WEBSITE MANAGEMENT

How to Create a Website: The Step by Step Guide

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Written by Burcin Genc
01/06/2020
       

The rapid and dramatic increase in the number of online users has played a major role in every business. Regardless of the industry or the size, having a website is a must now.

According to statista.com, over 4.33 billion users are active on the internet, as of July 2019. Remember that for a potential customer visiting your website, this will be their first experience with your brand. Therefore, your company’s first impression on a potential customer is usually determined by what the customer sees or experiences on your website. The majority of visitors will only evaluate the reliability of your business based on the look and functionality of your web pages.

Building a website both for personal use or for business was quite challenging in the past. But today, thanks to all the online website development platforms and other services, you can build a website in less than 60 minutes.

So before we clarify how you can create a website in a few easy steps, let’s cover all the benefits of having one.

The Benefits of Having a Website

We can sum up the major benefits of having a website as below:

  • A great marketing tool
  • Low-cost advertising opportunities
  • Increases sales from online customers
  • Creates customer trust and confidence factor
  • The brand becomes accessible anytime, anywhere
  • Increases company visibility
  • An important gate for a better first impression
  • Low cost with positive ROI
  • Builds a professional impression
  • Connects with customers and reaches more audiences
  • Provides an information datacenter
  • Enables self-service customer support
  • Creates interaction with the content
  • A great tool to receive quick feedback from customers
  • An opportunity to beat the competition through search engines

Having a website not only adds great value to enterprises businesswise but also has necessary functions to help their customers.

Now that we’re clear about the benefits of having a website, we can go through the ultimate steps of building one.

Step 1: Make Sure You Understand the Types of Websites

As a first step, you should decide what type of website your business needs, because it has a significant effect on shaping the content you will provide to your customers. 

Here are some of the most commonly used types of websites:

1. Online Stores

Online stores are also known as eCommerce sites. Visitors usually visit online stores to purchase products online and have them shipped directly to their address.

If you have any kind of product for sale, you can sell it online through a website and reach many more customers than you could ever imagine. You don’t have to be big. The only thing you need to have is a product to sell, and you can do it easily by listing your products with images, clear descriptions, and prices.

The other things an eCommerce site would need are shopping carts and check-out pages to let customers enter their information and complete their purchase.

2. Business Website

A business website is any website dedicated to representing a particular business. It should contain the business’s visual world (same logo and positioning) and show the types of products or services the business offers.

eCommerce websites are also business websites. However, it’s possible to have business websites without selling anything. These kinds of websites encourage visitors to get in touch for more information like a lead generation website or to come and check stores if they are interested enough in the service to become a customer.

3. Portfolio Website

Portfolio websites are sites dedicated to showing examples of past work.  This type of website is simpler than a business website and focuses more on collecting business samples.

This type of website is mostly preferred by creative professionals and freelancers to show their previous work. 

4. Blog

A blog is usually an informal, chat-style informative website which has posts/articles that are regularly updated. At the very beginning, people often used blogs as a type of online diary, where they would share their daily experiences or thoughts.

But today, blogs have become much more than that. You can add affiliate links or ads to generate revenue from a blog. Or you can use it just to strengthen the perception that your brand is an actual expert on a specific area by sharing your know-how.

Here are some blogging niches to inspire you:

  • Fashion and lifestyle
  • Tech
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Parenting
  • Health 
  • Travel
  • Finance 

Step 2: Choose a Domain Name

Picking the right domain name is one of the most important steps you’ll take before you set up a website. You have to remember that your domain name will provide important information both for search engines and your visitors, so you have to decide on a name that is as effective as possible. 

You can use domain name generators or just do keyword research online. Your domain name will be your address on the internet. Choosing a unique domain name will help your visitors remember and come back to your brand. The name will represent your style, service, or product. Long and hard names could be easily forgotten and they are easy to mistype. 

On the other hand, using the right keywords will help your site rank more highly in search engine results. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner to search for terms with high volume and less competition. 

The last issue to consider before you buy your domain is its Top Level Domain (TLD). To explain this more simply, this is the end of your domain – .com, .org, .net, etc. Online users are most familiar with .com so it would be the most effective to choose a domain that will be remembered. However, as this is the most preferred one, it is getting harder to find the right domain with this TLD. So you can choose another TLD if you think you have found a relevant one. 

Just keep in mind that TLD’s like .de, co.uk, .ca apply to specific regions and that will be used by Google to geo-target your website. 

According to the Netcraft's survey, in 2018 there were 1,805,260,010 sites across 213,053,157 unique domain names. And the numbers dramatically change every single day! So if you believe that you’ve got the right combination, you shouldn’t waste any more time. 

Step 3: Decide on the Website Hosting Provider

Choosing the best web hosting provider is extremely important as your website’s 24/7 availability to its users depends on this service. The “3 Ss” will guide you in choosing a good web hosting service: speed, security, and support.

To provide a great website performance for your customers and to gain their trust and loyalty, you shouldn’t choose a hosting service according to cost alone. If you choose the wrong hosting provider, it can seriously downgrade your website functionality.  

There are two basic decisions you have to make while choosing the best website hosting provider:

Storage and Bandwidth Usage Amount

Hosting providers usually charge for storage and bandwidth usage (the number of bytes you serve over a given period), so the other key issue to consider while choosing your web hosting provider is the estimated amount of traffic you expect for your website. 

Server Types

The cheapest type is a shared server. On shared server hosting, one server box runs hundreds of websites. Thus, the loads of other websites that you share on your server directly affect your website performance. Shared hosting also restricts the programs you can run on the service and limits the amount of database access your site can have.

Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a simulated computer running on a box. To use a VPS, you should know the basics for server maintenance and management. On this type of hosting, lots of VPS instances are also run on one box. Only the performance is usually better than the shared service. 

However, if you want a private server you should use the dedicated server in order not to share performance with other sites. It’s actually a physical box located in a service provider’s data center and is then rented to you. You should have system management skills to use a private server service.

The last and most effective type is cloud servers. Amazon Web Services or Google Azure are the best examples. 

Remember that whether you create a unique website working with a developer or decide to use online website builders, hosting is an important checkpoint on the way to building your website.

Step 4: Building A Website

Today, every person can easily create a website for any reason. No coding skills, no designing skills or other technical knowledge is required. This is because there are countless online website building tools to make the whole process simpler.

Online tools are much more affordable than web developers. Working with a web developer just for template customization can cost around $300 – $1,000. A fully customized website could reach thousands.

So, if you are not in need of a fully customized, unique website, the simplest way to decide how to build your website with the help of online tools is by using Website Builders or WordPress.

Let’s go through both the website building approaches to make it simpler for you to decide.

1. Building A Website With A Website Builder

Before website builders, people were required to have an understanding of HTML or even more complicated CSS infrastructures. With the help of website builders, instead of drowning in these technical, hard processes and jargon, you can focus on your website’s design and content. 

With website builders, creating a website is as simple as preparing a PowerPoint presentation. They can offer you ready templates or drag-n-drop features to customize your design

To decide which website builder you’ll pick, you should consider these checkpoints:

  • Is it easy to use?
  • Is it cost-effective?
  • Are the design tools flexible and customizable?
  • What extra features does it offer?
  • How good is the help and support service?
  • How are the customer ratings?

The decision you’ve made in step 1 will also help you to choose your website builder. If you’d like to build an eCommerce website, you can check the most preferred Shopify platform, which is used by more than 1.2 million eCommerce platforms, or any other website builder that is specially designed for building eCommerce websites. For the rest, Wix, with more than 100 million subscribers, and Weebly, with more than 30 million subscribers are two of the most popular website builders on the market. 

Here is a great comparison chart to help you decide between the three most popular website builders:

Now, let’s talk about the cost. Almost every website builder offers a free trial so you can and should test them before you pay. And after you’ve made up your mind, try signing up for the right plan according to your needs.

If you need a simple site like a portfolio or a small service business, cheaper plans will probably work. But if you need something more complicated, be sure to check out the more expensive plans and features available for these fees. If you still feel in doubt, you should start with the cheap plan and upgrade later.

Website builder plans may have different prices depending on the features and services they offer, but it usually costs between $8 and $40 per month, which is an all-inclusive price. If your budget is tight, either stick to a free plan or check out the cheapest plans.

2. Building A Website With WordPress

Although WordPress is not an all-in-one service and requires more effort for setup and maintenance processes, nearly a third of websites on the internet are WordPress sites. 

WordPress is categorized as a Content Management System (CMS), which makes it possible for people to create or organize digital content. If you are comfortable with the technology it won’t be hard or complicated for you.

You can decide on the hosting provider for your WordPress site from among the hosting types we’ve mentioned in the third step. In addition to that, you can also use WordPress hosting which can be chosen in the format of shared or managed hosting. The advantage of WordPress hosting would be the extra features like automatic software updates that come with it for additional help to WordPress users. 

If you already have a domain, you can simply sign up with it or choose to have one via WordPress. And after that, you are ready to install your WordPress site with just a simple click.

Step 5: Pick and Customise Your Template

Whether you choose to work with a website builder or a content management system, go through all the themes or templates to find the one that fits your brand best. Check your competitors or other websites to get some inspiration and additional know-how about the design language of your industry.

Take your time to create the visual world of your brand’s digital presence. Try to choose something with clean and straight lines, and more importantly, a responsive one. Having a responsive template will help you have a website which looks the same on all devices. If you are using a content management platform it probably has a search option to help you narrow down your options in line with your industry.

After deciding on your template or theme, you can start customizing it. Always remember that your web page is your digital face, so its design and features mean a lot to your ideal customer. 

Step 6: Setting Up Pages for Your Website

It’s important to plan which pages you want to add to your website from the beginning. These pages may vary according to the needs of each business and industry. You need to cover the basics of your brand. For that, you might either build separate pages such as “Homepage”, “About Us” page, “Services / Products” page and “Contact Us” page, or you can cover these also on a one-pager website.

You can reorganize or merge page topics as you wish. If you’re still in doubt about how to edit your navigation bar or what pages to add, browse your competitors and other players’ websites in your industry to get an idea.

You can also add a blog page to your site where you can pioneer ideas about your industry or issues that users may be curious about. This is a very effective tool to strengthen both brand perception and trust in the brand.

Step 7: Creating the Content

Now that you have prepared your pages, it is time to decide what to fill them with.

In order to create your rough drafts for your “Home” page or pages like “About Us”, first, talk to your colleagues and partners and get their ideas. What message would you like to give on this page? Or what information might your visitors expect from you?

Imagine that your website is your only chance for seamless interaction with a potential customer. The landing page is where you welcome them and give them a preliminary introduction about what you are doing. Your “About Us” page is an area where you can get into more details about yourself or your work. Your product or service pages, on the other hand, let you get them closer to the finish line with the benefits you offer them.

At this stage, it is imperative that you do your detailed keyword research when creating your content. For example, if you sell second-hand items and find that the word “retro outfits” has a higher monthly search volume than “vintage outfits,” you can use this information to shape the content and gain more traffic.

Another significant move to increase your traffic goes through sharing and interaction. Don’t forget the sharing and interaction buttons to let your visitors share their great experiences with the ones they love.

Step 8: Plugins

Your site is almost ready. CMS (content management system) platforms will ideally automatically offer you all the integrations you need. But if your business is e-commerce and you have built your website with Shopify, then it is a good idea to install a Shopify plugin extension.

On the other hand, you may want to make sure your website is secure enough to protect customer data because security is the most important issue for both a website and customer relations. In this case, we recommend you find a plugin that offers firewall protection and attacks malware or other threats and add it to your website.

Bonus: Website Engagement

A strong website engagement strategy allows you to increase the desired actions your website visitors or users take (subscribe, purchase, share your content on social media, take surveys or just stay longer). When planned and managed well, a successful customer engagement strategy will foster:

  • Higher conversion rates
  • More revenue through upsells or cross-sells
  • Brand growth and loyalty
  • Higher Net Promoter Score

Planning your website engagement tactics, as well as creating and executing scenarios with the related growth metrics is crucial for your growth marketing activities. So here’s a helpful guide for you on how to plan website/app engagement tactics step-by-step. Moreover, here’s our tool for Website/App Engagement Planning for you to practice and exercise on how to create new plans, execute them, and track them easily

Website/App Engagement Tactics

Here’s also a wide range of Website/App Engagement tactics we have prepared for you to implement to your growth marketing activities. You can choose the tactics according to your main goals (Brand awareness + traffic generation, conversion, and retention) as well as the difficulty level (beginner, intermediate, advanced).

 

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