Why you need a website (or not)

In the vein of the last post where we analysed the usage of social media versus simply giving tips, this post will explore not only the virtues of building a website but understanding the intent and why we go about creating one in the first place.

Let’s start by looking at this site – junaidrahim.com. A few years back I had put an alert with Godaddy for the name as it wasn’t available then. I have to fully admit, I can’t remember why I did that but I did. Fast forward to June of this year and it became available so I bought it without much thought to it. Well that’s not entirely true, I had an inkling then I would be probably looking for newer pastures and so decided it may be of some use. How important is the name? It both matters and it doesn’t. I think for a personal site your name is obviously most memorable. Google it and voila you’re there (admittedly google puts my twitter and flickr above this site…). But what if your name is John Smith? You are kinda screwed. Maybe you have to get a little savvy but I’d suggest not to be too silly and a name that relates to you as closely as possible is a good idea.

But why build a personal site? There are a few reasons for it. The idea of a blog is one and we’ve discussed this area quite extensively already. Secondly is the use of a site as a CV and presenting yourself. This is probably the most powerful and effective way to showcase your portfolio. Instead of needing to give a CV, simply direct people to your site and control the way people see you. Admittedly this may be more useful to individuals in the creating content domain but it should not stop everyone else in attempting the same. Challenge yourself in being creative and making yourself stand out from the crowd. The other advantage is you treat your ‘CV’ as a living thing that can be updated and grown as you gather new and varied experiences. Linkedin may have helped in bring CVs/job hunting to the connected world, but it still limits in how you present yourself – you work to the constraints the site sets for you. Set yourself free!

Let’s next talk about the business domain. Here I’d say the name is not that important (obviously don’t be offensive…) and you need to bear in mind that a name shouldn’t be associated with another company for obvious reasons but other than that let you imagination run wild! Also don’t get too hung up on domain. Most likely .com will be taken so use .co or .io or whatever else. I have to admit, for our new venture we agonised for months over a name. Painfully so, with a fair few unnecessary discussions and arguments along the way. Heck the name/site we ended up with was so off the mark and random from what we set out to achieve. Fast forward to now and we don’t even think about it anymore. A massive hassle and time wasting exercise!  

I’ve yet to distinguish between creating a website for a business venture or an internet business. Philosophically the rationale should be the same. You are using the site as a front to showcase the business, and in some ways like the CV example, you are controlling the way people perceive your. I found building a site a good alternative to simply making powerpoint. I find presentations make you lazy and boring.  Forcing yourself to think about style and layout in the form of a site is much more interesting.

I’ve used both WordPress and Squarespace for hosting sites. One thing I would say it is so easy to use templates/themes that help you along in the looks department. Especially with squarespace, it’s essentially now a drag and drop game in making a professional looking site (you can even have all the tools to sell via them too). This naturally has it’s limitations (as well as not exactly being cheap) and if you need a more complicated back end for an internet business you may be better off designing one yourself, but once again you have so many tools online to help you along.

In closing a website is a great front for you or your business. Think of it as an alternative to more traditional methods of presentations and CVs. It’s a way to stand out from the crowd. But a word of caution, don’t go too crazy, simplicity is also good. Don’t confuse your audience!

J

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