Building and Maintaining a Compelling Website in Just 10 Minutes a Day

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on October 25, 2010 in: Branding, Time Management Strategies, Tips in 10

I’ve found that websites can be a huge black hole of time, where a full day of work can get sucked into oblivion simply because you’re trying to build or maintain your company’s website. You might have some of your web presence covered but you might not have all of it covered and this Tips In 10 is meant to help you master your website… while not spending more than 10 minutes a day.

This article is written for 3 different audiences in mind. Nearly all of my readers will fall into one of these 3 categories:

  • Some businesses might hire a designer or developer (or their tech-savvy nephew) to build the site and get it up-and-running; other businesses might hire a virtual assistant to keep it maintained. But there are a lot of “in between” things that need to be done but which might not be completed by either outsource party.
  • There are some businesses that are just starting out on a total shoe-string budget (“total shoestring budget” meaning they either eat or pay someone to help with their website so they’ve chosen to eat instead). They can’t afford to pay anyone to do the work. But they also don’t really know where to start.
  • Some businesses have a website and just need some ideas to grow their site sensibly without wasting hours every day. They may do a lot of this work themselves, perhaps out of necessity or interest or habit.

Ultimately, there are two secrets to creating and maintaining a really good website in only 10 minutes a day: First, you need a plan. Second, you need a Content Management System. If you have these two things, you can do nearly all of your work in just ten minutes. The plan keeps you on track. The Content Management System (CMS) helps you to reduce the amount of time you spend performing the tasks on your plan.

Create a plan

A plan will keep you on track. Too often while building and maintaining your website, it’s easy to get caught up in things that either seem to be “must-haves” or are the latest thing of the moment. For example, you might have a great site but then suddenly notice that two or three sites you really admire have something that you don’t. You drop everything else in your day to add it in. At the end of the day you review your productivity and discover that you didn’t bill any time today because you spent so much time working on your site. A plan will help to fix this.

In fact, you’re going to need two plans (although I tend to stick them together and refer to them as one plan; but they’re actually two different plans).

  • The first plan is a web design/web development plan. It’s the “back-end” of your side. Changes you make here govern the look and functionality of your site. Even if you outsource most of your site, you’ll end up handling some of this stuff (like that whiz-bang “must-have” widget I mentioned above).
  • The second plan is a content plan or publishing calendar. It’s the content (mostly words but sometimes video or images) that people see.

The reason I stick these together is because sometimes there isn’t a clear delineation between the two. Also, I often think of stuff for one list while I’m working on stuff for the other. It’s just easier.

So here’s what to do:

Start by listing everything you need to do on your site. If you don’t have a site yet, you’ll need to start at the very beginning, of course. List it all. You’ll end up with a big list and that’s okay. In fact, it’s about to get a whole lot bigger…

Next, break up each project into ten minute chunks. That’s right. Ten minute chunks. In nearly all cases, I’ve found this to be quite possible. On the odd occasion you might need to work longer, but overall you can manage your time well while still building a great site in just ten minutes at a time. Some of your project-break-ups will depend on your skills and abilities. If you’re a decently fast typist, you might be able to blog a single blog in ten minutes. Well, that’s one task. But if you write a lot or peck one finger at a time to type anything, you’ll either want to outsource your writing or break up your single blog into two or three projects.

Now you’ll have a long, long, long list. The next thing you need to do is prioritize them. What needs to happen first? Then what? And after that? If your list is really long and overwhelming, I sometimes find it easier to start at the end and work backwards. For example, a list of 100 items might be really confusing to think what needs to go first, but I can usually identify what needs to happen last! Then work backwards through the list slowly.

Once that’s done, you have something meaningful to work with! It’s basically your step-by-step recipe to building and maintaining a website. And every single day, sit down and do one of those things. Period.

To help you do that, you’ll also want to…

Implement and use a Content Management System (CMS)

Years ago, people used to hand-code sites. I say this because I’ve done it and I know other people who have as well. When you wanted a website, you sat down at your computer, opened Notepad and started typing:

<html>
<head>
<meta>
<title>Page Title</title>
</head>
<body>
… etc.

It’s like riding a bicycle, you never lose it! The advantage was that you ended up knowing code like a pro in no time! But there was a disadvantage. After the fourth or fifth page, your site became difficult to manage. In my own personal experience I remember the odd occasion when I’d think “oh, I want a different link structure” and I’d need to go back and make changes across every page. The bigger the site got, the harder it was to maintain.

A CMS makes it so much easier. A CMS gives you an interface to manage and update content easily without having to open up the code on each page to make changes. Finding and implementing a CMS with your website will take longer than ten minutes. However, once have a CMS in place, it will dramatically shorten the amount of time it will take you do to the rest of your giant “to do” list mentioned earlier. So it’s worth the up-front time investment.

There are several Content Management Systems out there. If you click over to Wikipedia — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Content_Management_Systems — you will see what I mean. (Don’t worry so much about selecting one from the list – I’m about to recommend one).

So, there are lots of CMSs out there but I think the best one for most small business owners is WordPress. WordPress is an opensource (free!) CMS and there is a huge community of people who develop applications (called “plug-ins”) and designs (called “themes”) and offer them for free to WordPress users. A WordPress website gives you plenty of control: You can build website pages and/or blogs, giving you the power to design your site however you want to design it. Of course, you don’t have to use WordPress, it’s just one that I like and would recommend. I’ve been using it for years and coaching others to build successful businesses with the same CMS.

Ultimately, you need to find a CMS that works for you: It needs to be easy to learn and easy to implement. You don’t want to spend too long figuring out how to navigate around it and you don’t want to spend days trying to upload it to a server.

And then what?

Once you have your CMS in place, start rocking that to-do list! Do one thing a day, every single day. (If you have time, or find yourself with 10 minutes between supper and your favorite TV show, why not fire up your list and your CMS and do the next thing?)

Cross off each item as you go but be prepared to add more items as they come up. (You might get more blog ideas or you might find that something else needs to be added to your site).

The biggest challenge you’ll have is to discipline yourself to only do ten minutes a day. If necessary, set a timer and just do it.

Lastly, remember this important fact: Your website will never be perfect. It is always a work in progress. It is always going to be modified. Accept that it is imperfect and don’t lose sleep (or waste time) over not having the latest shiny widget on your site. You’ll eventually get to it on your list, but in the meantime you won’t waste time!

Heather Recommends:

I love working with coaches, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to help them become more successful. If you'd like to improve your business, find out how I can help.

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