How to build your own website

We began our online journey almost 8 years ago now . The first version of was a Microsoft front-page design produced for €300 by way of an 8 day subsidised County Enterprise board course . This looked very basic but was very user friendly and helped to build our online presence and get our name out there .

Next up came our first forray into professional web design . We employed a web designer who began as a one man outfit but unwittingly turned out to be a two-man team with the same first name . We ended up with a better looking website , less hair on our heads and much less control over the updating of the website itself .

The hits kept rising and the need for a properly designed website came up again . This time we went about it in the best way possible . Once again the Enterprise board were extremely helpful putting us in contact with a professional website consultant who broadened our minds to the possibilities of the web and also broadened our business outlook . With his help we had a web tender process , choose  a top class web design company and ended up with a fabulous looking website , but still without full control of updating the design side ourselves .

Last November we moved to a bigger shop and slightly changed our business model . We came to the conclusion that for us the website is a fabulous way to interact with our customers , and drives a lot of people through our front door . We looked at the online sales side and came to the conclusion that it would not sustain itself as a standalone business so decided to change the make up of the site completely .

We found that customers were now becoming more comfortable communicating with us via direct message on Twitter or Facebook just as much as email and decided to put much more focus on this side of our online presence .

This did not really capture our web designers imagination , so  last Monday decided to give it a try ourselves .

For the record we have no experience whatsoever with HTML or CSS or any form of computer coding . What follows is a way for anyone who can turn on a computer to build their own website .

Step 1 : Find an a free online web building service .

After many hours going google eyed looking for this I eventually stumbled upon , I’m sure that there may be other , better , services out there but this is the best that I have found , and it’s free , with the option to pay a little extra for a few extra services .

Step 2 : Find a good online image editor .

You will need to make good use of your pictures so it is important to be able to resize ,  edit , etc . is the best that I’ve found . Free again .

Step 3 : Build your website .

It took me about 6 hours to build . Much of that time was spent experimenting with different designs etc on .

Step 4 : Register or transfer your domain .

You can have a website name like for free , but it is more professional to have a proper dot-com or dot ie name . I found or good for this .

Total cost for the whole thing  : about €80

We can not compete with the likes of chain reaction for an online catalogue with live stock updates , but where we can shine is by having a Facebook , twitter , flickr , youtube and blog presence where the person on the other end of a click is the business owner ,  and can offer a higher level of expertise and individual service , advice and maybe even a little entertainment .

On a day-to-day basis in the coming years people may be more inclined to check their facebook and twitter feeds rather than just browsing the net , especially on mobile devices like iphones . The business facebook or twitter page may become more important than their website so this is what we wanted to highlight with our new website .

There will probably be a few months of tweaking before it is a finished product , but for now you can be the judge


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