Creating a website has become an essential part of any business, whether you’re looking to advertise your products and services or build an information-based website around your field of expertise. Whether you’re looking to create a simple, low-maintenance site or something that’s beautifully designed with lots of bells and whistles, this ultimate guide will give you all the information you need to get started and create the website you want without hiring anyone else to do it for you.
It's time to register your domain. Use a domain registrar like GoDaddy, so you can register a new domain name for around £10. When registering your domain, don't be tempted to try and save money by using a cheap site name; it will make your business appear fake or cheap. Registering your site's name as a .com and .co.uk guarantees both legitimacy and protection for all future website visitors.
If you do decide to go with your own custom name, make sure it makes sense to your customers so as to not to damage your brand's reputation. And remember - it's best not to try and be too clever! Too many businesses have come unstuck trying overcomplicated domain names that are impossible for customers and search engines alike to remember, and sometime even hard to say.
Try and come up with something simple, memorable and identifies your business clearly.
For example, if you wanted to start an online men’s fashion store, you might spend time researching websites that already exist in your industry (for inspiration) and look at their design layouts, features and content. Having done your research, you can then get started on building your own website.
When you start to build your website, it’s always good practice to spend time researching and analysing other websites for best practices. Once you have an idea of what kind of website you want to create, it’s time to get started on building your website. It’s important that you think about what kind of content will be featured on your website – how many pages do you need? What will they contain? How will they look? This is where good research and planning can save you time in the long run.
WordPress is a free and open-source content management system that’s incredibly easy to use, with thousands of free templates or design styles already available. If you don’t have any design experience or prefer not to build your own website design style, it’s an excellent choice for your first website as it has many design style templates available to get you started.
Alternatively, easier DIY tools such as Adobe Spark Page and Squarespace can help you quickly and easily create websites using professional designs.
The biggest advantage of using free and paid templates is that they save you time and money by giving you website design options that are ready-made. While some people prefer designing their own websites from scratch, it’s an extremely time-consuming process and requires knowledge of HTML and CSS which can be difficult for beginners. A premium theme might cost £100 or more but will give you much more flexibility when building your website.
You might also want to look at websites like https://www.awwwards.com/ or https://dribbble.com/ for design inspiration. We get a lot of great ideas when designing website for our customers from places like this.
Once you’ve chosen your topic and start planning out your website, you’ll want to make sure it’s as user-friendly as possible. The first thing you need to do when building your website is plan out how you want it to look and function. After determining what kind of website you’d like (blog, company site, etc.), begin planning out how users will navigate your site using a sitemap.
This can simply be done by using a bullet point list of your menu structure. You sitemap may be a little bit more complicated that your main navigation, but this will be a good start. Make sure it include links to your homepage, contact us , about us, services and product pages.
Once you’ve planned out your navigation, you should include a footer menu on each page of your website. This will give people visiting your site easy access to navigate back through every page they’ve visited. It’s also important because Google and other search engines like websites that have less clutter and more information, which is exactly what adding a footer menu can do for you. It's a great place to add extra links that are maybe less important but you still want google to find them.
It’s unlikely that you’ll get far with just a blank website, so give your readers some of your personality. Start by writing copy for your homepage and at least three to five pages within your site (such as an About Us page). Think through how you want readers to feel when they read each piece of content. Do you want them smiling? Sharing it with friends? Reading it over and over again?
Do you want them calling you or one of your team members? Do you want them sharing your content, and what do you want that content to look like? Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to get down and dirty with copywriting. Before writing any copy, spend some time understanding who will be reading it. Who is your target audience for each piece of content? Try to write using language suited to the visitors of your site.
We recommend using a word processing document like google docs (free) so that the website text is easy to copy and paste later when you need it.
You’ll want to build your website pages before you add any design or coding. This is usually done with simple, free content management systems like WordPress. Start by deciding what kinds of pages you want—you may already have some in mind. Do you want a contact page? A Services page? An About Us page? These are all common examples of website pages and will help you start thinking about how your site should look and function.
The basic structure of your website page is simple. The first thing you’ll need is a header, or masthead, at the top of each page. This includes your logo, navigation and any search functions. Below that are main columns for content and any social media or call-to-action buttons you want to include.
Most businesses add some type of footer with links back to their home page or contact information.
You’ll want to stick to a design layout framework like Bootstrap, which is a free framework used by millions of websites around the world. If you need more detailed design options and don’t plan on customising your site very much, you can use ready-made templates or themes in Bootstrap. These are often available for free or at low cost through online marketplaces such as ThemeForest or Creative Market.
Just remember to break your website up in to sections, like a grid to keep everything organised.
Now it's time to add your copywriting to the site by copy and pasting it from the word document you created earlier. You can also use images or videos if you want, but make sure they are relevant to your business. Two great resources for stock images if you don't have professional images for your business are https://www.pexels.com/ and https://unsplash.com/.
Finally, put in some SEO content so that Google will find your website when people search for similar topics on Google.
So if you have made it this far, it’s likely that you already have something created and would like people to have an easy path around it. All you have to do is add hyperlinks to your menu and any other buttons on your website pages to link them up to the destination.
Remember to check this before publishing your site. Nobody likes to encounter the dreaded 404 page error when they click a link.
Digital marketing is all about making new connections with potential customers. The simplest way to do this is with forms on your website. Simply ask for a name, email address, phone number and message to allow prospects to get in touch with your business.
Double check the forms work and deliver the message to your inbox. It can be incredibly frustrating if a customer is ready to get in contact only to find out they can't when clicking your "send message" button.
If you want to try something a little more advanced, you can create a form for your mailing list allowing users to enter their email address to receive communications from you in the future.
With your website design complete, it’s time to launch your site! This is where you are formally unveiling your website to the world. The first step in launching your site is to make sure you have an up-to-date, functioning website and hosting set up for all web visitors. The platforms we mentioned earlier (WIX and Squarespace) will have a simple 1 click launch option to publish your site to the web.
WordPress hosting comes in two types, managed and unmanaged. Managed WordPress hosting requires that you have access to a cPanel control panel, where you can set up email accounts and create DNS records, so it’s recommended for those who are already familiar with web hosting. Unmanaged WordPress hosting is simpler because all of these functions are handled by your host (usually managed by Godaddy or someone similar).
Congratulations! You’ve officially built and launched your website.
It can be difficult to tell when and what you should outsource in your business. But if you are experiencing any of these four things then you’ll know for sure!