If you are looking to build a professional website and are looking for guidance, you have come to the right place. We are here to help. It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed or lost when starting the process of creating your first website. We have put together a guide to help you navigate through the process.
Do it Yourself or Hire A Website Design Agency
The first thing you will want to consider is whether or not you want to create the website yourself or hire an agency to do it for you. There are positives and negatives to either decision. When you create a website, yourself it tends to be cheaper. You can find a lot of helpful tutorials that can guide you in creating your site. There are also many different site templates you can use for design purposes such as WordPress, Wix, and Weebly. A website agency will be able to help guide you through the whole process with their expert knowledge. Depending on the agency you choose they could offer much more for example website hosting, search engine optimization and support. These are some of the services we offer here at Big Imprint. Although website agencies do most of the heavy lifting for you, they tend to be more expensive than if you were building the site on your own.
Domain Name and Web Hosting
Image Source: Cloud.Co.Za
Once you’ve figured out whether you want to do it yourself or get help from a website design agency, you will need to create your domain name. There are thousands of domain names already in use on the web. You want your domain name to reflect the topic of your website. Many people use the basic yourcompanyname.com template when creating the domain name. The idea behind it is to keep it simple and give your visitors an idea of where they are going. You can buy and register your domain name from numerous different sites including Namecheap or GoDaddy. Here at Big Imprint we use GoDaddy to buy and register all of our domain names. We also recommend that if you have a .org at the end of your website domain you purchase the .com version as well. This is because many people automatically will type in .com for your site.
When creating a website, you will need someone to be your web host. A web host allows you to store your files on a secure server. If you decide to go with a website agency, they may be willing to host your website and register your domain name for you. Otherwise there are a few places you can go to for web hosting including Bluehost, Hostwinds, and FatCow. There are numerous other web hosting services available to you that I did not list.
Now that you’ve got your domain name and web host you are ready to start on your website. Your website structure is one of the most important tasks to do. This is how all of your pages connect to one another on your site. You are an expert about your company, but others are not. This means the website structure needs to be clear and be easy to navigate. To do this you should figure out what you want your audience to know and where you want to drive them to first. Below is a basic version of a company’s website structure. It is simple and does not leave much room for confusion. You can use SlickPlan to create a visual website structure where you can also input your content. This gives you a good start to your website. Your website structure may change a little once you create your content, but for the most part you would want this finalized before putting all of your content information in.
Image Source: Marketing 91
After getting the site structure finalized, you will want to get started on your content for the pages. The most important page is your homepage. This is the first thing viewers will typically see when coming to your site. This is where you want to have your most important information or call to actions that drive the viewers to those pages. The homepage allows viewers insight into who you are and what you do. Content on all the other pages are important as well. You want to have rich information on the page that adds to the viewers knowledge. When creating this content for each individual page, you need to find a balance between enough information and too much information. If you are finding that you have a ton of information on one page, see if you can break it down to where you can create another subpage. Overall remember that you want the information to be easy to understand and to not overwhelm your viewers.
This is the spot where everyone wants to jump to first in the website creation process. The design is one of the last things you do when building a site. Design is what seals the deal when people come to your site. If your site isn’t put together well and look professional, your potential clients may be discouraged on pursuing your business. Like I mentioned earlier you can use Wix, Weebly, or WordPress to help with your design needs if you are building the website yourself. These platforms will provide a clean look and layout for your site. The design should focus around your content so you aren’t shifting your content to match your design. At Big Imprint we partner with a professional designer, Kevin Mellen, to create a sleek and fresh look for your website. Design wraps the whole site together and presents a clean and finished look.
Once you have put all of these items together, and you are happy with your website you are ready to launch! Your website is always going to be changing whether it is content updates, added navigation or it’s in need of a new design. Make yourself comfortable with being able to update your site and follow trends to stay up to date with what is the best look for your site. You are now ready to start creating your website.
After the design phase, we start the development of the site. This is where we start to put all of the pieces together from the previous stages. We hand the site structure, design, and content information over to our web developer. He makes your website come to life right before your eyes. This is where all the technical aspects come in such as coding, plugins, or anything else that will help your website run smoothly.
Now if you’re building the website yourself this may be tricky part of the website creation process. In certain design platforms you can just input your content, and not worry about the coding or adding in plugins to your site to make it custom to you. This will give you a great start and simple website for your viewers.
Preview and Testing
This step is seen as one of the most exciting ones. Here the client can see the website live in a web browser. They are given time to look over how everything has come together. This is the time for feedback on the site and where any changes will be made. We love presenting our clients with their website preview, so they can see everything they envisioned come to life before anyone else gets to see. In this step, we also make sure everything is getting tested and works properly. We want a fully functioning website before the launch.
If you are creating the website on your own, you will most likely be previewing it every step of the way which is great. When you have all the content put in, it is best to preview the site all put together so you can polish it off.
The time has come, and your website is ready for launch! This is when we officially release the website, and the public can now view your new design and content. We love seeing everything come to life and our clients happy with the results!
Once you have put together your website you are ready to hit the button and launch the site to the public! Nothing is more satisfying than seeing your work come to life.
After the site is launched, we don’t just leave you to navigate the website world by yourself. We are here to support you in every step. At Big Imprint we provide client training to make sure you are comfortable navigating the website on your own. We are always here to help with any questions or changes that you would like done with your website.
Your website is always going to be changing whether it is content updates, added navigation or it’s in need of a new design. Make yourself comfortable with being able to update your site and follow trends to stay up to date with what is the best look for your site. If you are to decide to use an agency, we are always here to help with your changing needs. The steps will give you a base to get started on designing your first website or getting help with creating your site.