We all tend to take things for granted. And with technology making giant leaps, there are always more tasks we can achieve, without even realizing how complex they are. Look at how easy it has become to access any video on your phone (your three-year old nephew already does it, with one hand) or to find love with the swipe of a thumb.
Creating a website by yourself is one of these wonders that has become a reality. In 2019, thanks to the evolution of website builders, everyone can design their own online presence, one they can be truly proud of - and their visitors, impressed by. Yes, it’s possible even if you don’t hold a degree in computer science or design.
Even better: The myriad of professional apps available (an online store, bookings, etc.) make it easy to generate revenue, nurture a community of fans, and promote your brand. In other words, a website is no longer a beautiful shop window - it’s the center of your business life in the online world. And you can’t afford not to have one. Period.
Now, how do you get started? Apart from the traditional cup of coffee and the time to invest, you need some basic knowledge to put you on the right track. This is what this complete guide is all about. From choosing your website builder to claiming your domain, from creating your content to getting found on Google, here are all the steps you need to make a professional website in 2019:
Set your goalChoose your website builderDefine your layoutClaim your domain nameGather your contentAdd the right pagesPut usability firstDo your SEOPick the professional tools you needMake it accessible to everyoneEngage with your visitorsOptimize for mobileCall a friendPublish - and get back to it 01. Set your goal Before starting, you need to be crystal-clear about what you want to achieve. A website can take many different forms, including: An online store to sell your products to the world (wide web).A portfolio to showcase your art.A landing page to promote a marketing campaign.A resume website to convince recruiters.A blog to share your knowledge.An event website for your weddings, parties and company events.
Whatever it is, your website should meet one main goal, and only one. That doesn't mean that it has to be monotask. For example, a wedding photographer can display photos of previous events or write blog articles, but all of this should serve the main purpose: getting contacted by new clients.
Keep in mind that your visitors and Google’s bots want to understand what your business is all about in a blink of an eye. Having multiple main objectives can only result in confusion, which in turn, increases the chances of your visitors leaving your page prematurely.
02. Choose your website builder Now that your target is identified, it’s time to pick the right tool to reach it. A website builder (also called a CMS, for content management system) is a platform on which you can create, personalize and publish a website - all of this, with total independence.
Dozens of platforms are available on the market - but not all of them are born equal. Hesitating over which one to use? Wix.com was ranked #1 out of the best website builders in the world, and for good reason. Actually, for many reasons:
The price: Creating, publishing and hosting your website is totally free, as long as you wish. If you want to upgrade your online presence with some tailored features, such as an all-in-one eCommerce solution or a custom domain name, Premium packages are also available, with everything you need to succeed online.
Your style, your result: This solution is massively popular, from beginners who enjoy the DIY look and feel, to seasoned web designers who create websites for hundreds of clients. Wix is the only website builder to offer different creative routes adapted to everyone. For example, ADI is the first artificial intelligence that creates websites for you, while Wix Code lets you dive into your site’s engine to build sophisticated apps, APIs and databases. This way, you’re sure to have a result that suits your brand perfectly, and looks like no other website in the world.
Built by professionals, for professionals: Because your website is the center of your online life, Wix puts all of the professional solutions you need in one place: newsletters, invoices, user databases, etc. They are all accessible from one interface, with only one password to remember. On top of this, we make sure your website is on par with the highest standards of the industry, from SEO (your site enjoys instant indexing by Google) to security (the HTTPS protocol is set automatically for every user).
No knowledge barrier: Being the most complete platform on the market doesn’t make it the hardest to use. On the contrary. Wix is a drag and drop website builder, which means that you can place any content you want, anywhere you want it, using only the movement of your mouse. From your images to your text, you can change everything in seconds, on your own, without needing the help of a third party.
Give me more: Have a burning question? Need assistance? Don’t worry - you’re not alone. From the 24/7 support team to our social media pages, there’s always someone to talk to. Tons of pedagogical materials are also available. Start with these basic Wix tutorials, and keep on exploring the Wix Blog (sincerely yours) to grow your knowledge in web design, online marketing, SEO and more.
03. Define your layout
True fact: It takes only 50 milliseconds for visitors to form an opinion about a website. This is why having a great layout, which is the visual structure of your pages, is so crucial. Of course, you can start from scratch with a blank canvas and build the foundation yourself. But this can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to the field. This is what templates are made for.
Basically, templates are websites with a pre-designed layout created by professional designers. To make them yours, you simply have to remove, add or change any element you want (text, images, colors, etc.). Wix offers a library of hundreds of free and gorgeous website templates, which already incorporate the tools needed by every kind of business - an online booking widget if you’re an instructor or a Google Map if you have a store in town, etc.
Most templates have a page for each category, all accessible from the menu of the homepage. With the heavy influence of mobile and social media use, people are getting used to scrolling. This evolution explains the growth of a new style of layout: one-page websites, where all the content is spread onto different sections of one unique page. This trendy option is recommended if you don’t have a lot of textual content to display.
Give me more: Ready to get your creative juices flowing? A good start is by understanding what others did right. So take a pen and paper, and jot down ideas as you surf websites and social media platforms (Pinterest is a great source of inspiration). You can also learn from the best, with this list of examples of web design inspiration. 04. Claim your domain name To put it in simple terms, your domain name is your address on the Internet. It’s what your visitors will see in the bar of their browser, right after the “www.”. Registering yours is critical for your online success. Websites with a specific domain are automatically perceived by Internet users as more professional and trustworthy. When chosen wisely, a domain name also helps search engines (like Google and Bing) to understand what your website is about, positively impacting your SEO. Last but not least: Having your own domain name is the first step to acquiring your custom email address.
Now, how do you choose a memorable domain for your brand? It has to be:
Short: Because the longer it is, the higher the chances of visitors misspelling it.Simple: Avoid symbols, special characters and numbers.Transparent: Your domain name should incorporate your brand’s name, to avoid confusion.Evocative: Insert a hint of what you do straight into your domain name, by looking for words that are related to your business.
Is your dream domain name already taken? Get the info in a second with this domain availability tool. If it’s available, don’t wait to acquire your piece of property on the Internet. If it’s not, don’t panic! Try different variations of your original choice, by adding for example “the” at the start, or changing the domain extension - the suffix at the end of your domain. From .org to .com and .net, you can choose from 45 top-level domain extensions (TLDs). Pick one that suits your business type and geographic ambitions. 05. Gather your content Now, it’s time to get practical and prepare the materials that will be featured on your site. This includes your images, slogans, videos, texts and more. Of course, it’s crucial that your content is original, which means that you should create it yourself as much as you can. Otherwise, make sure to acquire it through legal ways. Wix comes with an immense and free media library, but there are numerous stock images and video reservoirs you can check out as well.
Second commandment: Always put quality over quantity. People read 25% slower on a screen, and are therefore less patient. If your want to catch their attention, you need to showcase your best content only. Moderation is also important because the more content you put on your site, the longer it will take to load. And if your visitors wait too long, they will leave your page without taking any action (this is called “bouncing” in web design lingo) - and go to a competitor. So make sure to spread your content across your different pages, and follow these tips to optimize your website’s performance.
Finally, make sure your content is fully branded. Think of your website as your online persona. It should represent who you are, from your colors to your fonts and your logo. Speaking of which, if you don’t have an emblem already, now is the time. Create your logo online and put it up above your menu. A good practice is to link it to your homepage, so that people can easily navigate through your site.
Give me more: New to the marketing game, or feel like you could sharpen up your brand language? From texts to visuals, this guide explains everything you need to know about brand identity, and gives you the first steps to create your own.
06. Add the right pages
Every business is unique, and so is every website. Yet, there are some traditional categories that every visitor expects to see. Here are the must-have pages any website needs:
The homepage: You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Because it’s the first thing visitors will see, your homepage needs to have a clean and organized look. Only keep the most crucial information: your logo, your business, your slogan (if you have one), and a button inviting visitors to browse further. Make sure all of this info appears above the fold (the section of your site that is visible to visitors without having to scroll down), as it’s the part of your page that loads first.
Your product or service page: This is where the magic happens. Here, your visitors discover what you have to offer, and if they are convinced, take their credit card out to purchase. The core recommendations for this category: Add high quality and real images, describe your products/services as precisely as you can, and be explicit about your conditions (shipping, return policy, etc.).
The “About” page: Tell your story, your values, your methods, and every other piece of info that helps to depict your brand. Favor the first person (“I” or “We”), as it makes things more personal, and add a touch of humor if it suits your purpose. Also, don’t forget to add a picture of yourself or of your team members, since clients always like to see the (pretty) face behind the business relationship.
The contact section: There is a limit to how much contact information can appear on a clean and navigable website. The must-haves: Your phone number, postal address, email and social accounts (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.). Extras (but highly recommended):
A blog: Creating a blog boosts your reputation as an expert, helps you gather a loyal community, and is extremely good for your website’s SEO. So you don’t have the imagination of Philip Roth? Don’t fret, you have much more to say than you think. You can talk about your clients (success stories, case studies, interviews) or yourself (events you attend, new employees, etc.). But the most fruitful is to share your expertise. Your readers will love to discover the tips, methods and hacks you use to solve the problems you (and maybe they) meet.
Testimonials: 69% of consumers would recommend a company to others after a good customer experience. Leverage the power of word-to-mouth and let your clients do the selling for you. 07. Put usability first A beautiful website is great, but far from enough. If you want your visitors to spend time on your pages, enjoy your content and, eventually, engage with it, you need to facilitate their navigation. This is what user experience (UX) is all about, and here are some fundamental notions:
Architecture: Just like the rooms of a house, your pages need to be properly connected with one another to ease navigation. For this to happen, make sure to implement internal links between your pages. Ultimately, follow the “two-click rule”: Your visitors shouldn’t have to click more than once to access any page of your site, wherever they are.
Colors: “Color is a power which directly influences the soul,” once said painter Wassily Kandinsky. This immediate impact is what makes this design element such a strong marketing tool. For your pages, a general rule is to limit yourself to three shades - one primary color (60% of the mix), one secondary color (30%), and one accent color (10%). Ready to create the best combination? This article will show you how to pick the best color palette for your website.
CTAs: Calls-to-action are the messages that tell your visitors what it is that you want them to do. The Web is filled with CTAs, such as “Register now”, “Don’t miss out”, or “Get yours today.” They can be placed on a button, or as a link straight into your text. They should be short, have a verb in the imperative form, and preferably include an element of urgency. Learn how to craft the perfect CTA here.
Fonts: What’s the point of having quality content, if no one can read it? Pick fonts that are legible (both on desktop and mobile), consistent with your brand identity, and well suited to one another. The golden rule: no more than three fonts, to avoid visual chaos. To know more, check out our guide on how to choose the best fonts for your website.
Footer: This is the bottom part of your site (the top is known as the header). Footers are not immediately visible to your visitors, but they can be used in a number of ways to enhance usability. For example, you can add all of your contact information, display a simplified sitemap that links to the categories of your site, or display your site disclaimer text.
Menu: This central element of any professional website ensures that visitors can easily navigate from one category to another. For this reason, it should appear on every single page of your website. It’s highly recommended to go for a fixed menu (that stays put when visitors scroll down the page), so that they don’t have to go all the way up to find it - this is especially true if you have a one-page website. For your mobile menu, keep the number of categories to a minimum, to avoid overloading the small screen.
Motion: These are all of the non-static elements of your website. They can come in many shapes, sizes and locations (from a classic pop-up to a full video background). Animations are great, as they catch the eyes of visitors. But like any good thing, use them with moderation. Curious to learn more? This guide explains all the dos and don’ts of animation on websites.
Scroll effects: As the name suggests, they appear when the visitors scroll down (or up). Their sophistication draws in attention and creates a smooth transition between the different layers of a page. You’ve probably heard of parallax scrolling. This jaw-dropping 3D effect continues to be one of the hottest web design trends year over year. But there are more effects (such as reveal or zoom-in), all of which are already embedded in your Wix editor.
White space: This is the area of your website that doesn’t include anything. Frightened by all this void space? Don’t be. White spaces give your visitors room to “breathe” between images or pieces of content. Thus, it contributes to a much better user experience.
Give me more: What does Leonardo da Vinci have to say about online creation? Actually, a lot. The same rules that governed art and design for centuries are also applicable to the Internet. From balance to symmetry, discover how the 7 fundamental principles of design can be applied to websites. 08. Do your SEO Getting your website on Google depends on a lot of factors - it’s known that there are over 200 signals that make up algorithms for ranking websites, such as the quality of your content. Or the competitiveness of your industry. Or the number of links that other websites send to yours (backlinks). SEO (search engine optimization) is a science in its own right, which requires time, patience, and persistence in order to get your first results.
Yet, there are many steps you can (and should) already take, while creating your pages. They will ensure that your website is built according to the best SEO guidelines, giving the content you publish the best chance to be found and properly ranked: Keywords: To find your keywords, start by asking yourself what kind of questions a potential visitor might search for in Google to find a website like yours. Once you have them, pick one main keyword, and a couple of secondary ones - but no more than that. Place your keywords in the strategic locations of your site (SEO title and description, homepage, etc.), but don’t overdo it! Search engines penalize websites that “stuff” keywords unnaturally in their content.
On-page SEO: This scary concept simply means that you need to tell search engines what your pages are all about. For every one of them, your website builder will ask you to fill the meta-data: the URL, the SEO title (the blue link you see on Google’s list of results) and the description. Even though they cannot be seen by your website’s visitors, these elements are critical when it comes to being ranked, and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Hierarchy: Google bots like well-structured pages. Give some hierarchy to your text by putting the important content first, and building your text around headers of different levels and concise paragraphs. On top of improving your SEO, it will please your visitors, who are more and more inclined to skim read websites.
Local SEO: If you own a brick-and-mortar shop (an office, a store, a studio, etc.), you want your website to appear at the top of the results of people in your geographic area. Register to Google My Business for a chance to be found on Google Maps, make your contact info consistent across all your online channels, and optimize your mobile site. This convenient guide shows you how to make the most out of your local SEO and boost your foot traffic.
Alt text: Google knows everything about anything, but cannot “see” photos or GIFs. Yet, they can appear in images results. How come? Bots read the descriptions that you give to your pictures. Called alt text, they are not visible to your visitors, but still give a very strong indication as to what the media is about. Here’s how to write SEO friendly alt text for your images.
Internal linking: The more your pages are inter-connected, the easier it is for bots to navigate through your website. Add links to relevant locations of your text, inviting people to discover more pages.
Give me more: There’s nothing more satisfying than checking off an item on your to-do list. Wix SEO Wiz is a free and powerful tool that analyzes your web pages and issues a personalized checklist of the SEO elements you need to cover. A must-have. 09. Pick the professional tools you need The Internet is becoming the most important marketplace in the world. In 2018, an estimated 1.8 billion people worldwide purchased goods online. This is why your site needs to include all of the tools to facilitate safe and efficient business. Your favorite website builder already encompasses the professional solutions you need to interact with your clients - whatever your size or industry:
Bookings: Any service business website needs to be able to receive online reservations and payments, 24/7. Wix Bookings does just that, and includes the most sophisticated options on the market (such as the ability to manage your staff’s calendars or send automatic reminders to your clients). The best part of it all: Your transactions are commission free.
eCommerce: Want to sell your goods online and generate a continuous stream of revenue? An online store is the way to go. You first pick a pre-made template and personalize it with your design, and then you are ready to roll. From tracking your orders to getting paid easily and managing your shipping - everything is in one place.
Photography: Whether you want to showcase your work, sell your art, or attract new clients, creating a photography portfolio is the way to go. Don’t miss out: Our photography blog feeds shutterbugs with the best of design, showcases, techniques and trends.
Music: Wix Music is a cutting-edge platform for musicians who want to expand their audience while maintaining total creative freedom. It enables you to sell your music directly on your website and keep 100% of the profits. Simultaneously, it distributes your tunes to over 120 digital stores.
Hotel: Manage your reservations, let guests book in their preferred language, send instant confirmation emails, and take payments online - your hotel website can do it all.
Give me more: The Wix App Market holds a large selection of apps to boost your website’s business potential. From chat to payment, from pop-ups to advertising on Google, there’s a tool for every aspect of your business. 10. Make it accessible to everyone Is your business based in different countries? Do you have visitors coming from Canada to Kenya? Are you looking to conquer new markets? If you answered “yes” to one of these questions, you definitely need a multilingual website. Offering your visitors content in their own language will help them engage (and buy) more. Thankfully, Wix makes the process of duplicating and translating your pages incredibly easy. This headache-free tutorial will show you how to create your own multilingual website.
A welcoming website should also be built for visitors with disabilities (visual impairments, users who cannot use a mouse or a keyboard, etc.).
The most important element here is to build your website hierarchically, using clear headers to define the level of information. Think of a newspaper, where the titles can help you understand what the article is about, without having to read it. There are many more things you can do to make your website accessible - and all of them will be beneficial for your SEO, too. 11. Engage with your visitors Years have passed since websites were only static items, to browse in a passive way. Today, visitors expect to engage with you through your site. Adding the right promotional tools will make sure that you convert them into customers, and from customers to loyal clients:
Live chat: This is one of the major marketing trends of 2019. Whether it’s to provide fast customer support or to help undecided visitors to make their way to the cart, this small window at the bottom of your users’ screen makes a giant difference in their ability to interact with you. As a matter of fact, a Wix survey found that users who installed a live chat feature on their website saw an increase in 33% in bookings and 39% in sales after just one month.
Social media: To become a successful social master, you must have a well-planned social media calendar, brilliant social media content ideas to get inspired, and tools to create social media graphics. On top of all of those, you need to connect your website to your social accounts. Put a link to your website on Facebook, Instagram & Co., and, reversely, add social icons on your homepage - under the menu, on the right or left side of your page, or in the footer.
Newsletter: Once considered the king of online marketing, email is still a major source of traffic to your website and your business. You can use it to advertise your latest sales, promote your blog articles, or celebrate your company’s achievements with your followers.
How exactly can you optimize the success of your campaigns? In order to get subscribers to your mailing list, place a lightbox inviting people to subscribe. In parallel, start sending your first newsletters. Explore this email marketing solution which lets you do everything, from designing with pre-made templates, to sending and checking your stats, straight from your website’s dashboard.
Forms: Who doesn’t like to give their opinion? One powerful (yet underestimated) way to build long lasting relationships with your customers is to ask for their feedback. Adding a form to your site makes sure that visitors have a safe place to share their thoughts about your products, services, website or support. Plus, this makes for golden material that you can add to your testimonials section. Important: Limit the number of fields to only essential information, as the more you ask, the less likely customers are to fill in your form.
Give me more: Making yourself available across multiple channels is not the only thing you can do to increase your visitors’ interactions. From design to member pages, this guide will let you in all the secrets that great designers use to increase website user engagement. 12. Optimize for mobile Smaller screens do not equal smaller impact. In fact, smartphone (and tablet) users are taking over the Internet, and they want to enjoy your website as seamlessly and as fast as on desktops. A mobile version of your site is automatically generated by Wix, so you don’t have to worry about building a new structure from zero. Yet, you still need to face one challenge when placing your content: space optimization.
First, remove all the elements from your homepage that are not necessary. When it comes to mobile, you should always give priority to user experience over exhaustiveness. Secondly, put the most important information above the fold, because it’s the first section of your site that will load. Lastly, add the quick action bar, which lets your visitors contact you (by phone or email) with the click of a button, or get shortcut links to different pages of your site. Less time scrolling, and more time enjoying your content.
13. Call a friend
No, not to discuss the latest developments of your favorite Netflix show, but to ask for a critical review. It’s very hard to be impartial when it comes to your own creation, especially when it’s your first time. However, when your website goes live, it has to be flawless, so make sure to carefully check off the following elements with your friend:
Is the language proofread? Spelling mistakes can ruin the professional reputation that you’ve worked so hard to build.Are the pages easy to navigate? If it takes your friend more than a click to find your online store or any other strategic page of your site, it means that you may need to rethink your pages’ architecture.Is the mobile version optimized? Almost 50% of Internet users browse using a mobile device. You certainly don’t want to leave half of the world’s population frustrated.Are all the links working? Click on every link to make sure they don’t return a 404 (the page doesn’t exist anymore). It’s also recommended to make external links open in a new tab, to minimize the risk of visitors leaving your site.Are all the SEO elements filled out correctly? From alt text to page description, there are a lot of items to verify. Thankfully, you can rely on the free checklist automatically issued by the Wix SEO Wiz.Give me more: Afraid you may have missed something? You won’t after you’ve read this essential website launch checklist and this guide on how to make a website. A must-read before pressing the “Publish” button on your website. 14. Publish - and get back to it If you think you’re finished after your website has gone live, think again. Re-open your website editor (your best friend, by now), because there’s always room for improvement. Indeed, visitors are pretty picky when it comes to deciding whether a website is worth a browse or not. They want content that is original and valuable, but also content that is fresh.
This last criterion is quite logical, if you think about it. In today’s world, things are changing so fast that “recent” has become a synonym for “reliable.” Regularly updating your pages shows that you’re present, active, and up-to-date with what’s happening in your industry. There are quick and easy ways to do that, such as embedding your Instagram feed or posting news on your blog.
Lastly, make sure you have connected your website to tracking tools, in order to check the growth and performance. Then, you can see where and how you can improve:
Google Analytics: How many visitors came to your page? Where are they from? How long did they read your blog articles for? All of this information (and much more), is made available to you by Google’s famous tool, for free.
Google Search Console: If you’re curious to see how your pages are ranking on the leading search engine, this is the right platform to use. Here, you’ll get every detail about your organic traffic, from the keywords you compete for, to your progression through time. Looking for a little guidance? This Google Search Console guide will show you the way.
Heatmaps: No, we’re not talking about the next weather forecast. Heatmaps show you, thanks to a precise color code, which parts of your pages visitors look at and click. As such, they are extremely valuable tools to improve your design and content.
With Wix, you can connect your website to a number of leading heatmap solutions, including Crazy Egg and Hotjar.
Conclusion: Having a website is a necessity in 2019. But having a website that is up-to-date is what really makes the difference. So always stay alert, keep your finger on the pulse of the Internet, and update your content as often as you can.
Ready to take your business online?