goods online (say garden furniture or mobile phone accessories (often charging thousands for e-commerce etc) and then host it on some cheapo £1.50 a month shared hosting account.

Often I'd seen better results just using Wordpress + Woocommerce and a decent theme and some graphic customisation.

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Depends on what the OP wants. We don't know what he does.

If he's a plumber or a tradesman, people won't be expecting much in terms of fancy web design.

Its an online business card website, with some brief 'about' and 'contact' pages with perhaps some testimonials.

Many web designers will charge £400-500 for such a basic website.

Obviously if the OP is intending to become the next Amazon, then some more thought and investment has to go into it. (the design and the backend).

Also used to make me laugh, how a small business would hire a fancy designer to sell goods online (say garden furniture or mobile phone accessories (often charging thousands for e-commerce etc) and then host it on some cheapo £1.50 a month shared hosting account.

Often I'd seen better results just using Wordpress + Woocommerce and a decent theme and some graphic customisation.

I wouldn't disagree, but that still takes a reasonable amount of knowledge or messing around.

By all means give it a go, but I think it would be an exercise in frustration and only delay the inevitable which is to get somebody who knows what they are doing (paid or otherwise).

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Shindigger seems like a pretty bright sort of bloke to me who could handle some instructions. I think he could do what aSecuretenant is suggesting.

Even if he had a go himself before giving up or being dissatisfied with the result, it would give him a lot more knowledge in terms of buying in the service, as well as cementing his 'requirements'.

Yes he could basically use Wordpress to prototype what he wants, and then get 'an expert' to make it all professional with nice graphics etc (perhaps at a later stage).

Here is a good example of Wordpress used as a small business website.

http://www.deliciousmedia.co.uk/

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Hosting - Bluehost - cheap, reliable, loads of email accounts

Package - Wordpress.

If you're new to web design, I'd recommend buying a premium wordpress 'theme' called Headway which makes designing on Wordpress even easier - it's a kind of 'drag and drop' system where you draw blocks and assign them a function (headers, footers, sidebars, main content etc etc)

loads of tuition on youtube too;

http://www.youtube.com/user/headwaythemes

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Thanks for the mention :)

I suggest four possible options all of which have come up already, I've outlined some pros and cons - this is not meant to be exhaustive, I type quickly but at this moment I don't have time to write a comprehensive essay..

1. Template

Buy a template from something like templatemonster.com. Download some free web editing software (think MS Web Expression is free now) and spend time inserting your own content/replacing the "placeholders" etc.

Advantages: template will only cost you about thirty quid. You can maintain the site yourself later on once you've got the hang of the editing program.

Disadvantages: you need to learn how to use the editing program and a bit about how publishing/FTP works. It's not rocket science but it's a bit more fiddly than opening up something like Powerpoint and using the built in templates to construct say a simple two page presentation.

2. Content Management System with template

Pick a web host who supports Wordpress "out of the box" with a 1 click install to get you up and running. You don't need to know how to set up a MySQL database or even worry about it. Play with this to your heart's content. You can still go the Template Monster route later on and buy a template to overlay on top of it.

Advantages: Entirely web based UI. Others can also edit it so you can delegate. Lots of plugins and extensions.

Disadvantages: You need to learn how to use Wordpress and it's not really that straightforward. You may find yourself tearing your hair out. More so with Joomla which I'd suggest novices avoid like the plague. If you want to move it to another hosting company you may struggle a bit.

3. "1 & 1 My Website Builder" or similar - sign up, pick template, insert your content etc - this is conceptually the same as (1)

Advantages: This is the easiest option for a novice and may well be the best option. Relatively cheap though cost may add up in the long run. Nothing much to "learn", nothing to set up on your computer, all online.

Disadvantages: You can't "take the solution with you", you own no part of it, you are tied to that provider as it's all "out of the box" supplied for you, it will probably look a little basic, not that extensible. There is no real "path forward" from this.

4. Get someone to build it for you

Advantages: A good consultant will listen to you and find out about your market, your goals, your strategies, possibly open your eyes to things you hadn't though about, and provide something that works for you and who can extend it for you later. The project can thus have more value than "get a website built".

Disadvantages: Cost. If not built using a content management system like Wordpress you will probably have to get a pro to update it for you. Though that said if you can't be bothered doing it yourself and/or it doesn't change often this isn't a major problem.

If you're a tradesman you need to be good at - being a tradesman. Not at building websites.

I tend to build technically complicated sites which are often 2nd or 3rg generation sites e.g. client starts with one of the above and outgrows it. By which time the ROI of having a pro do it for you makes sense and you can justify it.

It really doesn't make much sense to spend a grand on a nice website design for a startup most especially if most referrals are word-of-mouth and also if you can only service a very localised market. It's no use that someone in Edinburgh is dazzled by your site if you actually only service High Wycombe.

Websites can still be important in generating leads even for small local companies if the customer does a bit of research and your site outshines all the other crap they come across in the local area. But if you're a plumber and not say a technical consultant, as long as it looks "acceptable" that will probably suffice.

Hope this is helpful.

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Obviously if the OP is intending to become the next Amazon, then some more thought and investment has to go into it. (the design and the backend).

Amazon_original.jpg

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It really doesn't make much sense to spend a grand on a nice website design for a startup most especially if most referrals are word-of-mouth and also if you can only service a very localised market. It's no use that someone in Edinburgh is dazzled by your site if you actually only service High Wycombe.

Websites can still be important in generating leads even for small local companies if the customer does a bit of research and your site outshines all the other crap they come across in the local area. But if you're a plumber and not say a technical consultant, as long as it looks "acceptable" that will probably suffice.

Hope this is helpful.

My thoughts exactly

By the way if the OP wants to PM I'll get something setup on one my subdomains, ie:

http://blogly.msnsmiley.co.uk/

and can have a play round with Wordpress if he wants. He can always export to another host when he's happy.

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I got a simple site going on Blue Griffon which someone here recommended - don't remember who.

Works fine.

Basically I think you are better off spending the money getting more traffic to your site than spending it on web design.

But really it depends on what type of site you are trying to set up and how much competition you have. If it is a site selling common items/consumer goods then it is more important to get it looking good than if you are in a specialist business where there are only 3 suppliers in the world selling to experts.

One of the good things about web design is that you can use it to make a small business look like a big one, like virtual office, should you choose to do so. This can be important for some sales areas. But in order to do this you have to spend the cash.

And remember, if you don't have full control/understand what is implemented, there is going to be a constant requirement for changes/enhancements to be made and that costs further.

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I got a simple site going on Blue Griffon which someone here recommended - don't remember who.

Works fine.

Basically I think you are better off spending the money getting more traffic to your site than spending it on web design.

But really it depends on what type of site you are trying to set up and how much competition you have. If it is a site selling common items/consumer goods then it is more important to get it looking good than if you are in a specialist business where there are only 3 suppliers in the world selling to experts.

One of the good things about web design is that you can use it to make a small business look like a big one, like virtual office, should you choose to do so. This can be important for some sales areas. But in order to do this you have to spend the cash.

And remember, if you don't have full control/understand what is implemented, there is going to be a constant requirement for changes/enhancements to be made and that costs further.

Glad it worked out for you.

To the OP, I would look at Gandi.net for an 'all in one' especially if you don't want the 'software' approach. They have been around a while, are very user focused and you can have a simple free website of a couple of pages using their online tools, or buy more space if you want.

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I got a simple site going on Blue Griffon which someone here recommended - don't remember who.

Come on, don't be shy. So we can deliver our 'critiques.' :rolleyes:

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Guest eight

Just thinking about this, wasn't this the kind of thing every man and his dog was doing fifteen years ago? What's changed? A simple HTML website with contact details and brief info should still be OK for such as a tradesman, shouldn't it?

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