Without a customer ever trying your product, you can win them over or repel them forever. It sounds extreme, but that’s how important a first impression is. And for many of us, that introduction comes from a website. That’s why having an excellent website is one of the most important things a founder can have.
But you don’t have to be a web development master to create a site that will make an impact. As software engineer Karrie Cheng points out, “It’s fairly accessible in that all one needs to get started is a laptop and access to Wi-Fi.”
When she’s not analyzing musicals or looking for the best pork belly burger in Houston, Cheng is building features at Hello Alice. Although she has a computer science degree under her belt, Cheng credits online tutorials as an important part of her journey — resources that any founder can use. “I personally used Codecademy when I got started almost eight years ago. It’s a great place to learn some basics,” says Cheng, “Udemy and Pluralsight have been other resources I’ve used to learn web development.”
But how can founders use web development, even the basics, for their business? Cheng suggests that owners work on their businesses’ search engine optimization (SEO): “If they are just building a site with their name, contact info, and testimonials, I would say that SEO is important so people can discover them and they can save money on ads.”
And for more complex websites, like storefronts, she recommends taking another route. “While it’s easy to DIY it on static sites (sites that only show fixed information), it becomes a bit harder once things are dynamic,” says Cheng. “If it gets to the point where you are spending more time learning about how to support these things, it’s time to use e-commerce software.”
Many e-commerce platforms don’t require you to be an ace developer, making it easy for anyone to create a site just how you want it. “A lot of e-commerce sites like Shopify and Etsy have things called APIs (application programming interface) that allow you to interact with the site. Shopify specifically has the ability to automate certain flows for you, but you can build your own flows if you know some programming basics,” Cheng explains.
There are other web platforms available like Squarespace or Wix that can help you create and host your website without being an expert developer. But Cheng assures readers that anyone can pick up software skills: “People think you have to be a certain type of person to be a software engineer. You do not. You’re not too old, dumb, or right-brained to learn software development. If you’re open to learning and problem solving, you’ll be okay.”