Create Your New Website In Just One Week!
If you know you want a website, but have been procrastinating putting one together because you’re worried about how much work it will be, maybe the trick is to hold yourself to a hard deadline to get it done.
Now that we’re in back-to-school season, take inspiration from the students facing homework with clear due dates each day and give yourself a homework assignment: to build your website in one week.
If you have a plan going into the process and break down the main work you have to do into a number of manageable steps, you’ll have an easier time getting it done. And if part of what’s holding you back is the worry that it won’t be 100% perfect – remember that sometimes perfect is the enemy of good. Start by getting your website done and up, and then you can work on making it better over time.
To help you squash all excuses and get started, here’s a step-by-step plan to get your website up in a week.
Day 1: Create your website plan.
Before you get to work creating your website, start by asking yourself all the big questions about what you want it to be. Thinking through what you want to get out of your website will help you develop a clear plan for what the website itself should be.
A few questions to ask at this phase include:
- What’s the goal of your website?
- What actions do you want visitors to take when they come to your website?
- Should the website include a blog?
- Will you be selling items through your website?
- Who do you want to reach with your website?
Considering what you want your website to do and how to make that happen will help you clarify how to approach each of the steps to come.
Day 2: Perform audience and competitive research.
Your website’s not for you. One of the most important things you need to do when building a new website is take time to understand who your target audience is and what they want. On day one, you asked yourself who you wanted reach with your website. Now, you want to dive in and learn as much about the people you want coming to your website as possible.
There are a number of free or cheap tools that can help you find out more information about your audience. And one of your not-so-secret weapons here is spending time perusing what your competitors are doing. See what their websites look like, the copy they’re using, and the topics they’re covering. As a head start for your own website, you can learn from what seems to be working for them.
Day 3: Outline your site architecture.
All the research and planning you did in days one and two should help make this step relatively easy.
Day three is when you work out the specific pages you want to include on your website and how to organize them. If your website will be on the smaller side – just a few main pages – then you may be fine with one main menu that includes all your pages.
If your website will be a bit more involved than that and include a lot of pages, then you’ll want to figure out categories to slot them into to make your main menu less complicated and the site more intuitive for users. Work up a sitemap to make sure you know where every page on your website will go, how it will be connected to others, and that it will be easy for people to find when they’re looking for it.
Day 4: Choose your domain name and hosting plan.
All websites live in a specific spot on the web; this step is where you choose yours. Brainstorm possible URLs for your website and do some research into available domain names.
Most web hosting plans will include domain registration with them, so once you’ve settled on a domain name that you know is available, start looking at web hosting plans to find one that’s a good fit for your needs. You can sign up for hosting and register for your domain name in one fell swoop so it’s all ready for you once your website’s done.
Day 5: Design your website.
At this point, you may be wondering how on earth you’re supposed to design a website if you have no experience in web design. HostGator’s website builder makes this part surprisingly easy.
Browse the available templates until you find something that feels right based on all the research and planning you’ve done so far, and start molding it to look just how you want it to. Build out the menus and pages you developed in your site architecture on day three. Spend some time looking for and creating relevant images here as well to populate the different pages of your website.
Day 6: Write your copy.
Now you need to fill all those pages you created in. If you’re not a professional copywriter, this may be a step you’ll want to revisit later, but in the interest of getting the site up in seven days without excuses, you’ll want to develop some starter copy for now.
Make use of the audience and competitor research you did on day 2 to give you ideas and make sure you’re writing copy relevant to the people you want to reach at this stage. Read up a little on online copywriting best practices to give you some more guidance. And provide the necessary information on each page of the website you’re building.
Day 7: Review everything and launch.
Now you have everything in place to launch your website. Before you actually make it live, spend some time on it. See if you find the navigation intuitive and proofread all the pages you wrote to look for errors or clunky sentences.
Once you feel ready, publish it to the web.
That website you’ve been putting off is finally done and out in the world. Not so hard, was it?
Your website won’t be perfect on day one (or day seven, rather), but now that you’ve completed it, you can start the comparatively easy job of tweaking it over time to make it better.
Pay attention to your analytics to see how people react to it and consider hiring a professional copywriter, designer, or UX consultant to help your website go further. But first, pat yourself on the back for completing your homework and getting your website up and running. Congratulations!
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.