Startup Insights

A series of 10 blog posts discussing some of the most important business lessons I've learned while bootstrapping FlashDrivePros LLC from a small, garage-based pastime into an international company.

Startup Insights - Building a Business Website

Brian Ernst - Monday, April 15, 2013

website design for startups

Building a website for your business can seem like a daunting and potentially expensive task. Where do I begin? Do I pick up a copy of HTML for Dummies, or hire someone to build the site for me? What about those drag-n-drop website builders? These are some of the questions I was asking when I needed a website for FlashDrivePros. I first decided the DIY route, learned some HTML, and actually managed to create a working, albeit very ugly website in a few days.

In the first few months after launching FlashDrivePros, customers actually used to call and say "Are you guys a real company because that is one uuuuuugly website?!"

It was pretty obvious we needed something more professional, and equally as obvious that I didn't have the skills to do it. I reached out to my friend Cesar. I knew he had built some really great websites over the years and asked for his help. I ended up hiring his company, SDG Agency, to give ours a total makeover.

There are tons of DIY website builders and other ways to get a website up fast. But if you're going to build a really professional website that's more than just an online business card, I suggest you enlist some professional help. Look first among your current contacts and if you can't find any good and willing candidates, you can find some good designers on SDG Agency might be able to help as well. 

Our website is built on a content management platform called Adobe Business Catalyst, which I highly recommend if you're going to be selling relatively standard products and services. Business Catalyst is basically an on online business in a box. It lets users manage website content without requiring an in-depth knowledge of HTML, CSS, etc. It has a built-in ecommerce platform for managing products, orders, discounts, and customers, a visual website editor, a blog platform, affiliate program manager, customer service ticketing, and lots of other useful business tools. However, many high-tech startups will probably find BC too restrictive since there isn't a whole lot of room for customization. But if you just want to market and sell your products and/or services, Business Catalyst is definitely an option to consider.

Wordpress started as a blog platform but has become the most popular content management system for business websites. It has thousands upon thousands of third-party themes and plugins and is pretty user-friendly once you learn the basics. You can do just about anything with Wordpress - even more than with Business Catalyst, but you might find it a little more difficult getting it set up. Most website hosting companies offer easy and free installation of Wordpress with just a few clicks.

Bottom line, unless you have a strong knack for graphic design and code, don't waste your time and get some professional help!

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