Whether you already own a website or you’re thinking of having one, the one thing is obvious: at the core, the website seems pretty simple, right? In most cases, it’s a few pages of the text, images and buttons.
Learning how to build a website can be tricky, but possible if you invest some time and effort into it. But to build a great website that gets your visitors’ attention offers a solid user experience, and puts your business in the best light possible takes a little more work.
The reason we wrote this post, is to give you some foundation knowledge needed to build a website, but not just a website – the very best site possible! You don’t have to build it yourself, you can hire designers to do it for you, but it is good to understand what’s involved.
Back to Basics
Not everybody who wants to build a website knows the basics. Most of our clients see a website just existing in the online space. When they think of building a website, they don’t think about all the behind-the-scenes details that are involved. And that’s perfectly fine!
Domain, hosting, CMS, SEO, maintenance… so many names that they are bombarded with when they only want ‘a sample website’!
Let’s clarify some jargon, should we?
Top 5 things to know before you build a great website.
Think of a website as your brick-and-mortar shop or studio! The principles are similar, only they exist in a virtual space. Certain things just must be done for your website to work.
Let’s use the example of a brick-and-mortar shop. If you’re starting your business, the first thing you need to think of is the name and the address of your business. In the virtual world, this is your domain!
A domain is your unique, owned by you and protected name, which when entered into a search box of your browser sends traffic to your website. Without a domain, your website won’t exist. There’s a multitude of different websites where you can purchase a domain name.
If you have no time or interest in researching domain names, your website designer would normally offer to help you with that. If you build a site with EverDigital we find you the best and most reliable domain completely free of charge.
The domain names are usually bought on annual basis, so you can buy a domain for a year, two years or even 10 years. Usually the longer period you buy your domain for the cheaper it gets!
So now when you have your business name and the address you need to think of a place for your business. In the real world, this would be a store, a warehouse, a salon etc. In the online reality, we talk about hosting. Hosting is your business’ home. This is where all your products, data and documents are stored – in a virtual form.
It’s important to find fast and reliable hosting, ideally in the same country where your business is based (but not necessary), because the speed of your website relies greatly on your hosting provider.
People usually don’t think about it, but it’s crucial to keep an eye on your hosting expiration date. With the fast life we live these days it’s easy to overlook a reminder email. Similarly to a domain, hosting is bought on annual basis with some providers allowing monthly payments.
In EverDigital we provide a hosting service that includes 24/7 support, regular back-ups and updates necessary for your hosting to perform its best. We also research the best hosting for you if you decide to use another hosting provider!
Design and brand identity
If designing is not your best skill we advise you to find a website designer who can take care of the visual hierarchy, website structure, user experience principles and the visual aesthetic of your website.
However, even if you don’t want to design your own website, you still need to think about some elements of design, for example, branding.
Branding is a word that seems to scare most people. We usually hear that “it’s just unnecessary”, “we don’t have branding” or “you can just do it as a designer, right?”. Unfortunately, no.
Branding is your business’ identity. It’s not just about fonts and colours, but a general idea and ‘feel’ of your brand.
Of course, you need to know what colours your business is using (even if you can only think of dark vs. light), what logo is going to be used, and what sort of message your website should send to your potential customers – is your brand serious, or fun and playful? But branding is a general essence of your business that you want your website to reflect. Read more about branding, if you’re interested, in this article.
There is no need to panic and dislike this word. When the website designer asks you about your branding, please think about the below questions:
- How do I want my business to be seen?
- What are my business’ values?
- What product/service do I offer?
- Who is my target audience?
Your branding can be as simple as that. The more you think about these questions, the more you will start to see your brand’s visual identity.
Now next time when you are asked what’s your branding, you will know exactly what to say.
The truth is most websites these days are built using a website builder or a CMS, like WordPress. Check out our previous blog post on why we think WordPress is the best option if you want a lot of room to grow.
Unless you need to build a complex website linked to a specific database where programming is necessary, you probably will use one of the website builders or WordPress.
Website builders like Wix, Squarespace or Weebly are entirely built for beginners. All you have to do is choose your template, customize it to your liking, and your site is ready to publish. They are relatively cheap at the beginning, the problem starts when your website grows – the bigger your site is the more expensive plans you have to pay for.
On the other hand, WordPress allows you to create a custom website with a lot of potentials to grow. It’s an especially great choice if you’re going to be blogging a lot. The platform is free to use, no matter what’s the size of your website. In EverDigital we build our websites only in WordPress, which gives our clients a chance to customise, update, grow and create with no limits.
Finally, let’s talk about maintenance. This is the most misunderstood of all. You’ve just had your website built and launched (it went live), you can now sit back and relax… Not quite.
The website launch is only the beginning. You don’t expect your brick-and-mortar store to just take care of itself, do you? You need to keep it clean, secure… maintain it. Furthermore, you need to make sure that all contact details on your shop display are up to date and your products are presented in the best possible way. The same principle applies to your website!
You can maintain your website’s health and performance yourself if you have time and technical skills, but you can also opt for a Maintenance package available from most web agencies or website designers. It’s usually a service billed monthly, which helps with keeping your website n perfect condition.
In EverDigital we offer a maintenance service with 24/7 support, regular updates (plugins, software, SEO), content updates (optional), website backups, and any more. You can find out more here.
Maintenance is not just an unnecessary addition to your website, it has to be done, whether you do it yourself or you hire an expert to do it for you.
You’ve made it this far. Now you have a solid grasp of the basics of website building, which is more than enough to help you build your first website. Even if after all you decide to invest in hiring a professional website designer the more you know, the easier it’ll be for you to communicate with them or to customize your site yourself in the future!
Good luck with building your website!