You guys are aware of my opinion of many websites out there in the world.
Frankly, the vast majority of them look like shit.
I went into a long discussion about it on this post regarding the truths about blogging:
If I keep seeing guys come to me for advice after this one, and they have a Genesis theme installed I am going to start kicking kittens.
GENESIS IS OVERDONE.
METRO PRO AND NEWS THEMES (Genesis child themes) ARE OVERDONE.
DO NOT USE THEM.
Look at This Is Trouble. I use purple as my primary color, for crying out loud. I have bright oranges and yellows mixed all over, too. It’s like a fucking 80’s disco.
But I get compliments on it all the time because it stands out. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’ve been designing websites since I was ten years old, and I’m 24 now. I recognize many of you don’t have the skills I do. But guess what! There are some great themes that are easy to work with and affordable.
Now, you should note that this is not a “start your own blog right now!!!” type of post. Quite the contrary. I’ve already rattled on about how much of a time sink and labor of love blogging is. I couldn’t recommend anyone start a blog and run it as a business unless they have oodles of free time and lots of money already in the bank.
However, I do believe that web design is a skill everyone should have. Good web design is not cheap – sure, you can hire the overseas designers off Fiverr for next to nothing, but you get what you pay for. At the same time, forking over $1,000+ to hire a native English speaking designer is a steep price point for a new business just trying to get off of the ground.
Since I consistently get asked what kind of theme I’m using on this site, or any recommendations for starting to learn web design, here you are. The ultimate guide to building a website that doesn’t look like shit. Coming from one of the guys out there in the blogging world who has one of the best looking sites. Don’t believe me? Look around and see how generic most of them look. The really good ones – ask if they do all of their own design work. I’ll gladly go toe to toe.
STEP 1: ANALYZE OTHER WEBSITES
While some people are stubborn and insist on doing things a certain way, you should be flexible on your design.
Today’s modern world leans towards more of a grid-based layout; this means that you don’t greet the viewers of your website with gigantic walls of text.
Attention spans these days are very limited. You must capture that person in the blink of an eye, and you do that with stunning visuals, no matter how good your content is.
(We’re talking about cold traffic here. Regular readers are a different animal.)
Walls of text do not capture interest.
And even if they did, what if a new viewer just has no interest in that one main article? For example, my site discusses a variety of topics. But say that a new reader wasn’t interested in a post about Poland – but they were interested in a post about how to get in better shape.
If I had a text/content based layout, they would just click away.
But with a grid, maybe they see that other post and click it. Now they’re a regular reader. It’s no guarantee, but you must at least give yourself a fighting chance.
Take a look at websites that you like and dislike. What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses?
STEP 2: HAVE A PLAN
This Is Trouble has undergone so many design changes since it’s inception. It makes my head hurt to think about how much time I’ve spent re-designing this website. And that’s not tweaks to make it slightly better, or to improve the user experience. We’re talking a complete overhaul.
Those are not cheap.
They are also not quick.
Once you factor in the time to find a new theme, learn it, install it, and then iron out all the bugs – it’s a significant time loss.
My advice: have a plan from the get-go.
What kind of business do you have? What kind of website do you WANT?
STEP 3: BOLD IS GOOD WHEN IT COMES TO COLORS
Yes, bright and bold colors can be a very good thing to push your website over the top.
BUT…you must know exactly what you’re doing. If you don’t have a good visual sense, ask someone before you move ahead with the lime green/bright red combination. Christmas is not a good look on a website in July.
If you don’t feel you can find a good visual style, then play it safe. Go with neutral colors like a dark blue or a black as the main colors of your website. Grey is good, as well. Avoid more than one bright color, if any at all.
Again, what is this site about? A doctor’s website should be neutral. A t-shirt company should be bright. Adjust accordingly.
FINALLY, STEP 4: PICK THE RIGHT RESOURCES
This kind of goes hand in hand with #2.
You don’t want to be redoing anything. Especially switching hosting providers, themes, email lists, etc.
Here’s what I use in regards to all this:
(Affiliate links. Copy+pasted from my “Approved Resource” page.)
BLUEHOST: My new websites use BlueHost these days. Avoid GoDaddy and HostGator. Both are slow as hell.
THRIVE THEMES: Every one of my websites, including This Is Trouble, now runs on Thrive Themes. I will not use any other themes. They are hands-down the best out there as far as beauty, responsiveness, and being audience friendly.
AWEBER: Mailchimp and AWeber are the too big players in this market. There are other options out there, but none are as big as these two. And I hate Mailchimp; I think their interface is archaic and lackluster.
LEADPAGES: Please note: THIS IS AN ADVANCED TOOL AND IS NOT CHEAP. Please do not buy this product unless you are at a point you are reaching 1,000+ people a day and are truly ready to take the next step. Otherwise it is not worth the investment. But…there’s nothing better out there for building quick sales/landing pages, and more.
I want to help you guys out.
So, if you’ve got a website and want some feedback on it…
Leave a comment below with the link.
I will take a look and provide some feedback.
I may even run a followup post and link to some of the best ones.
I look forward to seeing your sites!