How to build a website in 7 steps
Building a website is cheaper and easier than ever thanks to website builders. Here’s what you need to know to get your business growing online
Gone are the days when you needed a degree in coding to know how to build a website from scratch.
Hiring a web designer will give you more creative freedom – as you won’t have to abide by the constraints of the platform you use – but it could cost anything between £200 and £10,000 for a sophisticated site.
Thanks to an array of website building platforms, you’re now able to create a highly personalised and professional-looking website with ease.
In this article you will learn:
- Step one: Choose the right website builder
- Step two: Choose the right plan (website costs)
- Step three: Choose a domain name
- Step four: Set up your website
- Step five: Preview and test your website
- Step six: Build an SEO-friendly website
- Step seven: Keep redesigning your website
- Next steps
Step one: Choose the right website builder
There are numerous website builders available online, offering varying degrees of functionality and creative freedom.
Website builders are a lot more affordable than building a website from scratch, and are an excellent option if you don’t have coding knowledge or technical skills.
Using templates, themes or drag-and-drop functionality, website builders enable you to get a decent website up and running quickly and affordably.
Which one you choose will depend on your budget and what functionality you require. Some offer a free trial so you can give them a test run before you commit. Below is an overview of some of the best website builders on the market. Click on the link to get a more in-depth analysis of each one.
|Website builders||Features||Pricing||Try today|
More than 500 different templates
|Connect Domain Plan: £3
Combo Plan: £6
Unlimited Plan: £8.50
eCommerce Plan: £11
VIP Plan: £16
|Try Wix for free||GoDaddy||
Migration to WordPress
Artificial design intelligence
Business Plus: £10.99
Online Store: £19.99
|Try GoDaddy for free|
|Try Squarespace for free|
The above is by no means an exhaustive list but gives an idea of the range of platforms available. Take a deep-dive into the best website builders for small businesses here.
Step two: Choose the right plan (Website costs)
As you can see above, there are a range of plans available to suit business customers with different needs.
We would always advise starting with a plan on the lower end of the spectrum and then opting for a more comprehensive (and pricier) one as you grow. Many builders offer a free trial so you can get an idea of whether it will be suitable for your needs before commiting to a full subscription.
Many website builders offer free domain names you can use called ‘sub-domains’. A sub-domain includes the name of the website builder in your address (Startups.wix.com for example). However, you don’t own this sub-domain name and it inhibits your chance of building a long-term, credible business with unique branding.
As you can see above, you should expect to pay anything between £3 and £10 for a basic website plan. This will provide you with the tools for a small site with limited functionality.
Below we compare the features of a basic and a more advanced plan.
Metrics and analytics
An ecommerce site
If you want to sell through your website, an ecommerce site is going to cost you more. The higher the number and variety of items you stock, the more it will cost.
Ecommerce software provides the functions you need to sell and scale your online sales. Some popular ecommerce platforms are:
You should check that the website builder has an SSL certificate included in its package. This is what gives your website an https prefix and the padlock icon in the address bar, indicating that it is secure to Google and potential customers. Especially important if they will be buying and inputting data on your site.
You can get a more thorough breakdown of how much a website costs here.
Step three: Choose a domain name
Your website domain name is the word or sequence of words in the URL in between www. and the extension (.com, .co.uk etc.) that identifies your website.
It’s crucial that you choose a unique and highly relevant name to help people discover your website online. Many website builders will include domain name registration in the package.
Tips for choosing a domain name:
- Make it short – the best URLs are short and simple. The makes it memorable and less prone to mistyping
- Use keywords – these are valuable search terms that describe your business and make you discoverable online
- Make it memorable – yours in just one of millions of registered domain names
- Use an appropriate extension – .com is the internationally-recognised standard but it can be difficult to get the one you want because it’s been around so long
Quick! Valuable URLs get snatched up quickly. Act now to see if your preferred URL is available and buy it.
You can find out more about choosing and buying a domain name here.
Step four: Set up your website
Website templates are pre-made designs offered by website builders allowing you to create a professional looking website instantly.
Some website builders, such as Wix, offer hundreds of designs, while others like Squarespace, have a more limited range.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed when choosing between the myriad templates. But don’t get bogged down. Have several key criteria in mind and a solid understanding of your brand and your customer.
Ensure they look and feel of your website reflects the nature of your business – don’t just choose the most flashy and exciting designs.
The three key aspects of your website are:
Content width design
This is whether the content stretches to fit the width of a screen (full-width) or is constrained by a frame (boxed-width).
- Full-width – more contemporary. Better for graphic-heavy websites and menu bars with lots of tabs. Layout may shift on different screens
- Boxed-width – more traditional and keeps content layout consistent across different screens
Home page header
The header contains the images or video content that represents your brand. There are a number of different options:
- Static image with/ without text – if one strong image can explain your brand and business
- Slideshow – to highlight different aspects of your business
- Video – to tell a complex brand story. Make sure you use high quality video that is meaningful to your business
Menu bar design
It should be easy to find and easy to read using a plain colour and font.
- Along the top/ bottom – this is the most common and is best for menu bars with limited links
- Sidebar – for graphic-intensive designs with lots of links in the menu bar
Where should the logo go?
This depends on how prominent you want the logo to be on the page. It could be:
- The same level as the menu bar – less prominent and allows more space for other content
- Above or below menu bar – more prominent but less space for content
Narrow down your choices using the above criteria to select the most suitable template for your brand.
Free templates allow you to test different templates with your content. You can keep doing this until you find the one that works for you. This might not be possible with a paid design so take the time to really weigh up each option.
Step five: Preview and test your website
It’s exciting isn’t it? Your website, essentially the shopfront for your business is ready to go live. But before you publish, are you absolutely sure it’s ready to go live?
If you want to avoid embarrassing and potentially brand-damaging mistakes you should carry out thorough testing on performance and content.
- Are all the navigation buttons working?
- How is the load speed?
- Have you checked spelling and grammar?
- Have you run through your SEO checks? (more on this below)
Step six: Build an SEO-friendly website
A well-thought out Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy will make sure your website is easily-discoverable online.
On-page SEO involves optimising your webpages to drive organic traffic through relevant keywords, the meta-description and H1 tags.
Many website builders come with SEO tools to help you analyse and optimise your pages.
Here’s a quick and simple basic SEO checklist:
- Set up tracking and analytics tools
- Keyword research
- Make sure you’re on social media
- Site speed check
- Technical SEO audit
Learn more about SEO here.
Step seven: Keep redesigning your website
A website is constantly growing and evolving. New pages and sections can be added; new functionality. You should be aware of user experience (UX), whether through analysis or customer feedback.
How easy it is for users to navigate around your site click-through to relevant pages can have a major impact on bounce rate or conversion rate. They’re likely to go elsewhere if they can’t find what they’re looking for.
Because of this, UX should be at the heart of website redesign.
You can find a more comprehensive guide to website redesign here.
These days, the burden of choice is a business owner’s greatest challenge when designing a website.
Nevertheless, it’s an exciting step in bringing your entrepreneurial ambitions to life.
Here are our top tips for building a website:
- Start with a low-cost plan and scale up when you understand your website needs
- Choose a unique and memorable domain name
- Focus on key criteria and eliminate unsuitable designs to find the best template
- Test and preview your website before publishing to avoid embarrassing errors
- Develop a comprehensive SEO strategy to ensure your website ranks
- Keep redesigning
Compare website builders and get online today!