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How to Build a Website: Tips for Beginners

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Sarah Lee Parker

In order to have a successful business, you need to have a website. But how do you go about building one? If you're new to the world of websites, don't worry - we've got you covered. In this post, we'll give you tips on how to build a website from scratch and how to work out at what point you might need to get someone to help. So whether you're starting a brand new business (in which case we also recommend checking out The Basics of Branding) or just want to revamp your old website, read on for some helpful advice.

When it comes to building a website, the key factors you have to take into account are:

  1. Your Expertise
  2. Your Budget
  3. Your Time
A glass jar sits on a desk full of copper and silver coins with growing seedlings.
You need to nourish and care for your finances and time if you want to grow your business

Depending on which combination of factors you have, you can get your website up and running. If you have the budget, you can buy someone else’s time and expertise, or if you have the time and expertise but not the budget you can do it yourself. If you know that developing your webpage is not for you, then you need to consider paying for that expertise, and this increases budget and decreases time. If you can do it but only have an hour or two a week free to do it in, then your budget will be great but your time frame is going to be long. Whatever you choose, remember that expertise is always there for hire, and even if you have the skills you may find buying back your own time is a worthwhile investment.

A unique, simple web page can take anywhere from a few minutes to months to put together, especially if you’re unsure of what you actually want.

White background with a hand holding a small white alarm clock showing 2:19
Time is can be more important than money!

A professional can help guide you by asking questions and asking you to complete a brief, however if you definitely don’t have the budget, then you’ll need to look at getting your own expertise.

Your needs will also vary depending on:

  • What sort of website are you building?
  • How important is security? (Tip: this is always important, but you need to work out what information you have coming through your website and how to protect it)
  • Will the website need ongoing maintenance?
  • Will you need reporting on who is using your website?
  • How many people will be accessing your website?
  • Will you have an online store?
  • Do you have sales pages? Or a catalogue? Will you take bookings online?

Depending on the type of webpage you need, your costs will vary. An online store will have higher ongoing costs than a blog with three pages.

Improve your website with these expert tips

If you’ve already worked out you don’t have the budget to hire someone, the only option left is to do it yourself, so here’s a few tips on how to get started and what to do.

Don’t select only on price.

If you are shopping for something free or cheap, then check them all out so you get a feel for the features. Remember that if you are buying at the low end, a lot of features will not be available. If you already know what is important to you, for example analytics reporting, or eCommerce, then factor this in when comparing services.

Also be careful of any ongoing costs, a lot of website builders and hosting platforms have reasonably low sounding costs, but when you add up month after month you might end up spending a lot of money. Especially if you’re after a more “advanced” feature like an online store, your $5/month plan is actually $80/month to add the online store which adds up to almost $1000 within the first year!

Check out your competition

Have a look at your competitors, what they have on their website and work out what you like and don’t like, then do that/don’t do that. Did you also know that many marketing agencies publish a 'best webpages’ list? Just search for it and then spend an hour or two clicking on links. Take notes about what you like and don’t like. It’s interesting to see the styles and features that are being used by the top businesses who have funding and marketing teams.

Go back to the drawing board (literally)

Get a piece of paper and draw out what you want your website to look like. This is called a wireframe, and doing it away from distractions will help clarify what you want your webpage to do. Write the intention of the page across the top of your paper - is this page to assist possible clients to know/like/trust you? To sell products? Or to educate the consumer about something?

Come up with options

Draw at least three different wireframes and compare them. You need to look at them with fresh eyes, and this takes time. When you look at the wireframe, what is the first thing you see? Where does your logo go? How does your imagery or branding fit on the page? is it intrusive? Can I get the gist of your page’s intent in 20 seconds or less?

Cut your website up

When you draw your wireframe, consider each section as a ‘block’. Many of the drag and drop editors will use blocks in the design phase, and each block will also need to be designed. Most blocks will have pre-determined title formatting, image formatting and colour options, and will be easy to move up and down once you have the details right.

Done is better than perfect

In the beginning it’s really easy to get overwhelmed and not want to do anything unless it’s perfect, but the secret is to just get something out there. Once something is started, you can go back and add a feature later. You can add more text later. You can add extra pages later. This is the beauty of your own webpage - you can do what you like! You can also delete everything and start again!

Green background and a Lego person in pieces.
Modern webpages are pieces that we can put together easily if you imagine it as a jigsaw puzzle. It does not take long to start seeing where the pieces should go!

It’s ok to ask for help

If you're not comfortable building your website yourself, you can always hire a web developer to put the pieces together*.* Prices for a website build will vary depending on the level of service you need and the developer that you work with. You should also meet your developer and make sure they will look after your needs and provide the services you want.

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