Establishing an online presence is an absolute must for any small business owner. A professional, engaging website conveys credibility and reliability and allows you to market your business online. While the process of creating a website may seem a bit daunting, you can actually create a customised website all on your own.
No matter what type of site you want to make, this complete guide on how to build a website from scratch will guide you through the process. For more tips and ideas, we also recommend checking out our Wix's website launch checklist to ensure you’ve included all the necessary elements.
Steps for building a website from scratch
1. Define your goal
Whether you are creating a business, blog or portfolio website, defining your goal will maximise the benefits of your online presence. A clear understanding of your objective will help you shape your brand identity and determine what assets and design effects to include on your site. Elements you may want to consider:
Social media links
Once you’ve narrowed down the purpose of your website, you’ll want to create your brand identity. This is another aspect that will impact your site design, from the tone of your microcopy, to your logo to the colour of your buttons.
A great way to get started is by creating a simple idea map with a pen and paper. Write down the type of site you plan to make in the middle of your map and think about words and phrases that describe the vibe you’re going for as well as your brand voice. Then, write each in separate circles stemming from your initial idea. Once you’ve broken down your brand into individual elements, it will be much easier to continue on to the next step of the process.
2. Conduct competitor research
To build an engaging website, it’s imperative to understand your target audience and do some competitor research. You’ll want to understand what type of content your potential visitors are interested in and what information they’re searching for.
To do this, search Google for websites similar to what you envision yours to be. Go through the relevant pages and take a look at what type of content they’re providing, whether it be blogs, community forums, social media feeds, testimonials or Q+A sections.
You can also check out the People Also Ask section on Google search results pages. This provides insight into what your audience wants to know - essentially handing you more ideas for valuable content.
3. Explore visual options
The visual layout of your website is its most important element. You’ll want to take your time exploring your options before settling on the visual imagery and design. To get started, take a look at professional website templates to see which one fits best your vision. Whether you’re a creative professional looking for portfolio templates or want to create an online store, there are dozens of customisable options to choose from.
Then, just like the previous step, note what your competitor sites look like and check out other visual platforms, like Pinterest and Instagram. All of these examples will provide insight into what fonts, colours and web design styles and trends your audience gravitates towards. However, this isn’t to say you need to copy what’s already been done. Essentially, you want to have an understanding of the visual imagery and messaging of the audience your website is meant to serve.
4. Choose a domain name
Now comes one of the most exciting parts of designing a website - choosing a domain name.
Your domain is like your website’s address and permanent home on the web. Choosing a domain name doesn’t need to be too complex. While your name needs to be memorable and unique, domains typically include the name of your website and/or the name of your business followed by an extension like .com or .org. If you are struggling to come up with the perfect name for your business, try a business name generator to help get the ball rolling.
Website builders like Wix offer free domain names, but you can also pay for a personalised one. This is advantageous because it will improve your website’s credibility to both people and search engines. It will show visitors that you’re a professional, trusted brand and allows people to find you more easily online.
5. Design your website layout
You’ve chosen a website template and have a solid idea of the visual elements you want to include on your site. Now is the time to compile all of your website design ideas to create one cohesive layout. This is where the bulk of your work lies. Therefore, we’re going to break down how to make a Wix website into actionable steps you can easily follow.
Create your sitemap
Think of this as the blueprint of your site’s architecture. Your sitemap should include all the pages you plan to create and how they connect to each other. By planning this in advance, you have a better chance of perfecting your website navigation and offering users a smooth browsing experience. The best practice here is to make sure that your site is organised in a way that a visitor shouldn’t have to click more than twice to move from one page to another.
To help achieve this, add a website menu that remains visible on every page. If you’re creating a one-page website, don’t forget to add an anchor menu that will take visitors to the desired section of your scrolling site. Either way, an important part of your menu is a clickable logo that leads visitors back to the homepage - or to the top of the page for one-page websites.
Include necessary pages
A professional website should include the following pages to best optimise the design:
An inviting homepage. This is the face of your website, which means that you have to make it beautiful, yet informational. You should strive to present all the crucial elements right from the get-go. This way, clients will instantly understand who you are and what you do.
An eye-catching gallery displaying your products or services. This is the centre of your site where visitors can browse through your offers. Dedicate time to write product descriptions that will grab potential customers’ attention. The same goes for your product photography to ensure that your items are displayed in their very best light.
An About page. Use this page as your online business card. It’s the spot where you can present who you are, what you stand for, your strengths, values and any other crucial information you think your visitors should know about your team and your business.
A contact section. Don’t leave your site visitors astray by making them search for your contact information. Dedicate a page to list contact numbers, email, social links and any other way users can get in touch with you. In addition, it’s a good practice to add your essential contact details on your website footer.
Optional elements you may want to consider include:
A blog. By starting a blog, you’ll be able to continuously add regular and fresh content to your website. You’ll have the chance to establish yourself as an expert in your field, while giving your SEO efforts a well-deserved boost.
An informative FAQ page. Save yourself and your clients some time (and frustration) by including an FAQ page to provide answers to questions that may naturally come up as visitors browse your site.
An online booking system. Allow customers to schedule and pay for appointments or classes directly from your site. This way, you can spend less time playing phone tag and more time growing your empire.
A testimonials page. This provides you with the perfect place in which previous, satisfied customers can sing your praises. Nothing is more impressive to a potential client or buyer than positive, unbiased reviews.
6. Craft a fitting color palette
The use of colour is not only for making your site look pretty. Your colour palette should align with your brand identity. Colour psychology is important to take into consideration, as colours have the power to affect and evoke specific emotions and behaviours.
For example, blue has become a common colour used in branding corporations and businesses, particularly in the tech field - most likely because blue is associated with stability and reliability. However, blue can also reflect sadness, hence the term “feeling blue.” Orange, for example, is generally paired with feelings of freshness and vitality. Keep in mind that the feeling correlated with a colour also depends on the shade and what other colours it’s paired with. These are both important points to consider when choosing your website colours scheme.
To get started, consider your website goals. Think about the vibe you want to create and the emotions you want to convey. The more aligned your web design is with your overall branding, the more people are going to connect with your company and your website. And the stronger the personal connection, the more time they’ll spend on your site. This will have enormous effects on conversion rates and overall interest and engagement with your brand.
7. Pick the right fonts
Just like colours, typography can also play a key role in evoking feelings. When choosing the best fonts for your website, there are a number of things to consider.
First, like all other elements on your site, your font choice should match your branding. Browse different typefaces to find one that reflects your unique personality, whether you’re youthful and contemporary or have a more traditional approach.
Serif: Fonts with a small line attached to the ends of each letter.
Sans serif: More standard, block-like typography without small lines at the ends of each character.
Script: Has a more elegant feel, with each letter connecting fluidly from one to the next.
You can also check out our article on the best fonts for websites for more detail on how to choose the best one for your site.
Whatever you go for, make sure that your font is readable on both desktop and mobile devices. In addition, stay consistent throughout your website, using the same font pairings in the same contexts throughout.
8. Prioritise your content
In order for your visitors to feel comfortable and at home while browsing, it’s important to keep your site as organised as possible. Think about hierarchy here: you’ll want your most eye-catching and important content to be placed above the fold (in other words, the area that’s visible on your website without visitors having to scroll).
Furthermore, take note that some of your readers are only skimming your content. To make their lives easier, and to make your content stand out, consider how you can optimise your design so your audience can get the most out of your content.
To do so, consider which written information can be made more digestible and visual with the use of media features (videos, images and animations, infographics for example). Make certain headers and other important bits of information stand out more than others by opting for a larger font or a bright colour that contrasts with the background.
9. Optimise for SEO
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the practice of optimising your site so your pages can rank higher on search engine result pages. When launching a new website, it’s vital to set your site up for success so it can be found by Google. The more exposure you get, the more likely that prospective clients will find your site and book your services, buy your products or read your blog.
To get started, check out Wix SEO to get a personalised SEO plan for your website. This free solution walks you through each step and will help you get your website ranking on Google by:
Helping you find and implement the right keywords
Providing guidance on how to best structure your content
Allowing you to Incorporate SEO titles and meta descriptions
Integrating with Google Search Console
In depth keyword analysis
Comparison of keyword ranking on Google
Backlink profiles of your competitors
View your best performing pages
Depending on your website goals, it may be worthwhile to take advantage of a paid SEO tool.
10. Make your site mobile friendly
As of April 2021, over 50% of internet use comes from cell phones and tablets. It’s because of this that Google established mobile-first indexing, a system in which the search engine predominantly determines website ranking based on mobile websites, not desktop. Therefore, it’s essential to invest time in your mobile design, SEO and provide a smooth and intuitive user experience for those smaller screens.
Focusing on readability and navigation, you can incorporate impressive mobile features like animation and an intuitive mobile menu.
If you want to have full control over breakpoints when creating your website, you can build your website using Editor X - an advanced creation platform from Wix, made exclusively for designers and agencies. You’ll be able to see and design your site at any viewport size, resulting in a cutting-edge, responsive design.