22 Nov How to Build A Website (For Beginners)
This month’s blog post is all about how to build a website for beginners. Building a website can be challenging and frustrating (especially as a beginner), but it doesn’t have to be.
You’re here because you decided on the DIY route for website building. That likely comes down to budget and because only one person truly knows what your vision is for your website – you!
No matter why you made the decision, when you build your own website from scratch, you need a process to guide you. With a process, you can avoid getting stuck in the endless feedback loops that are all too common towards the end of the design process. So here’s how to build a website from scratch, for beginners.
Step 1: Choose a Content Management System
The first step of how to build a website from scratch is to choose a content management system. A content management system (CMS) is a back-end system that allows you to edit the front-end of your website. Your CMS keeps track of your pages, blog posts, images and files. Popular examples of content management systems include WordPress, Shopify and Squarespace.
Your content management system is a crucial part of building a website, and each system has pros and cons depending on what you need. For example, WordPress is best if you’re comfortable with technology and want a super-customizable solution, whereas Squarespace or Shopify are drag & drop visual builders with less options for customization. We wrote a blog ranking the best (and worst) content management systems here.
Step 2: Finalize Branding & Plan Content
After you choose the tech you want to use to create your site, the next step is planning. Before diving into designing a website, it’s so important to finalize the color scheme and image inspiration you want to use on your website. This will stop the process of endless revisions that tends to hijack progress. Likewise, planning written content helps to inform the final design of the site. Without some content to start with, you’re likely to have a scattered or piecemeal design.
If you don’t already have image inspiration and a color scheme in mind, start looking for images on Pinterest. Here are some examples of real mood boards from our Pinterest account:
After you have your images, you’ll have a clearer idea about which colors you want on your website. If you really want to dial in your color scheme, here’s a great tool to explore and finalize your website color scheme.
The next piece is brainstorming and planning written content. Whether your business sells a product or service, you’ll want five basic pages to start with: Home, About, Services / Products, Contact, Blog. For SEO purposes, you ideally want between 600-800 words per page (if possible). Take a look at competitors’ websites to see how they structure their information. And most importantly, DO NOT COPY it. Not only is it unethical to copy information, but Google also penalizes duplicate content which makes it difficult to rank in search results. Original content is the goal here.
Step 3: Design & Launch
Like most creative endeavors, planning is the majority of the process. Once planning is complete, the design of the site can go quickly and smoothly. Here are a few tips on design to get you started:
- Separate sections with colors and images to break up the text.
- Use a few consistent design elements throughout the site to unify everything (ex. hand-drawn illustration, banner images).
- Use headings to clarify the content of sections on the site.
- Refer to free photo libraries for stock or background content (ex. Pexels, Unsplash)
- Check out our web design portfolio for inspiration.
(Optional) Step 4: Website Maintenance & SEO
The bad news: the mythical days of “if you build it, they will come” are long gone, if they ever existed at all. The good news: there are proven ways to get people to your website, and all you have to do is what you’re good at… talking about concepts related to your business.
Once your website is live, the next step is adding and updating content over time by writing about topics related to your business. Use niche keywords and follow our tips about blogging for SEO to start ranking for a variety of organic search terms. This drives free traffic to your website over time, so that you can scale back on the paid parts of your marketing.
While these are just the basics of how to build a website (for beginners), the top takeaways are: choosing your content management system wisely and planning your content. Whether you cross the finish line yourself or decide to hire out to finish and launch your site, you’ll have the basics in place to streamline the design process and launch something beautiful.
Happy designing! And if you do want some help finishing your site, we’re here to help.