How to Build a Website on Your Own: Web Design 101

webdesign101Building a website from scratch can be a daunting task filled with that if’s and how about this scenarios. Many people look at all it it takes and decide to hire a professional. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t take on the project by yourself. If you have the basic knowledge and some patience as well as time, you should be able to tackle the project on your own using online resources that are at your fingertips. If you follow these tips on how to start a website and you’ll be on your way to creating your online presence.

Domain Name

Before you can begin anything for your website you are going to need a domain. Some examples of domain registrars are Godaddy, Network Solutions, Register.com or many others. Domains should not cost much more than $15 – $25 a year. If you can avoid them it is best not to use – in your domains as people never seem to remember them and keep the domain on topic or if available your business name. Once you register your domain print off the records and store them with other important documents, if another company sends you emails saying your domain is expiring do not pay it as you will be paying more and transferring the domain name to a different registrar you probably wont be happy with.

Hosting

Hosting is an important part of the future of your website. Bad hosting can ruin a website if the site is slow, there are many ads, or you run out of bandwidth. Free hosting is available and may be fine for a website for a hobby or one time event but for a business site or something you plan on making money with you will need to move to paid hosting. There are many paid hosting companies out there and lots of local website designers also offer hosting. A few examples of the big guys are godaddy, wix, 1 and 1, moably, & hostgator. You need to have an idea of budget and how much size and space you will need. Most small businesses can get away with a $10-$25 a month package and it will fit their needs. Also, most hosting companies will let you upgrade to a higher package even if you are in a contract if you find you are constantly overusing bandwidth or disk space.

Building the Site

Building a website does not have to seem like rocket science but, if you are doing it for the first time it can take a considerable amount of time and patience. This is where you need to decide if you are going to build a custom website or use a template. The structure of the website you create is the skeleton that all your content will fit into. Making the website easy to navigate around is extremely important. Many hosting companies offer some type of website building tools if you do not know how to code. You may also choose to use a platform such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. If you choose a theme that can handle mobile traffic in addition to normal desktop visitors you will be saving yourself some steps if you decide to keep the same content for phones and desktop users. If you are using a template make sure it is not the same one the guy down the street or your number one competitor is using. Out of all the steps this might be where you bite the bullet and hire a professional to consult or do the work for you.

Content is King

Content is the guts of your website, it is your text and photos and anything else you have sitting in the template of your site. Original content that is free of spelling and grammatical errors is important because you want people to be engaged and it to seem like you are an authority on your topic. If you choose to use articles from others on your website make sure you proof the article and it has relevance to your topic. Search engines use content to pick out the keywords of your website so headings with keywords and text that is keyword rich is very important. Make sure you aren’t using any black hat seo techniques such as keyword stuffing as they will dramatically hurt your search engine ranking.

Drive Traffic

Driving traffic to your website especially in the beginning is very important. Many people think their website is going to be a Field of Dreams (build it and they will come) but in most instances that is not the case. Search engines typically will take some time to pick up your website and decide where to put it. Social media is the key to getting the word out about a website. You can also comment on posts with your link in your signature or guest write articles and link to your website in them (with permission of the site the articles are posted on). You can also get your website listed on sites like Pinterest, Stumbleupon, or Tumblr.

Know Your Competitors

Knowing what your competition is doing with their website can be an important edge in the battle for traffic. Visit the sites of your competitors and take a look at what they are doing. You can take the parts that are making them successful and use them in your own way without it looking like you blantantly ripped them off.  You can also use it as an opportunity to set yourself apart from what they are doing and create a niche if you are in a tight market.

Measure Results

Measuring how your site is performing is a key step in having a successful website. Analytical programs and plugins are critical if you want to know how many people are visiting your site, how they got there, what pages they viewed, how long they were there and many other types of information. Google Analytics is probably the best free program out there and many hosting companies have built in tools that will collect this data for you.

Site Maintenance

You are going to have to update your site on a regular basis. How often you do update will depend on how often things change in the field your site is about. I suggest that at minimum you look at doing some sort of site update every 6 months due to the fact that over time technology changes, the search engines make new rules, phone numbers and emails and things like that may change. It is best to keep the website looking fresh with updated content and possible slight modifications so that it remains relevant. If you have content that is old and stale and dates that seem old it could make visitors think the site is no longer worth their time.

Conclusion

There you have it. This is a beginners guide to making a website so we did not get too deep into many of the nuts and bolts of creating your own website. I hope that this article is helpful to you in that it helps you make an informed decision on what it takes to get the basics of creating a website involve. If after reading it you are filled with anxiety and doubt  not our intention), we do not blame you and we suggest you  should decide if hiring a professional (if there’s money to be made) or maybe getting a few books might on it be the right route to go. Have an excellent day!

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