Having run our web development agency for many years, we know that not everyone is ready to engage a business like ours to design and develop their perfect website. In the age of DIY everything, DIY websites are very popular, and for the most part, quite easy to develop. In 2024, having a website is a great way to improve your online presence. Setting up a website can be a daunting task, but it’s not impossible. Here are the top tips to building a website for beginners from web development agency experts:
Step 1: Determine Your Goal
There are many reasons to create a website. Here are some of the most popular types of websites we have seen in 2023:
- Blogger or influencer
- Freelancer or creative business
- Marketplace business
- Online course creator
- Business to consumer website
- Business to business website
- E-commerce website
But no matter who you are, what business you have or what you do, creating a website can often be the starting point to getting more exposure for whatever it is you do. A website becomes the ‘online home’ for your business and for all communications channels to point to. Over time, just having a website (and adding relevant content to it regularly) can mean you increase you likelihood for success simply because you will be able to be in front of more people over time. And whilst social media is great for getting exposure, with the ever changing nature of social media platforms, algorithms and promotion ability – having a website remains relatively consistent when it comes to being able to attract and retain views, users and customers.
So now that you have decided to create a website, we need to decide what it is you want that website to achieve.
The most typical ‘goals’ for a website include:
- More views or users on your site
- More product purchases
- More credibility when customers are making a purchase decision
- Attract and recruit new employees
- Provide useful information to your customers / users / staff
So before you get moving into the wonderful world of website DIY, make a list of the goals you want your website to achieve.
Step 2. Choose the Appropriate Platform
Once you identify your website goals, the next step is to choose the website platform that aligns with those objectives.
There are 2 types of platforms available to choose from: Website Builder or Content Management System (CMS)
CMS. The CMS is a software application that runs in a browser. The software allows the user to manage and create a website that doesn’t have to be built from scratch. The website design can be customized with templates that can be modified. CMS also includes features such as web creation and image storage.
The most popular CMS platforms are the following:
- WordPress.org. Nearly 43% of all websites on the internet use WordPress.
- HubSpot CMS Hub. HubSpot is geared towards business owners and marketers.
- WooCommerce. The most popular eCommerce platform in the world, WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress websites.
- Joomla. Joomla has been in operation since 2005. It has many templates and extensions to choose from that can be installed with just one click. This platform is ideal for experienced website creators and developers.
- Drupal. Many universities and government websites use Drupal. It is ideal for those who will hire a developer or have a site that will handle large amounts of data.
Website builder. With a website builder, you create your own website by choosing from various pre-made templates, often called a “drop and drag” function. The templates can then be tweaked along with images of your choice to create your own unique layout.
Top website builders to choose from include the following:
- Wix. Wix has over 100 million users, making it the most popular website builder. Wix is popular among small business owners and has a top-rated online store builder.
- Weebly. Popular with bloggers and boasting over 530,000 domains, Weebly is known as an easy website builder, ideal for those with little technical expertise.
- Shopify. Shopify was founded in 2004 and is now used by over 800,000 online businesses to sell products online. Shopify provides automatic tax rates, carrier shipping rates and over 100 payment gateways, giving shoppers the full checkout experience.
- Web.com. Web.com is ideal for beginners looking to start their own online business, blog or portfolio. Perks include search optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and assistance with website design.
- Squarespace. Popular among bloggers and those creating personal sites, Squarespace is known for its high-quality sites and well-designed and detailed templates.
The Difference Between CMS And Website Builders
There are 3 key differences between CMS and website builders:
- User-friendliness: Some CMS platforms may be a challenge for those who aren’t tech savvy. On the other hand, website builders are known for making it easy to create content and customize sites.
- Scalability: Scalability refers to a site’s ability to be changed in size or scale. CMS software tends to provide plugins and extensions that can scale to a site, while website builders tend to be more limited.
- Hosting: CMS software is self-hosted, which means users get to choose web hosting services separately. Website builders typically have hosting services tied together with the product.
There is no right or wrong answer as to which is best between CMS and website builders. The ultimate choice comes down to individual preference. Our web development agency will typically work in WordPress, Shopify and Drupal but this can vary depending on project type, size and budget.
If you are not sure which platform to use, have a look at the websites of the top 3 competitors you wish to beat. Our web development agency sometimes uses the ‘WhatCMS‘ website to determine what platform a site is built in. You can copy and paste in the website of one of your competitors here and it will give you information on what platform they use. This can help you to work out if this platform is right for you.
Step 3. Decide on a Layout
The next step in building your website page is to choose your layout. A good rule of thumb is to look at several different designs or templates before deciding. Studying websites like the one you want to create is a great place to start. Take note of the colours, fonts, layout, and overall design of the sites. This can give you an idea on how to proceed further. Typically a web development agency would refer to your company brand guidelines to inform the overall layout and style of your website. If you have one, refer to this to ensure your website looks like your other brand assets.
Other key questions to ask yourself:
- What pages will your website have?
- How many pages will your website be?
- What additional templates, plugins, or features do you need?
Step 4. Decide on a Domain Name
The domain name is the internet address for your site, starting with “www.” Most people have a domain name already in mind before starting the website process, but now its time to make it official and claim it.
When choosing a domain name, keep the following in mind:
- Avoid trademark infringement
- Make sure its pronounceable
- Keep it short and easy to type
Having a good business name and address will make it easier for people to find it when using search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. Use sites such as GoDaddy.com or Domain.com to look for available domain names.
Step 5. Create Content
Content will include everything from images, videos, and written material (text). Using original content will help your site stand out. In addition, if using other people’s information, giving credit or citing the source is key. While some people create content daily, others post less frequently (once or twice per week). Quality over quantity is vital to your website’s success.
Step 6. Add the Appropriate Pages
Each website will have its own style, but most websites tend to have the following pages:
- About us
Step 7. Make it Mobile Friendly
People will view your site from desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and a variety of mobile devices. Make sure your site is easy to view and navigate with a variety of gadgets. In many instances, a mobile site is automatically generated when creating your new website.
After your site is created, view it from various devices to ensure it looks professional and easy to navigate.
Step 8. Make it SEO Friendly
Once your site is up and running, it’s time to convince people to view your site. One way this is accomplished is by improving your search engine optimization (SEO). This is the process of improving the quality and quantity of traffic to your site via search engines.
One way to improve SEO is to sprinkle relevant keywords throughout your site, such as on the homepage, in the title, and on blog posts. Another strategy is to add internal links to other pages on your site. These internal links can help search engines navigate your site while simultaneously allowing visitors to visit other pages on your site as well.
Step 9. Engage With Your Visitors
Interacting with your visitors is key to building a website. This can keep them coming back for more content, as well as attract others to your site as well. You can add a chatbot to help engagement levels as well as consistently and regularly adding blog, news or article content.
Step 10. Update Regularly
Sites that aren’t updated are quickly overlooked by both visitors and search engines. As discussed in Step 5, having quality content that is updated regularly is key.
Putting It All Together
Building a website in 2024 can be a challenge, but there are many excellent tools available to help make the website of your dreams. By knowing what you want and having a plan of action, you can create a high-quality website that rivals most professional sites in a short period of time.
More About Soto Group
We are an Australian branding, marketing, and web development agency based in Mount Lawley, WA. We service clients all over the globe and help them navigate the often tricky website design landscape. Our ethos is to build relationships based on trust that leads to design projects and outcomes that are goal-specific and help our clients’ businesses grow and thrive. Hundreds of businesses trust us to build then brands and websites that can stand the test of time, and lead to more conversions, more sales and more work life balance.
If you are looking for more advice on getting the right website for you or finding out more about our services and how we help businesses excel, reach out to our friendly team for a no-obligation chat.