Building a website is now easier than ever thanks to user-friendly web design platforms. Even someone with literally no coding experience could build a decent website overnight depending on which platform they choose.
It doesn’t mean that the site will perform well with search engines or be a hit with your audience, however. Creating a high-performing website that will please both Google and the public is not easy and demands a lot of work. There are also mistakes you’ll need to avoid early on if you want to increase the chances of your site being successful. Here are some of the things first-time people need to consider when creating a website.
Choosing the Right Platform
The first thing you have to do is decide which platform you’re going to use to build your website. Know that you could also learn HTML and CSS from scratch and build a standalone website on your own.
Many people don’t know this, but you could design an entire website with nothing but Notepad. If you want to be able to get the maximum out of any platform, we suggest that you at least get a foundation in HTML coding. This will allow you to create a better website and not constantly have to rely on another party to work out kinks.
If you want to learn the basics of HTML, we suggest you check out W3Schools and their online web tutorials. This will give you everything you need to get a basic understanding of HTML.
If you have absolutely no experience, the best option would be for you to go for a drag and drop hosted platform like Wix or Squarespace. These sites won’t always create the most elaborate website, but they will be fundamentally sound and will look across all devices, which is very important. Shopify is another option if you want to build an eCommerce store.
You have to know, however, that some platforms will require that your site remains on their servers forever, which can be an issue. This means that your site’s fate will always be tied to theirs, so, if they go under or the quality of their service drops, you’ll suffer as well. Squarespace will allow you to transfer your site to another host if it’s more than 60 days old, but neither Wix nor Shopify will allow you to transfer, so be ready for that.
If you have a little bit of experience or you’re willing to learn, the best option would be to go with WordPress. It’s the world’s biggest CMS on the planet and it’s estimated that about 37% of all websites on the web use the platform.
WordPress offers a good mix of convenience and control, and the best part is that you can host it on your server. WordPress also has a gentle learning curve and tons of great themes you can choose from. Depending on your industry, you could find a theme that you’ll barely have to modify that will be perfect for your niche. Be careful to not go for free themes that were not released by WordPress, however, as some of them could contain malware. If you’re looking for great WordPress themes, ThemeForest is a great place to start.
One thing you have to know, however, is that the people at WordPress won’t assist you like they will on Shopify or Wix. So, if you have issues with your site or the program, you’re on your own. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get support. The WordPress community is very strong, and you should be able to get answers to your questions on their forum very fast. So, don’t let the lack of support deter you as this could be the absolute best platform to power your website.
Understand Sound Website Structure
Next, you should know what a well-structured website looks like. Your goal when you build a website should be to give your readers the best experience possible. They need to be able to find the information they need fast and easily. You should also organise your content in a way that it will be easily indexable by search engines.
The more organised your structure and content are, the more visibility you’ll get on search engines. You can do that by organising your content in silos, making sure that your site is structured logically, and that it has clean hierarchical navigation.
If you want to learn more about website structure and content silos, we suggest you check out this SEO guide by Superb Digital. They explain everything you need to know to create a website that will do well both with search engines and visitors. They explain how you can use keywords in your URL to help categorise pages and a few other tricks that will help Google bots crawl and categorise your site more easily.
Build for Performance
Another thing you have to understand about modern SEO is that it puts a lot of importance on how well a website performs. Google wants the most visible sites in its directory to give the best user experience, and user experience is directly correlated to website performance. So, you’ll need to make sure that your site loads as fast as possible and looks great on all supports.
Everything starts with your hosting provider and the package you choose. You need to go with a hosting provider with a reputation for great service and stay away from cheap shared hosting packages. These might work if all you want to do is build a hobby blog, but not if your goal is to build a business.
This is because shared hosting will literally force you to share the server and its bandwidth with other websites. What that means is that a surge in traffic on one of these sites could end up making the connection to your site unstable or shut it down completely.
This is why you should at least go for something like a virtual private server. Your site will still be stored on a server with other sites, but each will have its dedicated connection. If you’re looking for a great VPS provider, BlueHost, InMotion, and A2 Hosting are all great options.
Don’t Be Afraid of White Space
One thing you should know is that white space is actually your friend when it comes to web design, so don’t try to fill every single space of your website with design elements.
White space will allow your readers to focus on your content. White space can create balance and harmony and also help guide readers through different elements. This is why you should try to maximise whitespace as much as possible. Do not see white space as merely blank space, but as an integral part of the site’s design.
Images are what will make your site’s design stand out the most, not fancy backgrounds or banners. You could have a site that is all white with a basic header and have it look great if you use powerful images correctly. So, do yourself a favour and invest in professional photography if it’s for a company website. The same goes if you’re trying to sell products. If you have pictures from a supplier that are not the nicest, don’t cut corners and have them photographed by a professional. If you are working with bulk ecommerce images for your site you should also consider photo background removal services. Using a service that specializes in this type of photo editing will allow you to save time and money, while getting the best out of your product marketing, helping drive more sales!
These are all things beginners should know about building a website. We suggest that you start small and learn some of the basics of web design. Once you’ve grasped the basic concepts, you can start experimenting and refining your designs over time.