5 Basic Things Every Website Beginner Needs to Know in 2018
Are you serious about building a website this year, but aren’t sure where to start or what information to look for first?
Whether you’re a business owner or an avid blogger, building a website in 2018 doesn’t have to be complicated and stressful. In fact, there’s never been a better time to build a website. But before you get started, there are five basic things you’ll want to know and keep in mind as you build your website.
1. Who Your Target Audience Is
Before you do anything, you’ll want to know who your intended audience is online—who you’re building your website for in the first place. A lot of website owners (and business owners alike) underestimate this. But, using the best search engine optimization (SEO) techniques and enhanced analytics features won’t matter if your site isn’t created for your target audience.
To better understand who your target audience really is, you’ll want to do the following:
- Challenge your assumptions. For instance, if you think the target audience for your website is women in their early 20s, ask yourself why you think that and find data and information to back up that assumption. See if you can find any case studies or well-documented research that backs up your claims.
- Make a list of your competitors and see who visits their sites and engages with their content. Even if you’re building a website for a personal blog that’ll focus on organic products, there are other, similar blogs out there. Figure out who reads and engages with their blogs and what appeals to those readers. If your competitors have already conducted a little market research about their audience that you can access, use it.
- Document and revise visitor personas. When you conduct your research and find out who would be interested in your website, be sure to write it down. Make a list of their demographic information (age, occupation, where they live, income, etc.), as well as psychographic information (what motivates them, what worries them, etc.). Then, after you build your website and have access to user analytics for it, you can revise these personas as needed so that you always have an accurate picture of who your website should be targeting.
Until you have a very clear idea of who your target audience is, you won’t know what type of site you need to build, what features and structure it should have, or what you want your domain name to be.
2. What Type of Website Options You Can Choose From
After you’ve determined who your real target audience is, you’ll have a better idea of what type of website you’ll need to engage them. Here’s a list of some of the more popular types of websites to choose from.
If there’s a topic you feel passionately about, you may want to have a website that allows you to share articles about it. Personal blogs are a great way to showcase your expertise and foster an online community that’s interested in the same topic you’re interested in writing about.
Business websites help customers make informed decisions when they’re thinking about buying a good or a service. A lot of businesses also host blogs on their websites to showcase their thought leadership in their industry.
One-Page for Business or Personal Use
Some website owners may not want or need a complex site with multiple pages, blogs, and features. They may only need a website that has one page explaining basic information.
In the age of the “gig economy,” a lot of individuals who work for themselves will want a website that allows them to showcase their projects, writing portfolios, or photo galleries. They’ll want websites that are hosted on a platform that can hold and display multiple pieces of content.
Business Brochure or Catalog
A lot of wholesalers, business-to-business companies, and other businesses that want to display their products or services on their website (without actually selling anything on the web) will be interested in this type of website.
Community Building and Forums
This type of website allows visitors to ask questions to an open social forum, where anyone else can answer it. Quora and Reddit are examples of online forums.
If you’re interested in selling items directly to customers online, you’ll want to consider building the type of website that allows you to take payments, ship products, and manage your inventory.
Knowing what types of websites are available will be critical when you’re deciding on what platform you want to use, as well as what structure you want your website to have. You’ll want to be sure that the platform you choose will be able to support the type of website you want to create for your target audience.
3. What Structure and Design You Want Your Website to Have
Before you start building your website, you’ll want to know what pages you’ll need it to have, which will be based on your target audience and what type of website you choose.
Some common pages included on websites are:
If you’re a visual person and want to see how your website will look as you’re planning out its structure, you can always build a wireframe for it or even drawn one. A wireframe is a basic outline for what you want your website pages to look like, illustrating how they’ll be linked together. Here’s a helpful article from Creative Bloq with a few well-known wireframe tools you can use (some of them are even free!).
As you’re figuring out the structure of your website, you’re also going to want to design it in a way that makes it easy for your website visitors to use. You’ll want to make sure your website is designed so that it’s accessible on mobile devices, and the menu is easy to access and understand. In addition, think about the type of content you’re hoping to publish, so that it will be easy for your website visitors to read, view, download, etc.
4. What Platform You Want to Use
After you know the structure and design of your website, you’ll need to select the best platform to build and maintain it. WordPress is one of the most popular options used, running nearly 30% of the Internet and approximately 15.8 million websites (CodeinWP, WordPress Stats). Drupal and Joomla are two other popular options.
When selecting a platform, you’ll want to consider:
- If it supports the structure and features you’ll need
- Costs for building and maintaining your website
- What you’ll need to do to install it (if anything), and whether its control panel is easy to access and use
- How easy it is to use, and whether it has an easy-to-use website builder with drag-and-drop functionality
- Whether or not it’s mobile-friendly
- The type of security and customer support it offers
5. How to Pick a Domain Name and Hosting Provider
A lot of beginners think that this is the first thing you need to know when building your website, but it really should never come before you know the information listed above. If you don’t know who your target audience is, then you won’t be able to pick a domain name that will encourage them to visit your website. And if you don’t know what type of website you’re going to build, you won’t be able to select the appropriate website building platform or hosting provider.
When selecting a domain name, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to remember, doesn’t include unusual characters, and that it includes words your target audience is already searching for online. When selecting a hosting provider, you’ll want one that includes a free domain name and free domain registration. And above all else, you’ll want to make sure your hosting provider has a lot of secure servers, unlimited bandwidth, robust backup capabilities, network monitoring, cost-effective pricing, and reliable 24/7 customer support.
Whether you’re a website beginner or not, once you know the things listed above, you’ll be ready to build the perfect website for your target audience in 2018.
DeMers, Jayson. “10 Ways to Learn About Your Target Audience”: Entrepreneur, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/270131 . Accessed 1/9/2018.
Foster, Nathan. “The 19 Best Wireframe Tools”: Creative Bloq, http://www.creativebloq.com/wireframes/top-wireframing-tools-11121302. Accessed 1/9/2018.
K, Karol. “WordPress Stats: Your Ultimate List of WordPress Statistics (Data, Studies, Facts – Even the Little-Known)”: CodeinWP, https://www.codeinwp.com/blog/wordpress-statistics/. Accessed 1/9/2018.
Feature image: Pexels