These days the phrase “build a website” reminds me of the movie, Field of Dreams. I keep repeating, “If you build it, they will come.” But what if you don’t have a clue how to build a website of your own? Where do you begin?
There are many companies, individuals, and providers out there who are very skilled in the technical aspects of building or creating a website for you – and in a wide variety of price ranges. Some are also more artistically inclined, so you may have additional options for expressing your creativity or the creativity of your business. You can select from templates to help you build a website yourself or themes to help you build a website with a particular look and feel. Or you can opt to have a programmer create a customized website very specific to your industry, business, or personal requirements.
But before you, or anyone else on your behalf, can build a website, you will need to do some preliminary planning.
Browse Other Sites
First, browse lots of other sites on the Internet – particularly the ones of your competitors or others in your particular industry or field. Take notes about what you like and don’t like about the websites you visit. You will find some things like blinking text or loud music or audio that automatically starts playing when you get to a particular site that might be annoying, and you will want to avoid those features on your site. You will find other things like fast-loading pages and easy to navigate and simple layouts gratifying, and you will want to be sure your website includes those features.
Over time, you may come to prefer the main navigational buttons being on the top, the bottom, or the left hand side of the home page and you will decide this is how you want to have your website laid out. You can learn a lot about how to build a website or how not to build a website, just by surfing the Internet and seeing what everyone else is doing.
Whether you’re building it yourself or working with a web designer, you will need to write, or have someone else write the content for your website. Write down the main information you want customers to get from your website. Do you want to give them access to informative articles you write about your product or service? Should your website include an online catalog? Do you want people to be able to order products or service via the Internet right from your site? Write down everything you want to include on your site. When you go to build a website, you’ll have the text ready to add onto the appropriate pages.
Organize Your Site Logically
You will need to determine the link structure of your website before you can set it up or build it properly. For example, most websites have a Home page and every page provides an easy button to navigate back to Home. Most websites also have a Contact Us button on the Home page that links to a separate page with address, telephone and fax number, and email address web users can use to contact your company. All of the other navigational buttons you elect to put on your Home page should have a name that lets the user easily identify what information will be behind that button and must then link to the appropriate pages.