Beginners Guide to Websites: Which Platform & What to Include
Aug 13, 2019
I sent out a survey asking fellow go-getter female entrepreneurs where they were struggling most, and got an overwhelming response that these ladies were stuck on their websites.
Some had websites, but were not sure how to update them.
Others didn't know where to start.
Well, let me tell you my friend, websites are my most favorite pieces of marketing collateral to put together. I just ADORE websites. And I spend a lot of time tactically planning them out, designing them, and comparing website software.
Did you know I started my own web development company back in the early 2000s? I also used to teach an adult ed course called "Web Design is Easy," where I taught adults how to code.
Only I discovered they didn't really want to learn code, which is how you had to build websites back in the early 2000s. So I used to dream about the day when drag-and-drop web design software would become available so I could help these ladies and they would feel EMPOWERED and CONFIDENT in their website skills. And feel ready to dive into their websites and make them the best that they could be. All on their own!
And that day is finally here! There are now lots of options for building yourself a website without needing to know a lick of code!
What I am referring to are called "CMS" in the biz. This stands for Content Management Systems. Because all a website really is is pieces of content, right? That a computer serves up to you when you navigate to the URL.
Which means, that now there is software that makes pulling together websites SUPER EASY. I always start with a pre-designed template, so I know the structure will look great and work on mobile, and then update the style with my brand colors, fonts, shapes, and patterns.
And putting together all your pages is just a matter of drag and drop as well! It's really incredible. This software obliterates the need to feel nervous or needing to be a coding geek and puts the power to create something fabulous and professional right into your hands. Website Platforms: Weebly vs. WordPress vs. Kajabi
The big question is, which CMS should you use? There are lots of them out there, and all are not created equal. And I suggest different ones to different people, depending on their business and level of comfort with tech.
So, which one should you choose?
The three I absolutely recommend that are the most user-friendly and create beautiful websites that look ultra-professional:
- Weebly: easiest drag-and-drop, can get your website up and running in about an hour.
- WordPress: most popular CMS on the web, I use to develop sites for businesses that need a tried-and-true solution that can grow with them. Takes a bit longer to get up and running.
- Kajabi: A website and more - best for people who want to offer online courses and membership sites and need a home base website and email marketing program. It's got it all and is the easiest to use of all of those I have vetted.
If you have never built a website before, I challenge you to sign up for a free account with Weebly, and create a fun test site. You could create a site that is an ode to your dog, a wedding website for your best friend who is getting married, or a website for an upcoming family reunion.
Weebly is FUN. It's an absolute joy to put together a site. I was once filling in as a graphic design teacher at a private high school where I was the marketing director. For the course final I had the students develop Weebly websites to promote something they cared about.
Many of the students created portfolio sites or sites about their hometowns. The best part was when one of the students who had been struggling turned around during the final "exam," and exclaimed at what a great time he was having. When was the last time you were taking a final and thoroughly enjoying it?
If you are not tech savvy, I would encourage you to stick with Weebly or Kajabi. They are both technophobe-friendly.
Keep WordPress in mind for when your business starts to really grow. I am not a huge fan of the blogging capabilities of Weebly, and word on the internet is that you can't back up your blog posts because they live on the secure Weebly server. I am not quite sure how that is different from the other pages on your website, but it's a bit frustrating if you ever want to move your website and take your blog with you. If it doesn't back up, you are going to have to copy and paste and move each post individually.
The wonderful thing about WordPress, even though it's not as user-friendly as Weebly, is that it was originally set up as a blogging platform. So it is excellent for managing blogs. The way it displays them, the way the categories work, and how the posts do get backed up with the rest of the website. The other reason most people stick to WordPress is that there are little things called plugins that allow you to made the site do whatever you need it to do.
Think about a fresh install of WordPress as cheese pizza. Plugins are the toppings that make your site phenomenal. Some are free, and others cost either a one-time fee or have on-going charges.
If you are going to use WordPress on your own, you absolutely must first install the plugin Elementor.
Did you Google that? Elementor.
I would NEVER have suggested you try to DIY your website if you've never done it before using WordPress until now. Elementor takes the user interface and makes it almost as user-friendly as Weebly. You still have to toggle to the regular WordPress back end dashboard, which can add to the learning curve, but the Elementor interface is incredible.
There is a similar plugin called Divi, but if you see that, I would encourage you to run in the other direction. Talk about frustration and hair-pulling.
So, if your business is growing, consider building your site with WordPress and Elementor. You can use Elementor for free, and the pro version that gives you added bells and whistles costs $49 a year.
Lastly, Kajabi and why it's the best CMS for online businesses.
I tested Andy Jenkin's Kartra and that was a waste of the $400 I ended up spending before I had the courage to shut down my account because I was not making any headway with it. The free email templates they give you were sub-par, and putting together email marketing sequences was a bit complicated. Plus the interface was clunky.
I have been using Thinkific for a long time, as I love brand stylist Fiona Humberstone's online courses that are done in Thinkific. And I love the price tag, free for up to three courses. You can't offer multiple prices or discount coupons, but free is an incredible deal for being able to publish online courses or membership sites. It's relatively easy to use, so if you are just starting out with this type of business, I would suggest you give this a try if it fits best with your budget.
So why then is Kajabi the platform that made my top three? The user interface is simple to learn, and if you go through their 28-day challenge, you'll be up and running in no time. And the email capabilities outweigh the current Thinkific options. It just feels easier to use and navigate, and offers so much more than any other single platform. Online marketing guru Amy Porterfield has been using Kajabi for years, and she knows what she is talking about!
Now comes the big question -
What do I put on my website?
Before you even start building your site, you will want to do some surfing.
Not ocean surfing, but web surfing. First look at your competitor's websites, or sites of others in your industry. What is on their sites? What are their main calls to action? What pages do they include?
Bookmark sites that have elements that you like, and jot down the aspects you like either in a notebook or in a virtual document.
Then do the same for some of your favorite websites not in your industry. What is it about them that you like so much?
By this time you should have a pretty good idea of what you like and don't like on websites. From here you can outline what you would like your site to include. Quick Recap
- Surf competitor's websites & sites you like
- Note the main calls to action
- Note what pages/sections they include
- Bookmark sites/pages you like certain aspects of
- Jot down the particular aspects/pages/sections you like
- Outline what your site should include
Example: Homepage, About, Sales Page, Blog, Resources
Remember that your homepage is your most valuable piece of online real estate, as most people will end up there first. But keep in mind others will come in side doors, so each page needs to show who you are and what you do and have calls to action.
Your header and footer are also extremely valuable. Make sure to make it very clear in at least one of them how to contact you.
I have an entire website training on the exact elements to include in your website navigation, homepage, headers, and footers to build the know-like-trust factor with your audience and convert them into your biggest fans. It is currently only available as a bonus in my "Pretty & Powerful, Styling a Magnetic Brand Identity" course, which you can read more about at https://brandglamping.thinkific.com/courses/brand-identity
For those of you already enrolled, be sure to log in and check out the newly added bonuses, they include this one and two more!
I'm excited to see what you come up with for your sites. I'd love for you to post your site on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mybrandmybusiness
, which will both allow me to give you any feedback and give you some helpful visibility. Happy creating!