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How to avoid website DIY disasters

Coming from a nation of DIYers - New Zealand - I can empathize with those who want to do it themselves. Right now, I'm in the middle of a bunch of "honey-do" projects around the house - tiling, baseboard replacement, painting. Even though these projects don't require huge learning to do acceptably, they do require some learning. They also need the correct tools to do it well. For example, I bought a good quality wet saw for the tiling project. I have quite a lot of cutting to do, and getting the cuts where I want them is critical.

Good salesperson, bad salespersonSo how's this all play into website design? Simple.... you need to know some stuff, and you need the right tools. Without either, your shiny, new, 24/7 salesperson may not be doing you and your company any favors. As I mentioned in a recent blog, the average person makes up their mind about your site in 1/20th second. That's such a tiny amount of time, should you really try and "go it alone" and put your company's reputation on the line with a DIY website? (My apologies to Sir Ian McKellan for using this less than flattering image of him practicing for a role!)

DIY website snafus

This won't be anywhere near an exhaustive list - there are too many things to get right (or wrong) to cover in a single blog post. Which is really why you should be engaging an expert to do this.

Colors. Color says a lot about your company. Know your market and make sure your website (and corporate) colors reflect who you're trying to reach.

Content. Again, who's your target market? What will they be wanting from your website? Decide that, then give it to them. Be careful not to use terminology that will be foreign to them. Update REGULARLY (this doesn't mean once a year!).

Navigation. Employ the KISS principle. Try to get at least the most important information a single click away from the home page. Don't try to reinvent "netiquette" (what the average user would expect). I recently say "Testimonials" as a drop down under "Contact". An illogical placement.

Security. Hackers are attacking websites thousands, if not millions, of times a minute. Security measures are not something to think about - they are mandatory. And good, robust ones. Even Target can get hit, and they had great security - just no one monitoring it. So be sure you know how to read what reports and emails are coming your way, and how to appropriately respond to them. Don't expect your host to do all this. Or any of it. You'll get basic security - your site needs much more than this.

Backups. Keep regular backups - again, don't expect your host to do this - most will charge extra for doing this as it uses disk space. Know how to backup and how to restore in event of failure.

Legal stuff. Do you need to have a Privacy Policy (some states do, some don't). Failure to provide one where required can incur fines. Do you need Terms & Conditions? How about a cookie alert for users?

Time. Make sure you have the time to not only build your site, but also maintain it. Backups, updating content, updating add ons as they release new versions.

The bottom line (which could affect YOUR bottom line)

If your business is anything other than website design, stick to what you do best - work ON your business, not IN it. Delegate, and that includes website design. Almost everything today has become specialized. Have your car fixed by an experienced mechanic, choose a knowledgeable financial advisor to handle your investments, and have a professional website design with a proven record, handle your 24/7 salesperson.

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1/20th of a second and you're flying or dying

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