Website creation is a great opportunity to share your ideas and thoughts with the world. But if you haven't done this before, building a website can seem daunting. All these http-dot-something-there, and trying to put an image or text in between … This article will get you into the details very quickly.
Part 1 of 4: Website Development
Step 1. Look for inspiration
Look at sites with great designs and determine the reason for their success. As a rule, it consists in arranging information, resources, links and pages so that the user can easily find and use them. To design your own site, take a look at similar sites to understand how to arrange the different types of content.
- Don't try to jump over your head.
- Ease of access to information should come first. If a certain piece of information is hidden, make it so that access to it is logical and easy to understand.
- In general, the simpler the design and the fewer pages the better.
Step 2. Choose a topic and purpose
If you've already decided what your site will be about, skip this step. If you're out of ideas, here are some tips to help you. First, understand that there are millions of people on the Internet, and many of them have websites. If you set yourself the task of doing something that was not there before, then you will never get off the ground.
- What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you think about the Internet? Electronic commerce? Music? News? Social networks? Blogs? These are all good topics to start with.
- You can create a website dedicated to your favorite music group and organize a chat where visitors can discuss it.
- You can create a page for your family, but then you have to be extremely careful. The Internet is just teeming with unpleasant personalities, and the information posted about your family can end up being used against you. Set up password protection for your family website.
- If you can't live without news, or if you want to create something less filterable than regular media, create a site with open feeds from Reuters, BBC, AP and others. Create your own news aggregator (what used to be called the unusual name "newspaper") and display all news in digital form.
- If you know how to write beautifully, you can create a blog and write whatever you want on it, and attract monthly readers!
Step 3. Make a plan
Building a website will take time and money from you, so set a limit on both counts and get started. The plan doesn't have to be a large, complex spreadsheet or fancy graphical presentation, but you should at least know what purpose it will serve for you and your visitors, what content you're going to host there, and what the page layout will be.
Step 4. Take care of the content
There are many different types of content, and many have their own characteristics. You need to figure out what works best for your site and your needs. Here are some points to consider:
If you want to sell things, you need to figure out how to make them available for sale. If you have a relatively small number of items to sell, consider placing an order at an existing store. Society6, Amazon, and Cafepress are established online retailers with the ability to sell a variety of items and set their own prices.
Do you want to showcase video or music? Do you want to upload personal files on your site or somewhere else? Youtube and SoundCloud are great examples of media hosting, but you need to make sure your site design allows them to display correctly.
Are you a photographer or an artist? If you plan on posting original images on your site, you might want to use a format that can prevent them from being stolen. To make them as difficult to download as possible, images should be relatively small or hidden behind some Flash code.
These are mini programs that run on your site to help you track your visitors, the pages they visit, and their location. You can also find widgets for notes, calendar and other functions. Think about what features you might find useful (the main thing is to make sure that you are downloading the widget from a trusted source).
Do you want to include contact information on your site? For your own safety, think carefully about what information should be made public. Do not post your home address or phone number under any circumstances, these data can be used to steal your identity. If you don't have a work address, you can set up a mailbox or dedicated email address for people who want to contact you.
Step 5. Draw a flowchart
For most people, the site starts from the home page. This is the page that everyone sees when they first visit www.yoursite.com. But where will they go from this page? If you take some time to figure out how users will interact with your site, then it will be much easier for you to create navigation buttons and links.
Step 6. Plan custom devices and situations
Recently, smartphones and tablets have become incredibly popular devices for the Internet, and websites need to be designed specifically for them. If you decide to make a site that will stand the test of time and be accessible to the maximum number of visitors, make different versions of your site for different devices, or use a universal design that adjusts itself as needed.
Part 2 of 4: Building a website
Step 1. Choose a method and tool for creating a website
When you have an idea and a plan for its implementation, the next step is to choose a method for creating a website. All the options are countless, and people will offer you to buy this or this "wonderful" application, along with other things that your site "must have". However, the reality is that there are only a few excellent tools for building websites, and only one of them will perfectly suit your situation and needs.
Step 2. Create a website yourself
This is the first option. If you have a website builder like Adobe Dreamweaver, building a website from scratch shouldn't be that difficult. To do this, you will have to learn how to code, but don't panic! HTML only looks complicated, but this is only at the very beginning, you just need to get a little familiar, and then everything will go like clockwork.
- Pros: The website design maker simplifies the website design process by letting you move images, texts, buttons, video files and anything else you can think of without having to dig deeper into HTML. Many design software will even allow you to create websites tailored for your smartphone or tablet. If you want to create a simple website for personal use, there is no better way.
- Cons: Despite the fact that you don't need to understand HTML, you still have to go through some training. If you are in a hurry, this method may not work for you. The biggest drawback is that without graphic design experience, you can create a page that is unpleasant to the eyes. To reduce this risk, there are a large number of free templates in the programs themselves, as well as on the Internet, but do not forget about your limitations, if any.
Step 3. Use a Content Management System (CMS)
This is option number two. WordPress is a great option for building websites. It helps you quickly and easily create web pages and blog posts, customize menus, add and manage user comments, and provides over a thousand completely free themes and plugins to choose from. Drupal and Joomla are good CMS options too. After installing the CMS, you can manage the site anywhere in the world where there is access to the Internet.
- Pros: the product is very easy to use and easy to install, has many customization options for beginners, as well as quite complex for experienced users.
- Cons: Not all themes are customizable or free.
Step 4. Creation of a website from scratch
This is the third option. If you've decided to build your website from scratch, start by using HTML and CSS. You can expand your knowledge of HTML and add more features and detail to your site. If you are building a professional website, these tools will allow you to reach the level that you need in any business endeavors:
- CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. CSS allows you to add flexibility in HTML styling and makes it easy to make major changes to the site design (fonts, headers, color scheme) in one place, while propagating these changes throughout the site.
- XHTML is a language for building websites standardized by the W3C. It is almost identical to HTML, but has stricter rules for marking up information. In general, this leads only to minor changes in the writing of the code.
- Take a closer look at HTML5. This is the fifth revision of the main HTML standard and will soon replace the current version of HTML (HTML4) as well as XHTML.
Step 5. Hire a specialist
This is the fourth and final option. If you do not plan to do design on your own and learn programming languages and protocols (especially when it comes to a complex site), then hiring a specialist is the best solution. Before doing this, ask to take a look at the portfolio and read the reviews carefully.
Part 3 of 4: Testing the Site and Launching It
Step 1. Register a domain name
If you are on a budget, there are options for buying a cheap domain name. Choose a domain name that is easy to remember and easy to pronounce. If you use a domain name ending in ".com" you will get more traffic, but most of the simpler names are already taken, so get creative.
- Check out Network Solutions, GoDaddy, or Register.com to find and select the perfect domain name for your website. Wordpress also offers the option to use their third-level domain, such as mywebsite.wordpress.com. But if the name you chose is also available as.com, you will see a corresponding message when you log in.
- You can register a domain name if it is not fixed or free to buy online on special sites. Before buying an expensive domain name, it's a good idea to get legal and financial advice.
Step 2. Survey your site
Before launching the site, check it thoroughly. Most web design programs have the ability to test a site without having to launch it. Check your code for missing tags, broken links, search engine optimization, and design flaws. All of these factors can affect your site's traffic and earnings. You can also generate a complete sitemap for search engines like Google for free and in minutes.
Step 3. Test your site
Once you've finished creating your site, test its usability and usability. You can ask friends or family members to check the site. Give them a specific task, like editing your profile or buying an alpaca wool sweater from the promotions page. Sit next to them and watch them navigate the site, but don't help them. You may find areas where you need to optimize navigation or clarify instructions. Alternatively, you can also use something like zurb.com to custom test different types of interactions for specific populations. When testing a website, it is very important to keep the different platforms in mind and make sure the website opens on smartphones and tablets as well as desktops.
List everything that is confusing or not intuitive for the user
Step 4. Launch the site
Choose a web host and upload your website. Hosting may have the option of uploading files via FTP, or you can download a program to upload files via FTP, such as FileZilla or CyberDuck, to your computer. If you have hired a specialist to develop the site, they are quite capable of doing it for you (but do not forget to ask questions to get an idea of what is going on).
Keep in mind that there are ways to host your site for free
Part 4 of 4: Site Evaluation
Step 1. Refine the concept
If you are doing it for the money, what ideas can generate the most profit? What ideas require more investment? What ideas seem worth pursuing? Since working on a website is taking your time, choose an idea that evokes more enthusiasm in you (for greater benefit and practicality).
Step 2. Set goals and work towards achieving them
The site you create can exist for fun, profit, or for all at once. Knowing what to expect from a site will make it easier for you to design it and collect and analyze results.
Step 3. Get ready for competition
Simple content sites require less investment, but due to the fact that anyone can create a content site, they have a lot of competitors. In order to profit from a site like this, you provide information and profit from advertising traffic, for example through Google Adsense. To optimize your Adsense ads, you need to purposefully compose your content so that it is interesting and brings more visitors to your site. Use specific keywords and terms that users enter in their search queries. Just do not overdo it, otherwise the content of the site will suffer, and users are unlikely to appreciate it.
Step 4. Be prepared for responsibility
E-commerce sites that sell goods require more attention and maintenance. You will need to think about shipping, discounts, taxes, secure SSL, restocking, and anything else any store owner needs to take care of. Feedback and complaints are extremely important when selling products online. Many companies also provide phone support to customers, which you can outsource to third-party service providers if needed.
If the goal is only additional income, you can sell third party products through affiliate programs, which will allow you to earn money without investing in products and worrying about shipping them
Step 5. Determine the target audience and the market you want to reach
What category of people will your site serve? Do some market research to find out more about your audience. Here's what you need to know: what are they doing? how old are they? what are their other interests? All this information will make your site more useful. However, don't assume that your site will only affect one group - always look for trends that can interest other groups of people so that you can cater to their interests for new opportunities.
Step 6. Do your keyword research
This is necessary to understand if users are looking for topics related to your site, as well as to study your potential customers. The presence of relevant keywords on the site will also allow it to get higher positions in the search engine rankings. Google tools (e.g. google.com/trends/ and google.com/insights/search/#), Overture and other third-party programs can simplify the keyword research process.
- Distribute the selected keywords throughout the text, but so that the content itself does not suffer.
- Making pages optimized for search engines will help people find your site, which is more important than design. What good is a site that no one sees?
7 Advertising. When the site is up and running, you need to somehow attract visitors, so let them know about it!
- Submit your site for indexing by major search engines. You can do it yourself or use the services of special sites.
- Tell your friends. Always remind about the site on twitter. Add site information to Facebook status updates, post screenshots to Flickr, add a link to it to your LinkedIn profile. It is important to do this everywhere and everywhere. The more visitors the site has, the better.
- Use an email address with your domain name. Visit other sites that complement yours (but do not compete), offer to exchange links or guest blog posts. Write constructive comments in blocks and forums and leave a link to the site in the signature.
- Use content marketing. Creating SEO-optimized articles and posting them to other sites is sometimes a useful way to build backlinks to your site. This can help you improve your site's search engine rankings, as well as staying on top of search engine updates, which often affects your SEO strategies and can make them useless or even downgrade your site's rankings.
Step 8. Provide quality content and service
Above all, listen to your readers and customers, learn from their experience of using your site.
- Take constructive comments seriously. Other team members, fans, and friends can suggest new ideas to make navigation easier.
- Think about your target market or audience: their needs, their frustrations, their circumstances. Try to make their lives easier and more informed.
- If you are hiring a specialist to code a complex website, keep in mind that a programmer and a designer are different professions. Most of the effective sites have been created with the help of a graphic designer. To create a complex site, it will be especially useful to hire a good team: designers design the appearance and presentation of the site; programmers do all the internal part to make the site work; marketers position the site and take care of its relevance in search; and content managers create content.
- If you are selling a product that users will find through search engines, make sure they see it immediately when they visit your site. The more a visitor clicks, the more likely they are to go to another site.
- Find popular sites and use them as a reference, even if they don't go well with yours. What are they doing right? What is interesting about their display, content and site navigation? Incorporate relevant aspects of what you learn from viewing these sites into your own site, adapting to your needs.
- Start with simple things, develop them and look for ways to improve, even if the initial result is … not very good. Don't try to grasp everything at once.
- If you plan to sell products through your site, you must have a secure way to accept credit card payments. You can open a merchant account to charge transaction fees or use free payment services like PayPal. Always read the information in the small print carefully. Keep in mind that many credit funds require a guarantee in the event of loss or damage to the shipped item (also look out for insurance).
- Never deceive the trust of your visitors. Respect their personal information. Spam, annoying pop-ups, inappropriate ads will ruin your reputation. One way to build trust is through a well-articulated confidentiality statement. Place a prominent link to the privacy statement on every page of the site, as well as wherever a visitor's personal information is requested. Submit genuine contact information. If you need to place advertisements on your site, explain the reason to your visitors and show that you are doing your best to make their visit enjoyable. Honestly!
- Remember: never delete your account data (login, password, and so on). If you do not have the data, and you forget them, you will no longer have the opportunity to continue working with the site. More importantly, do not tell anyone this data (except for the site address).
- Don't get too carried away with the "latest trends" of marketing sites. Some of the tips are helpful and worth listening to, but most aren't worth a dime. Marketing is not a science, but a long and constantly changing experiment. You are the best judge of how your promotion strategies work (or not). The most powerful approach of all is to listen to your visitors and learn from their experiences.