Step-by-step guide: How to build a website from scratch
Updated: Jun 9, 2022
A big part of any business' success is having a strong online presence. Still, the process of creating your own website from scratch can seem quite daunting. Even if you as a small business owner have already gone through many new beginnings on your exciting (but often rocky) journey to bring your vision to life, you are still looking for guidance to facilitate this process. In the same way as building your brand, when it comes to designing your website, there are a few key elements you simply cannot overlook. In order for the road ahead (and by the way, we mean creating your own website) to be a smooth ride, we've put together a step-by-step guide to learning how to build a website from scratch:
Steps to build a website from scratch
Do your homework
Conduct visual research
Prepare your best content
Define a detailed sitemap
Choose a domain name for your site
Design the layout of the site
Create a suitable color palette
Choose the right fonts
Add the finishing touch to a design
Prioritize your content
Embrace social media
Optimize for SEO
Make sure you are mobile friendly
Ask for a second opinion
01. Do your homework
There are a few important, first steps to steer your site in the right direction. Start by clearly defining the goal of your website, to present your business effectively and reap the benefits of your new online presence. Is your site for branding purposes only? Is it a portfolio site or a platform for selling art online? Is it to get more subscribers to your email list? Then you need to make sure that your website matches your brand identity. Your website should complement all other aspects of your business, including online assets (such as social media channels and blogs) as well as offline material (such as business card designs and presentations). Your brand identity will affect every detail of your website, from the tone of your microphone to the color of your buttons.
02. Conduct visual research
Before you start building your website from scratch, you need to nurture your curiosity. Inspiration pops up in all sorts of places, but there's one special place that thrives on web design creativity: Wix's website template page. Unleash your imagination by exploring the hundreds of professional, designer templates. Then branch out to other visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to find everything from color inspiration to web design trends. Check out what your competitors and favorite brands are doing on their websites, and look up the best website designs to gather more ideas. From there, you can start pulling together certain items that you think will work best for your brand.
03. Prepare your best content
Now that your website is taking shape, it's time to gather all your written and visual elements. It is best to prepare all the texts you plan to use before you actually start building your website. This can include long paragraphs, the site's headline slogans and tempting text for call-to-action. Rest assured: you can always go back and change the text throughout the construction process. In fact, it is highly recommended to give it a quick update every now and then, as it keeps readers excited and signals to search engines that you are still alive. Still, it is helpful to start with a solid base of content, both written and visual (images, videos, etc.). The rule here is simple: quality over quantity. Take the time to write website content that will be of value to your users and that will help you in your mission. We only recommend showing your best and most up-to-date work. It is always better to let your visitors want more than to overcrowd your site and cause your visitors to lose interest quickly and leave. In addition, you can not ignore the importance of site load time. People have places to be and faces to see - if your site does not load fast enough, no one will stay around. To ensure the best experience, implement speed optimization techniques for the site, such as not overloading the site with unnecessary content and improving mobile performance. People have places to be and faces to see - if your site does not load fast enough, no one will stay around. To ensure the best experience, implement speed optimization techniques for the site, such as not overloading the site with unnecessary content and improving mobile performance. People have places to be and faces to see - if your site does not load fast enough, no one will stay around. To ensure the best experience, implement speed optimization techniques for the site, such as not overloading the site with unnecessary content and improving mobile performance.
04. Define a detailed site map
Think of this as a blueprint for the website architecture. The sitemap should contain all the pages you plan to create and how they all connect to each other. By planning this in advance, you have a better chance of perfecting your website navigation and offering users a smooth browsing experience. The best course of action here is to make sure that your site is organized in such a way that a visitor does not have to click more than twice to go from one page to another page on the site. To help you with this, be sure to add a web page menu that remains visible on each page. If you are creating a website on one page, do not forget to add an anchor menu that takes visitors to the desired part of your site with long scrolling. Anyway, an important part of your menu is your logo. When you click, it will direct visitors back to the homepage (or to the top of the page for one-page sites). If you have not already done so, create your own logo that will appear on your website and other branded material. Whether you are creating an online store, design portfolio or anything else, a professional website will always contain the following pages:
An Inviting Website: This is the face of your website, which means you need to make it beautiful yet informative. Like all the best design examples on the website, you should also strive to present all the crucial elements right from the start. In this way, customers will immediately understand who you are and what you do.
An eye-catching gallery that shows your products or services: This is the center of your site where visitors can browse your offers. Spend plenty of time writing product descriptions that will capture the attention of potential customers. The same goes for product photography to ensure that your items are displayed in their very best light.
An "About Us" Page: Use this page as your online business card. It is the exact place where you can present who you are, what you stand for, your strengths, values and other important information you think your visitors should know about your team and biz.
A contact section: Do not let visitors to your site go astray by getting them to search for your contact information. Be sure to dedicate a page that shows your contact numbers, emails, social links, a map and other ways users can get in touch with you. In addition, it is a good practice to add important contact details to the footer of your site.
For an extra punch you can also include:
A blog: By starting a blog you will be able to continuously add regular and fresh content to your site. Like these blog examples, you will have the chance to establish yourself as an expert in your field, while giving your SEO efforts a well-deserved boost.
An Informative FAQ Page: Save yourself and your customers some time (and frustration) by including an FAQ page to answer questions that may naturally arise as visitors browse your site.
An online booking system: Allow customers to schedule and pay for appointments or classes directly from your website. This way, you can spend less time playing phone tags and more time expanding your empire.
A certification site: This gives you the perfect place where past, satisfied customers can praise you. Nothing is more impressive to a potential client or buyer than positive, objective reviews.
05. Choose a domain name for your website
Before you start building your website from scratch, choose a domain name. This may sound complicated, but a domain name is simply the site's unique URL. It consists of the site name plus the extension. For example, if your business name is Cookie Crunch, your domain name could be cookiecrunch.com, with ".com" as the extension. A domain name can help improve your site's credibility, and show visitors that you are a professional, trusted brand. It can also help people find you more easily online, especially if you choose a memorable domain that suits your industry. Choosing a domain name makes it concise and easy to pronounce. Explore various available domain extensions like .com vs .orgog and consider what works best for your organization. You can also strive to improve your local SEO by choosing an extension that indicates your position (such as ".co.uk" for the UK or ".de" for Germany).
06. Design your website layout
Now the fun begins in earnest! If you already know how to create a Wix website and have some previous experience, you can decide to build a website from scratch and start with a blank whiteboard. Another option, however, is to choose from a selection of professional and well-equipped website templates. Whether you are creating a personal website or a landing page, you are guaranteed to find a suitable match within this diverse template collection. It includes everything from portfolio templates for advertising, to ideal website templates, online store templates and more. When choosing a template, consider whether the site layout and overall page structure fit your content. Does your content require multiple pages, or do you want to create a website on one page? On top of the structure, try going for a template that already creates a similar vibe to your brand identity. Either way, you will be able to fully customize the template you want. From footer to header, you can change everything to build a website that is truly unique and has exactly your look and feel.
07. Create a suitable color palette
The use of color is not just to make your website look beautiful. It also has the power to influence and evoke specific emotions in the visitors. The color scheme of the website you go for will also play an important role in the overall performance of your website, affecting conversion rates, time spent on the page and more. To play it safe, you can choose a pure white or black background. Then you can limit yourself to two colors for the other elements, such as buttons and text.
08. Select the correct fonts
Just like colors, typography can also play a key role in evoking certain emotions and bringing up connotations. When choosing the best font for your website, there are a number of things to consider. First, like all other elements on your site, the font choice should match your brand identity. Browse through different fonts to find one that reflects your unique personality, whether you are youthful and modern or have a more traditional approach. Whatever you go for, make sure your writing is legible. It should be readable both on the desktop and on mobile devices. In addition, you need to stay consistent throughout your site, using the same fonts in the same contexts.
09. Add the finishing touch
Just as a gift is not complete without a ribbon, a website is not ready without a few tweaks. These can come in the form of a hint of animation or parallax scrolling - which you can add to your Wix website without a single line of code. Uploading a video to your site is also an easy but effective way to capture the attention of your visitors and increase the time you spend on your pages. These small but important additions can help connect elements and add to the overall feel that your site conveys.
10. Prioritize your content
In order for your visitors to feel comfortable and at home while browsing, it is important to keep your site as organized as possible. Think of hierarchy here: you want your most conspicuous and important content to be placed over the visible part of the website (in other words, the area that is visible on your site without the need for visitors to browse). Also, keep in mind that most of your readers are actually just skimming your content. To make their lives easier, and to make your content stand out, you should consider how to optimize your design for an audience with a declining attention span. To do so, consider what written information can be made more digestible and visual using media features (such as videos, images, and animations). Make certain headlines and other important pieces of information stand out more than others by choosing a larger font or a light color that contrasts with the background.
11. Embrace social media
Take advantage of social media marketing by encouraging site visitors to share your content across social networks. It's an easy, free and effective way to spread your name on the World Wide Web. To ensure this, add a social bar to your site that is clearly visible and properly linked to all your pages. We suggest that you show the line either in the menu, the footer or as an anchor on the page. You can attach the item to the screen so that it stays fixed and displayed while visitors scroll.
12. Optimize for SEO
Now before you shy away from this seemingly complicated topic - listen to us. SEO (or search engine optimization) is the practice of optimizing your site so that your pages can rank higher on the search engine results pages. This means that the more exposure you get on search results pages, the more likely it is that potential customers will see your work and order your services or buy your products. There are a few SEO tips that can help boost your site and improve your rankings: make sure you choose and register a domain name, create titles and descriptions for all your pages, and write alternate text for your images. In addition, Wix SEO offers you a personalized SEO plan for your website, which guides you through every single step. This free solution helps you find your site on Google, by guiding you through how to find the right keywords, track your success and more.
13. Make sure you are mobile friendly
It's no secret that more and more people are using their mobile devices to surf the web these days. To ensure that your user experience is as smooth and intuitive on mobile as on computer, be sure to invest time in perfecting your mobile website. In fact, this crucial detail is one of the best design tips for achieving a professional website. When you build a website from scratch on Wix Editor, a mobile-friendly version of your website is automatically created in Mobile Editor. With a focus on readability and navigation, you can include impressive mobile features such as animation and an intuitive mobile menu. If you want full control over breakpoints when creating your website, you can build your website using Editor X - an advanced creation platform from Wix, created exclusively for designers and agencies. You will be able to view and design your website in any viewport size, resulting in a groundbreaking, responsive design.
14. Ask for another opinion
Everyone needs some help from their friends. Once all the elements are in place, ask people you trust for a new opinion on your site. This way, they can proofread the copy, go over all the buttons and links to check that they work in a logical and fluid way, and also tell you if the brand's message is clear and consistent. Finally, make sure that you have customized the mobile viewing website and that it works well on different devices - and you are good at pressing the "Publish" button.
Freddy Fix borrowed from Wix