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Should You Create Your Own Website?

Having your own website is an invaluable way to market yourself. It’s the 21st century equivalent of a business card. It’s sort of like having a cool Facebook profile, only more professional and you have ultimate control over it. Regardless of the appeal of a large platform like Facebook, you have to accept that someone else will always be in control. At any time they can suspend your account for violating some arcane rule, and there’s little you can do about it. The only reason that will happen with your own website is your failure to pay the hosting fee.

I created this website after reading The Education of Millionaires, a book that I recommend to everyone. Ellsberg suggested registered a domain with your own name and I took him up on his advice. Eighteen months later here we are. But what if you don’t want to write blog posts, does it still make sense to create a website?

Absolutely. Even if you don’t plan to publish content a website can still be your calling card. You can use it to host your resume. If you do freelance work it can be a place for clients to leave reviews. You can use it as a portal to all of your social profiles. If you know nothing about web design it will force you to learn a thing or two. Finally, it will give you control over your image. If you don’t have a website, when someone types your name into Google you’re at the mercy of whatever comes up. Having a website gives you control over your own brand name which is important now, and will be even more important in the future.

Creating a Website from Scratch

Even if you don’t want the hassle of creating a website right now, you should definitely consider doing the bare minimum and registering your domain name. Sites like GoDaddy will let you register a domain name for about $15 per year.

If you’ve done that and you’re feeling adventurous, you can begin the process of creating your own site. There are loads of guides to get you started. Or you can easily go to Upwork and contract the work out. However, I believe that you should give serious thought to designing your own website. It will give you total control over the appearance and you’ll end up learning why things look the way they do. For people just starting out I’ve written the post: 4 Web Design Tips for Beginners. That’s just the tip of the iceberg though, and there’s a nearly unlimited amount of useful information out there on the internet.

The Future of Web Design is Today

The World of Tomorrow from FuturamaThere are some new tools available today that make web design so ludicrously easy that anyone can do it. If you work online then understanding how to build a website is a huge plus. Not only is web design fun, knowing how to do do it yourself will also save you hundreds (thousands) of dollars.

Thanks to some incredible new products, you no longer have to actually learn CSS or HTML in order to create something beautiful. In a way that’s sort of sad as they are the foundation of the web. On the other hand, if you have more important things to do and just want to make a cool website then you’re in the right place. The easiest way to start is with a WordPress theme. Here are two of theme that I’ve found to be particularly outstanding.

X Theme

This website is running X Theme, as are thousands of other sites on the internet. The cool thing about X Theme is that because it’s so versatile no two websites end up looking the same. You can make something sleek like this, something new age like this, or something totally minimal and artistic like this.

The short code system makes it easy to layout pages. There are also more than 30 really well designed pre-made demo themes. X Theme looks great on a mobile phones which is important because Google checks your website for mobile compatibility. If you fail to meet certain criteria you’re ranking can go down and you’ll be less likely to get organic search traffic.

What I love most about X Theme is the fantastic support. You can post a question (or multiple questions) and within 24 hours someone will answer them in detail. It’s reason enough to buy this theme, especially if you’re new to web design.

Advantages

-Fantastic support. I’ve never had a question that an X Theme support representative didn’t answer within 24 hours.

-Huge basket of pre-made themes. These give you a great opportunity to start with a well built site skeleton and customize from there.

-X Theme can be customized to your hearts content.

-At $64 it’s probably the cheapest outstanding theme you can buy.

Disadvantages

-If you prefer to make tweaks with CSS then X Theme isn’t the best option. You can’t access the source code which makes it about 700% more difficult to mess with, then say a different theme like Genesis

-Some questionable default options, like having a black background automatically appear over all pictures upon hover. Who thought that this would be a good idea?

Divi Theme

Divi Theme is a work of art. It will give you the tools to make the coolest website you can imagine. When I was looking for a new theme a few weeks ago I started drooling when I found the Elegant Themes homepage. I didn’t spend more than 10 minutes looking at all the details before I bought Divi for my writing portfolio. Best decision of my life.

What Divi does it bridge the gap between a professional website and an amateur website. That is, Divi gives you more of an opportunity to make a professional looking theme then has ever existed before. That hinges on some knowledge though, which is why I don’t think Divi theme is perfect for everyone. If you’ve never designed a website I believe that X Theme is better. It’s easier to navigate, it’s intuitive, it has fantastic support and the provided demo themes are a life saver. However, if you have some idea what you’re doing, then Divi theme is probably the best choice.

Advantages

-More tools than you’ll ever be able to use. Sliders, FAQ boxes, opt in forms, contact forms, loads of icons, full width headers, secondary menus, the list goes on.

-Well thought out page design tool. This tool makes it a breeze to create pages across your website. It works so beautifully too, I’ve never had a problem with it.

-When you buy Divi theme what you’re actually paying for is a subscription to Elegant themes. That means you can download any theme from their website. That’s a really good deal.

Disadvantages

-If you have no experience with web design, you’ll probably find Divi isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, the demo pages are stunning and beautiful, but when you’re staring at a blank page and have no idea where to start it’s a different story.

-It’s $89 a year for the middle package which includes all the plugins. You can pay $69 a year for just the theme without plugins, but then you won’t get Divi builder.

-The support isn’t as good as X Theme’s.

Two Themes Not Worth Your Money

Genesis

StudioPress (the people behind Genesis) used to be responsible for some of the greatest themes. Lately though the competition has gotten fierce. In the last few years some incredible themes (X Theme / Divi Theme) have been released. They make Genesis look like a kid that forgot his homework. It’s like going to a drag race with a Ford Focus intending to beat a 1,500 HP Nissan GTR with a turbocharger the size of a small oven.

ZigZagPress Themes

There’s no reason to buy a theme from ZigZagPress. They have a beautiful website that makes all their themes look great, but it’s just glitter. Once you actually take your new ZigZag theme home and get it unwrapped, you’re likely to find out that it’s quite a bit less fantastic then you were expecting. If you like themes from ZigZagPress, get Divi instead.

The Best THING Ever

I want to introduce to you the greatest addition to webdesign since the invention of WordPress. Once you begin designing your website this tool is going to dramatically improve your life. As soon as you realize just how amazing it is you’ll wonder how people ever designed websites without. As much as I love Divi theme, the driving force behind the cool design of my writing website is this tool.

For $30 you can get CSS Hero, which is going to radically alter your web design experience. It allows you to make changes to your website and see the results in real time. This. Is. Amazing. If you’ve never designed a website before you cannot appreciate what a wonderful idea this is. It makes your life easier, shaves hours off the development process, and allows you to do in 5 minutes what used to take an hour.

If CSS Hero cost $100 I would pay it. Your site is going to come out so much better because of it that’s it’s worth any price tag. Check out this video to see it in action. It’s produced by the wonderful saints who made the plugin, so it’s biased. But it also shows exactly what the plugin is capable of, no bullshit.

Advantages

-Makes web design a joyous, beautiful process. It can literally turn a twenty hour job in a three hour job.

-It works really well.

-Fair price tag.

-It will allow you to build a professional looking website without having to hire a professional.

Disadvantages

-With a standard license you can only install it on one website.

-It has been known to not play well with some themes.

Get Started Today

With all of the amazing options now available I hope that you’re convinced that there has never been a better time to make a website. With no experience you can now craft a site that looks good and functions well. Just five years ago this was very difficult for somebody without web design experience. If you’re ready to get started, there are a few things you should do. First, read my post: 4 Web Design Tips for Beginners. Next, make the difficult choice between X Theme and Divi Theme. Finally, grab CSS Hero and get to work. I’m interested to find out what you end up creating!