Lesson #7: Designing a Profitable Website

This lesson will cover the basic concepts of web development and design. Specifically, how to design a website that is built for profit, because, in addition to helping our visitors find the information that they are looking for, we want to PROFIT from this website, right? I thought so.

Let me start off by saying that I am not a web designer and I donʼt have the technical skills of a programmer. I mention this because it has never stopped me from building quality websites without the help of a professional. I donʼt want you to think that you need some complex technical skills to build a simple website because I am proof that you do not.

At this point, there are enough automatic tools that make it super easy for anyone to create, setup and design their own website. No longer do you need a $200/hour professional to build a site for you. In this lesson we will take a quick birds-eye view of the specific web development process that we will be using. As we move through this lesson, simply absorb the material. You do not need to worry about how you are going to design your own site just yet. Instead, I want you to begin to think like a web developer and learn the basics of good design.

Overview of Our Development Process

Before we get too far, we first need to understand how our new website will be built. You will be using a free system that automatically builds your website with virtually one click. You push a button and BOOM – your website is online.

Also, when it is all said and done, you will have an area where you can easily update different parts of your site. This area will let you change the design and create new pages of content just like you would in a word processor. Everything will be easy and straightforward with NO programming skills needed.

The program that we will be using to do this is called WordPress. In the next lesson we are going to install and setup WordPress, but for now I just want to briefly introduce what it does.

WordPress is known as a content management system which is simply a fancy way of saying that it builds, manages and organizes everything for your website. Think of it like an automatic web programmer: you login and type a page of content, WordPress posts that content to the site and keeps everything neat and organized.

Plus, it also manages the design and layout of your website. There are thousands of “themes” (designs) that you can use for your site. You simply pick which one you want and your site will change to match that design. Just like your site is changing itʼs clothes. WordPress couldnʼt be easier.

Again we will get further into this process in the next lessons, but there are a few basic reasons why WordPress is my favorite system and why we will be using it for our sites:

  • Itʼs free and it works
  • The learning-curve takes hours instead of months
  • The login area (control panel) is so easy anyone can use it
  • You can install, setup, and manage WordPress with ZERO programming skills
  • There are thousands of pre-built designs that you can apply to your site with one click

If all of this doesnʼt make complete sense yet, donʼt be too concerned. Remember this is just an overview that we will expand on in the next 2-3 lessons. For now, it is just important that you understand our sites will be built with something called WordPress, which will manage our site for us.

Features of a Good Website Design

As we discussed above, there are thousands of pre-built designs that you will be able to pick from, so you really donʼt need much design skill at all. But here I want to give you a few pointers on what makes a good design so that when the time comes, you have the skills to choose the best design for your site:

Simple is Best – While it may seem like the more fancy you get, the better your site will look, that is simply not the case. Almost all of the internetʼs biggest sites have incredibly simple designs (look at Google). Since our goal is to provide visitors with good info and help them take some action that will produce revenue for us, that should be the main focus. In all of my experience, simple designs produce the most revenue. Fancy designs just clutter things up.

Colors – There are a few basic rules when it comes to color. 1) try to keep colors toned down as much as possible. You donʼt want someone saying “yikes!” when they visit your lime green website. 2) Most of the page should be white, this follows in line with the tip above: keep it simple. 3) Pick colors that match your siteʼs mood/theme. If itʼs about gardening, maybe something green. If itʼs about celebrity gossip maybe purple or pink. You get the idea.

Layout Pointers – The term layout refers to where the elements are placed on the site. For example, if you look at most webpages, the logo is usually in the top corner with the content on the left side and some navigation/links on the right side of the page. That is a layout. You want to make sure that your site clearly has 3 things: Logo or site title in the top somewhere, the content clearly visible below that, and some type of navigation that allows the user to jump from one page to another. When choosing a template for your site, be conscious of this. Make sure the content is easy to find and you can quickly move between pages. Essentially, ask your self if the layout “makes sense”.

It Doesnʼt Matter THAT Much – Finally, the design needs to be clean, with good colors and all the important elements on the page. But other than that, DONʼT STRESS. I am bad about following this rule myself. I typically stress out about little details too much but in the grand scheme of things, they really donʼt matter too much at all. A decent design can be equally as successful as a perfect design.

Examples

Right now, you donʼt need to be concerned about finding a design for your site, we will walk through that later. Again I just want you to begin thinking about design. What do you like? What do you not like? Etc. I would like to share some examples of sites that have everything they need and nothing more. These sites are similar to what we should be creating:

• http://demo.woothemes.com/canvas/2010/01/11/lobortis-tellus-diam/
• http://demo.woothemes.com/typebased/
• http://themeshaper.com/demo/thematic/
• http://www.tipz.com/how-to-study-and-not-burn-out/
• http://juicergarden.com/

NOTE: Donʼt pay any attention to the content/topics of these pages, they are just for demo purposes to see what types of designs I would recommend.

Now, guess what? All of these designs I showed you are available for WordPress. This means that once we setup our site (next lesson), you can instantly click a button to use any of these designs (or thousands more) on your own site.

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