So what’s the big deal about building a website?
From personal business needs, writing blogs, putting up a personal profile or portfolios for recruiters, to holistically manage large organizations at a global scale. Whether you build one on your own or choose to hire a professional to do it for you, here are ten key things which set things on course and keep overwhelming parameters under your control as you build a website.
Before you begin your journey
Whether you are deciding to code a custom website or looking to build it through a platform like WordPress, key elements of building a website including a domain name, a hosting service, maybe even an SSL certification, all need sound planning and decision making. To define the main goal of a website, is one most crucial step and should be the first thing you do.
1. Defining why you want to setup a website
Why you want a spot in the digital space is not only important for you, but also for your customers or anyone who will be visiting your website. Starting from the first impression you want to create, to what you want to achieve while a visitor navigates through your website should be clear before you start designing or building it.
Is your objective to share insights you gathered through a research project? Or has your entrepreneurial talent blossomed to convince you to sell your clothing line internationally? Whatever your answer may be, it should be clear. A clear goal in front, will result in a clear design of your website, which in turn will give to the visitor a very lucid user experience.
While the next few technical bits related to building a website may be more intense and absorbing, a caution here to not undermine the importance of defining your why and placing it before everything.
2. Choosing a domain name
One of the first major things to decide for your website is the domain name. A website’s domain name is a website’s address and is how the world locates a site in the digital space. As an example, this website’s domain name is skillsfirst.org. Your’s can be as per your liking. A few key tips to remember as you jump into the website building process includes knowing the following:
- The domain name for a business website should ideally match the company’s name e.g. xyzcompany.org
- A personal website’s domain name on the other hand, can be after the owner’s personal name and could look something like: yourname.com
- Looking to gain traction from global visitors? Then go for a generic domain name extension such as; .com, .org, or .net. But if your aim is to target an audience at the national level, then local domain name extensions such as .pk, or .us work best.
3. Selecting your website hosting service
Hopefully, choosing a domain name will not be as daunting anymore. The next step now, is to choose a hosting service for your website.
Simply put, a hosting service, is a service that hosts and stores your website’s content in the form of files. These files then reside on a remote computer that is always running, thus ensuring your site is accessible for anyone at any time.
Thinking of learning how to build a website? Check out our website building course here and learn everything you need to know. From selecting a domain name, to choosing the right hosting service. We have it covered, everything you need to know, to learn how to build a website.
4. Choosing a website building platform
This now, is where you as the owner of a new website decide how you want to build your website. Do you want everything customized? Then coding through a choice of available website building languages is your way to go. From PHP to Angular, the options are vast. But if you are looking for a quick and easy solution, then using a website building platform like WordPress, is your go to option. This way you do not have to worry about looking after the design, the backend and the database separately. These platforms handle everything for you and simplify your journey.
- Deciding the payment platform
If you have given good thought and time to step one, and defined your goals and objectives for setting up a website, this is where things will be smoother. We say so, because now you will know what you want your visitor to do and you can support their intended actions.
Whether you are a work from home mom and are looking to set up a payment mode for your clients, your new food blog needs a subscription service or your shoe store will be taking orders online and making doorstep deliveries, there are various payment options you can add to your website.
What if your website will be selling physical products, and your target audience is not comfortable with online payments like those in Pakistan? Choose from a variety of local payment modes like JazzCash, Easypaisa or Cash on Delivery (COD). This will allow you to get your processes running. Once you have built that relationship with your customers, you can switch to online payment modes according to your needs.
5. SSL certification – what is it and why you need it
If you are setting up online payment modes or subscription services, a must have component is an SSL certificate. This protects your visitors sensitive information like credit card information, passwords and usernames and ensures they are safely handled when a purchase is made.
Why do you absolutely need it if you have online payments attached to your platform? In 2018, Google announced that websites that lacked this certificate will be declared “insecure”. For anyone who owns a website, this means that their platform will rank low on web search on Google when looked for a relevant topic.
Building the website
With the key elements of a website and the main strategy settled, it is now time to start building the actual thing. Whether you are building a custom website through code, or using a website building platform like WordPress, a key decision point while building a website is the design. Often this step takes more time than wanted and things can become confusing quickly.
- How to decide the right design for your website
From settling the sitemap or the navigation of pages, to the color pallet and the general impression, making this many decisions can become overwhelming. Our key tip at this stage; keep it simple. This is the best way to save time and get things done quickly.
Don’t have time to read up on color theories or design itself? Follow a template or use an available theme if using WordPress. Once a basic design is set, you can always keep updating. Remembering that change is the only constant will help you speed up the process of building a website. This way, when you have the key elements settled, you can return to the design at a later stage and update to polishing the overall look and feel of your website.
1. Deciding the right content for your website
Content you share on your platform, has a major impact on the amount and type of traffic your website attracts. Therefore, it is super important that the information you share is planned properly. Including creating updated and current content, try to keep things concise and interesting. This is not only important for you if you are a business and making sales, but is also crucial in defining how search engines rank your website.
You can create the right content by understanding your target audience and spending time in researching what their key interests are. This will not only make your content seem more relevant to your audience, but will lead you to have better Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and get you better ranks from Search Engines.
Post maintenance and engagement
So you planned properly, worked efficiently, and have a basic website ready. Here are the last two key elements of building a website that must not be ignored. It is this stage that will define how long the actual step of building the website will last for you. Although there are high chances that you might even find a bug or an error a year after you built your website, but if you deal with the errors early on, your user’s experience will be better and will reduce your risk of losing traffic.
1. Maintenance and bug testing
Know that feature on Facebook that lets you view your profile as someone else? Imagine you pressed such a button and now you can view your website as a third person. Move through your website like a potential customer and follow their possible user journey.
What would be even better? Set up a small test activity and have a friend perform a small task. Dont guide them, just observe them by giving a set goal like buying an item and then improve on any blockades they faced. This is one of the most basic user tests you can perform without hiring a user experience expert. Ensuring everything is right before inviting any traffic is crucial. Because there is nothing worse than having a broken website and creating bad user experience for customers.
2. The Marketing – gaining traction and driving traffic to your website
Lastly, with everything settled, decided, tested and built, will they come? Will people visit your website and will you gain any traction? Start your marketing now. Think about these few questions as you plan your marketing strategy:
- What kind of customers do you want to gain?
- What is my potential customer base looking for?
- What will make visitors stay longer on my website?
These basic guidelines will help you get started on your website’s marketing strategy. In addition, make sure your social media handles are all set too and you are marketing through Facebook and Instagram. Don’t know what social media handle would work best for you? Check out our course on digital marketing here, where we cover all major digital marketing platforms and help individuals and businesses figure out what would work best for them.
Building a good website takes time and patience. However, good planning and smart decision making can pay you off well into your journey. Don’t know where to start? Check out our website building course here.