Get Your Website Done Now! My Review of 99Designs

I have found that by far, the biggest obstacle towards success with an Internet Business for beginners is launching a first website.

Most people waste precious time and energy and take too long to get their website done.

The best way to get your website going is to lauch WordPress blog immediately, and start writing 2 or 3 articles per week in it. This website doesn’t have to look very good, but it has to be functional. Working on it will help you understand how WordPress works and will train you to add regular content to your website.

However, eventually you will need to make your website look professional and beautiful. It has to be something that you’re proud of, and something that reflects a good image for your business.

For that, you have two options:

1) You can hire a designer and programmer to create a theme for you from scratch. This is the best option if you want a beautiful website that reflects exactly what you want to project. Your expected budget for this should be realistically between $3000 and $6000. Expect to spend a lot of time working with designers and programmers and lots of frustrations along the way. But in the end, it is worth it.

2) You can buy an existing theme and hire a programmer and/or designer to customize it a little for you. This is by far the best option for most people starting out. If you find the right theme and right designer, you can bring costs down tremendously. This is what I’ve done for the site you’re currently looking at, the www.dowhatyoulove.com website.

Today, I want to tell you about the first option, and how I gave my website www.fredericpatenaude.com a complete makeover.

How I gave My Website a Complete Makeover Using 99Designs.com

There are many ways to get that website done. You can work directly with a web designer and programming team (I’ve done that very often), or you could post your project on one of the many freelancing sites out there.

Elance is very popular, but recently I tried a new one called 99designs. The concept is very simple: you describe your project and write a little brief about it, decide how much you’re going to pay for it, and then designers from all over the world will submit designs. You can rate the designs and add comments, and then in the end choose a winner.

Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, I found the experience of working on 99Designs very rewarding.

Here’s what my website looked like at first:

 

It wasn’t a bad design, but I knew it wouldn’t take me all the way through 2010 and beyond. I was using a SEO-optimized theme called Semiologic that promised a lot, but delivered little. So I knew I needed to create something different. My goals were:

1) I wanted this website to totally blow me away (I had to be 100% pleased with it).

2) It had to be better than ALL of my top competitors!

3) It had to stay simple and effective.

I posted that project on 99Designs:

Blog Redesign Needed!

I’ve been involved in the raw food/health movement since 1998. I’ve written several books and a lot of people come to me for honest, common sense advice on the subject. I’d like my website to look very professional while remaining accessible and friendly.

I need a redesign of my website currently hosted at www.fredericpatenaude.com/blog

I want to change the website to make it more professional and organized.

The FEELINGS I would like to convey are:

– Trust
– Friendliness
– Professionalism & Experience
– Health

Some good choices of colors can include in elements: Blue, Light green, lots of white backgrounds, some oranges — avoid dark green, halloween orange and too much black (however don’t feel limited by these ideas, go with what you think looks best). I will need a layered PSD.
Initially, I didn’t get any designs that I liked. Some were downright ridiculous!
I increased the prize amount, and then got a few good designs. I had a total of about 7 designers submit over 50 designs. In the end, the final battle was raged between two designers, who kept improving on their own designs and borrowing ideas from each other based on my recommendations.

I liked both designs almost equally, so in the end I decided to ask my Facebook list what they thought of it.

Most people think of Facebook as a marketing tool. I personally see its value more in “micro-surveying”. Because of the instant feedback you get, it’s easy to run quick surveys on Facebook. I just updated my status saying I needed ideas to select a winning design, and within minutes people started replying and leaving their comments.

In the end, it became clear that one design seemed to win the approval of most people. This is the design you see below..

index_look

It seems to emanate the right kind of “energy” that resonates with my list. And THAT, beyond design considerations, is the most important thing!

Taking it to the Next Level

Although I liked the design, I felt that it didn’t meet two of my top three goals:

1) It didn’t completely blow me away.

2) It wasn’t WAY better than some of my top competitors.

In order to make that happen, I decided to take that design and hire another higher-end designer to work on it.

What she came up with completely blew me away! It was exactly what I had imagined originally.

The next step was to transform that design into an actual website. For that, you need a team of programmers to do the job.

The ones I decided to work with are absolutely AMAZING. They can be found at www.psd2html.com

They did an amazing job transforming our design into a website.

Because I wanted perfection with this site, I had to come back many times to ask them to redo several aspects of the blog to give the functionality that I wanted. In the midst of that, we also had a big CRASH on our server and had to move everything over to a new server. It was a complete nightmare, but in the end, well worth the efforts.

The results is what you see at www.fredericpatenaude.com/blog

In the end, I created the blog I’ve always wanted to have, custom-designed, for under $5000. I paid a lot more than if I had stayed with just one designer, and I had to pay more to create the functionality I wanted, and a lot of work was spent on this, but it was worth the efforts.

Since that website has been up, I’ve even heard from other marketers that I work with that some people who don’t even know me have been asking to find a way to copy my design for the blog!

How to Create YOUR Ultimate Website

For the person starting out who has less than 100 articles of content on their website, building a custom website from scratch like I did is an overkill. You’ll be better off starting with an existing theme and customizing it to your needs.

By popular demand, my team of designers and programmers and I are about to launch an amazing WordPress theme and “turn-key” solution for people who want an BEAUTIFUL-looking website but without the hassle of having to do everything themselves.

I’ll tell you more about this soon, stay tuned…