Now that you’re ready to build your first website it’s time to start planning, but where do you begin?
Let’s talk a little about some of the things you need to think about before you start building.
This is just what the name implies; it is the base that your website will be built on, think of it like your foundation.
For beginners WordPress is one of the most popular choices. It’s a CMS (content management system) platform.
It’s used by millions of website owners and developers because it’s free, powerful and relatively easy to use.
Bottom line, WordPress is currently the most popular system among thousands of users from all around the world and is considered one of the most functional and easy to use platforms available today.
Its users range from individuals running small websites to large companies and organizations running massive portals. With an astounding amount of existing website owners making the switch to this powerful platform every day.
Another thing that makes WordPress so popular is that there are thousands of ready-made themes and plug-ins available to help make building a site with it much easier than with other web design software. Ultimately making it the go to tool when it comes to design flexibility and functionality.
One of the first things you will need to buy is your domain name.
This is the web address (URL) of your site. When it comes to choosing a name, ask yourself these questions:
– What will your site be called?
– What is your website about (your niche)?
– What is your focus?
Use these answers to come up with a name.
Write down several and then check online to see if the one you want is available.
You can purchase a domain on website like GoDaddy, Namecheap or Domaincheap.com.
It may take a few tries to find one you like that no one has taken.
It is a good idea to associate with your business, niche or topic so that people will have a good idea of what your website is about just by looking at your URL.
You also want to keep it as short as possible so it’s easy to remember.
Buying a domain name will cost a few dollars for a year’s registration, but it’s worth it to have your own business name.
You can’t have a website without a host. The hosting service is where your data will be stored, on their servers.
Depending on how many sites you anticipate having in the future, it is worth a few more dollars a month to ensure that you buy a plan that allows more than one domain.
For this we are going to assume you’re using WordPress.
This can be installed with one-click from inside your hosting account.
Once it’s installed you can then log into the dashboard, have a look around and see how to set up pages, edit posts, upload content and more.
There are many options with WordPress – you can create a simple website with only a few pages or set up a full-blown ecommerce site ready to take sales.
Now it’s time to start building. WordPress offers a variety of options that make your job easier.
From free themes for design to plugins and widgets that add functionality.
These are all available from your dashboard.
Don’t be afraid to click around and test out different themes until you find one that looks good, you won’t break anything.
There are plug-ins that will help facilitate sharing and bookmarking.
Plugins that will help you manage content, display video, password protect and set up membership sites with ease.
There are also thousands of free themes and high-end paid themes offered through third-party providers at minimal costs that provide a multitude of features for full customization.
Once you begin exploring your options you will find that you can easily choose specialized themes according to specific topics, design and function.
BTW I mostly buy mine from StudioPress.
And that’s just the beginning, there are virtually thousands of options available that will give you the freedom and control you need to set up your site exactly the way you want it.
If you know a little bit of coding, you can use HTML or CSS to change the pages to look like you want them to. HTML can be used in a simple text editor to get your content to show up the way that you want it.
While you are designing your website pages, it’s a good idea to keep the “big picture” in mind. It’s the detail that will make or break your website. They are what separates a good website from one that people click away from after a few seconds.
When readers see mistakes some of them may overlook them, but most people will simply move on to the next website. This is true for everything from spelling errors to images that don’t load quickly.
It used to be that the only way that websites were viewed was from a desktop computer. Now, just about everyone has a mobile phone or device and that means your website must load well on multiple platforms.
What Is Responsive Design?
Have you ever accessed a website via your smartphone and had to scroll around? Maybe you turned it sideways to see the text in one screen or kept resizing with your fingers to read the text.
What responsive design does is code each webpage so that it automatically adjusts to the platform you’re using to view it.
Whether a tablet, large smartphone, small smartphone, laptop or a stationary desktop computer, each person will see the page in an optimized fashion for their device.
Using a WordPress theme with responsive design will have several positive effects.
Higher conversion rates
People aren’t stationary and neither are their devices. Someone who wants to purchase a product from your website wants an immediate response.
A mobile-ready site allows them to click a button and order the product you are promoting, instead of scrolling around trying to find out how to buy it, and most likely giving up.
Responsive design says to a user that you are meeting their needs. For someone who uses their mobile device 90 percent of the time, this is huge.
They can make dinner reservations, make appointments, book a hotel and even shop, all from their phone using websites that have implemented responsive design.
Better search engine rankings
Make Google happy with responsive design web pages. It is the same website but optimized for viewing with different devices.
This is easier for you and the search bots than utilizing a separate mobile site.
Also, Google penalizes non-responsive sites in their search engine results.
No doubt that you want your website to get noticed and a unique design is one way to stand out from the crowd.
This is a danger for first time site builders because it’s not hard to go overboard with the bells and whistles, which isn’t always a good thing!
Before you’re tempted to add every cool effect you can think of to your website, let’s look at some of the more common mistakes you should avoid.
The first thing your visitor wants to know when they visit your website is how to get around. They need a menu(s). Menu’s need to be clearly visible and self-explanatory.
It might seem cool to use a gothic style font on a costume website, but for your visitors, who are trying to read it, not so much.
Fancy fonts are hard to focus on and it’s important to keep in mind that just because you have the font on your computer, doesn’t mean that your visitor will, which means your page will look different to them than it does to you. Worse yet, sometime your text will be unreadable.
You can have as many pages as you want on your website. Everything doesn’t have to be packed on the same page.
In fact, too many images, buttons, text and sounds lead to sensory overload.
Only include content and images that are relevant to the topic of the page and don’t forget to leave a little space between your text blocks.
It makes it much easier for your visitors to consume your content.
Creativity does make your site unique, but too much of it and it can quickly become a disaster.
Do your best to avoid some of these more common mistakes while you’re building your website.
Not only do search engines love regularly updated sites, so do your visitors. A visitor who continues to find the same old content or images on your pages will eventually stop coming.
Adding fresh content regularly solves that problem by enticing visitors to check back often.
It also makes the search engines happy and helps your site get indexed better, which is a whole different topic that you should dive into after you get your website online, because it will help you generate traffic.
Now let’s go over a few ways to keep your visitors keep coming back to you for more:
What do visitors want when they search online?
They want information!
Whether it’s information about a product they are thinking about buying or help with a problem they are having, the first thing most people do is start surfing.
To keep people coming back, the best practice is to deliver what they want.
The first place to start is by updating your site with fresh content on a regular basis.
Consistency counts, whether its daily, weekly or by-weekly it’s a good idea to set a schedule and stick to it.
NOTE: As you will be collecting email addresses, you will be able to send those subscribers to new posts promoting offers other than the main one, such as Amazon products.
You can also sign up for Google Adsense and display ads on your sites. When someone clicks on the ads, you get paid a small amount.
Coming up with ideas for blog posts
Half the battle is actually coming up with ideas…
You need to ask yourself what people in your niche want to know?
If you’re not sure, it’s very easy to find out.
Internet forums are an excellent source of ideas. Have a look at the main topics which people are talking about in your niche and look at the questions people are asking.
Magazines are also an excellent source of ideas. Never copy, but look at magazines in your niche and look at the sort of topics they are talking about.
Another place to look is other blogs in your niche. Again, the idea here isn’t to copy but to look at their posts as a source of ideas and research.
How do you know if a particular topic is popular? Just look at how many comments the post gets.
If it gets a lot of comments then it obviously struck a chord with the readers of that blog – and if your target audience for your own blog is the same (or similar) then you would probably write your own post on the same subject.
Writing your post
You might be thinking “I can’t write” – but trust me, you can!
You don’t have to be JK Rowling to write a blog. Yes it IS important that your blog posts are fairly well written, but you really don’t have to be a novelist.
The best piece of advice I can give is to write as you speak. Look at most blogs and you’ll find that they are written in a fairly simple way. This makes it easier to write AND your audience will probably enjoy reading it more.
Let’s face it, people don’t enjoy reading things which are overly technical and boring. People will come to your blog because they want to find something out but they also want to be entertained at the same time.
Have a look at other people’s blogs and get a feel for how they are written. I find that this helps a lot and it’s a great source of ideas too.
• Keep it simple. As I say, people don’t like reading things that are overly technical. Keep your language simple and don’t use 10 words if 1 will do!
• Make sure the content is good. At the end of the day, your posts need to contain some good content. There has to be a ‘main’ point for people to get from reading the posts. Try to keep to the subject and don’t try to cram too much information into one post.
• Use stories and examples. As I say, people will read your blog to be informed – but they also want to be entertained too. Adding real-life examples and stories really brings your posts alive.
• Talk about your disasters! A little tip here – people relate to failure and things going wrong, so people LOVE your disaster stories. It also helps to make you seem more ‘real’ and ‘human’ – because nobody gets things right 100% of the time.
• Put your best information first. People generally have a short attention span so it’s very important to capture people’s attention in the first couple of paragraphs of the post. So – put some of your best information first. Don’t hang around and ramble – briefly introduce your post and then launch straight into the main ‘meat’ of the content.
• Capture people’s attention with your title. The title of the post is very important because it’s what draws people in and makes them want to read what you’ve got to say. I tend to find that slightly unusual and ‘different’ titles work best – but this will depend on the subject and nature of your blog.
• Have a clear structure – a beginning, middle and end – the introduction, meat of the content and a conclusion.
• Format your post. Large chunks of text with no breaks makes your posts hard to read. Make sure you break up your text by keeping your paragraphs short, add in sub-headings and try putting important words in bold.
Also make sure to include keywords in your posts, ‘tag’ them with relevant keywords and categorise your blog so that people can more easily find the posts they are looking for.
I very much hope that you found this post useful and that it will aid you in setting up your own blog.