The Devil’s Details: What to Be Prepared for if You Want a Website
Putting up a website is surprisingly simple once you learn how. Personally, I’m addicted to collecting domains and launching websites… of course, many are never seen by human eyes other than my own. Due to my strange obsession, I know the pitfalls of cost, lack of foresight, and absence of appropriate planning when it comes to this process.
You see, properly building a website – a phenomenal website – is much different than throwing one up on a whim over the weekend.
Before you begin, you need a compelling reason to start a website at all. Honing your webmaster skills? No problem. Building an online business? Fantastic! Whatever your reason is, have one and know its stipulations ahead of time. Otherwise, you’re wasting time, money, and emotional energy over nothing.
If you want to be successful with a website, have a compelling reason to start it in the first place.
So you have a website in mind, and a solid reason to build it. Okay… so, what now? What do you need? How much is this going to cost? Where do you start? Unfortunately, there is no single answer to any of these. The internet is open territory, with many paths that intertwine. Your options are virtually infinite, and that’s not necessarily positive without any understanding of why you would choose one thing over the other.
There’s a little devil hiding in each one of those questions, waiting to suck you into the abyss of technological despair. However, by taking the time to learn what to expect on the road ahead, you can avoid wrestling with quite a few of those rascals. Your wallet and mental health will thank you for it.
Table of Contents
The Three Devils of Planning a Website
In the world of the web, the cost of anything depends on the balance of:
- your expectations,
- your willingness to learn new skills, and
- your budget.
For the right price, you can have (practically) anything. That’s true of most things all over the globe. But let’s assume you’re bootstrapping and can’t afford any fancy pants stuff. Even if you have the cash, why spend it without knowing your less expensive options first?
Devil 1: Your Great Expectations
Know what you need and why you need it. Think you’ve got the next brilliant idea like Facebook? Try again. That’s not to say you don’t have the next genius app idea, but it’s a long road to the top. It takes a series of many quality ideas, excellent execution, and flawless decisions to get there (let alone stay there).
Small and specific wins the race. Find one small, specific problem you want to solve and then make your website the best at doing that one thing.
When it comes to building a website, small and specific wins.
If you try to go in building the next Facebook, the chances are high that you’ll wind up losing thousands of dollars. If you go in with a narrow, well-defined goal, you have a decent shot at walking away a winner. Think before you leap.
Devil’s Detail #1: Going in with too great of expectations or a lack of project clarity. Temper your expectations, or you’ll take on a ill-fated project. Define the results and benefits you expect to see, then measure them.
Learn About Website Expectations
- Why do you need a website?
- Why you need a personal website.
- Setting the purpose of your website.
- 19 types of websites you can make with WordPress.
- What kind of website is right for you?
- 20 things your website should do (and 5 things it shouldn’t)
- How to plan your website when you don’t have one yet.
Devil 2: Your Willingness to Learn New Skills
Building a website involves learning a whole new world of technology. There are so many acronyms involved, it’s overwhelming. You’ll need to come to terms with the fact you’ll be in new territory, even uncomfortable at times. Get cozy with the idea of following a myriad of tutorials to make sure your site is performing the way it should be.
You may want to prepare yourself by printing out this cheat sheet for becoming tech-savvy.
Got that? Let’s move on.
You can either build your website all from scratch, or hire people to help you.
- The more you DIY, the less money you spend on paying others to run your site.
- The less you involve professionals, the more likely you are to build something that falls flat.
However, it does take up time to do things all on your own. Depending on your situation, it may be worth the cost of your time to hire someone else. But consider that you’ll also lose out on the valuable knowledge that comes with understanding how your website works from the ground up. There’s something to be said for blood, sweat, and tears.
Whether you hire others or not, in order to run an effective website you should learn what that even means. Do you know what an objectively good design is? Do you know how to test for web usability? Do you know about content marketing or search engine optimization? Do you know how to track the number of visitors on your site?
In all likelihood, you don’t know about all of that – which is okay for now. But unless you can afford to hire an entire web department, you’ll eventually want to be aware of these things. That means being willing to grow and learn as your website matures.
Devil’s Detail #2: Thinking you can get away with learning nothing new. The more you understand about running your website, the more successful it can be.
Learn the Complexity of Building a Website
- The difference between domains, hosting, and websites.
- How to organize the content of your website.
- 10 hand-picked tutorials for learning web design.
- Getting started with WordPress.
- Getting started with content marketing.
- How to write quality content for your website.
- Getting started with search engine optimization.
- 10 reasons you shouldn’t build your own website.
Note: Semantics covers technical topics to put these types of skills in perspective, so they are less likely to overwhelm you.
Devil 3: Your Ability to Balance Your Needs With Your Budget
The third devil comes in to play once you’re ready to pull the trigger. Considering your expectations and readiness to get hands-on, how much money should you spend on your website? Yes, you can even build a site for zero dollars, but let’s assume a minimum amount of professional standards:
- Hosting (where your website lives): $5/month
- Domain (the URL that goes in the address bar): $10/year
- Content Management System (such as WordPress): Free
Hypothetically, you can get up and running for a mere $15. But cheap initial costs doesn’t mean you should start throwing your money around everywhere.
That doesn’t include a design, customization, content creation, optimization, or anything else. Those take many hours and can also run you well into thousands of dollars. The wisest way is to first try it yourself to understand what it calls for, then hire out when you finally reach the point it is necessary.
All that said, if your expectations are managed and you learn what needs to be learned, you’ll be able to handle this without blowing the bank.
Devil’s Detail #3: Not understanding the value or price of a worthwhile website and misjudging your own limitations. Setting good expectations and learning about the scope of your site can ensure you spend money exactly where it is needed.
Learn About the Costs of Running a Website
- What’s the real cost of running a WordPress website?
- The true cost of running a WordPress website.
- Here’s how much you should pay your web designer.
- The cost of building a website.
- How much should a website cost?
Note: Each website is different. There is no one price that fits all.
Deciding Whether It’s Worth It
Are these devils you’re ready to face?
Think about adopting a puppy. It’s thrilling at first, but then you realize you need to pay its vet bills, pick up poop from the backyard, and feed it every day. A puppy is a long-term commitment and responsibility. It’s not all bad though, because the rewards are well worth that expense. You just need to have planned for it before making that decision.
So – what about these freak out you out the most? Let me know in the comments section below, and I’ll be here to help.