Updated: Sep 27, 2019
Here are sixteen tips for creating your own website, but even when you work together with a designer, these tips will help prepare you optimally to co-create a great website.
Before you start to build
1. Start with WHY you want a website.
Think about why you want a website, instead of what you want on it. Going deeper into the why question, you will come up with new creative ideas that match your offer and personality even better. What do you want to achieve? Talking to a consultant in this phase can be very helpful.
2. What are the top three things you want visitors to do on your website?
Take three things, not more!
sign up for updates
donate to your cause
learn who you are
understand what your product does
find your location/contact information
see examples of your work
read your latest announcements
download your latest song
3. Think about who your audience is.
If you know specifically who you are trying to reach, you can create a website that’s targeted to what they need. Defining who your website is for (and not for) will make it easier to create a focused, successful website.
4. Take the time to create a site plan.
It’s like reading a recipe all the way through before you start cooking—it may seem boring, but it will save you a ton of time later on. Whether you go for simple or complex, any kind of site plan will help you once you start building. These questions could help:
1. What do I have to offer?
2. Who are my clients and what are their challenges or needs?
3. What value can I add that will help them?
4. What communication channel(s) do I want to use?
5. Which website platform do I choose?
5. Do I build it myself, let someone else build it, or both?
5. Keep your offer simple and relevant
Offer skills that you completely own, while leaving room for learning. Don’t make it too spiritual. It is not your job to bring people to enlightenment. Start your website with what you offer and make it very concrete (unless you want to sell poems), with something that helps other people.
6. Decide which tool you want to use before you start building
Do you use a user friendly platform that makes creating your website very simple? Then you can choose between Wix Squarespace. If you want a bit more freedom and and are not afraid of some technical elements, Wordpress with with the Divi or Elementor builder can be a good choice.
During the building process
7. Use high quality photos
Photos are one of the most important building blocks of your website. Use high quality photos, preferably your own. It is possible to make great pictures with a phone these days, as it is also possible to make bad pictures with a great camera. Stretching a low-quality photo into a large image is not going to look very good. If your photos look grainy, pixelated, or blurry, accept what you cannot change and check out some of these stock websites for free pictures. However, it is much more personal and authentic if you use your own pictures (or use a combination). When you do a photoshoot, professionally or with someone you know, take at least some pictures where you look into the camera. It is important that you are relaxed and don’t try to pose when the pictures are taken. Spontaneous pictures are often the best.
8. Keep the navigational structure simple
Use a maximum of about seven items in the main menu, or at least a menu that fits on one row. Make choices in what is really important and don’t fall into the trap of ‘everything is important’. If you can pair certain items to make your menu fit on one line, it will look better and help your visitors find what they need to more easily.
9. Be consistent with layout elements
Keep using the same colors and fonts for titles and paragraphs, for buttons and other elements. Choose a maximum of two colors and of two fonts across your entire website.
10. Keep your design clean
Use enough space around items. Using one single, great photo is often better than a whole collage. Use white space, giving every element some breathing room, instead of cramming lots of content into a web page. When there is enough white space, a page is easier to read and navigate for people.
11. Break up your text into small chunks.
Reading on a screen is not easy. Most visitors will probably scan your page and not read everything. Help them out by putting your text into short paragraphs. Use columns, headings, bullets, and white space (see above) to make your words easier for people to process.
12. Make your contact information extremely easy to find.
Put contact info in your sidebar or footer so it appears on every page—especially at the end of your home page. It is also a very good idea to put some great references on your home page.
13. Think with your website visitor in mind
The why question is also helpful to ask when adding elements such as Social Media and Newsletter signups. Explain to users why they have to click on a button or take action: “Sign up for our newsletter to receive weekly specials.” If you have a social media count you want people to follow, explain why they should follow you and make sure the page is interesting enough for people to go to.
When your website is almost done
14. Fill in your SEO settings.
Lots of people skip this step because they assume SEO is too advanced for them. Sure, there are some things in life you should be an expert in before you do it yourself (surgery and haircutting come to mind), but SEO isn’t one of them. If you fill in your Site Title, Page Titles, and Page Descriptions for each page, you can give yourself a huge pat on the back.
15. Check the mobile version of your website
When you work in a system like Wix, you definitely have to check the mobile version, every time you make an adjustment to any page. Even if you are using a responsive builder like Divi or Elementor in Wordpress, it is important to check the mobile version. Also make sure your font is large enough on mobile devices so that everyone can comfortably read it.
16. Know where you can go for help.
If you get stuck, no worries. I am available to assist you while you are working on your website. Also when you decide it is too much work or requires too much energy, I can do it for you. Just contact me!