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10 Things You Need To Know Before Building Your Website

Daniel Blechynden
Read This Before Attempting to Build Your Own Website
Building a website can be a daunting and confusing process, but we demystify it with this list of ten things to help you get started

There are numerous beginner-friendly ways to create a website in the modern digital world. DIY websites can be developed using a website builder, a content management system (CMS) hosted separately, or by writing your own code from scratch. 

If you’re entering the industry for the first time, things can be a little confusing. So to help you get started, we’ve put together a list of our top tips for creating a website. 

1. When to use a website builder

In general, website builders are designed for those with little web development experience and few tech skills. They can be a little basic, with limited design flexibility and a lack of customization options. But they’re still great for many people, so you need to know when you should or shouldn’t use one. 

Ultimately, it all comes down to your long-term goals. If you just want to build a simple small business website so that you can begin developing an online presence, a basic website builder should bring plenty to the table. But if you’re looking for something a little more powerful to create a large, highly customized website or online store, you will probably want to combine a CMS like WordPress.org with a reliable web hosting provider

2. Prior planning is the key to success

Before you even think about signing up for a website builder or other site creation platform, you need to spend some time planning your site. You need to identify your long-term goals and what you hope to achieve with it whilst developing a general layout and design. 

Start by brainstorming your website goals and the audience you will need to target to achieve these. Develop a unique selling proposition or some other drawcard that will make people want to come to you over your competitors. 

Next, take out a pen and paper and put together a rough design for your site. Think about your navigation menu style, the way you want elements to be presented, and exactly what things you want to include. Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to register a domain name and get building. 

3. How to design an attractive page layout

If you’re not a design-oriented person by nature, you might find this to be one of the most difficult parts of creating your first website. But it’s also one of the most important, as your page layout will dictate the way visitors interact with your content. Bear the following principles in mind: 

  • Keep pages uncluttered. Too much information will usually put people off. Using white space effectively can help draw a reader’s eyes to important content, so don’t fall into the trap of filling up every part of your website. 
  • Stay consistent. Ensure you use the same base design throughout your website. This includes colors, fonts, and layouts. 
  • Break up content. By breaking up your content with images, headers, and info blocks, you will create a much more attractive design that’s easier to scan. 
  • Use a grid system. Implementing a grid-based design method can help you ensure your site remains balanced at all times. 

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these steps will give you a great headstart when it comes to web page design. 

4. When to hire a professional

Hiring a professional web designer or developer could make your life much, much easier. But it could also get expensive if you’re not careful. Because of this, you need to identify whether or not a professional designer would actually be beneficial to you. Some questions to ask include: 

  • Do you need professional services because you can’t do something on your own? 
  • Will the benefits of a professional designer outweigh the cost? 
  • How much value do you place on your own time? 

If you decide that it’s worth hiring someone to help you out, choose carefully. Freelance platforms like Fiverr are a great place to start, especially if you’re on a tight budget. 

5. Why speed is so important

The numbers vary, but numerous studies have shown that websites that load slowly are much less successful than their faster competitors. If your page load speed is more than a second or two, a large percentage of viewers will leave, looking for a faster, more efficient option instead. This causes what’s known as a high bounce rate. 

A high bounce rate can have much deeper implications when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). The user experience is closely linked to your search engine ranking, and a high bounce rate is directly correlated with a poor user experience. With an impacted search engine ranking, you may find it difficult to drive organic traffic to your site.

6. When to implement a call to action

Every page on your website should be designed to cause a specific action or reaction from your readers. But to encourage them to do what you want, you will need a call to action (CTA). This could be anything from a simple email signup field to a clear Buy it Now button that leads directly to the checkout. 

When you’re implementing your CTA, ensure that it’s clear what exactly you want people to do. Use bright colors, bolded texts, and white space to draw people’s eyes to it, and make sure that it appears early on the page so that it’s not missed. 

7. The majority of internet users browse on mobile devices

Mobile-first design has become extremely important over the past few years. This is because the vast majority of internet use now comes from mobile devices. Your website needs to be responsive, which basically means that it needs to be able to adapt and change its appearance according to the size and shape of the screen it’s appearing on. 

Fortunately, virtually all modern website builders and other popular site creation platforms automatically implement responsive design. But you still need to pay a little attention, particularly to your site's layout. 

Ensure things aren’t cluttered, or they may not render well on a small screen. Use minimalism where possible when designing the mobile version of your site, and think about the ways people will be interacting via their touch screen. 

8. How to write high-quality content

The importance of high-quality content that brings true value to the reader is increasing with every search engine update. Poorly written articles that are stuffed with keywords and fillers simply don’t rank well anymore, and people are unlikely to ever read or engage with them. 

Rather than creating low-quality blogs and articles, we’d recommend prioritizing quality over quantity. Spend a few hours coming up with a clear content plan for your site, ensuring you’re writing about topics that your target audience will be interested in. And if you’re not a great writer, it could be worth hiring a freelancer to help you with the content creation process. 

9. The importance of SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making your website rank higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs). This is one of the most effective forms of digital marketing out there, as even a small amount of input can result in visitors being driven to your site for years to come. 

But SEO isn’t always easy. You will need to spend some time learning the basics before attempting it, and it does require ongoing work. We’d recommend developing and implementing a clear SEO strategy that outlines exactly what you’re planning on doing, how you’re going to do it, and why it will be useful. Consider using third-party SEO tools, and hire the services of a professional marketing agency if required. 

10. How to build an engaged community of followers

As you develop a strong community, it will become increasingly easy to market your products and services successfully. People who are aware of your business and what you do are much more likely to recommend you to their friends and family. 

There are a few different ways to build a strong community. It’s a good idea to post regular, useful content on your blog. Encourage blog comments, and collect your readers’ email addresses so that you can inform them when new content is posted. Develop a social media presence, and encourage your followers to visit your website from time to time. 

Conclusion

Building your own website can be a scary and confusing task, but it doesn’t have to be. Our comprehensive list of website building tips will give you a strong platform to build on, helping you get started with your first adventure into the site creation world. 

We’d suggest using a website builder if you’re entering the industry for the first time. Ensure you plan your site, learn how to optimize speed and page layout, and put together clear content and SEO plans. Spend a little time building a strong community, and remember, you can always hire a professional if you need help with something. 

Daniel Blechynden
Contributing to the likes of top10.com, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide, Daniel’s writing focuses on technology, science, and dependable reviews. He has been a regular critic of software and products from various industries for several years, often utilizing his academic background in the sciences.