Is it possible to design your own website that actually looks good? Yes!
Even if you have no tech skills whatsoever? Yes!
Having a working website is one of the big steps for a business and yet if you have no tech background it can feel like a leap that is just too big to manage. Well I am here to encourage you and inspire you to do it; to go out and take the web by storm!
Let’s be clear I have no tech skills. I am a millennial, but I’m the least tech savvy millennial the world has ever seen. You think I’m joking….no really I’m not. In my early IT lessons at school I was taught how to use a floppy disc…not exactly still useful! But luckily for those of us without tech skills, there are hundreds who do have the skills and are lovely enough to share their knowledge with us mere mortals.
I have learnt everything I know from trial and error or a google session.
I will not for one second suggest that website design is easy, quick or stress free. So, if you are hard pressed on time or patience it may not be the best idea to embark on this mission, but, if you have the desire and the passion then you can accomplish the seemingly impossible.
In the wise words of Alice and the Hatter “Alice: This is impossible. The Mad Hatter: Only if you believe it is.”
There will be times when designing your website seems impossible but let my story and the words of the Hatter remind you, it is not!
Where do I start?
The biggest hurdle is starting. Choosing a website host, a domain, do you want to pay, etc. There is a long list of questions and unknowns and this is where most of us give up. But grab a pen and a piece of paper and dive in.
Domains When I first started my website I used GoDaddy to buy my domain – and actually I still use it now. The domains are cheap and there are often deals on for the first year, or if you buy the .com and the .co.uk at the same time. I would recommend you buy them both even if you don’t plan to use both. Basically, it stops anyone from being able to have a very similar domain because you already have it. Secondly the search function on their website tells you if the domain is available and if it isn’t gives you alternatives. So it is super easy to sort your domain all you have to do is pick a domain name that you like!
Host This one comes down to personal preference and sometimes you don’t get it right the first time, I didn’t. I started with WordPress because I had once upon a time had a blog on WordPress for a school project. I found WordPress HARD. I still created an okay website, but I found there was quite a lot of coding style work to get images aligned right and things like that. I did use a template but I still found it a challenge and wouldn’t be able to have created something like I have now, but things may have moved on and if you are looking for a super simple site then it is useable.
I had a rebrand about a year and half ago and decided to switch host. I went with WIX simply because I had seen their advertising and thought it looked good. And when I checked out their website and did some further googling it seemed to stack up against the ads. I am still with WIX now and really like. I have heard that Squarespace is great too, and seems to have a similar ease of design that WIX does. Most hosts offer free and paid packages, so you can pick what is right for you, and you can often upgrade at anytime you need.
Now you have your website all set up you can start the fun of creating and designing. Start with a template and build yourself a simple but effective site. You don’t need all the bells and whistles to start with. Have a little play around and get to grips with how everything works. And if you can’t work out how to do something, google it, I guarantee there will be a solution somewhere.
Images Some hosts have a selection of images you can use but you can also use your own too, just make sure they are good quality if you are making them quite large.
SEO My WIX site had a step by step guide of how to get my website authorised and visible on google which was so helpful when I started. I also googled tips on how to get your website high up on searches. One of the tips I found was linking it from other pages, which really is as simple as copying the URL into you IG or FB page you have for your brand. You won’t be number one on your search straight away, but in time you will get there. Mine took about a month to get to the first google hit. WIX also has a great function in the editor that means you can easily enter the title and caption that will be seen on searches when each of your pages appears. As for metatags, that is a bigger step, one I am still learning about, but if you aren’t looking to take over the world you can get by without them.
Becoming a pro
So by now you’ll have a beautiful, simple but effective website! It may not have been plain sailing, there may have been more than enough times waking up panicking if you spelt something right or if your links work, but how good does it feel to have a functioning site that you made all by yourself!
Now you have your simple site you can start to play and get more creative with your design and start to add to you site. For example, I have added a video panel which showcases my latest YouTube posts. You can add your Instagram feed directly to your site and about 100 other things too. The most important thing to do is to make sure the site is user friendly. Whatever flourishes you add to your site, ask yourself ‘would I find this helpful as a consumer?’.
Theme By now you will probably have more than one page to your website, try to make a theme run through the pages, so use the same text, and similar colours to really build a beautiful site. You can edit the text and colours of many of the additional bits, like buttons and feeds, and this cohesive look is what will really make your website look slick. Admittedly I have an art background so I LOVE playing with the fine details, but it is worth the time it takes. Think of websites that are in a similar field to you, how do they work, what do you enjoy about their site? Do your research into what makes a website work.
Make it yours There are so many ways to design a website, one might say they are as unique as your fingerprint. So make it unique, make it reflect you. If you want a black background, do it, be bold and have courage. If you enjoy the creativity of making your website it will seem so much less onerous when something goes wrong, which I’m sorry to say will happen!
When it all goes pear shaped When you start to experiment more with your site, inevitably issues will start to crop up. I had a badge that I wanted to attach to my site that was a redirect but for the life of me I couldn’t resize it. When I was using WordPress I just ditched it as I had no clue what to do. But now I am a little more seasoned I worked out it needed coding. And so I took to google. About half a day later I had figured out how to resize my badge and it was gleaming from my website like a beacon of hope for my future coding skills. Since then I have coded signup forms for my email list and a few other bits and bobs. A lot of the lovely tech savvy people on the internet even provide you with code, you may need to change it slightly but even if it takes a few attempts it is doable.
To start my venture in coding I used videos and posts from Shaka Designs which gives a lot of information for WIX websites.
My Top Tip
Make sure you set up your site for mobile – so many people use mobile nowadays and if your website doesn’t work they will just give up and unless they are super keen probably won’t bother to engage with your website again
You Made It!
Your website is now your baby, you spend more time with it than your friends and family, but it is all yours. Once you’ve made it this far you will be standing on your own two feet, in fact you’ll be soaring! There may be the occasional crash landing into google or YouTube when challenges arise, but by the time you make it this far no task seems too tricky and you will be full of confidence in your skills.
I hope this inspires you that you can make your own website. Give it a go and see what happens, trust me you’ll surprise yourself. And then when you get bored of the slog, you’ll have so many clients you can hire a web designer no problems at all!
Remember it is only impossible if you believe it is!