The building blocks of a website

Building your own website has never been easier. With the tools now available, building a website today is easier than the building blocks we played with as children – with far fewer instruction manuals and trip hazards.

Whether it’s a small marketing site for your business, a blogging hub or an ecommerce online shop, we’ve compiled a list of the tips and tools you need to employ to safely build a website of your own.

Let’s start with the set up – what to do before the building begins.

The Foundation

First up you need to determine what route your website creation is going to take – on the assumption that starting from scratch is not the best way forward (unless of course you are a technology whizz in which case this post probably isn’t for you!) The most obvious route is to start with a Content Management System or website building tool – populating templates with the relevant content and images of your choice.

By Content Management System (CMS) we tend to mean WordPress, so your choice here is between WordPress and an alternative website builder. WordPress is responsible for over 30% of all the websites currently available in the world, showcasing its popularity and ease of use. After all, if 30% of the website population can use it, I’m sure you can too. WordPress is ideal for everything from small blogs to large online publications and even online stores – all in a highly customisable and professional format.

If customisable and flexible isn’t what you’re looking for however, a website builder is the best option. These tend to follow similar designs and patterns and allow the user to input their relevant information easily and quickly. It’s simple to use and quick to customise, with no added dragging and dropping of different features and content blocks. Essentially you pick a template and you stick to it.

The Build

So, you’ve reached the build. The first thing you need to do is secure your hosting and a solid domain name. The host of your site is where all your online files will be stored so must be reliable with adequate space. The domain is what you will get your visitors to type into their browser to access your website. Typically, it’s easiest to purchase these as a package deal, as this saves technical admin further down the line, although you can get these separately if needs be.

To sign up for website hosting you need to select a plan through your chosen host site. These tend to start from a basic package to a more premium option, and which you opt for depends entirely on your requirements for the website you want to build. Ensure you read all the fine print before agreeing to any package. Once this is selected, you will be asked to enter a domain of your choice – if your first choice is taken, keep trying variations until you’re happy with one that is also available.

Assessing the building site

Do research. What do your top competitor’s sites look like? What are they focussing on? What will make your site stand out? What is the purpose of your website? Only when you know the answer to these questions can you start to build an idea of the visual aspect of your site and how it should appear to your visitors. This in turn will inform your template decision.

Once that’s decided, you need to create some kind of structure plan. Generally, these are not complicated – after all, we’re creatives not techies. However, making sure you have an idea of which pages need to build will make your job easier down the line.

The Design

Everything available to you both on WordPress and a website builder has been created by a professional website designer. They’re user friendly, easy to personalise and all already available. You’d be a fool not to use them.

With WordPress you need to first install the app on your host. Once this is done you can add a theme – this will inform the design of your entire site. Spend some time going through the available themes and when you finally find the right one, click ‘Install’ and then ‘Activate’ to set it on your own site. Once selected, the theme becomes customisable through the settings, allowing you to add new pages, changes the colours and fonts, alter the display of the menu and many more options. You can also add plugins to increase your cybersecurity and SEO, as discussed in other blogs.

A website builder is far simpler to use, with a multitude of potential themes available for all manner of industries. The theme you select will become the template for your site – what you see in the theme selection box is very like how your final site will look, though perhaps with different colours. So, choose wisely and make sure you play around to work out the extent of the changes you can make.

Building a website is as easy as it has ever been, and with our simple instruction manual you should be up and running in no time. The choice between WordPress and a website builder is one that should be made after considering the time scale you have for the build, as well as the ongoing time it will take to manage and update regularly.