Website basics: How to create a website from scratch

For some us, the thought of building a webpage is quite intimidating. Most of us have never had to do anything so techy. The good news is, you don’t have to be a techie to create an incredible website. It’s as easy as 1, 2… maybe a little more difficult than that but not much.

This is not an exhaustive list, there may be some things you find from other resources that are not this list and vice versa. Anyway, this’ll give ya a good ole start.

1.) Pick your provider

In today’s day and age, there is a seemingly endless supply of web building platforms out there. However, there are some definitive leaders. For the reason of how many there are, I will focus on just three of them:

Wordpress.org (not to be confused with wordpress.com)

Price: Free (kind-of)

wordpress.org is free to use as it is open-source. Think of it as Wikipedia, anyone can add to it, some good, some not so good. Some themes you will have to shell out 150$ other’s will be free

You have to pay for outside hosting (more on that in the next point)

You have to pay for a domain name.

Depending on your skill level or desire of customization you may have to hire someone who creates the page, make revisions and updates and ongoing work

Self-hosted- meaning you will have to find and use an off-site host. There are many companies out there that specialize in WordPress hosting, so don’t let this scare you. Some of the big ones are, www.bluehost.com, www.hostgator.com, and www.wpengine.com to name a few.

This will incur some unexpected expenses depending on the plans you choose and what not.

Domain

You will have to provide your own domain name or import one from another service, often provided by the hosting service you choose.

If you already have a domain name from a previous service, you can import that in, or have it direct to your new domain name.

Scalability

With WordPress being open source, your options really are endless. There are many national brands, colleges, and universities that use WordPress sites, proving their versatility. You can have a large, in-depth web page and it works like a charm

E-commerce is only a minor issue. Wordpress itself does not have an e-commerce feature already built in, but you can integrate with other platforms such as Shopify (this will add to your cost)

Ease of use

Not so much, this would not be a platform for a beginner who wants webshop up in a matter of hours. There is a learning curve, which is conquerable but a learning curve no less. The other options are much more intuitive and easier to learn.

Support

Support is mostly forums and articles. However, Wordpress has been around for so long, you are sure to find your answers in the forums or by performing a google search.

Customization

In short, your ability and creativity are your limits for wordpress (or your pocketbook if you want to hire someone.)

Squarespace

Price: Four different plans are ranging in price from 12-40$

For a breakdown, pricing click here.

The price will adjust depending on what you need the webpage to do. For example, if you want to have an online store that would require a bigger plan.

When weighing the costs against WordPress or any other platform remember to focus more on the ease of use and access for yourself. If you are going to build a website and maintain it yourself, you will either need to learn WordPress or go with someone like Squarespace or Wix as those platforms are more intuitive and easier to grasp.

Hosting

Squarespace handles all of your hosting needs, so this is an all included service, hosting, custom domain, etc.

Domain

If you already have a domain name, you can import the domain through to your Squarespace site. (you will still have to pay for whatever service you are using.)

Scalability

This really depends on what you need. You certainly won’t be the next Amazon on with a Squarespace platform but if you are a blogger who sells clothing, books, signs or anything else you should be fine with their built-in e-commerce platform.

It is not the deepest platform you will find. This means you basically have only main pages and then sub-pages. For instance, if you create an about page that lists things like products, company story, leaders, etc. you will only be able to read what is on the subpages, not the actual About page. The about page is a folder holding the other pages.

For most small business owners that is ok.

Ease of use

Of all of the web building platforms, square space is probably the easiest. The Squarespace community is large and very willing to answer questions.

Support

Representatives are available 24/7 via chat, and the Squarespace help forum is quite extensive.

Any time I have run into an issue and wanted a quick solution I performed a quick google search like this, “How to (fill in the blank) on Squarespace” and I would find the answer.

Customization

The platforms are pre-built, but Squarespace does give you access to add in custom CSS, so you definitely make Squarespace feel unique to your brand.

Which one is better?

The jury is out on this one. Honestly, you will find people on both sides. Wordpress allows more flexibility with more plugins available. Squarespace provides for more easy setup and functionality, they take care of everything. You will have to determine what is going to be better for you as they are both excellent and fair options.

2.) Domain name

When you are picking a domain name, short and simple is best. It is enticing to develop some unique name with special characters long catchy names. After all, you are trying to set yourself apart as unique.

What you don’t want to do though is be so unique that no one can find you. It is best for your domain name to be associated with your company, have no special characters, no numbers and relatively short.

What most people (or companies) do is name your site the name of your company or blog, or at least a spin of it, so it easily tied back to your product.

3.)Webpage hosting

This is essentially where your web page and all the information in it will be stored. If you go with a platform like Squarespace, Wix, Weebly or anything similar you won't have to worry about this as they all host any webpage built on their platform.

If you go with wordpress.org, you will want to look into a hosting service. There are treasure troves out there. I would recommend sticking with a reputable, established company. Some of the most popular ones are www.bluehost.com, www.wpengine.com or www.hostgator.com. These are all distinguished services with positive ratings.

4.) Develop your brand

There really could be a whole series of posts on this topic specifically, but I will just touch on a few things you will want to focus on for your website.

  1. Fonts

    1. It is crucial that you choose fonts that are in line with your brand image and voice. If you are going for a serious or formal feel, you will want to consider fonts that complement your voice. So long to the days of creepy Halloween fonts and bubble letters (unless that helps your brand, of course!”

    2. It is important to keep your fonts consistent across your web page as well. Keep your fonts to a minimum, no more than three. Make sure to use your fonts in the same place. For example, if you have chosen Sans Serif for your page tabs and headers, make sure only to use that font, when you pick a font for your body, stick with that font.

  2. Color

    1. At this point, I am assuming you have already defined your colors if you haven’t, figure that out. Once you do pick your colors, make sure to keep them consistent.

    2. ALWAYS use the exact colors. It is tempting just to eyeball your colors, but eventually, you are going to get so far away your products just don’t match, and that looks cheesy.

    3. You will get either a hex code or decimal code. This is your particular colors thumbprint that will make sure your color stays the same across the board. When you are presented with a color palette, you will get a corresponding hex or decimal code. Save that code, and you can enter into the color palette in the future.

Voice and Tone

Voice-The overall personality of your company.

Tone-How you convey emotion through your text and image.

  1. Determine who you will be through your writing. Your text on your web page, social media anywhere other publications you may be featured on will be how people develop a relationship with you.

  2. This is especially important if you have multiple people writing for one company, you want to keep your overall company voice consistent.

  3. You need to determine if your company personality is going to be innovative and quirky? Formal and contemporary? Intelligent and elegant? Whatever it is, just make sure it is consistent across the board.

  4. Your tone is going to vary depending on the situation. If you are selling a product for a limited time, your time may have a sense of urgency. If you are giving out useful information for your readers, you may want to empathetic.

  5. Your tone is going to vary from other companies, it is important you figure out who you are and roll with it.

5.) Map out your web page and go live

Now that you have determined who your provider is going to be, the fun begins. Before you start setting up your web page, develop some sort of map of how you want your web page to be laid out.

Set up a list of all of the pages you, what will go on said pages and where the pages may lead to. This will save you some frustration as you have some sort of goal and direction established.

Once you have web page mapped out, start building and get ready to go live.

Just a small word of wisdom, you will find out that there are certain aspects of your sight you don’t want and will end up wanting to change. Don’t expect your website to completely perfect. By no means do you want to put a mess on the internet for the public to see, but it is ok if it is not perfect.