When you start considering how to make a good website, you’ll realize that there are a lot of factors at play. Some things you will need to think about are how you’re going to build it, where you’re going to host it, how people are going to find it, and what it’s going to look like. Below are a few factors to consider when you’re getting started.
Choose a Content Management System
A content management system, or CMS, is a tool you can use to build your own website. A CMS will make building your website much easier…if you pick the right one.
You should start by figuring out what your exact business needs are.
- Do you need room to grow?
- Will you be selling products?
- Is search engine optimization (SEO) important for your marketing plan?
- Do you want to integrate your CRM?
Below is a list of commonly used content management systems that will help you make a lovely website.
WordPress is one of the biggest content management systems on the market today, powering over 455 million websites in 2020! There are many pros to using this CMS, such as:
- WordPress is packed with all kinds of features making the perfect fit if you’re wanting to build something more complex
- It is also perfect if you’re wanting to build something small that’s easy for you to update
- There are a variety of features to help you gain an SEO advantage to your competitors
- A variety of free templates are available to help you get something launched now or drag-and-drop page builders to help you make the perfect site easily and exactly how you want it
- You can integrate all kinds of tracking software so that you can actively see who your users are, how they’re behaving on your site, and where they’re coming from
- WordPress can even become a simple to use eCommerce CMS just by installing a plugin called WooCommerce
- You choose where to host your website, meaning that you have more control over how the site will perform, how big your site can be, and you don’t have to worry about violating any terms of service
There are a few downsides to using WordPress, such as:
- There can be a difficult learning curve if you’re trying to do something complex
- Depending on how you want it to look, you may need to learn some basic coding languages
- Many page builders, themes, and plugins have costs associated with them
Squarespace is another very large and well-known content management system. They are known for they’re very simple drag-and-drop builder that allows people with no coding knowledge to build a beautiful website.
They do have some SEO features such as basic title and meta tags, but their options are not as extensive as WordPress.
One of the main cons that I have personally seen is that Squarespace can choose to remove or delete your website if it violates their terms of service.
You pay Squarespace monthly for their services which start at $12 per month.
Wix is very similar to Squarespace, it’s easy to use for someone not as tech-savvy, however, this limits its functionality if you’re looking for advanced features.
Wix has limited SEO functionality, and comes at a monthly cost that limits how much storage you have. Their pricing starts at $14 per month.
Shopify is an eCommerce CMS for online shops. Shopify is well-known for their easy-to-use templates and interface. They have apps to assist with SEO and more advanced features that you may be wanting.
One of the main cons is that if you’re wanting to change something more advanced (such as one of their templates), you’ll likely need a developer’s help.
Shopify also comes at a monthly cost starting at $29 per month.
There Are a Lot of CMS’s
There are many more content management systems.
There are even content management systems specific to certain industries.
For example, ShowIt is a CMS just for photographers.
If you’re unsure about what CMS to use, find out what other people in your industry are using.
Make sure that whichever you choose also allows you to use all of the features necessary to get you the most leads or sales.
Picking a Domain Name
Another important step is choosing a domain name. A domain name is the title of the website that you see in the address bar (such as facebook.com).
There are a ton of domain names to choose from and they can range in price.
Some content management systems or hosting providers you use may offer you free domain name included in their charges.
Make sure that when you’re choosing a domain name, that it’s short, easy to remember, and explains what your business does.
If you’re in the United States, try to find a domain name that ends in .com, since it is easier for people to remember.
Many domain names are about $10 – $14 depending on where you purchase them (GoDaddy and Google Domains have great pricing).
Hosting is where your website files live on the internet. There are a ton of website hosts to choose from.
You should make your hosting decision after you figure out what content management system you would like to use.
For example, if you’re using Squarespace, your website is already hosted there so you do not need to worry about finding more hosting.
If you’re using WordPress, you’ll want to find a WordPress compatible hosting provider.
If you’re unsure if your CMS is compatible with a specific host, then just reach out to the hosting provider directly before purchasing.
For general hosting, I recommend Bluehost or GreenGeeks. GreenGeeks uses renewable energy to power their servers (which I, personally, love) and is very affordable. Similarly, Bluehost is affordable and has great customer support.
When choosing a hosting provider, make sure that you also factor in the cost of an SSL certificate (some hosts offer them for free) which makes your website more secure.
Create a User-Friendly Design
Next up is designing your website which, if you’re like me, is the most exciting part.
Prior to figuring out how to make a good website with the design, you may need to do a bit of research.
You’ll want to make sure that your website appeals to the actual people who will be using it.
You only have six seconds to capture their attention and keep them on the page. Below are some tips to help you.
Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
Nobody likes an overly-complicated website. A website with too many colors, ads, images, and fonts can make someone bounce (leave) your page immediately.
A simplistic website with great calls-to-action will get you more sales than something using every trick in the book.
Think About Your Users
Your users are your most important asset. Figure out who your target audience is and appeal to them directly.
For example, if your target demographic is older and less technologically savvy, such as people over the age of 60, you’ll want to make something that uses large text, prominent buttons, and easy to skim content.
If your users are women 18 – 26, they’re likely using their phones so your website needs to look fantastic on mobile.
You can find information about your demographic either by looking at your Google Analytics metrics from your existing website, researching online, or sending out a survey.
If you send out a survey, make sure to send it to people in your demographic. Ask them about their online habits and what they like/dislike about their regularly-used websites.
Bottom line, you can have every feature in the book, great products and pricing, but if your users don’t like your website, you’re not going to make any sales or get any leads.
If your users don’t know how to buy, contact you, or take an important action on your website, they just…won’t.
Make sure that it’s extremely easy for your customers to take action on your website.
To make your CTA’s stand out, try using a different font color, a background color, a border, or make it bigger.
If your goal is for users to contact you via email, make a contact form and place it somewhere on every page of your website.
Use a Clear Page Hierarchy
This kind of goes along with simplifying your website; if your navigation is a mess and your users don’t know how to get to the page they want to see, they’ll get frustrated and leave.
Spend some time thinking about where everything should logically go.
Look at other websites and you’ll notice a pattern: many of their menus look the same. This is because that is what users are expecting, making it easier for them to take action.
On the actual pages, make sure that there is a clear hierarchy of your text and elements. If your headings and paragraph texts are the same size, it’s going to be difficult for someone to skim your content to find what they are looking for.
Beat Your Competition
Take a moment to think: what do you do better than your competition?
Do you have better testimonials and happier clients? Post your testimonials prominently on your website.
Are your prices cheaper? Add some text letting your potential customers know that!
Are you open 24 hours and your competition is only open 9am – 5pm? Make sure that information is on every page.
Let your users know why they should buy from you and not your competition.
Optimize For Mobile
Most internet users in 2020 are using mobile devices.
It’s more important than ever to make sure that your site is legible and makes logical sense on mobile devices such as phones or tablets.
Mobile users can also be on the go; if they’re in a crowded coffee shop with shoddy internet, then your website might load slower than it does for you at home. Take that into consideration when making sure your website loads quickly.
Make sure that nothing will take them off-guard, such as a video playing automatically with audio or a missing navigation.
Attention spans on mobile devices are even shorter than on desktop devices; make sure everything is easily skimmable and accessible, no matter where people may be.
Write High-Quality, Easy-To-Read Content
When creating content for the internet, you want to make sure that people can read through it quickly. Your potential buyers or clients don’t want to read an entire book when they’re looking for the answer to their question.
If you need a lot of written content on your website (such as for SEO purposes), make sure that you’re using lots of large headings or some kind of navigation.
We’ve likely all seen recipe blogs with tons and tons of written content to help with their SEO. If your website has to be like that, use a “jump to” link at the top that links to the answer to your user’s question.
If you’re writing a blog post with a lot of really helpful information (like this one), break up your content into short lines of text.
Unless you’re writing a scholarly or academic post, you do not need to follow general essay structure or guidelines.
Make sure your content is free from spelling or grammatical errors and uses your voice. If you want to resonate with people, be personable and helpful.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is the process of telling search engines what your website is about.
Website crawlers, or spiders, do not read websites the same way that humans do, so if you’re wanting to get found on search engines such as Google, you need to properly optimize your site.
Unfortunately, if you’re not using SEO best practices, it’s unlikely that you will get found when someone searches for your industry, products, or even business name.
There are hundreds of signals that website crawlers use to see what your website is about and if they should show it to a potential user.
Some basic SEO techniques that you should be using on your website are:
Keywords are words or phrases that people are searching for online. By doing the proper keyword research, you can find out how many people are searching for that term per month and how difficult it is to rank for that keyword.
You should feature your keywords regularly throughout your pages without keyword stuffing.
Keyword stuffing is when you type the keyword too many times on a page or a website, which leads the search engines to believe that you are spam and not to be trusted.
Title and Meta Tags
Your title and meta descriptions are what will show up on a search engine if someone types in your keyword.
The title and meta description need to be a specific length, otherwise they will get cut off or not give the search engines enough information on what your page is about.
You should add your keyword to your title and meta description.
Make it Fast
I know I’ve said this a few times now, but page speed is important. Super important.
Page speed is important to your SEO strategy because if Google or Bing see that your website is loading slowly, leading to a bad user experience, they will be less likely to show it to your audience.
Well, what is a good page speed to have?
Ideally, you want your website to load in six seconds or less.
You can check your page speed using Google Insights or GTMetrix. Both platforms will also give you some information on ways to improve your website’s loading time.
Alt text (or alternative text) is used when you have an image on your website.
Web crawlers can’t physically see what your image is about, so you need to tell them.
Alt text doesn’t just help search engines, but your visually impaired users who use screen readers that tell them out-loud what your website says or looks like.
You can also use keywords in your alt text, just make sure that you’re not spamming every image with your keyword. The people using screen readers don’t want to hear “wedding photographer” 30 times on one page, and neither do the spiders.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Everything listed here is just the start of how to make a good website. There are a variety of other things that you or a web developer can do.
If you’ve launched your website, it’s been a few months, and you’re not really seeing any returns? It might be time to call on an expert.
Due to their experience, a professional website designer will be able to explain exactly what will work for your industry or what might be setting you back.
A lot goes into learning how to make a good website: hosting, CMS’s, a great design, good user experience, and an SEO plan.
This is only the beginning though.
The main way to make a fantastic website is to create something you know your users will love (by doing research, of course), then testing and making regular updates.
Your site can always be improved upon.
If you’re still not sure where to start or you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, feel free to get in touch for a free consultation. You and I can go over the best strategy for your specific industry and clientele.