What You Need to Build a Website
So, you need a website. You need a serious, good-looking, lovely-to-navigate website for your business. Perhaps you worry about your complete lack of technical expertise and your non-existent coding skills. Well, that times have changed. Unless you decide to hire a web design firm or a freelance designer to do it from scratch, the market is jam-packed with website creation and building methods that do not require high levels of technical expertise. These belong to one of two basic categories: website builders and CMS (content management system) solutions.
But you know what? Let’s go back a few steps. Before you determine how to build your website, you need to identify what exactly you want your website to do, how you want it to do it and how much money you can spend to achieve that.
Keep reading to learn how to establish your own website and what you need to get to grips with to keep it up and running.
The Basics You Need to Know Before Going Live with Your Website
A website is not a piece of code - there's so much to do before you launch it.
The website itself is just a number of coding blocks, which give you nothing if you don't understand how your website will impact your business and what you should know before throwing it to the web (and how to throw actually). There are many questions to be asked before creating a website and you’ll definitely want to have answers to all of them.
- Domain name & corresponding business email address
The name of your website is your online calling card. Choose wisely and please don’t use firstname.lastname@example.org for your email. Usually domain uses your company’s business name and comes together with hosting purchase.
You need to know your target audience in order to appeal to it. That requires research, audience profiling and looking into the competition.
Web hosting is a service that allows websites to be put onto the Internet and stored into servers. There are many web hosting options out there and the choice depends on various factors, such as the size of your business, your data transfer and backup needs, etc.
The aesthetics, the look and feel, the logo, the typeface, the color scheme. Knowing what you want will also help you decide which tools to use.
Building a website is not a complicated process if planned the right way.
It was Bill Gates who said, “Content is king” and he is one smart guy. Think about the information you want to impart and how you want to impart it. Are you hiring a copywriter? Are you using stock images or a photographer/designer? What about content in relation to your SEO strategy?
A sitemap is a file with information about your website’s pages and various types of files, as well as the relationships between them. It is something you will probably need, but again that depends on the size (=number of pages) of your site.
- Navigation & functionality
The users of your website should be able to navigate it (i.e. go from one place to another) efficiently and easily, so you need to decide how to keep it simple, clear and consistent.
- Social media integration
There are various ways (buttons, plug-ins, live feeds, etc.) to connect your website with your social media accounts, each more sophisticated than the previous one. Think about content marketing when deciding.
Which means how your site will be protected from any type of cyber-attacks. There are several steps and, of course, levels of security. The primary step here is to buy a SSL certificate to keep your website protected.
- Payment options
If you have an e-commerce site, payment methods are something you need to research. Yes, there’s PayPal, but also many other alternatives.
Once your wonderful new website is done, you need to understand that…it’s not. Maintenance means security checks, optimizations, corrections, backups, review of legal disclaimers. You need to take care of it.
- SEO and tracking
Search engine optimization is a variety of strategies to increase website traffic by strengthening the site’s visibility to search engine users. Measuring SEO results has many variables and materializes via numerous tools, such as Google Analytics.
How to Build a Website: DYI
Website builders and CMS tools let you launch a website yourself.
It’s amazing what you can do these days with online tools for website design and construction, ranging from free to moderately priced to quite expensive. One could even think that web designers are becoming obsolete (it’s not true). Let’s focus on two primary tools, web builders and CMS software applications, which both come with their own capabilities and sets of advantages and disadvantages.
- Website Builders
Website builders are kind of like Swiss army knives: all-in tools that require no coding or design skills and additional management efforts. They are platforms or programs that you use to put together a website, without any prior knowledge how to do it. They contain straightforward drag-and-drop software that allows the user to customize elements on a page, with layouts, colors, typefaces and stock images chosen from hundreds of templates. Popular website builders are Squarespace, Shopify, Wix, and Weebly, and they are exceptionally easy to use.
- No technical skills needed
- Maintenance is not demanding at all
- Set-up is speedy
- No backend
- Design and customization capabilities are limited in comparison to CMS systems
- Limited SEO capabilities
- Occasionally slow loading speeds
- Poor customer support
- Limited search capabilities within website
- CMS Solutions
A content management system is a software platform used to manage the creation and modification of digital content. It has a backend and allows its users to create, edit, archive, report, publish and distribute data. There is still no need for hard coding skills, but in comparison to simple builders, it occasionally demands a serious learning curve and maintenance proficiency.
You no doubt recognize the name of the most popular CMS software on the planet, which is Wordpress, used by more than 35% of all websites on the Internet. It has a wealth of options, themes, plug-ins and SEO capabilities and is a great choice for bloggers and magazines and anyone with an itch to deliver a great content to their target audience. There is a wealth of other options, such as Joomla and Drupal, and the choice will again depend on your needs.
- An amount of technical skills is required but people who aren’t web design professionals can still do it
- The design and customization capabilities are rich and varied
- SEO and analytics are much more advanced
- Various users can customize access depending on their roles and responsibilities
- Still inexpensive compared to hiring a web designer to build from scratch, since open-source CMSs are free to download and install
- Customer service to assist users
- Updates and maintenance are a serious business
- More expensive solution than builders, as a multitude of implementation costs is unavoidable
- Need for more advanced security
- Special functionality needs might need coding work
You can always hire an expert to do build a website for you.
If none of the above makes you want to throw your hat in the air and if you have the need, budget and time, there’s always the option to hire a web design firm or a freelance designer/developer. E-commerce businesses, for example, usually do so, since their needs are quite complicated. If you wonder how to select a proper contractor, consider the following:
- Due diligence is paramount. Research different companies, pour over their portfolios, meet with them and learn about their processes. Check out their websites! Obvious? You’d be surprised at the multitude of design firms with inferior websites.
- Your needs for custom work (vs designing from a template) and serious technical requirements will greatly determine if you need to hire a company. Also, does your business also require a mobile app along with your website? That’s a whole different ballgame.
- Time and money: hiring a firm is both a costly and time-consuming process. As with every collaborative process, communications, changes, approvals and building mutual understanding doesn’t happen overnight.
- Mobile compatibility: how important is it that your site is compatible with smartphones and tablets?
- Website maintenance and result measurement, which effectively mean, what will your relationship with the company be after the site is done?
So, you need a website. You now know a lot more about it than you did before. Thankfully, there is a whole world of options out there. And one of them is just perfect for you.