Website Design 101 – How to Start a Website
Written by: Jeff Pratt, Owner of JPG Designs
When it comes to starting a website from scratch it can be a little intimidating, which is why many people prefer the help from a professional. But this doesn’t mean you can’t tackle the project by yourself. If you have the patience and the right knowledge it shouldn’t be too difficult to get started. Just follow these tips on how to start a website and you’ll be on your way to creating your presence online.
1. Picking the Right Domain
Before you can start building your website you are going to need a domain. This is where places like Godaddy.com is very useful, because they make the process very simple. You can browse for domain names and see what is available, or you can insert a specific name. It’s important that you choose a name that is applicable to the site you will be building. In other words, it has to fit the niche or content you plan on posting.
2. How to Find the Right Host
You’ll need to do some searching for the right host, because there are several different packages available. A host is also referred to as a server and its purpose is to connect your site with the internet. Basically you’ll have to decide how much you can afford, because certain packages only carry a certain amount of bandwidth. If you run out of bandwidth during the month than visitors can’t access your site anymore and this can be a big problem. It’s also recommended that you find some honest reviews to ensure you are using the most stable server.
3. Building the Site
This is where it can start to get tricky, especially if you don’t know how to write code. By using a platform that doesn’t require code then you are going to need a lot of patience. You are going to be overwhelmed with options, plugins, themes and settings, so nobody is going to blame you for hiring a professional for this section. However, if you do decide to do it yourself then choose a theme that can handle mobile traffic in addition to normal desktop visitors. Keep the adverts to a minimum and make the interface user-friendly. You don’t want to give your visitors a hard time in terms of finding what they are looking for. It can’t be said enough how important the design and layout of your website is. In light of this it’s suggested to take your time and experiment with the options you have.
4. The Best Platform
At the moment WordPress is still hands down the best platform that is available. More importantly, you don’t need any knowledge regarding code. There are some other options you can look at such Joomla or Drupal, but WordPress has the biggest market share for a reason.
5. Content is King
Your best bet of getting picked up by search engines is to post content that is relevant and useful to readers. Always keep your content original and stay away from black hat tricks such as keyword stuffing. It would also serve you better to use longer articles, but substance remains key. Before posting any article read it a couple of times and be careful to remove all spelling errors or grammar mistakes. Creating sub-headings can be very useful, seeing as it allows your readers to scan the article. These are the elements that should always be implemented when posting content and post as often as possible.
6. Start Driving Traffic
In terms of driving traffic to your site, social media is a very good start. The more people you can reach on social media platforms the better. Start to network with other sites within the same niche and offer to provide some guest posts with backlinks to your site. You can also put up your site on discovery platforms such as Stumbleupon, Tumblr and Pinterest. Without traffic your site isn’t going to mean very much.
7. Define Your Competition
Don’t be scared to visit the sites of your competitors and look at what they are doing. It’s especially helpful if they have been in the game a little longer than you have, because you can mimic what makes them popular. But also use this opportunity to set yourself apart from what they are doing. Try to find something unique and build on offering something different.
8. Creating Conversions and Leads
If you plan on selling products or services then you need to create a sales funnel. This could be in the form of a landing page, but there are several other options you can use. The important thing is that you have a page that is designated to entice visitors so that they either subscribe or make a purchase. Giving away free stuff usually does the trick, although special offers also work well. If possible, try to establish a mailing list which you can use to keep your subscribers updated about new products or special offers.
9. Measuring Results
Analytical programs and plugins are crucial if you want to keep tabs on user habits. Google Analytics is one of the best ways to see where your traffic is coming from, how much time users spend on your site and whether the site is growing. It’s crucial that you get to know your traffic, because from there you can set out targeted campaigns. Most web master tools are free to a degree and you won’t be able to evolve if you don’t know your visitors.
10. Site Maintenance
Last but not least, you are going to have to maintain your site on a regular basis. This means posting new content and checking out for plugin updates. You might also want to keep an eye on new search engine algorithms, seeing as they are constantly changing. As mentioned before in the building section, nobody is going to think less of you for hiring a professional. There are millions of websites out there and you are competing with all of them, so you probably want your site completely optimized and maintained. With a professional on your side you don’t need to worry about falling behind or simply getting lost in the crowd.