4 Things you need to Build your Website
There are just a few things you REALLY need to build an average website. This doesn’t mean that creating a website is easy or that yours will be getting traffic. It means just that: building a website is a matter of just a few elements.
What if we started by defining what a website is?
Definition of website
The more information you have about the subject, the better you’ll be able to understand what it takes to build a web.
A website is no more than an array of HTML documents.
Ok. That didn’t tell you much.
What if I told you that it’s simply a collection of (usually) public web pages that are, in theory, related to one another and have a common root name called “domain”. These pages, so that they can be understood by the internet protocol, are written in a language called HTML.
I have a reputation of overexplaining things and rumbling, so I’ll shut up about this already.
Basic elements of a website
A regular website is made up of some basic elements. The following are the most typical:
- Home page
- Secondary pages, such as Contact, About, Services or Blog
- Content. This may be text, videos, images, audios…
Other questions about creating a site
Before I start explaining the 4 basic things you will need to start your site, I would like to explain a few things about how, nowadays, websites are created and about “things that are free”. In the following link you can learn more about what website design is.
Bespoke HTML and CMSs (Content Management Systems)
Decades ago, there was only one way to have a website: either you were a qualified designer or you had to hire one.
Nowadays, you can still get your site developed in HTML by professionals, although most of them use some software (such as WordPress) to make their life easier, to be honest. And, well, there is that little detail: we wouldn’t be writing this article if it weren’t possible for anyone to create their own website.
CMSs are what years ago emerged as blogs. Basically, they were content management systems that were regularly fed with new blogposts. They soon expanded their functionality to become websites as well as blogs.
The first one to have this option was WordPress. WordPress has kept the original blog idea under their WordPress.com domain (not recommended for websites), while WordPress.org is the “version” used as website.
WordPress is the king of CMSs. Just a fact: WordPress powers over 26% of the world wide web. More amazing stats about WordPress.
Which is best? Static, custom built site or WordPress?
LOL. It depends on who you ask. I only build sites in WordPress and I would be able to tell you all the goodness and innumerable great benefits of this CMS. However, my nephew builds static, custom sites from scratch in HTML, and he will tell you this way is much better.
WordPress has, as I said, many advantages and benefits but this post is not the place to tell them.
How about a free domain and hosting for my website?
That is, if you´re serious about your website or online business. If you´re planning on having a website to share your thoughts on the breed of the Burmilla cat, just for fun or out of boredom, then yes. Do get a free domain and hosting. Here you have the best one from WordPress.com.
Otherwise, do not fall for the free domain or free hosting or free both. You’ll regret it immensely.
After all, a domain name and hosting aren’t that expensive and it pays off to have them. It will provide your website and brand with the seriousness and professional image it deserves.
What you need to create your own website
Ok. Now you know a little bit more about websites, CMSs, and WordPress, let’s see what are the 4 only things you need to start a website. We’ve really already mentioned them, but here’s the list.
# 1. Domain name
# 2. Hosting
# 3. Website building software or CMS: WordPress
# 4. Content: images and text (including menu, blog, sidebars…)
Off you go!
That’s correct… and not.
It’s true that those are the 4 main things you need to design your own website.
WARNING: But to make your website really effective you need much, much more.
A goal and a plan, to begin with.
A way to identify your correct keywords, those that are being keyed into the Google search box.
And many more things.
This website that we are about to describe below, will not, I repeat, will not achieve any of your goals: traffic, potential customers, etc.
It’s just like a skeleton of a website, the basic things you need to get started. However, I encourage you to hire a professional if you really want RESULTS, sales, potential customers knocking on your door.
See more about that process in my blogpost where I explain why web coaching needed to be invented, so I did.
# 1. Domain name
Typically, the first thing you need to build a website is a domain name, or a domain, in short.
A domain is your digital address. I often explain what a domain is by telling people that it is like the address of your house. A domain is always followed by the TLD, which is what goes after the dot (.com, .co.uk, etc.)
For example, the domain of this site is webdesignforcoaches.co.uk
If you are going to focus on attracting potential customers from the UK, then it’d be better to choose a domain with the .co.uk TLD.
A domain name costs around £10-20 per year.
# 2. Website Hosting
In order to be able to build your site, you need some space to do so. So, following with the metaphor of your domain being a physical address, you now need a house to go with that address.
A host is the storage unit, or the continent, where your website lives. It’s basically space, delimited by a few walls and roof. If you don’t have this storage, you cannot start putting in your content inside.
There are different types of hosting, but I’d advise you to hire shared hosting. The rest (VPS and dedicated hosting services are for big companies or websites with thousands of visits per day). You can always upgrade later.
Cost: around £7 – 10 per month (I’m referring to shared hosting, beginners’ packs)
# 3. Website building software or CMS: WordPress
There are many types of website builders. A site building software is what you use to create your site more easily. They are programmes that help you build your website without having to get your hands dirty with the code. CMSs are one type. There are site builders that use drag and drop etc.
I don’t recommend any other than WordPress because, sincerely, the others usually cause many problems. From inability to optimise the website for search engines, to other issues such as not being able to migrate the content to other builders, so you are stuck with the same one forever, or lose your old website.
The most popular website building software is WordPress.org. It’s as simple as installing WordPress in your domain and starting to build. One of the many advantages of WordPress is that you can migrate your website anywhere, anytime. Imagine you are fed up with your hosting service company and want to leave. No problem, you may migrate the whole site to your new hosting service company. You can’t do that with most of the “trendy” website builders.
Of course, you will need to learn the basics of WordPress in order to create a website that looks more or less ok.
Personally, I use WordPress although throughout the years I have learned to code in HTML. I’m too curious. But I just love WordPress because it lets me create professional, bespoke websites. And, that they are built with WordPress, doesn’t mean they should look similar.
Cost: WordPress is free.
# 4. Content: images and text
I said before that your hosting is the storage space, the continent, the house. Now we need to get our furniture, fixtures and fittings in. The content.
You will need to create a structure by means of a navigation menu (the little tabs that most websites have on top of their pages). The menu is very important for user experience and usability. It shows, at a glance, what the user may expect to find. Well, at least, it should.
The pages that appear in most websites
- HOME (or whatever they want to call the front page, which sometimes is a BLOG)
- ABOUT (where they talk about themselves)
- CONTACT (a page created so that users can get in touch with you)
- BLOG (a dynamic page where the user will see your blogposts ordered chronologically)
The rest of the names of the navigation menu are up to you. Let’s take an example:
The above is an example of (a bad) navigation menu. It’s bad because if I see the menu outside of its context, I don’t have a clue what this person is offering me. Do you? It’s important to be very clear on your services or products throughout your webpage. Including in the menu.
This is why you must plan your menu before even thinking of writing the actual content.
What’s the goal of your website?
Getting potential customers to contact you to increase sales?
Making customers to fill up their cart?
Acquiring subscribers to your blog?
Obtaining a long-term income (affiliate blogging, advertising…) getting thousands of visits a day?
The goal of your online business and website is deeply connected to the way you set it up, so have that in mind and plan well what you need to put in the navigation menu.
Then you need to reflect as much when thinking of the copy of each page you have included in your menu. Be sure to include some pages with your main keywords.
Of course, you will need to start writing on your blog too!
Layout and images
When you have your copy for all pages you’ll need to start thinking of a layout and the images you would like to include. Be careful with the images. They must
- Be coherent with the overall message that the website wants to transmit
- Be in line with the design trends at the time of the website creation (visit many sites to get a feel of what is trendy)
- Be “light”. Don’t upload images that weigh more than two or three hundred KBs. Even that is a bit too much.
- Adjust to the space. If you need to place an image in a space that seems to be approximately a third of the width of your website, why would you insert an image that has 3000px?? No need. Typically, you don’t need images to be wider than 1920px, and that’s the full width.
As per the layout…
If you´re going to be using WordPress, there are many WordPress themes you can start with that are quite easy to configure. In the “WordPress language” the themes are like templates. You will design your website according to the parameters of the theme you choose.
The layouts and possibilities of design on offer depend on the theme you are using. Some themes have more options than others. Sometimes, for someone who isn’t an expert in WordPress, it’s better to choose themes that have less options.
Quick recap on creating your own site
Domain name: the address of your online house. Costs around £10 a year.
Website host, hosting: the house you find when you arrive at that address, which may be furnished or unfurnished. Costs around £70 a year.
Website builder or CMS: both are used to build a website. Software that helps the user in the creation of their website.
The final result of your web design will depend on
- Your ability (and will) to identify your website goals, and based on them, to plan out the structure and content
- Your skills level with the software you use
- The simple or complex features you want to be present on your website
Most service (non-ecommerce) websites can be created with just these 4 things. However, as I’ve repeated throughout this post, it’s decisive to plan everything well before starting. Otherwise you will find that you have built your website but it isn’t selling, which means nobody sees it. An invisible website is a non-existing business!
Now that you know how easy it is, and what you need to build a website, are you still waiting? Why don’t you start building your site now!
(Please do feel free to contact me through the comments if you need to ask or say anything relating to this post).