2: Functionality & Platform

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Ready to try out Divi?

This is Day 2 of the 10 day Build Your Website Challenge. If you missed Day 1, on Branding & Style, you can find it here.

The goal is that, by the end of 10 days, you’ll have your DIY website up and running!

DIY Website Functionality… in other words: What do you want your website to DO (besides look good)?

>collect emails for your email list? 

>allow people to message/ call/ visit you?

>give people access to your calendar to schedule an appt? (Hint, use Calendly!)

>let people purchase your items? (as in, do you want to have an online store?)

>let people pay a subscription to access certain content?

>provide a directory where people can search for information?

>provide information and answer questions? 

>host a podcast? (hint: set them up as blog posts and use the categories and tags to organize them)

>let people read your blog? (Find out how to set your site up for SEO success here.)

>help you make revenue from ads? 

>add plugins to do specific tasks or pull certain information? 

Prioritize your DIY website functionality needs and wants:

Think about what your website absolutely HAS to do now, and what you’d like it to do in the future. I like to make two lists based on what my clients tell me. The first is things they absolutely need now, which have to be done within the budget. The second is things that they would like to have, if there’s room in the budget after the most important things are done.

The point of listing the functionality it to make sure you choose the right platform for you. In this challenge, we’ll just be building the main home page, and maybe adding a contact form. But you don’t want to build a whole website and then realize that you can’t do something that’s crucial to your business. To be honest, I can’t think of any examples of what that might be, but I’m sure there are things that WordPress can’t do. I just don’t know what they are. So if you have a super niche business or need some weird functionality, make sure to Google it first and make sure that WordPress will meet your needs. Of course, you can always just build a basic site this week, just to get it up on the internet, and then have more time to figure out your more complicated tech stuff. 

These are all things that you can do with WordPress & Divi. If you have other functionality that you need, try Googling ‘host podcast on WordPress’ or ‘collect email addresses on WordPress’ and you should see people who have solutions for that. Depending on what kind of functionality you need, you might have to pay extra for certain plug ins or for a developer to set it up for you. But there are far fewer paid extras on WordPress than there will be on website builders like Wix and SquareSpace. 

Choosing a Website Platform: 

Website Builder: 

Options are: Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace. 

Pros: 

Relatively easy to use if you want simple/ common things. 

Can be super quick to set things up.

You can add on eCommerce, email lists, etc. for extra fees. 

Cons: 

If you pick one of these, you’ll need to pay continuously to keep your website online. If you stop paying, your website will come down and you likely won’t be able to keep your content. 

These sites can be difficult to customize, and you might end up having to hire a developer anyway. 

Clients often decide to transition to WordPress later on anyway.

WordPress (.org, NOT .com) & a free theme. 

Pros: 

A huge portion of the internet is built on WordPress. It’s been around forever and there are endless options and resources. 

You can have e-commerce, email lists, blogs, ads, pretty much whatever you can think of. 

Cons: 

It can be overwhelming, especially getting started. 

Trying to understand all the factors and pick a theme is a lot of research (hint: just use Divi!)

You’ll likely need to create your own child theme, which requires coding. (Unless you use Divi, in which case Divi Cake has a free child theme generator. Find out how to use it and how to install the theme in this article.)

If you don’t use a good theme, it can be really complicated and require code to customize. Many clients get halfway through and give up, leaving their site looking wonky and unprofessional. Or, they waste tons of hours trying out different themes and having none of them work.

You’ll need annual hosting, but there are tons of options and you can usually negotiate a good price. I recommend using SiteGround. They’re the best I’ve found and I’ve never had a problem in all my years as a developer.

WordPress & Divi (my recommendation):

Pros: 

Eliminates some of the ‘cons’ of working with WordPress.

Kind of fun to play around with, honestly! I never get bored, even doing this professionally, because there are always new things to try.

Same tools the professionals use, but accessible for even the tech challenged. 

Super easy to update if you want to make changes or additions in the future. 

The theme developers are super reliable, and have an outstanding track record. They are constantly adding new tools and updating the theme.

Cons: 

Requires a one time fee of $250, or there’s a one year trial version for $90 that you can later upgrade. It’s refundable within 30 days if you don’t like the theme.

Divi does have a little bit of a learning curve, but there’s tons of tutorials, resources, and customer support to help you.

That’s it for Day 2, you did it! The rest of this challenge is built on using WordPress, and the Divi theme, but there is still a ton of helpful content even if you choose another platform.  If you’re using WordPress with a different theme, you’ll still need tomorrow’s lesson on setting up domain & hosting. Days 4 & 5 will help you get your content organized, no matter what platform you use. So stick around, because there’s plenty of good information to come!

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