So You’ve Got a Great Idea for a Website. Now What?

Originally posted on April 24, 2012 Filed Under:

Posted By:


What the inside of your head looks like when you get a bright idea.

Have you ever had a great idea for a website? Have you ever been at a loss as to how to build it? Is it even a good idea in the first place? Who should you hire to build it?

It’s one thing to have an idea for a site. Turning that idea into an elegant, functional and user-friendly website is another monster entirely.

The best way to take your idea from conception to completion, and make sure your site gets built as close as possible to the way you envisioned it, is to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

1. Determine What It Is

Question Mark!

The obstacle to avoid.

The point at which “It’s a website” isn’t good enough anymore.

Start by making sure that the idea you have in mind really is a website.

Some good questions to ask yourself include:

  • How is building a website going to benefit my business? My art? Myself?
  • Is the internet a medium where my idea can thrive? (Hint: not if it’s a 500 page novel!)
  • Is my idea original? (If you don’t know, research it!)
  • Will people use the site?

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a lot of crap on the internet. It’s mostly crap, in fact. If I had to estimate the amount of crap on the internet like a jar of jelly beans, I’d say that 95% of websites on the internet are worthless crap. And that’s me being generous.

Another common misconception: “I need a website!” We’ve all heard this from clients, and when web tinkerers ask their clients questions like “Why?” and “What’s going on it?” and “What will it say?” they often get a blank stare in response. Don’t be that person.

2. Outline the Goals

Where’s the finish line?

Every project has a desired outcome. Once you figure out what the website is, you have to figure out what it’s going to accomplish. Ask yourself a few more questions:

  • What actions will users be performing on the site?
  • How often will users be visiting?
  • Do I need a blog or other regularly updated content?
  • Do I want to sell products on the site?

These are the kinds of questions we ask clients in our project questionnaire. They help us evaluate exactly what our clients need out of their website, what the end goals are, and what needs to be built. That should help get you started.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Trying to compete with a behemoth like Amazon by creating an eCommerce site without any unique spin on it is a sure path to failure. Not that you can’t compete with them: but know what you’re up against.

Also, if your idea can be built off an existing platform, then let that platform do the legwork for you. It will save you lots of time, money, and headaches. A lot of app ideas start that way. Facebook apps, for example, are built off of an existing platform and they have seen a lot of success.

This flowchart is also a savvy litmus test for your website idea.

3. Figure Out How It’s Going To Be Built

Learn what tools you need and define the scope of the project.


Website vary greatly in the amount of time, effort, and money it takes to build them.

A photography portfolio is on the lower end of the time/effort/money scale, for example. They are not typically too complex, and the web has been around long enough that free, customizable content management systems are available in abundance that are adequate to get the job done. Same with blogs. You can use an existing platform (like Tumblr or Blogger), or you can download WordPress and install it on your own server.

Not every website is so easy to create. Web apps are more complex and costly due to the necessity for back-end development (read: complex programming for customized functionality). eCommerce sites can be a massive drain on time and budgets simply because of their sheer size. Adding all the products, descriptions, a checkout system, user login, a settings panel, etc., and keeping everything up-to-date requires a lot of time and manpower.


If you don’t know enough to figure out the scope of your project yourself, ask an experienced web design/development company (like us!) for an estimate. They have enough experience to estimate cost and time accurately.

Underestimating what it takes to build a website is a very common pitfall with uninitiated entrepreneurs, and can become a point of contention if these issues are not cleared up early in the project.

Web Style Guide has a great article on scope, risk assessment, budget, and much more.

4. Find Someone to Build It

Do it yourself? — or hire a pro?

Now that you know what kind of website you want to build and how much work it will take to build it, you have to decide whether you’re going to build it yourself or hire someone to build it for you.

If you are comfortable with computers, and the idea is pretty simple (a blog, for example), then you might well be able to do it yourself. But there is a lot to learn if you’ve never tried building a website before. Even with all the free, customizable software out there, delving into the coding side of things can be extremely frustrating for first-timers. Let alone metrics and marketing, social media, and professionally tailored design.

Learning these skills takes time and you may be better off investing some money to have a group of professionals build it for you.

This is especially true with web applications, which are notoriously more complex than your standard website. For these you often need a design and a development team.

5. Find The Time and Money to Build It

… and come prepared!

Money Costs

Whether you do it yourself or hire someone to build it, everything costs time and money. For those that don’t know, hosting typically charges per month, and domain names charge per year. Web development companies either charge hourly or a flat fee for the whole project; there are benefits and drawbacks to both ways that we won’t go into right now.

Website projects cost anywhere from $500 to $50,000+. It would be impossible to list all the different possibilities. If you aren’t sure, crunch the numbers yourself or (once again) get a professional estimate.

Time Costs

Even if you decide to use all free software (i.e. a wordpress blog with a free theme), and do it all yourself, time is money, and the time you invest into building the site is time that could be spent creating content or marketing it.

Which brings us to another point: make sure you have valuable content ready before you launch the site. That means investing time and effort.

There is nothing more wasteful in the web design business than a pretty site with zero content value. Think Traffic has an excellent article on the value of epic content with specific examples from successful websites.

6. Make Sure You’ve Got The Follow Through

Follow through is everything.

The biggest killer of good website ideas is a lack of follow through. Make sure—before you start—that you have the nerve to see it through. Overnight successes are the exception, not the rule. Sometimes new brands and products stagnant for years before they find success. But then, that’s true about many things in life, and if you’re really serious about your idea, you already knew that.

Once the site is built, your job is far from over! The type of follow up depends largely on what type of site you’re running. With a blog, for example, nearly all of the time and effort are put in after the site launches. Content continually needs to be added.

If you built a portfolio, it’s important to keep it updated and relevant. Last year Google added a relevancy factor to its search rankings. The idea is that people want to find fresh, relevant content.

Cameron Kellogg also has some good advice about follow through from a business standpoint.

Final Words

If you’re still not sure whether your website idea is worth pursuing, ask us! We love hearing about new ideas, and who knows, maybe we’re just the people you need to build it for you.

There are a million opportunities out there for a successful website, whether it’s a business or a blog. Yours may be the next big thing.

What now?

Posted by:

Matt works from coffee shops and coworking spaces in Austin, TX, where he likes to bike around the city after lunch. When he's not shooting emails for The Phuse, you can find him breaking in the bindings of used paperbacks, or exploring the wilderness.

25 Comments (Leave One)

  • william acciu on February 2, 2013 Reply

    What I am proposing is a website that would focus the minds of the electorate and get them to choose post haste those that they want to elect and those that they don’t.We could vote in hung parliaments and basically choose exactly the make up of a forthcoming government.I don’t know what the name of it would be though.Election Choice,or Electioneering as in engineering.

    • James Costa on January 6, 2014 Reply

      Hey William! Sounds like a fun idea! Let us know if you need our help in building it! :-)

  • Michael Ruthem on May 19, 2013 Reply

    I have a great idea for a website, if I go to someone to have it developed how do I keep proprietary rights? I’m worried they will take my idea basically the way Mark Zuckerberg did with Facebook.

    • Matt Herron on May 19, 2013 Reply

      Hi Michael, the best way to protect your idea when working with development shops is to get a signed NDA, or an agreement of some kind that covers confidentiality and will stand up in court. Best of luck!

  • Shane on July 8, 2013 Reply

    Hey Matt – Nice article. The goals are essential. I also found this page which gives you a little bit more detail for actually creating the website:

  • Bill W. T on September 2, 2013 Reply

    Excellent article, also very informative . Could you please respond back to me via my email address, regarding assistance and more information regarding a potential website/service that I have envisioned. I have questions that I would rather not discuss on an open format. Thank You.

    • James Costa on January 6, 2014 Reply

      Hey Bill! Thanks for getting in touch – sorry we didn’t see this sooner! We’re sending you an email now to catch-up!

  • sumeet singh chadha on December 5, 2013 Reply

    Hey there.Please Help. I have a great website idea which will be used by almost every people Daily and will definately have more members than facebook. Its actually an ‘once in a Century Idea’.But the problem is i m doin electronic engg. and not have any idea about mking websites and web designing. Whom should i approach to make it for me and should I make that same person as my partner? If yes then how much amount of percentage will he get from profit? How can i protect my idea from stealing with such website developers? Please Help..

    • James Costa on January 6, 2014 Reply

      Hey Sumeet!

      Thanks so much for getting in touch! There are lots of communities online like CoFounders Lab to find potential partners, and going to events like Startup Weekend might be a solid idea to get your idea off the ground and to connect with people who can build it and partner with you. The best way to go about saving your idea from getting stolen (however rarely that happens) would be getting a non-disclosure agreement put together to be signed by anyone before you begin detailed discussions about your idea with them.

      Hopefully this helps! Please let us know how else we can be of assistance!

  • Siobhan T.B.C. on January 4, 2014 Reply

    Hello Matt,

    Thank you for your article. I am wondering if you could respond, via email, as to how you go about hiring a professional to help in building a rather complicated website. I am unsure of where to begin.

    Thank you,

    • James Costa on January 6, 2014 Reply

      Hey Siobhan! We’re sending you an email now – thanks for getting in touch!

  • Toni on January 5, 2014 Reply

    Hi Matt,

    If I fill fill out the project questionnaire is there any guarantee that my idea will protected? Thanks for the helpful article.

    • James Costa on January 6, 2014 Reply

      Hey Toni! Thanks so much for getting in touch with us – our project questionnaire is secure, but if you’re worried about us taking your idea and running, we’re more than happy to sign a non-disclosure agreement for your project should you need it.

      Looking forward to hearing from you!

  • Michelle on January 11, 2014 Reply

    I think I have an idea for a website, it’s so simple but there isn’t anything like it on the internet, I’m not sure if it’s even any good although I would use it. I don’t have a clue what to do, where to go and how to find out if my idea is any good? Please can you reply via email so we can have a chat. As you can see I’m UK based!!

  • Prathamesh Bhatte on January 12, 2014 Reply

    Hi Matt & James,

    I am from India. I have some ideas, which can be implemented. I am a graduate in Computer Science but well…. suck in programming!!!! Ya.. you read it correct. So I am unable to proceed with my “out-of-the-world ideas”….. You people sound pretty much logical to me and I won’t be having any issues sharing the ideas with you (of course…with THE NDA….).

    However before starting I want to get clear picture of our future collaboration..(Did I just say the golden word …PARTNERSHIP???) frankly I am aware of the fact that I won’t be contributing at all on the core programming front; but as it’s my idea, I would like to know my share of cake.

    You have my email, so contact me asap…. Lets give Mark & Co. some competition !!!!!

    P.S.: I might be sounding like a young dreamer…but half of my dreams have already beacame reality when my beautiful daughter entered into my life. So my only desire left is to be happy & spread it wherever posssible, because our world needs it very badly.

    • Emma Woolley on January 12, 2014 Reply

      Hey Prathamesh, thanks for swinging by. James will be in touch with you soon!

  • Charles on January 16, 2014 Reply

    I have an idea I have been tossing around for a while, there’s nothing like it online and would have a huge sponsorship. I have talked to a few people about my idea and everyone loves it. I already know theres a large demand for this, and it’s never ending. There’s no question it’s a great idea, I just need help building it. It covers age groups from 9 to 90, and will have repeat use by the same users plus add new one all the time. I came up with the idea by looking for something like it, and could find nothing, this is huge, I just need help.


  • jeizan dadani on January 22, 2014 Reply

    Hey guys you’ve got a great article and I wanted to share my idea for a website with you. Its unique but I have no idea how to move ahead with building it. I need to sign an NDA with you before I can say anymore. Thanks a lot looking forward to your reply.

  • David on February 6, 2014 Reply

    I have a great website idea in mind but do not have enough computer knowledge to materialize it. It’s quite unique so I believe it will attract a lot of students. I wanted my idea to be protected and patented first before I could share it with angel investors.
    If you could please contact me and we can talk about it great detail.

    Thank you,

  • David on February 13, 2014 Reply

    Hello, I have been working on an idea for a bit and I would like to see if it is possible to turn into something real. I do have a lot of questions about it and if it is even possible. If we could chat over email about it that would be great. Hopefully we can turn it into reality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *