How to build a professional website…. yourself!
Welcome to our new weekly updated guide which will help you create a professional looking business or personal website in only few days. My name is Leszek and I work at Dragomedia creative agency as a project manager building websites and improving our clients online visibility.
Why are we doing this?
Only recently we have realised how many people are being fouled, paying serious £££ for projects which in reality should not be worth a penny. Websites which will never be indexed properly by Google Search Engine with a lack of (or absolutely zero ) people visiting it. This is absolutely disgusting and as a respectful Web Design Agency we feel like we have to help the community to understand all the processes included in website design project.
What information you’ll find here?
You don’t have to be a genius to build a decent website. I hope that with this guide you’ll not only be able to create something yourself but also know what questions to ask when hiring an agency to build a website for you ( and avoid scam which can cost £££ )
This guide will cover:
- Website platforms
- Hosting options and services
- Domain providers
- Website themes
- Important plugins / extensions
- On-page and Off-page SEO techniques
- Website launch
Website platforms and web builders
Depending on a project you’re about to start there is a number of suitable platforms out there which might make your life much easier. Years ago, when I started my journey with web development most of the sites were build using HTML ( code ) a bit of CSS ( styling sheets ) and even Flash for animations. Nowadays the website can be created using pre-build platforms and template / framework. Majority of hosting companies are also introducing simple web builder solutions. Now let me explain what the actual “platforms” are. The website platform or CMS ( content management system ) is a user-friendly system helping you to create a website and add or modify your content instead of coding it in HTML.
Most Popular CMS solutions in 2017
As you can see in above diagram majority of users decided to use WordPress as their website platform solution. Nearly half of all personal and small business websites on the internet are running on this Platform today. You can also check the stats here. I hope that the list of WordPress pros and cons below will explain why this is a visible trend today.
Build your first website with…. WordPress
Knowing the market and understanding what is available out there for beginner web developers or simple business owners who can’t afford professional services I’ve decided to focus this guide on the most popular platform. In here you’ll find all the useful information on how to start, setup your hosting platform and install CMS with templates. I’ll try to also include my plugin choices for your project optimisation and security.
Your Platform – WordPress
Massive community – Out of all CMS’s WordPress have the biggest community which is a huge benefit. At the time of writing this blog post there is roughly 50,000 plugins and 2,500 themes available for free. The number of plugins doubled in last four years and majority are available to download from wordpress.org. If this is not enough there is a huge database of commercial plugins available for purchase from online marketplaces such as Envato Market.
Stability and regular updates – WordPress can be configured to receive automatic updates, The core team stays up to date with security and compatibility issues regularly publishing patches.
Installation – You don’t have to be a geek to install WordPress. This is one of those things where beginner or sometimes even intermediate web developer might start pulling hairs of their heads. WordPress introduced simple installation process and is a definite winner in this category. It is also worth mentioning that majority of well known and reputable hosting providers now offer a simple one click installation integrated with their system.
Low cost of ownership – Another important benefit which might to play a big role in your web design planning process. WordPress is a completely free solution and the only thing you might have to pay for is your hosting solution. As mentioned previously even those non tech users can find their way around main tasks using wordpress which reduces the need for external professional help.
Security – There is a vast number of plugins available free to increase security on your website. Many articles inform new users how vulnerable WordPress is, but never states how many security solutions are out there. Plugins such as Wordfence and WP Security can help you make it really bulletproof and safer for your potential visitors or customers
Visual design issues – WordPress is known as a difficult platform to design your wesbite on visually. The platform does not contain any drag and drop site editor you might come across using WIX or other simple website platforms. Majority of custom designs have to be hard coded which is easy for advanced developers but might be problematic for beginners.
Limited permissions – Building a website you might need an access to all of the platforms aspects, create groups and assign people to them. Unfortunately WordPress does not have this in default. Installing a 3rd party plugin could be solution for security and permission problems but this is not ideal.
Scallability – Although WordPress is used by some major websites out there it is not an ideal platform for big sites without a proper optimisation. If you are running a small online shop with 500 products then this would not be an issue, but if you thinking about more then 1500 then hire a web developer otherwise you’ll end up with a slow build.
Where to start & how to set it up? – Domain
All website builds starts with a domain name. This will represent your brand website address, but also needs to be as easy and memorable as possible.
How to choose a domain name?
- Make it easy to type for visitors.
- Keep it as short as possible
- Use Keywords which your potential visitors might type into the search engine
- Avoid numbers and hyphens
- Use the right domain extension such as .co.uk
- Make it memorable
Where to get the domain from?
Domains are available from various providers online. From my personal experience I would recommend to get a domain name from your chosen hosting provider. Majority of these guys will offer you a FREE domain with a yearly subscription to one of their hosting packages. Doing this will help you avoiding misconfiguration when trying to connect your domain to hosting platform using nameservers and IP addresses.
Best hosting and domain providers on the market are:
- Names – https://www.names.co.uk/
- GoDaddy – https://uk.godaddy.com/
- Krystal Hosting – https://krystal.co.uk/
- TsoHost – https://www.tsohost.com/
How to setup a domain?
Ok so you have bought a domain from a 3rd party provider such as https://www.crazydomains.co.uk/ and now you’ll need to connect it to your hosting package. But how to actually do it? Well it is not as difficult as it sounds, but you’ll need to focus a bit. Bellow a few steps to follow in order to do this:
- Log in to your Hosting Provider and check what NAMESERVERS they request
- Copy or simply make a note of them ( there could be 2 or 3 similar ones )
- Log in to your Domain provider admin Panel
- Find your domain and go to DNS settings
- Replace Default nameservers with the ones provided to you by your Hosting provider
- Wait anything from 2 – 48 hours for nameservers to be changed and activated
Hosting packages and services – What should I go for?
Ok this can be a difficult one so please stay focused. Your website speed can also be affected by poor hosting performance. TTFB ( time to first byte ) will purely depend on traffic your shared machine experience at the time. There is many options to choose from so I will try to explain here what you should be avoiding and what to look at when making your decision.
Price – All of us wants to save as much money as possible, but is it worth it when building your business site? Low price in most cases equals to poor performance which is not ideal when you’re trying to run a web shop with a lot of traffic. My Advice? Use a genuine hosting provider with a range of optimised packages for WordPress websites
Bandwidth – What is it? Simply how much data is allowed to be used by your visitors. Some of the smaller hosting companies will offer you a package for £1.99/month but with limited bandwidth which means your website might slow down dramatically if you start receiving high number of visitors. Advice here is simple look at unlimited bandwidth options
Web Space – This is simply how much space you will have for your website contents in your cloud or on physical disc. I have worked with websites which used over 15GB of space and believe me it is quite easy to make a 1GB package full in only one month.
SSL Certificate – This is a backbone of our secure internet and it protects your / your customers sensitive information as it travels across the internet. It used to be mainly used by Ecommerce platforms / online shops, but nowadays Google informed that ssl certificates will be one of the important points when seo score will be calculated.
I have created a list of my favourites hosting packages ( no I am not sponsored by anyone, just trying to help).
Prices range from £5.99 to £15.99 so:
- Topaz package for a small to medium business, but not a web shop.
- Ruby package for a Bigger Business website or a small to medium size ecommerce platform
- Professional package – same as Topaz, small to medium business website
- Premium – again for small to medium size online shop
Ok Guys this is it for now. I promise to update this guide regularly so visit us as often as you like…. If you have any questions or would like to comment feel free to do so 😀