For individuals and small businesses, the cost of hiring an agency to create their website can often be prohibitive. But in recent years there has been a proliferation of website-building programs, which have all the coding included, making DIY website building far easier and much less expensive. That said, there remain many pitfalls, which need to be avoided along the way. If you’re thinking of building your own website, here are some basic tips to get you started.
Naming of your site is crucial, as this is one of the building blocks of your online brand. Web domain names always have a prefix, usually http://, followed by the site name, and then a suffix such as .com or .net. Most of the most common names for these suffixes have now been taken, so a lot of businesses are looking at suffixes including .biz or .info instead.
Choose a domain name that is succinct, relevant, and easy to spell, and give it serious thought! Remember, with any website name, the most important thing is to make it memorable. Think Google—20 years ago the word probably didn’t even exist, but now it’s synonymous with the Internet.
Your site will need to be hosted on an external server. There are many hosting providers you can choose from, and their fees vary depending on the services you require, such as e-commerce solutions or databases. It’s essential to choose one that includes technical support and reliable, fast servers. Use a comparison site such as WebHostingBlueBook.com to find the best option for you.
When it comes to design there are 3 things to keep in mind: Quick Build, High Quality, Low Price. You will rarely be able to achieve all three, so choose one or two, which are most important to you. If you don’t have the time to learn HTML coding yourself, you’ll find it best to use a website template within a content management system, such as WordPress. Once you’ve mastered the basic skills needed, key things to keep in mind include the layout of your site, making it easily navigable by the user, clean and visually enticing, and putting important information in eyeline; selecting good images; making it responsive, so that it will work on mobile or tablet devices; paying attention to your website’s SEO and writing unique and relevant content, and any add-ons you may need such as shopping carts or payment processing.
Before launching your site, double-check everything: your content for spelling or grammar mistakes; that all pages load okay and links work; the information you want on show is there, and anything you don’t want visible isn’t. Far better to spend a few hours checking than risk a problem later on when you don’t have time to respond quickly.
Search Engine Optimisation
SEO is the art of positioning your site as high in search engine results as possible. There are innumerable techniques, and like all Internet disciplines, it’s constantly evolving. The basics are very easy to pick up and implement though, with the most important thing being to keep a constant eye on new developments in the industry to ensure your site is performing consistently in searches. Follow blogs by industry leaders such as moz.com for valuable insights and advice.
Once your site is up and running, it’s vital to keep track of data such as who is visiting it; how they find it (i.e. by typing the site address directly into their browser, or a search engine); which pages they visit; how long the stay on each page, and more. This will help you improve your site and find any flaws. Tools such as Google Analytics make this very easy, and are especially essential for trading websites.
Potential problems abound. Your Webmaster could be taken ill, or your site may be hacked. Be sure to keep a record of important log-in details; keep copies of your website data off-site, and use a hosting provider whose technical support you can rely on.