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The top 6 blockers to building your website

These are the 6 most common blockers holding people back from launching or improving their websites. I know them very well because it’s exactly what held me back for years. In this blog, I provide you with high-level tips and insights based on my own approach to help you tackle these obstacles head-on.

1. The Words

Blocker: Finding the right words to describe our offerings can be a tall order. How do we capture the essence of our business in just a few sentences?

Recommendation: go back to the basics and build from there. In the simplest words, imagine a real client conversation and answer: What do you do? Who do you work with? How do you do it? Why should we work with you? You should be able to match these answers to sections on your website and understand it at a glance or from scanning the headlines. If you wanted someone to remember only one takeaway from each page, what would that be?

My approach: I provide my clients with a simple website strategy document and content planner. After reviewing it, we hop on a strategy call to nail down the messaging and translate it into a sitemap. I present a limited number of tailored recommendations. With the key messaging and layouts in place, clients are mostly happy with the copy that results from this exercise. With the site launched, they have the ability to continue making their own tweaks or work with a professional copywriter.

2. The Design

Blocker: DIYing a brand that feels authentic to us is tough. And when templates fall short, how do we ensure our design aligns perfectly with our vision?

Recommendation: for colour palettes, you have the option to use an existing template/colour palette, create your own, or work with a designer. To start, I suggest going with your gut instinct and running with colours you’re drawn to. You may find a template you like and replicate that through the Eye Dropper chrome extension. There are also endless free colour palette recommendations: use ChatGPT, Canva, or Pinterest to search keywords such as “forest green colour palette,” “elegant colour palette” “energetic colour palette” and so on. Follow a similar approach for typefaces, pulling inspiration from other websites using the WhatFont chrome extension or search via keywords.

My approach: I have three standard formulas for crafting colour palettes. I use a branding questionnaire and references to understand client preferences and present one concept at a time (maximum of three, but we usually nail it by the first or second concept). For typefaces, I pull from Google or Microsoft-compatible fonts depending on their tech stack. If you don’t have a logo, I use the primary typeface to create a wordmark logo. A lot more than colours and typeface make up effective visual branding, but short of engaging a brand designer for a custom visual identity, I use this method to bridge the DIY gap and create a professional, cohesive brand board.

3. The Platform

Blocker: WordPress, Webflow, Squarespace, Wix, Custom Code… So many options and conflicting advice. How do we choose and then set it all up?

Recommendation: Potentially a hot take, but for a smaller informational site with basic functionality (forms, email, popular integrations), choosing a platform comes down to user preference and designer/developer expertise. Differences in costs are negligible, so it comes down to your affinity to the platform’s interface. You can get a good idea from each platform’s website and free trial or demo. A lot of the time, it also comes down to word of mouth recommendations from your network or brands you trust, or by recommendation of the freelancer/studio you choose to work with.

My approach: I’ve tried them all. My personal affinity lies with the Elementor page builder plugin for WordPress.org due to it’s design flexibility, drag and drop interface, and option to customise further via plugins or custom code if needed. I am open to working with Squarespace if it’s the client’s preference. Oftentimes, I find my clients (who manage the sites themselves vs designers/developers) gravitate to Webflow more for the design zeitgeist than the platform. I personally don’t enjoy working with Wix. I don’t want to dissuade you if that’s your preference as it does the job; it’s just not my vibe! There’s a lot more nuance to these recommendations which I will go into more detail in upcoming articles, but that is my high level take.

4. The Time (and Patience)

Blocker: This really feels like it’s adding up. Frustration kicks in; we want to grow our business, not become designers, developers, or copywriters overnight.

Recommendation: if you’re building your website yourself, time block and give yourself deadlines. I procrastinated building my website for two years by constantly “researching,” planning and rebuilding—only to build it in one afternoon. How? I was fed up with my BS. I went back to basics and worked through the following one by one on a blank page: set up the platform (30 minutes or less), choose a colour palette inspired by a template (30min-1 hour), write a simple website plan (see blocker 1, 30min-1 hour), build the site by matching sections to the website plan using a templates/blocks and dummy copy or quick high-level messaging (2-3 hours), improve copy and proof read (1-2 hours), publish! Building out and improving the site from there was a breeze and I felt much more motivated as a huge mental block had been removed. Clearly, you can adjust to your own time-frames, but this is an illustrative example of the leanest starting point, which may very well be good enough.

My approach: Essentially, a more streamlined process of the above. Through a clear roadmap, focused sessions, ready-made resources, and my design/development support, I work through sprints from one day to three weeks turnaround. Learn more about my website sprints here. Just because something is simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. It depends on your level of clarity and expertise in these areas, and if you need to partner with a specialist to get you across the line or elevate your vision.

5. The Investment

How much does all of this cost? Whether you’re building it yourself, or working with one or multiple freelancers, costs vary and timing of investment may depend on your cash flow.

Recommendation: ask your network for their experiences. Reach out to designers and developers for quotes if it’s not clearly stated on their websites. Post a project spec on freelance platforms to get an estimate. You may choose to invest in a freelancer/studio who can help with the entire design and build, —or specialist copywriters, brand designers, website designers, or developers depending on your most pressing needs. I’ve seen an average project for a good-to-great small website vary between a minimum average of £1,000-5,000, but premium or specialist freelances or studios may charge more.

My approach: my signature website sprint for a 3-5 page website starts at £1200 with a 1-3 week turnaround. Other options include one day intensives, the “One Page Website”, power hours, and my upcoming DIY Website Course. If you’d like to chat, please get in touch.

6. The Bubble

Blocker: We often toil in isolation, stuck in our heads. Working alone, we risk losing clarity and words blur into confusion.

Recommendation: talk to someone! Bounce ideas off your network, colleagues, clients, and strangers. There’s never any harm in asking. Some of my best ideas also come from taking a break when on a walk, folding laundry, or in the shower. Have your note pad or notes app on hand. Lastly, you are not building a website for what your business and brand may look like in 5 years. You’re building a site to accomplish your current goals. It will grow with you. You can always make changes.

My approach: through my website sprints or power hours, I help my clients get clarity on breaking down the entire process or specific topics like how to present your offerings, formatting a certain section, or picking your images and brand colours. I love workshopping ideas that leave clients feeling motivated and proud of their work.

I hope you found these high-level tips helpful. I’ll be regularly sharing articles diving deeper into these topics, offering more practical advice. Do these blockers sound familiar to you? I’d love to hear about your strategies for tackling them!

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Alicia Burke
Dive into the high-speed world of web design with Alicia Burke, an expert at launching websites in sprints. Alicia is a seasoned marketer with deep roots in startups and venture capital, leading marketing and support for hundreds of nascent ventures. She’s now a consultant and web designer advising small businesses on all things marketing, strategy, and ops.