Any business today needs a digital presence, and there is no way to achieve that without a website. Even if you plan to develop an app for your business, as we discussed in a previous article, you still need to build a website for it to promote it online if you want it to have a chance at competing in this ever-changing, fast-paced virtual world.
However, just building a website without good planning is not going to get you far. Don’t worry, though! In this article, we will discuss the 9 most important tips on how to build a website successfully, that will help you put your company on the digital map.
And in the process we will also answer some of the most common questions entrepreneurs have when it comes to building a new website for their company:
- How do I start building my website?
- Do I need a brand before I build my website?
- How to build a website with the right technology?
- How to build a website with the right team?
- Should my website be mobile responsive, compatible or friendly?
- How can I make sure that my platform is right for my users?
- Are there any security or compliance rules to be aware of?
- What happens after I publish my website?
- How do I make sure Google and users see my website?
Let’s dive in!
1. How do I start building my website?
Wireframes are the foundation of any digital platform. They help you get an overview of how you want your website to look and work before you start developing your platform or even designing it. They are also handy when you present to stakeholders – f.ex. potential investors or even focus groups – what you have envisioned.
Whether you’re using simple pen and paper, a whiteboard, or a professional tool for wireframes and prototypes like Adobe XD or Sketch, keep in mind that your wireframes are the foundation of your website. So, it is recommended to have a few iterations from which you can pick and choose what layouts, features, and user journeys work best.
Moreover, if you can collect feedback from stakeholders when you show them your plans, this can help perfect your strategy.
2. Do I need a brand before I build my website?
Once you have your plans, it’s time to think about designs and layouts. But to do that, you need to first define your brand:
- Who are you?
- How do you want your users to perceive your brand?
- What makes your brand stand out?
It is a well-known fact that people take between 2-3 seconds to form a first impression. So, everything your users see in those 2-3 seconds is crucial, from your logo and preferred colors to fonts and text sizes.
This might seem a bit trivial, but colors have a psychological impact on us, and the wrong colors will send the wrong message.
For example, have you noticed how most banks use colors such as blue, black, and grey? This is because blue is perceived as a trustworthy color, while black and grey show professionalism and security. If your bank would use pinks and yellows, you probably won’t take them as seriously. The same goes for fonts and text sizes.
Finally, get yourself a unique, hand-made logo. Startups and companies with a limited budget are often tempted to use a logo-generating tool because they are fast and cheap. But is that what you want your logo to say? Furthermore, tailor-made logos don’t have to be expensive to look professional.
3. How to build a website with the right technology
Normally, step 3 would be making your designs. But there are situations when you might opt to skip them and choose a template or theme instead. To clarify, templates and themes are prebuilt user interfaces available for most content management systems. For example, WordPress has about 7.000 themes, and more than half are free to use.
Either way, it is recommended you sit down with a web development company and discuss your ideas. They will have the expertise to recommend the right technologies for your needs and will be able to give you a ballpark price on how much your website will cost.
That said, if you have a tight budget and are going for the first option, the development company can find a few themes that might fit your needs from which you can choose. From there, all they have to do is adjust the theme based on your colors, logo and font preferences, and your set.
4. How to build a website with the right team
Now that you know what you want and how you want it built, it’s time to decide on a team.
If you met a web development company that you liked – they seemed professional, gave you a good price, and you trust them – then this is a no-brainer. They already know your plans, and they will be able to put together a team for you.
But if you still haven’t found that perfect match, you have a few choices:
- Work with a development house – highly recommended especially for complex websites;
- Hire your own developers – this will be a bit tedious in the long run, and it is not recommended for fairly simple websites that you will not need constant updating, improving, and maintaining.
- Do It Yourself or DIY – if you’re brave enough or simply really restricted by your budget, you could try and put together a DIY website in WordPress.com or other self-managed CMS platforms. But keep in mind that these solutions might have limited scalability.
5. Should my website be mobile responsive, compatible or friendly?
Regardless of which option you choose to build your website, remember that Google indexes and ranks websites based on their mobile versions. So, when you build a website, you need to make sure it is mobile compatible – it can be easily used on a phone – and mobile responsive – when users open it, your UI still looks crisp and professional.
You should also consider looking into making your website mobile-friendly, which is a combination of the two aforementioned rules, with a twist. Think of these requirements as packages for a service:
- The Basic – every website needs to be mobile compatible, i.e. it can be opened on a mobile device and it adapts to the mobile view without losing major features;
- The Plus – not only that mobile users can see your website on their mobile devices, but the user interface is still pretty and functional;
- The Pro – your website works on mobile devices, it looks good, and it is fast.
If you are using a CMS template or a DIY page builder, their pre-made UIs are usually already optimized, so all that is left for you is to test and adjust. If you’re building a custom-built website, then your team needs to build the website based on the mobile-first rule.
6. How can I make sure that my platform is right for my users?
Since we are in the “testing phase”, another highly recommended step is to gather focus groups and conduct different tests before you make your website available on the digital market.
These tests can be simple A/B tests where you show different variations of your designs and functionality to the users so they give feedback on their likes or dislikes, but they can also be more complex tests such as heatmaps that show how effective your layout is if your call-to-action buttons are working as intended or if a feature is visible and clear to your users.
Whichever tests you choose, keep in mind that when we build websites for our businesses, we tend to be a bit biased – i.e. if we really like a feature but our users disagree, we tend to ignore their feedback simply because they did not agree with our own opinion. So, try to keep an open mind.
7. Are there any security or compliance rules to be aware of?
As you may already know, unless you have your own servers or you’re using a DIY website builder, you will need to “rent” space on hosting servers. There are many different types of hosting providers, such as managed hosting, cloud-based, etc., and it can become overwhelming quite fast, so you might need a sysadmin’s advice here.
Another important aspect is security, and here we are talking about SSL certificates as well as code and database security. If you are working with a development house or you’ve hired your own team, make sure they follow best practices to ensure security – may be even commission them to run some security tests like brute force attacks.
As for data collection, if you are operating within the European Union, remember that you will have to meet some criteria about how you collect, manage and store user data so you are GDPR compliant. For this, you might want to consult a lawyer or a person with legal experience in GDPR or Data collection compliance regulations.
8. What happens after I publish my website?
Websites are like plants- they need care and attention, new soil now and then, a new pot, fertilizer, and pesticides. Similarly, your website needs database maintenance, updates for your features and designs, code re-iterations so it keeps up with technology changes and more.
You will also need to periodically update your hosting and SSL services, even upgrade them based on your website’s growth. These tasks may be easy in the beginning and you might be able to do most of them yourself, especially if you’re using a DIY solution.
But, once your website starts picking up, consider talking with a development company and hiring them to do maintenance and support tasks for you. And don’t worry, you don’t need to have them on retainer. They can be hired by the hour or have monthly agreements with them, which will drive the costs down quite a bit.
9. How do I make sure Google and users see my website?
Finally, remember to optimize your site – both during the development phase and after – from an SEO perspective so users and search engines can find you quickly, as well as from a page-speed perspective so they don’t get frustrated once they do find you.
Also, don’t forget about Technical SEO, which is that part of your SEO that users don’t see – it’s “hidden” in the HTML code – but crawlers like the Google bots or screen readers can. For example, the Alt text or alternative text of an image is used to describe an image within your content as well as weigh its relevance and value.
The size and format of that image are also important as they might determine how long it takes for the image to fully load or if the browser is even able to show – if the file format is not supported by the browser, it will not show it.
And, the more pages, content, and media you add to a website, the heavier it gets, and hence the slower it becomes. So, aside from optimizing it for search engines, also do periodic web performance tests for page speed and loading times. There are a plethora of tools you can use for free, like Google Page-Speed, GTMetrix, and even our own app.wiredelta.com.
Like with mobile apps, building a successful website requires time, planning, and patience. More importantly, once your website is published, it needs proper maintenance. Technology changes and so should your website.
Pick a technology stack and a development that suits your needs and budget – don’t cut corners but also don’t aim too high if you can’t afford it.
Keep your code, database, certificates, and hosting up to date, and invest in periodic performance and security checks. Also, don’t forget about content and technical search engine optimizations if you want to rank high and make it easy for your users to find you.
We hope our guide on how to build a website successfully was helpful and as always, remember that our team is here for you if you need a second opinion, or you just want to build a website for your business but don’t know where to start, book a free meeting with one of our experts and we will help you start your journey right foot first.