In today’s digitally-driven environment, a website is essential for any business or project. While websites come in a range of shapes and sizes, they’re all important ways to share important information and encourage visitors to perform certain actions. Astonishingly, 29% of small businesses still don’t have websites.
Step-by-Step Guide on Building a Website
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to build a website from scratch:
1. The Planning Phase
All good projects begin with a rigorous planning phase that will help outline the project. If you’re ever lost about a particular decision or detail, you can refer back to your plan, and it will help you along the way.
Purpose and Goal
First and foremost, you’ll want to establish exactly why your website exists. Here are some common purposes:
There are more purposes, but this overarching one will help guide key decisions you’ll make while you’re building your website.
You should also do your best to create quantifiable goals that will help you assess the effectiveness of your website down the line. Then you can determine whether it’s a valuable channel you should nourish further.
For example, a business might decide that they aim to acquire ten new customers each month via their new website. These goals don’t have to be incredibly accurate, but they help put a benchmark in place.
Now that you have an idea about what your website is for and what you’re hoping to achieve, you should start gathering appropriate inspiration.
Let’s imagine that you’re a small manufacturer of luxury smartphone cases. You’ve decided that a new website will help you market your business and secure digital sales.
You’ll want to start your research process by identifying stores in a similar niche and businesses of a similar scale. By identifying common trends and conventions, you’ll be able to get a better mental image of the website you’re going for and the expectations of your visitors.
When it comes to collecting inspiration, there are some amazing tools out there. You might want to experiment with Pinterest. Or if you’re looking for some really stellar examples, look at the Awwwards website to check out the best in web design trends.
Content Plan and Information Structure
Now you have a good understanding of the way your website might look, feel, and work. So ,it’s time to think about how all of these elements will come together.
You should start outlining the content you absolutely need to have on the website. (A simple list will be sufficient.) Let’s continue with our example of smartphone cases. The content needs of that website might look something like this:
- Contact page
- Product pages
- Android cases
- iPhone cases
- About page
Based on your research, you should start thinking about the ways that content will be organized into pages on your website. So you should explore the concept of website structure: Most websites follow a few basic patterns that feel natural to users and help them find the information they need.
Typically, you’ll start by organizing your various pieces of content into a sitemap, starting with your homepage and branching out from there.
Now that you have an idea of the content you need and the way it might be organized on your website, you’ll want to start envisioning what it will look like. This process is very fun. It’s the moment when you start feeling like your website is really coming together.
Free your creative side and call upon the inspiration you’ve gathered. The only limitation is your imagination, and you can make amazing design choices that will support your brand identity and amaze your users.
There are a huge range of tools out there that you can use to create designs and collaborate on them. InVision is a very popular digital product design platform and it allows you to share mockups and wireframes with your collaborators.
You should work with professionals to develop strong digital guidelines that will ensure your website looks magnificent and consistent.
Digital Design Standards is a useful resource to use when developing your digital guidelines. It shines a light on best practice when it comes to designing for the web, covering areas like accessibility, mobile and social media.
If you are looking for a great example of branding guidelines, be sure to check out this example from Spotify. This branding hub demonstrates how the brand’s logo and visual identity should be used in digital spaces.
2. Technical Foundation and Implementation
Now that the abstract stuff is out of the way, it’s time to get technical. These actions are absolutely critical. To keep your users coming back and search engines happy, your website must have strong foundations.
Hosting and Domain
If the visible portion of your website is the tip of the iceberg, these technical choices are the foundation holding everything together beneath the surface.
You’ll want to choose the most reliable, established hosting provider. So be sure to do your research and balance factors like price and capacity according to your needs.
Of course, another important factor is the domain. This factor might seem as simple as choosing the name of your business, but there’s a lot more at play here. The first hurdle is availability, then choosing between the various top-level domains out there.
While the most popular domain is .com, there are a range of alternatives that might make more sense to your particular business, depending on your location and your niche.
Perhaps the most popular provider of web hosting and domains is Bluehost. This provider powers over 2 million websites around the world and it makes integration with WordPress incredibly simple. The process is very straightforward, too, and you can find a lot of guidance around the web.
With the skeleton in place, you can start building the flesh onto it. So you’ll want to work with the appropriate professionals to develop and implement the designs you want.
This frequently complex process is always changing. The process may begin with sketches and wireframes, before they’re passed along to developers. However, code-based design is becoming more common, which will save you time and money if you work with the right professionals.
With everything in place, it’s time to add the finishing touches: your content! The method for adding the content will vary, depending on the platform you’ve selected. WordPress is the most popular choice; it has a staggering 60% market share.
Once you’ve made the decision, it’s time to develop the process. Who will create the content? When will it be uploaded? These decisions will help shape your content strategy and keep everything ticking along smoothly, which can develop into a long-term strategy if you’re planning on regularly adding content to your website.
3. The Testing Phase
Everything is up and running… Or is it? It’s time to put your website to the test. Before your website goes live and you say hello to the worldwide web, you need to work your way through a checklist that looks something like this:
You must check all types of links and forms. It’s important that your cookies work and that your HTML and CSS codes have been validated. If you’re making use of a database, it’s important to test it.
W3C provides a huge range of tools when it comes to validating your website. Its link checker is a great tool to check the links, anchors and references objects on your website. There is also a validation tool that checks the markup validity of your various web documents.
From both user and a technical perspective, these steps are important. They can help you avoid frustration and appease algorithms that will boost your SEO.
You’ll want to make sure your website is easy to use and offers your visitors pleasurable browsing experience. The website might make sense to you, but how does it look to a fresh set of eyes? So it’s often worth checking how new visitors feel about the way your website feels and works.
If your website doesn’t abide by common conventions, you might find that your visitors quickly leave, which can affect the performance of your website.
Last year, 58% of web traffic came from mobile devices. Our habits are evolving, and you need to keep up with them. So you should spend time making sure your website is compatible with the wide variety of browsers and devices on the market.
If your website is incompatible, your visitors will quickly leave, which will probably affect your SEO performance.
Your website might look and feel great, but speed and reliability are huge factors. Your website must be readily accessible. 53% of mobile users will abandon a website that takes over 3 seconds to load.
Google has made the speed of a website an important ranking factor. Its PageSpeed Insights tool can help show the speed of your website, and it provides helpful pointers.
It’s been a long road. But at this stage, everything will be ready to go live. Now it’s all a matter of making your website accessible!
Once your website is live, a whole additional series of challenges await… But that’s a story for another day. For now, relish in your new online presence!
5. Don’t Know Where to Start?
This process can sound very intimidating. So if you lack the technical expertise, you’ll want to enlist the help of professionals who can help you along the way. If you want a complex and high-impact website, be sure to talk with our team here at Lectron.
It will be our pleasure to offer guidance and assistance when you need it. We want to help make your website a huge success!