Starting up, Website

Building a website

Screenshot of my new website

Screenshot of my new website

I am hopefully reaching the home straight on my new website.
It’s taken a while to get here though!

There is a wide variety of choices on offer for a crafter looking for a website to showcase or sell their makes, and you don’t always need to spend a lot of money to get what you want. It can be a bit of a minefield, so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt!

Where to build your online presence

So, you want a website, but where do you start? The first question you need to ask yourself is what you want to achieve. Do you want to:

  • Showcase your work
  • Sell your makes
  • Blog
  • All of the above
Facebook is a fantastic place to start, it’s free, you can add photos and talk to your customers.  However not everyone wants to be on Facebook, and you can’t easily sell through your page unless you use a shop through an online marketplace like Etsy.
If you just want a very simple presence with some product photos and an address to promote through your craft fairs and Facebook and Twitter pages, you can use free blog sites like Blogger and WordPress.
Just to make things more complicated, you can use free versions of these sites, or you can install them on a web server and have more control over the design and features that allow you to build a powerful site with shop features. You need to know your stuff though.

Online shops

If you want a shop, you can go for Etsy or Folksy and link from a blog, or you can go for your very own web shop presence.
There are a number of web-based online shop building solutions you can use to make a website.
Weebly is very popular with crafters and artists. It incorporates a blog, a shop that accepts PayPal and various levels of design control. It has free and (low cost) paid versions
Shopify is a powerful online shop building website that allows you to integrate with other online payment engines as well as PayPal. It has various price ranges but is more expensive than Weebly.
Most websites have a free trial period so you can have an experiment and see what works for you. Think about the features you need to make your business work.
Another important point to remember is what the website looks like on a mobile. More and more people are using mobiles to browse, and if your site looks awkward as a mobile site it will put people off.

Content, content, content

Whatever solution you choose, your content is the most important thing to focus on.
The key things to remember about content are:

    • Keep it simple. You have seconds to grab someone’s attention  so best to put your products on your homepage
    • Don’t be wordy, people don’t read the same way online. They scan for info
    • Keep a good colour contrast. Black on white is easy to read. You don’t have to use this but avoid dark text on dark backgrounds or white on a pale background
    • Don’t use images instead of words
    • Test your website on friends and fans. Get them to carry out typical tasks you might expect other visitors to do. How do they get on?
    • To help your website show up in search engines, use the words that people might type in when searching for your products in your product descriptions and text
    • Have links to other websites on your website (even if just Twitter and Facebook) as it will help search engines find your website
    • Have great photos!

There’s probably lots more… Have a look at other websites and see what you think of them. What’s good and what do you find hard?

I’d be really interested to hear your experiences of building a website.  Are there any sites you recommend? Any things to avoid?

I’d also be grateful if anyone could help me out by testing my nearly finished site with their honest advice. If you want to help me, get in touch and I’ll send you a link. I’ll do the same for you if you need it!