Introduction To Making Your Website
Making a website is a creative/fun process, you can do it cheaply if you don’t mind learning yourself. That’s right, you don’t need to hire an expensive web designer or get your uncle to make it for you.
There are a few things you need to understand before jumping into it. So we’re going to break down how to make a website.
Why Make A Website In 2019?
It’s very important to have you’re ‘why’ is very clear. You might want to start a blog, a photography portfolio or even a wedding invitation site. You can create almost anything you’d like and if you’re a business in the twenty-first century, you need a website!
Think about:‘Why am I making a website?’
It’s very important you have a focus before you start making your website. That focus needs to carry on the entire process, from beginning to end and beyond.
Goals For Making The Website
I want you to be able make a website AND understand what you’re doing a long the way.
Disclaimer: This is not a step-by-step guide, don’t expect the ‘click here, do this’ mentality.
This is to teach the theory of what you’re doing when making the website.
Building a website is like a building your very own storefront. You need to buy the block of land, plan the construction, build the foundation and structure. Then of course design, the interior, add the infrastructure. All ready for launch day where you need to promote your opening store.
Let’s get started.
Domain – Your P.O Box
This is the address of your website, also known as a URL.
Think about: What’s easy for my customer to say and search online?
Illustration: Your storefront has an address e.g PO Box 1552 or 46 Anderson Rd. S. You’ll need an address to receive mail or send gift cards to customers. And of course, people need to know how to get to your store, right?
It’s important you use the right extension (.com.au) depending on your location. If you’re a commercial business then you use .com, and if you’re in Australia, you use .com.au. This is great for customers trying to find you on google too!
Tip: When choosing a domain name, pick something simple and easy to remember. Make sure it reflects your business and try to avoid long URL’s over 20+ characters.
These are the companies who offer domains.
All domain providers do the same thing so it doesn’t matter which one you choose.
Research: “Best Domain Provider” to see comparisons.
Recommendation: I prefer VentraIP ❤
Example: Buy variations of your domain:
You don’t want someone coming along and snapping up a domain you might use later.
This is the Registrar’s login area to manage your purchased domains.
All domain providers offer free accounts, ignore all the add-ons and up-sells.
Once in your dashboard, there’ll be a lot of extra features and tools, ignore most of it. You want to find the DNS Records area. By selecting the domain, there will be a ‘Manage Domain’ option, that’s what you want.
This is where you go to point your domain to your hosting…Segway
Hosting – Your Block Of Land
This is where your website’s are built & lives.
Hosting is hiring space on a web company’s server. A web server is a big shell of a computer built to host websites.
Illustration: Think of building your store on a block of land. Will you build on a busy street corner so people can walk past? Or will you build near other businesses or in a remote location?
- WP Engine
- InMotion Hosting
You sign up with a hosting provider, select the type of hosting you need then point your domain to your host, simple, right?
Recommendation: I prefer Cloudways ❤
The main types of hosting:
- Shared Hosting
- Virtual Private Server (VPS)
- Dedicated Server Hosting
- Managed Hosting
Shared Hosting is the entry-level option. Your website is on the same server as other websites. This is the cheaper option but can have more security risks.
Dedicated Server Hosting is where you rent an entire server. You have complete control, so a lot more space and possibilities.
Virtual Private Server (VPS) is the combination of the first two options. If you need more control, but don’t want to invest in a dedicated server, this is for you.
Managed Hosting is the WordPress friendly version of Shared Hosting. It gives you some extra featrues and some more support.
So, what hosting do I choose?
Consider your budget and needs.
Think about: “How big will my website be?”
If you need to go on the cheap, Shared Hosting is a good option. But, if you have big plans for a website monster company then dedicated hosting for sure.
Tip: Get good support. I repeat, get good support! – Things will go wrong, make sure you’ve got someone who can help.
Why is good hosting important?
Yes! Unlike domain providers, web hosting is very important.
Hosting handles sending your website to customers, you want rocket fast speeds. Not only for your customers but for search engines like google. Everyone wants your website loading fast, so should you!
Web hosting companies must have good security. Hackers are stealing personal information, shutting down websites & altering live web pages. Top notch security is a must!
Wireframe – Your Blueprints
This is the outline & plan for your website.
Illustration: Of course you need blueprints to build your store, plans for the construction.
This can be as simple as a list of words in a notebook outlining the web pages and features you want on your website. It can also be a complete mockup designed in software like Adobe XD or Sketch. It’s up to you how much detail and time you put into a wireframe.
Tip: Big website or small, ALWAYS start with a plan.
Example: A simple wireframe for an online retailer might be
- Selling products
- Rating products
- Contact Form
Need Help? Look at other websites in your industry, note the number of pages & features they have.
Platform – Your Buildings Foundation
This is the framework of your website, how you log in, edit, update & use your entire website.
Illustration: Then it’s putting your plans into action, building the storefront. The foundations from the floors, walls to the ceiling and roof.
There are many different platforms that allow you to create websites. Which one you choose depends on what you need.
Example: Some options include
- Software e.g Adobe’s Dreamweaver, Brackets.io
They all have different strengths and weaknesses, we’re not going to cover each one here. Instead we’re going to focus on the most powerful and most popular, WordPress.
Why Use WordPress?
Almost every website could be on WordPress, I am a massive advocate for this platform.
Popular: 27% of the entire internet uses WordPress. This means there is a lot of information, articles, courses & resources to research. There’s also dedicated groups & communities you can join to get personlised help.
Price: It cost’s a whopping $0 up front and a massive $0/monthly. Yes, that’s right, WordPress itself is completely free to download, install and operate. Because WordPress is an open license software.
Functions: WordPress’s design creates a ‘plug and plays’ environment. And with it’s great popularity, a lot of people and companies are creating amazing apps for it.
Why NOT Use WordPress?
As much as I love this platform, it’s not perfect and it’s not the right fit for everyone.
Learning: WordPress is not the easiest platform to get your head around. It involves clicking
Usability: It has its quirks, your login page might disappear, or a web page we’re working on might not save. The latest WordPress 5.0 has done a lot to fix these bugs, but some prevail.
Updates: A common issue is WordPress updates as they can cause problems. Sometimes there are conflicts and WordPress can look funny after an update.
How To Use WordPress?
Let’s look at the tools inside of WordPress.
Remember you can add to WordPress, these are the core tools every WordPress website has.
The main tools are:
Plugins: These are the ‘add-ons’ for WordPress made by other people and companies a.k.a third parties. Why is WordPress so popular? It’s because plugins allow you to do almost anything.
Themes: Every installation of WordPress has a theme, this gives a starting point to build in. Third parties create themes, often they’re designed as industry
Pages: Web pages make up a website, home page, about page etc. It’s a basic but very important concept to understand.
Posts: Posts are like pages, but they are feeds used for blogs & archives a.k.a dynamically generate pages.
Content & Design – Inside Your Store
This is what goes on your website, what people see and interact with.
Illustration: Now it’s your interior design, creating the look and feel of your business store. Catch your customers eye with stylish signage while creating an atmosphere when visiting. You’ve also needed the infrastructure in your business. Eftpos for customers to pay, Wi-Fi for internet access.
Your content is the most important thing, this is what people are here for, so make it good! The design of the website is what impacts people, so make it appealing.
Let’s look at these key areas
- Written Copy
- Images & Videos
- Widgets & Other Media
Ordering your pages in sections.
Example: Your home page might have:
- A title section to draw attention
- Call to action section to sell your service
- Contact section to get more details
Make sure to provide plenty of space and not distract the user.
Using colour to engage.
Stick to your brand colours, generally using one strong accent colour for consistency. Use of white space works well with minimal text & images.
The words on your website.
Focus on writing benefits of your service or product vs stating features. Write
Break up large amounts of text into bite-size chunks. No one likes overwhelming amounts of text, so keep it simple for readers.
The way words are displayed.
Using too many font sizes and font types can be distracting. Picking 2 title font’s, 1 paragraph/body font and 1 accent font; like a hand-written font.
Recommendation: I prefer Google Fonts
Images & Videos
How imagery displays on your website.
Make sure any images are small, I don’t mean the resolution, I mean file size. Aim for images to be less than 150kb’s.
Don’t upload videos to your WordPress website. Take advantage of free streaming services like YouTube and embed them.
Widgets & Other Media
Any other interactive element.
This can be anything such as:
- Image Sliders
- Moving Text Boxes
There are a lot of extra features you can add to WordPress. Make sure you need a widget, don’t get carried away with adding them unless they have a purpose.
Making a website is fun & challenging, so enjoy learning new skills along the way to your finished product. Be proud to share your site with friends, family and customers.
There is a bit to get your head around the first time you make a website. After a while, it all becomes second nature and it’s not at all daunting.
Illustration: How are you going to get customers to come into your store? Setting a launch sale, fun signage and holiday prices can attract people. Don’t forget the newspapers or that fancy new internet thing.
Remember that your website itself is a tool and has a purpose. Once you’re finished making the website, be sure it’s achieving what it sort out to do. If it’s there to sell, inform clients or whatever, make sure it’s doing its job.