Whether you’re a small business owner or starting web design, you might wonder how to build a website from scratch. Creating a website requires more than throwing up a few images.
Your site needs to have a solid purpose and a positive user experience (UX). Today’s developers make putting up a website easier than ever before. Nevertheless, you have to pay attention to details.
Although the number varies by the millisecond, there are around 1.7 billion websites on the internet. While a small fraction is your competition, you’re still competing for the attention of a limited audience. Standing out from the crowd requires careful planning and some basic knowledge of user behavior.
If you’re not sure where to begin, go through the process step-by-step of how to build a website from scratch.
1. Study Other Websites
Before you plan your site, spend time studying some of the best websites on the internet. Essentially Geared Wine Co., for example, uses background videos to show people in everyday activities. By 2022, experts say video will make up 82% of all online traffic, making it a boon for your site.
It’s impossible to determine how to build a website from scratch if you don’t know what you like. Think about the personality of your brand and which sites exhibit the same traits. Take notes about colors you think look good together. Pay attention to the balance of images, text and white space. Study each element on the page and figure out why it speaks to you.
2. Know Your Purpose
What is the purpose of your website? If you run an e-commerce store, it’s to sell items. However, you might dig a bit deeper and identify how to make your customers’ lives easier.
Before you learn how to build a website from scratch, determine your reason for creating a one. Without focus, your pages will be all over the place. Site visitors might not know what action you want them to take.
3. Choose a Platform
Decide on the best platform for your site. There are numerous site builders and content management systems (CMS). You may have a small presence and want to use a popular platform like WordPress. You might want the ease of an e-commerce builder, such as Shopify. Another idea is to build your site using HTML5 code. Research software and templates which make the process easier.
Think back to the websites you studied at the beginning of the process. Revisit your favorites and check what platform they host on. You can right-click and choose inspect to see if the coding is PHP or HTML. If WordPress powers the site, you’ll find the information at the bottom of the page.
4. Find a Host
Your next step is finding a website hosting company. Since you’re reading an article about how to build a website from scratch, we’re going to assume you’re a beginner.
Seek out a hosting company that caters to non-coding people. Read reviews about their customer support. Ask if they’re willing to help when you get into a snafu and need help. Some companies offer support packages to help you get past basic hurdles.
You should also pay attention to scalability. As your business grows, can the company handle the increase in traffic? Are there options to switch to a dedicated server? What happens if you get a sudden influx of traffic? Talk to others who use the host to get honest feedback.
5. Design a Mockup
Use a wireframing site to lay out the layout of your pages. Deciding how to build a website from scratch includes how usable your layout is. You want to stick with expected traditions, such as a navigation bar near the top of the page. Add a logo in the upper left that links back to the homepage. Creating a prototype helps you avoid costly design errors later. If you prefer, you can also layout the design on paper.
Once you have the layout ready, you can find a theme with a similar structure. You can also hire someone to code the template from scratch. Your design should be basic or use filler images until you’re ready to add the details.
6. Add Some Images
Images should be relevant to your website. When learning how to build a website from scratch, studying top designs is the first step. Did you notice most of them had non-stock images?
Your photos must add value to your page and tell a story. Not sure how users respond to specific images? Conduct eye-tracking studies to see if some work better than others. Set up A/B tests, also called split tests, to gather audience information. You can also use site heat maps to track user movement.
7. Write Stellar Content
Once you have everything laid out, it’s time to fill in the content. Think back to your purpose. Is your goal to get people to sign up for a mailing list? If so, each component on your landing page should point to the newsletter.
Consider how to craft your content. Articles should outline necessary information, but not delve too deep. You don’t want to give away your position immediately. Provide more detailed content once they sign up.
If you run a small carpet cleaning company, your content might include information on how to spot treat pet messes. You might write an article on how to remove red stains from a rug. However, you wouldn’t share all of your cleaning secrets. If you do, there’s no reason for the consumer to hire you.
8. Revamp Your CTAs
Your call-to-action (CTA) is the word or phrase you use to draw people in. You want people to click your CTA and continue to the desired action. Your click-through rate, on the other hand, determines the effectiveness of your CTA. To calculate your click-through rate, divide the number of clicks you get by the number of total views.
A well written CTA gets better results than something you randomly throw together. Pay careful attention to the language you use. The desired action should be explicit. Do you want users to sign up? Read more information about your products? Fill out a form for an estimate? Use language that entices the user to click.
When people talk about how to build a website from scratch, they rarely focus on the importance of CTAs. Yet the words, page placement and button size all impact your performance.
Want to Build a Website From Scratch? Remember to Test
You learned how to build a website from scratch — now what? Last, but not least, test everything.
Click on every link, fill our forms and scan for errors. It’s also critical to get feedback from your friends, family and co-workers. Is there anything you can improve? The more input you receive, the better the finished product.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.