Updated: Aug 12, 2020
This is the down and dirty dash to get a website across the line. The thing is, we all know large site projects can take a year or more (a year!), so I wanted to spotlight a different way to do things. A faster way that blasts a hole through this process. Website design and builds really don't need to take that long. In fact, I know you can build a new website in as little as three days because I did it the other day.
I run a friendly low-cost coworking club, The Cowork Collective, and it is relaunching. Yay for face-to-face meet ups! I had agreed a relaunch date with the beautiful Marsham Court hotel in mid-September but the club didn't have a decent website. I needed to publish one ASAP or miss the window to market the whatsit out of it and make it a success.
I designed and wrote the complete site in just three days. Here's how I did it.
Quick Tips for Fast Website Builds
Keep your website simple
Planning saves time
Focus on your mobile site
After years with Wordpress, I now build all my sites on Wix. It is a super easy platform that makes building pages a doddle for non-web designers. The best thing about Wix is its ADI. You can change your mind a million times about the way your site looks instantly by switching theme or tweaking theme settings. It's painless and it lets you adapt your site as your design develops.
If you want to build a new website quickly, Wix ADI makes light work of your website design.
The best part is that you can switch to Editor mode when you want more freedom in your designs after all the legwork is done.
Keep your website simple
One reason some websites take weeks or months to build is that people try to make very complex site maps. If you want to publish your site quickly, plan the minimum content necessary. Big tech companies call this a MVP (Minimally Viable Product) and it's a smart way to approach a new website.
Start with only the content that is 100% essential for someone to buy your product or learn about your service and nothing more. You can add the bells and whistles later.
For my website, I knew I needed a Home page, a Membership page, an Event page and a brief About page for the venues. I decided to let Wix take care of the Blog, Members area and Forum to begin with. The designs might be basic, but I can come back to those later.
By working with a minimal site, I could focus all my energy on making the content and layout work well. I had the basic functions in mind and I used Wix's drag and drop strips to add the right content to each page. Then I rearranged these with the press of a button until I had in a good flow.
Make a site map
Brainstorm your web content before you begin. Use bullet pointers or headers only and group it by topic. These notes become your pages and sections. Ditch anything you don't need immediately at launch, like an FAQ. Think about
the benefits of your product
the benefits of choosing you over your competitors
a little Keyword Planner research around these terms
how you want your site visitors to move through your pages
links to social media
The Home page, or the landing page for your site, is 100 times more important than any other page. If it doesn't grab your visitor's attention, they will leave... quickly. The Cowork Collective home page has a lot of sections; each one drawing the visitor down the page, adding nuggets of information to the visitor's understanding of the club. As the Cowork Collective is an Events and Membership business, the Home page is designed to walk visitors through a typical event schedule, add a calendar of upcoming events and then link to the Membership sign up page. If the content has done its job, they are ready to see their options.
Think about your visitor's journey through your site. Add sections and pages that are the next step in the journey. This way, your site is designed around your customers and their needs.
Don't change your URLs
Think long and hard about your URLs before you publish your site. The last thing you want is 404 Page Not Found when people click on Google. These are created because of indexed pages that no longer exist. That happens because you changed a URL.
Changing URLs leads to 404 Page Not Found and nobody wants that
You need a site that is easy to navigate AND keeps Google's search bots happy. Changing URLs leads to 404 Page Not Found and nobody wants that. So plan your URLs as part of your website creation.
Don't panic. If you decide you really must change your URL later on, follow Wix's simple guide to setting up 303 redirects to stop your visitors getting lost and keep Google happy.
Preview your mobile site
Most people use their phones to visit websites, so your site needs to look good and flow well on a mobile. Desktop and mobile websites look different because of the screen shape. Having a mobile optimised site improves your customer experience a lot.
Switch to mobile view in Wix and you can change the mobile version of your site without affecting its desktop appearance. This is best done right before you publish. It is the last step in the process. And it is essential. You might be surprised by how different the mobile site needs to be.
You might be surprised by how different the mobile site needs to be.
Think about this. Mobile view basically means seeing one narrow column. Many websites have sections or pages with two or three columns. Columns don't work on people’s phones. Making your site optimised for mobile wins you ranking points with Google, so this is worth getting right.
To make this stage quick, I recommend using Wix's Mobile Optimise function on each page of your site. You can see which parts of the site are lost by clicking on Hidden Elements and bring them back if needed.
At the top of the Cowork Collective home page, there is an image layered with a company message and a button. This simply doesn't work on a mobile screen. I clicked Mobile Optimise and Wix moved the button off the image to a new strip underneath. I saved a tonne of time just by using the built-in features of the ADI.
I saved a tonne of time just by using the built-in features of the ADI.
And here is the result: the mobile-optimised website for the Cowork Collective. Built in three days using Wix ADI. It's live, it's getting me hits and it is converting customers. But I know the journey isn't over. Read on to see what I mean.
Don't stop now: your website is not finished
One big mistake many novice website builders and company owners make is to build a beautiful website and forget about it. I did the same thing once. Back when I started out as a freelance copywriter, I didn't know anything about SEO. I just had a knack for writing content that converted. My website didn't change for 3 years (and I wondered why I didn't get many visitors).
Since then, I've learned about SEO through working with agencies, taking courses, and researching online. Now I know my website needs fresh content on a regular basis if I want Google to take notice. Part of the reason my old site didn't rank is because Google didn't think anyone would want to see it. Now I know better. I create helpful blogs (like this one), tweak my main pages, add new sections and FAQs. It makes my site a better experience for potential clients, and it tells Google to pay attention.
Building a MVP website gets you out there in front of potential buyers quickly. It also means there are plenty of opportunities to update and improve your site later on.
Remember. Building a MVP website gets you out there in front of potential buyers quickly. It also means there are plenty of opportunities to update and improve your site later on. And that is good. Google likes updates. Fresh content helps the algorithms think you are relevant. So feel free to go back to your site and tinker. Add sections, add images and videos. Add links and blog posts. But always remember to keep SEO in mind and never, ever change your URLs after you've published.
If you need a new website or a revamp to kick your existing one back into life, we should talk. It might take longer than three days as I don't know your business as well as my own (the Cowork Collective is a trading arm of Words by Page), but I have a passion for gorgeous sites that work for people and search engines.