Crafting Your Corner of the Web—A Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Website

animated people figures building a website

The digital age has made having a website an essential element for almost anyone. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, a creative soul showcasing your portfolio, or simply aiming to establish an online presence, a website allows you to connect with a global audience and share your message.

But where do you begin? Don’t worry; building a website is more accessible than ever. By following this guide (and the links included in this guide) you can walk through these steps with ease and get your website up and running in no time!

Charting Your Course by Setting Goals and Defining Needs

Before diving into the technical aspects, take a step back and consider your website’s purpose.  What do you want to achieve with it? Are you aiming to sell products, share information, or build a community? Having clear goals will steer your website’s design and functionality.

Next, identify your target audience. Understanding your target audience will influence the website’s style, content, and overall tone.

Choosing Your Method: Website Builders vs. Coding from Scratch vs. Hiring a Dev

There are three main approaches to building a website: website builders, coding from scratch, and hiring a web developer.

Website builders are user-friendly platforms that can offer drag-and-drop interfaces or pre-designed templates at a lower price point. Popular options include Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly. These are ideal for beginners as they require minimal technical knowledge and allow you to get your website up and running quickly. However, customization options can be limited with these website builders.

Coding from scratch offers complete creative freedom for those seeking more control and flexibility. However, this route requires proficiency in programming languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. While there’s a steeper learning curve, online tutorials, and coding boot camps can equip you with the necessary skills.

It’s important to note that there is a middle ground between using no-code (drag-and-drop) website builders and learning to code your own website. Content management system platforms (CMS) like WordPress or ModX offer more customizable features as well as plugins to maximize your website’s potential. CMS platforms may require a bit of technical learning or know-how on the part of the consumer, but it won’t take nearly as much time as learning to code from scratch.

Hiring a Web Developer

If you lack the technical expertise, don’t have the time to build your website, or have a robust budget, consider hiring a web developer. This is a great option for complex websites with intricate functionalities or those requiring a unique design. Web developers can translate your vision into a high-performance website tailored to your specific needs.

The Right Path for You

The best approach depends on your budget, technical skills, and website complexity. Website builders are a good starting point for beginners or those with simple website needs. If you crave complete creative control or have a complex website vision, consider coding from scratch (after acquiring the necessary skills) or hiring a web developer.

Finding Your Place on the Web with Domain Names and Hosting

Think of your domain name as your website’s address on the internet. Choose a name that is relevant, memorable, and easy to spell. Ideally, it should reflect your brand or website’s purpose.

Website hosting is the service that stores your website’s files and makes it accessible online. Hosting providers offer various plans with storage capacity and bandwidth (data transfer) limits. When choosing a hosting plan, you should consider your website’s size and traffic expectations.

Building Your Digital Dwelling with Design and Content

Now comes the exciting part—designing and building your website! Most website builders offer a wide selection of templates categorized by industry or purpose.

And not only is this one of the most exciting parts of building your website, it’s also one of the most critical as up to 75% of consumers admit to making judgements on a company’s credibility based on the website’s design!

Color and Design Choices

Don’t underestimate the power of color! Colors can evoke emotions, influence user behavior, and contribute to your brand identity. Choose a color scheme that aligns with your website’s purpose and target audience. For instance, a website selling playful children’s toys might benefit from a vibrant color palette. In contrast, a website for a professional financial advisor might opt for more subdued and trustworthy tones.

Visual Appeal and Image Formatting

High-quality visuals are essential for capturing your audience’s attention and enhancing the user experience. Always use images that are relevant to your content and visually appealing.

Correct Image Formatting is Crucial

Large, unformatted images can slow down your website’s loading speed, frustrating visitors. Before uploading images, resize them to the appropriate dimensions for your website layout. Many website builders offer built-in tools for image resizing. Optimizing image file size further reduces loading times without sacrificing quality. There are free online tools available to help you with image optimization.

Designing for Mobile, Accessibility, and Ease of Use

A significant portion of website traffic comes from mobile devices. In fact, as of Q3 2023, over 58% of all web traffic came through mobile phones.

With that being said, ensuring your website utilizes responsive design principles is critical. This means the website layout should automatically adjust to fit any device’s screen size and provide an optimal viewing and utilization experience on desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

Accessibility should also be a priority—meaning your website should be designed to be usable by everyone, regardless of their ability. For instance, use clear and concise language, provide alternative text descriptions for images, and ensure your website can be navigated using just a keyboard. There are many online resources and tools to help you create accessible websites.

And finally, focus on creating a clean, user-friendly layout with straightforward navigation. Easy navigation allows visitors to find the information they seek quickly and efficiently.

By considering these elements, you can design a website that is visually appealing, functional, and accessible to a broader audience.

Launching and Beyond: Maintenance and Promotion

Your website’s launch is a cause for celebration, but it’s just the beginning! To keep it thriving, ongoing maintenance and promotion are essential. Regularly adding fresh content keeps visitors engaged and improves search engine ranking. Fix any technical glitches and update software for optimal performance and security.

Website Promo

Also, don’t let your website languish in obscurity. Promote it on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to connect with your target audience. Utilize search engine optimization (SEO) by strategically incorporating relevant keywords into content to increase your website’s visibility in search results. Building an email list lets you send newsletters and inform your audience.

Pagespeed and Other Site Optimizations

Finally, optimize your website for speed. In our fast-paced world, slow loading times frustrate visitors (causing up to 50% of them to leave your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load) and hurt your SEO ranking. Take steps to optimize your website’s code, images, and overall structure to ensure lightning-fast loading times, leading to a smoother user experience and potentially higher conversion rates. 

Remember, consistent effort toward maintenance, promotion, and optimization is crucial in turning your website into a powerful asset.

Putting the Pieces Together

Building a website can be a rewarding experience, allowing you to establish your online presence and connect with a global audience. By following these steps and keeping your website updated and engaging, you can create a valuable digital space that reflects your brand or purpose.

Do you need assistance with a new website or with website maintenance and upkeep? We’re here for you—contact us with any website inquiries you have!

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