Building a Website Overnight: EasternSierraLove.com

The websites that are the most effective in the long term take planning… Thoughtful design, a deep understanding of the user’s experience, compelling copy, and an overall strategy that fits efficiently into your bigger marketing plan.

But web design can be almost immediate if it needs to be. SEO and ROI are often long games, but if you have other goals, an overnight website can do the trick.

When a close friend and I decided to create a mutual aid network in our small town when COVID-19 first hit, I knew we needed more than just the Google Forms we were asking people to fill out. Even with small donations (most in the $20-50 range) people often want to know more about where their money is going.

So I spent a few hours creating an extremely basic website. The goals were simple… let people know who we are, how the process works, and how to participate.

Creating EasternSierraLove.com

I bought the domain name for $11 through Bluehost (my go-to host these days), downloaded the Astra free WordPress theme, installed the Outdoor Adventure starter template, and started customizing it.

Astra is an incredibly simple, user-friendly theme if you’re looking to build your own WordPress website. Your site will look like a bunch of other sites out there, but it’s a clean, modern, simple look that can work for a variety of brands and industries. And if you don’t need much customization, you don’t need to pay for their packages, you can just use the free version.

It took just three hours to get it ready for our “launch.” The wireframe was minimal — a clear home page, a few inspiring images, and a simple top menu. We added a translation button through the ??? plugin to provide a rudimentary translation for our local Hispanic community.

Easy Edits As the Project Grew & Changed

Since Astra is so easy to edit, we were able to update the page quickly as things changed. When we reached our $10,000 fundraising goal, we removed links and buttons for people to donate and request funds. The site is now dormant, sleeping out the rest of its year under the current domain name.

We’ll probably let the domain name and the site go when it expires, but for $11 and a few hours of time, this option worked perfectly for our needs.

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