Once you’ve started any type of business, there are numerous things you should do if you want your business to find its footing and eventually be successful. An essential component of growing a business is building an online presence, which will give you the opportunity to connect to millions of potential customers who primarily use the internet to do their shopping. Whether you have just recently created a business or have had a brick-and-mortar store for years, taking your company online can be a daunting prospect if you’ve never before been involved with building a website.
The steps involved with building a website are similar to those that occur when you’re building a brand. It’s important that you understand your target audience and what they are interested in. If you can provide your main audience with an appealing and functional website that gives them relevant content, they will likely become more engaged with the website and your brand as a whole. Keep in mind that your website represents your brand. Many businesses make the mistake of creating websites that are almost too unique and have very little to do with the brand in regards to presentation and content.
When you want to start building a website to further your business and brand, there are numerous components that you should take into account, which include everything from the layout and color palette to mobile responsiveness and SEO optimization. The amount of time it takes to build a website from scratch depends on the type of website that you want to make. For a simple informational website that comes with very few pages, the website and its design could be completed in as little as 2-4 weeks. However, the majority of more complex websites will take upwards of 3-6 months to build.
Before you think about designing your own website, it’s highly recommended that you do some research. First, you’ll likely want to perform some user research to determine who your target audience is and what they want from a website. This information should be at the forefront of your mind when you make decisions during the web design and development process. You should also conduct some basic visual research to gain a better understanding of what modern websites look like. This step-by-step guide will give you everything you need to know about building a website and what the process entails.
Step 1: Choosing Your Website Platform
The first step in the website-building process involves selecting the website platform that you would like to use when designing and managing your website. In the early 2000’s, the primary method for creating a website involved using CSS, PHP, or HTML coding to build a website from the ground up. While these types of coding are still beneficial during the web development process, the introduction of content management systems like Shopify and WordPress gave businesses the opportunity to build websites without needing to understand how to code.
A CMS is a comprehensive platform for managing online content and building websites. The best content management systems offer templates and plugins that make web design easy. For instance, platforms like WordPress offer themes with numerous page layouts to select from, most of which can be customized substantially. Before you select a content management system, it’s important to understand that the CMS you choose should accommodate the type of website that you want to build.
If you’re looking to create a blog or a website that will feature blog articles, CMS platforms like WordPress might be right for you. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to build an eCommerce website, there are numerous CMS platforms that specialize in eCommerce, which means that they offer a suite of eCommerce features for you to take advantage of. Once you know what type of website you would like to build, selecting the right CMS becomes more straightforward.
Most Popular Sites in 2021
There are many website platforms at your disposal, the most popular of which include WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace. If you want to create an eCommerce website, Shopify is also a great platform to use. However, WordPress is much more popular than any other CMS available to you. As of 2021, around 44% of websites found on the internet are managed with the WordPress CMS. There are many reasons why WordPress is considered one of the best CMS platforms around, the primary of which is that WordPress is free and doesn’t require any recurring subscriptions.
Instead, you can pay for plugins and add-ons to extend the functionality of your website based solely on what you need. WordPress websites are highly customizable since site owners have access to more than 50,000 free plugins and thousands of paid plugins. Additional benefits of using WordPress include responsive functionality with every website and great support from an expansive community of developers and other site owners.
Step 2: Finding a Host and Domain
Once you’ve identified the website platform you want to use, it’s time to find a host and domain, both of which are essential if you want to get your website up and running. Your domain name will act as your web address that people must enter or click on if they want to reach your website. An example of a web address is mysitename.com. As for web hosts, these are services that can connect websites to the internet.
If you decide to use WordPress as your CMS of choice, the platform is free to use. However, there will be costs associated with your host and domain name. Keep in mind that these services are usually very affordable and typically cost around $3-5. Your domain name will make your business seem more professional. As for the host, your website can’t be brought online unless a host is attached to it. While you can attempt to host the website on your own, this is a costly and time-consuming process that most business owners avoid.
Top Website Host
As is the case with website platforms, there are also numerous website hosts to choose from. Among the most popular and reputable web hosts is Bluehost. They are known for providing great customer service and extensive security features. Their website uptime is also high, which is important if you want your website to remain online even with high amounts of traffic. If you decide to use a service like Bluehost, hosting costs just $2.75 each month and comes with a free domain name that you can use.
Picking a Domain Name
Choosing the right domain name can take time but doesn’t need to be as difficult as it might seem at first glance. In the event that you’re creating a business website, make sure that the domain name matches your company name. On the other hand, a personal website can have any domain name you want it to unless the name is already taken. If the personal website is meant to display your talents or expertise, you could use your own name as the domain. Try to make the domain name memorable and brandable. In general, domain names should never be too lengthy.
Step 3: Start Designing Your Site
The third and final step in this process involves setting up and designing your website, which is the most time-consuming yet rewarding aspect of this process. If you’re using WordPress, you’ll first need to install the platform with your domain name and host. This can be done with a one-click installation. In the event that Bluehost is your web host of choice, you should first navigate to the Bluehost website. From here, there are several steps you should take, which include:
- Select your hosting plan
- Type in your domain name
- Fill in any necessary information about your website
- Pay for the hosting plan
- Log into your Bluehost account
- Select the “One-click WordPress install” button to fully install WordPress
Once you’ve completed these steps, you can get started on building your website.
Choosing A Theme for Your Site
The next step in the web design process involves choosing a theme for your website, of which there are thousands to select from. You can select a free or paid theme depending on your preference. At the moment, there are more than 8,000 free themes in the WordPress theme directory. With the right theme in place, your website will look better and load faster. It’s highly recommended that you take your time in finding the perfect theme. The theme you choose will provide your website with its appearance and functionality, which is why it’s important that your theme matches your brand and meets your needs.
Create Pages and Posts
While you’ll eventually want to customize your website to make it more attuned to your brand image, the most important thing to do after installing your theme is to create pages and posts for your website, which is necessary before taking the website online. Even though it’s possible for a website to consist of just one page, most modern websites have at least 10-30 pages of content. While the exact pages and posts that your company has depended on the type of business you run, there are three key pages that every website needs. These pages include:
- A homepage
- An about page
- A contact page
Certain WordPress themes provide you with several layout options that you can use when creating pages. To reach these options, navigate to the “Appearance” section in your admin dashboard. From there, select “Customize”. You’ll then be provided with numerous options for customizing how your homepage looks and what types of content are included on the page. When you want to create a new page and have it added to WordPress, navigate to the “Pages” area in your admin dashboard. You’ll notice an “Add New” button in the top left corner of the screen, which you should select.
Building a website is no longer a tedious exercise that requires extensive knowledge of complex coding. Even with little to no coding knowledge, you can build a visually appealing website that provides your audience with the exact functionality and content that they’re looking for.