So, you’re finally ready to build a site. Fortunately for you, it’s never been simpler to build a good personal website or business website. By good, we mean one that is sustainable yet simple. We’re here to tell you that a website doesn’t have to be costly or complicated, and it can still stand the test of time – for 2019 and beyond.
This no-nonsense guide will outline the basic aspects of how to make a good website without overcomplicating things. There are plenty of step-by-step guides that will exhaustively walk you through the entire process of building a website, screenshot for screenshot – this is not one of those.
While the technical aspects are important, they shouldn’t stop you from launching your own website immediately. Due to the powerfully simple website builders that are on the market today, you no longer need to know how to make a website from scratch. In our opinion, everyone should be able to establish their individuality online, either for themselves or their business.
More than needing any technical skills, understanding how to structure your site for success is the key. By creating this guide, we’d like to help you do that. We’re going to take you through the three main stages (Research, Design, and Publish) and show you how to create a website free of cost, but do it the right way. Your journey to making a good website starts right here.
An essential part of building a good website (that all too often goes overlooked) is the research aspect: in order to create a site that resonates with users, you have to better understand them and then build accordingly.
Whether you’re just beginning to plan or your site is already live, it’s a good idea to follow best practices for how to do keyword research, and then do some do some basic investigating work.
Here are three key elements of effective research:
Know Your Audience
Understanding who your audience is crucial to the success of your website. Think about who you’re trying to reach, what they like, what will catch their attention, and what will keep them coming back for more.
This will have implications across your site, from the titles that you use to the look and feel of your design, so it’s a critical piece of the site-building puzzle.
One common strategy for understanding what appeals to a specific audience is to take a look at other existing sites – typically, your competitors. How do they attempt to attract your audience, and are they successful? What might you do differently for your own site?
It’s important that while you explore such sites for inspiration you don’t simply copy their work, but instead understand what about their strategy could work for you and then implement those techniques in your own style. This is your opportunity to show that you know you what your audience is looking for, but also give them a fresh take which is innately yours as an individual creator.
As one of our favorite consummate creators once said:
“Bad artists copy, great artist steal…”Pablo Picasso
One of the most popular acronyms of good website design jargon is SEO: search engine optimization. This refers to the deliberate process of getting your site to rank higher in search engine results.
There are many tricks, tips, and techniques to help improve your ranking, but the simple truth is that it all comes down to keywords and dependable keyword research. If you’re very serious about it, a guide such as this one from Neil Patel will dive in deep on how to go about it.
Even if you don’t want to dedicate countless hours understanding how to do keyword research, you can still make inroads by taking the most basic approach. That would be finding keywords that fit your website’s topics and are being searched for by others. There are different keyword research tools available that will do this at a basic level.
The most common is actually free, and that would be You can use a free tool Google Adwords Keyword Planner. You’ll need to set up an account as if you want to advertise with Google’s paid platform, but you can then simply use this tool to conduct keyword research
If you want to take it a step further, you can pay a small monthly amount for keyword research tools such as Hittail. This is a platform that will help you find what are called “long tail keywords,” which essentially are very narrow focus keywords. While searching for “football” may have a lot of competition, searching for “which football player won the heisman trophy in 1981 and went on to also win a Super Bowl” probably has much less competition.
We’ll save you a search on this one, the answer is Marcus Allen. If you’re covering a very specific topic, knowing which long tail keywords to go after can help your SEO immensely.
Lastly, you could also use more professional keyword research tools, such as Moz. If you can afford it, this platform will reveal a slew of insights and help guide you to the most effective keyword research strategy for your website. There are some economic options that provide the basics, but if you’re serious about your site then you should seriously consider using a professional keyword research tool
After you’ve gathered your keyword research, you’re going to want to implement some changes based on your findings.
This will consist of creating informative and relevant content that properly uses your keywords, as well as correctly labeling content pages and titles with keywords with metadata. This is something that is really easy to do if you have a site built on IM Creator, as you can see from the screenshot below.
Regardless of what platform you’re using, just make sure you get the hang of how to optimize your content for SEO with it. This is an imperative part of creating a website that will be seen by your audience for the years to come.
A tried-and-true method for understanding and reaching your potential audience is through communities.
From Facebook groups to Pinterest boards to Reddit threads to trending hashtags, your users are out there, interacting as communities. Although it will take quite a bit of leg work, you’re going to want to look into all of these places where your potential users might be. See which platform they frequent the most, and how engaged they are. Then find out which groups or sub-channels within the platform are the most popular for your audience.
After some research into which are the most relevant groups for you to engage with, you’ll want to outline a strategy to reach out and establish your thought leadership in a meaningful and interesting way.
Your community engagement strategy will vary depending on the user behaviors, consumption habits, and expectations of your particular audience, but there’s one thing that all audiences have in common – nobody likes spam.
Successful community building requires you to create and distribute content that your audience wants to see, and not just plaster self-promoting posts multiple times a day. That means you’ll need to work extra hard to create content that provides real value. The payoff will be there, and communities will love you for it, unlike if you just post fluff.
One last thing to remember about communities is that each one has an element of trial and error. Tread carefully when you first enter a platform and do a lot more reading than posting. Eventually, and even with some flaming burnouts along the way, you’ll understand what works in each.
If you’ve always wanted to create a website and never got around to it because it seemed too intimidating to design and build the whole thing, you’re not alone. How to make a website is a topic that can seem daunting at first. But it doesn’t have to be.
We collected and reviewed user feedback and found that the most common reason for not building a site wasn’t a lack of website design inspiration. It was actually the perceived difficulty of website design software.
Upon further inspection, we found that it’s simply because most people haven’t encountered any truly user-friendly website builders, so they don’t know where to start.
They envision large, complex sites and before they know it, their own visions have grown to perplexing proportions, and so they procrastinate. They simply get stopped at the very idea of how to build a website and go no further.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution; minimalist design is increasingly popular, and website design is no exception.
Taking it further than minimalist website design templates, elements, and fonts, many people began applying minimalist principles to the sites themselves, so we’ve seen an influx of single page websites over the past few years.
But now there’s an even simpler trend catching on. The single section website is the new single page website.
This trend lends itself perfectly to the aspiring site builder – you can start small, go online, and build complexity gradually over time.
Make sure you choose a platform that is simple enough to start small, but powerful enough to grow with you.
Above the Fold
It turns out, the best place to start is at the beginning!
In website terminology, above the fold refers to the area of screen visible immediately upon loading a page, before scrolling at all. Here’s what we mean:
This is by far the most important piece of real estate on your site, and how well its designed will have heavy implications on how well your site converts and retains users.
Above the fold is where you need to grab the users’ attention and motivate them to take action. The action may be to click a button, to play a video, to submit a form, or simply to scroll down and see more, but in every case achieving the action should be the goal.
The best part? You need to start here… but you can finish here as well. In the case of single section websites, the entire site is actually above the fold, and there are many such sites that are quite effective. There are many website design templates that specifically support this concept.
If you don’t have a website at all, having a single section is already a huge step forward.
Call To Action (CTA)
Whether you’re building a single section or a full site, you should have an idea of how you want your visitors to interact with your site.
What do you want them to do first? And second?
Like signs on the highway, calls to action (CTAs) help direct your visitors toward the intended path.
The effectiveness of your CTAs will depend on a variety of factors, but just try to keep these basics in mind:
- Context – don’t just throw buttons everywhere: place them appropriately, with intuitive icons or media to aid the viewer.
- Consistency – don’t change language between the CTA and the destination: make sure the user understands why they arrive to where they arrive.
- Colors – don’t just pick a color you like: do some research, consider the context of your CTA, and ideally A/B test some options before you settle on your standard.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, you really only need one great picture to make your site shine.
If you go with an image above the fold, that’s effectively the image of your site. If you have a single section site, the image is basically the entire site.
Understandably, this is an area where quality is much more important than quantity. Not a photographer? Not a problem.
There are a number of sites that have seemingly endless high quality media options to choose from. Here are our favorites:
Find something you like, something that represents you, and something that is high quality. The images you choose will say a lot about you and your site, so no matter what the subject is, they have to be quality.
Of course, images aren’t the only media you could include on your site. We are in the age of video, and the right clip can speak volumes.
All of that being said, it’s better to have a site with no pictures than to have no site at all. Start building your website now, upgrade it with media later.
Now that you’ve done your research, spent some time on the design of your site, and probably written some content for it, you’re ready to publish. Wait, are you ready to publish? That’s a big step! You’re about to unveil all of your talents and hard work to the world.
Before you do so, you should think about what will make your website look and feel like more than your personal project. You should come to this website and have the same overall sense of confidence in it as you would from any website you visit on a day to day basis.
Sure, you won’t have the brand recognition of ESPN and you won’t be funneling millions of people to buy products with one click like Amazon, but you can make your website feel permanent and authentic. In order to do so, you should consider adding three elements to it that we’ll discuss below.
Even if you don’t do so before you publish, keep these on your immediate horizon of upgrades for when you want to take your website to the next level.
Are you on Facebook? How about Twitter or LinkedIn? Whether you are or aren’t, seeing these little icons add a validity to any website. The term often used is “social proof.” If other people like it, why wouldn’t you? Even if you don’t belong to any social network on your own, it’s important to open up accounts for your website.
This is an absolute must if your website is representing your business. Even if yours isn’t, you should consider opening social accounts and linking your website to them. It not only adds social proof to your site, it also gives people another way of finding you.
Which is really the point, right? As the old adage goes, if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sounds? Well here it would be: If a website is built but nobody knows about it, does it really exist?
You get the idea. Once you have a social presence you can also let people know about your website by joining and interacting with the relevant communities in your niche. Social platforms, along with message boards, are huge resources for doing so. As you can see, social links can play a large role in growing your website.
You may not think much about your domain name when first starting to build a site – and that’s okay! We’re of the mind that you should get busy playing and build from there. Once you’ve firmed up your vision, and perhaps even after you’ve published your site, you should really start to think about it. There are many ways to come up with domain name suggestions, but what’s most important is that you commit to choosing one in the first place.
Having the option of free hosting without needing a domain is incredibly useful. It allows you to get started right away, and you don’t need to invest any money at all. That being said, no website that reads something like “domainhosting.com/users/your_free_website” will have the same authenticity as having your own unique domain name.
These days your website hosting cost can be minimal, and so is purchasing a domain name.
Being able to send people to your own .com (or .io, etc) site is invaluable for businesses, and important for anyone who wants their website to stand on their own. Remember, your domain name is also your brand. A site may start out as Yahoo.com, but it will eventually just be known as Yahoo.
That’s also why you need to take domain name suggestions with a grain of salt. Ask your friends for ideas, but remember that this will be yours for a long time. Think of what fits you and your site, because this will be your calling card.
We talked about social proof and branding your site. Last, but certainly not least, on this list is securing your site. How to make a website secure might seem like a huge topic, but what we’re really talking about is adding an SSL certificate to your site. Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it might sound.
What is SSL? SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. Basically, it allows your website to send and receive information from your users without being exposed to the rest of the internet. This is obviously crucial if you’re taking orders by credit card, but it’s important regardless.
When someone attempts to access your website, the difference between an SSL certified site (https:// as opposed to http://) will be known by their web browser. Depending on their settings, they may receive a warning that they are visiting a website that is not secure.
Most users will not be sticking around if they see a message like that. Would you?
Even if your users don’t see such a message, Google will know the difference. We spoke about SEO and trying to rank highly on Google results earlier. One key element of ranking higher is having an SSL certification on your site. Google will always try to present searchers with options for websites that are SSL, above those that don’t have it. This is reason enough to upgrade to SSL for your site.
Thankfully, the process itself is easy, with just one small technical step involved. There is a small yearly fee for your SSL certification, but having the trust of your users, not to mention the security itself, is invaluable. As you can see, there is a rather straightforward path for how to make a website secure and it is one worth taking.
Wrapping Up How to Make a Website
Thanks for making it all the way down to the end of this guide! We know we threw a lot at you, but we hope that all the information came in easy to digest pieces. The question of how to make a website can be answered in many ways. There are more technical step-by-step answers, and there are shorter conceptual ones. Here we tried to find that balance because we think both are important.
On the technical side it is important to know how to make a website secure, as well as how to do keyword research. Conceptually, you’ll want to have a firm grasp of how your site should look, and keep that in mind as you browse through catalogues of website design templates.
Remember that it’s easy to get lost in templates, so be sure to put a focus on choosing a website design software that is easy to start with and flexible for change. This guide has put you well on your way to starting your own personal website or a business website. Keep the momentum going by diving in to play and create.
Whether it’s with our own easy to use platform, or another website builder, you don’t need to put it off any longer. There’s no time like now to get started, and we’ll be here should you need further help!
On that note, please free to comment below with questions or feedback. We love to support the website building community in any way we can and will reply as soon as possible. Here’s to your next great website!