Starting from Scratch; Creating a website

Starting from Scratch; Creating a website. The Marketing Shack

Let’s get you ready to create your website! 

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “If you build it, they will come.” Unfortunately, unless you’re Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, that’s usually not the case! Building a website isn’t as easy as some people may think – it requires having an understanding of many different topics such as CMS, design, content, linking, testing and managing. In this article, we’ll cover these topics and the basics of designing and launching a website.

Step 1: Choose a Platform

When it comes to building a website, there are a lot of technical terms and jargon that can leave you feeling like you’ve stumbled into an alien language. But fear not! With a little bit of guidance, you’ll be able to navigate the world of website platforms like a pro. Let’s start with hosting – this is essentially the home where your website lives on the internet. It’s like buying or renting a piece of land for your virtual real estate. Just don’t expect any backyard barbecues.

Next up is cPanel, which sounds like something straight out of Star Trek but is actually just a user-friendly control panel that helps you manage your hosting account. Think of it as the cockpit for your website – without it, things would get pretty chaotic up in the clouds.

Next is picking your CMS. But what is a CMS? I know it sounds like some kind of medical condition, doesn’t it? However, I tell you that a CMS actually stands for Content Management System. Essentially, it’s a digital tool that helps you manage and publish content on your website. It’s like having your very own Swiss army knife – except instead of scissors and a can opener, you get user-friendly interfaces and an easy-to-use dashboard.

Now, when it comes to CMSs, WordPress is the kingpin. It’s the most widely used platform out there and has been around since 2003 (which makes it practically ancient in internet years). But don’t let its seniority fool you – WordPress is still trendy AF. In fact, over 40% of all websites on the internet use WordPress as their CMS.

Step 2: Design Website

Picking the right theme builder for your website is like choosing a suit for a job interview. You want to look sharp and professional, but you also don’t want to spend hours fiddling with buttons and zippers just to make it fit. That’s why we recommend Elementor or Divi – they’re like the bespoke tailors of website builders.

With Elementor, you won’t need any coding skills. It’s as easy as dragging and dropping elements onto your page until it looks just right. And if you’re feeling extra fancy, there are plenty of pre-made templates that will make your site stand out from the crowd.

Divi, on the other hand, is more customizable than a Build-A-Bear workshop. You can tweak every detail until your heart’s content or use one of their many layouts to get started quickly.

If you’re not using a template then you might want to work on the framework of your website. Creating a website framework is easy and with the right mindset and tools, you can build a website that would make even Bill Gates jealous. Either use the drag and drop and the Latin Lorem ipsum text to help you visualise where you want the text and images to go. Or, there’s no reason why you can’t go old school and sketch it on a piece of paper (it’s a thin white sheet made from trees). But remember – don’t expect everything to go exactly as planned –  be flexible with where you want content and have time to create it!

Once you’ve got your main home page draft down, then creating the other pages you want should be a doddle, as you will want to keep them to a similar design so customers know they are still on the same website.

Step 3: Develop Content

Creating website content can be a tricky business. But let’s start with the main question. How many pages should your website have? Well, let’s break it down.

First and foremost, you need a home page that welcomes visitors and sets the tone for your brand. Next up is the “about us” page where you can unleash all of your company’s quirks and personality traits. Then comes the services or products page – this is where you can really show off what makes your business unique. And of course, we can’t forget about the contact us page – after all, how else are people supposed to reach out and give you money? 

But you should always consider adding other pages, and adding more as you go along. Think of it this way – your website is like a party. You’ve got the main room (your homepage) which is cool and all, but eventually, people are going to want to explore other areas. That’s where your additional pages come in handy. A gallery page allows visitors to peruse through pictures and get a better idea of what you offer. A testimonials page showcases glowing reviews from satisfied customers – who doesn’t love some good social proof? And for those who have lots of questions? Let them loose on the FAQ page.

So now we need to fill those pages with content.

Text – “how much text should I write for my website?” Here’s a simple rule of thumb: aim for at least 400 words per page (excluding your contact page). Why? Because not only does it make your website more informative, but it also allows you to infuse some personality and brand voice into your content. Plus, Google loves longer content so it’s better for SEO. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking – 400 words sounds like a lot! But you’ll be surprised how quickly you will fill it. It doesn’t mean you have to ramble on and on until your readers fall asleep. Instead, focus on creating concise yet compelling content that’s consistent with your brand messaging. Think of it as a challenge – how can you pack as much information and charm as possible into those 400 words? And remember, I did say at least 400 words.

Images – Firstly I would say, where possible, utilise your skills or get a professional photographer to get images of you, your staff, your business and your services. The last thing you want is for your website to look like a stock photo graveyard! When taking photos, take most of your pictures in landscape rather than portrait. Unless your industry involves taking headshots or capturing people’s mugshots (which, hey, no judgement), landscape images will probably be used more, for example, header images, which need to be full width. They also provide more visual real estate for your website and give visitors a better sense of what your business is about. Plus, let’s face it: nobody wants to see their face blown up to poster size on a website (unless they’re an Instagram influencer).

I don’t want to ramble on myself, so, with text and images, you can make a good start on a website. Other things to consider would be graphics, such as icons, videos, gifs, etc. And don’t forget your buttons to take people to other pages and provide calls to action.

So now it’s just fitting the content into your framework or template then your site will be almost ready to go. 

Quick note: you might want to make sure you change the colours of the template to fit with your branding.

Step 4: Test & Publish

Are you ready to launch your website? Not quite. Let’s test your website first. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget this crucial step. Trust me, you don’t want to be the person who launches a broken website that sends visitors running for the hills.

One of the most important things to check when testing your site is that all links work properly. Nothing is more frustrating than clicking on a link only to end up on a 404 error page or just be sent back to the top of the page. Make sure all internal links are working and that visitors can get around easily. Next, enlist the help of some honest friends and family members (and maybe even some work colleagues if they owe you a favour) to give you feedback and see if they can get to the information they want. Tweak as necessary. Now you’re ready to publish.

Step 5: Promote

So now you’ve put in all the hard work, you’ll be excited to show it off to everyone, and you hope it doesn’t crash and burn after a few weeks. But where to start? Don’t worry, promoting your website doesn’t have to be as complicated as dating during COVID times.

First things first, get listed on directories! It may sound old school but it’s still an effective way to drive traffic to your site. Plus, it’s like being part of the cool kids club. Next, head over to social media. Share your new site with all your followers – even the ones that only follow you because they’re too polite to unfollow. And don’t forget about Facebook groups! Your mum’s book club may not be interested but there are plenty of niche groups out there that will be eager to check out what you’ve got going on.

Remember to update your profiles, put links on your posts and share pages that may be more relevant to customers.

Step 6: Monitor & Update

Let’s face it, your website is like a needy child that requires constant attention. But instead of crying and throwing tantrums, your website just sits there silently judging you as visitors come and go. If you don’t keep an eye on it, you might miss out on some potential sales or even worse, suffer the humiliation of having a high bounce rate (when people f*** off quickly). That’s where GA4 (Google Analytics) and Google Search Console come in handy.

With GA4, you can dig deep into the inner workings of your website to learn about user behaviour, engagement levels and how long people are spending on each page. It’s like being a digital detective – except without the cool gadgets or snappy one-liners. Armed with this information, you can tweak your SEO strategy to target specific keywords that will attract more visitors and keep them engaged for longer periods of time.

But wait, there’s more! Google Search Console! This bad boy helps track how search engines view your site (hint: they aren’t judging it based on looks alone), which can help improve your SEO ranking.

Finally, updating your website. We’re all guilty of neglecting our website at some point or another. We’ll update the plugins and theme when we get a notification, but when it comes to adding new content… crickets… But here’s the thing: your website is like a plant, if you don’t water it regularly (aka add fresh content), it will wither away into obscurity.

Sure, updating your plugins and theme is important for security reasons, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Adding blogs, new pages and videos not only keeps your website fresh and engaging for visitors but also helps with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which means more traffic to your site! Plus, who doesn’t love seeing recent images of what you’ve been up to? It gives your visitors a glimpse into what makes your business unique.

Conclusion: Get Started!

Creating a website can seem like a daunting task, but with the right guidance, you should be up and running in no time. Don’t forget to choose an interesting domain name, get some quality hosting, learn how to use cPanel, find the perfect theme builder and CMS – WordPress is always a great choice! Content creation is only half the battle: make sure you test it out before promoting your new site and keep it updated regularly.

Get started today by picking a domain name and hosting.

Not convinced about doing it yourself? Why not ask us to do your website – From £25 a month.

Still feel clueless about where to start? Why not book a free 30-minute digital marketing consultation and get some more advice!

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