A Simple Guide on How to Build a Website from Scratch

There are over 1 billion websites online today, and building a website is top priority on pretty much all new companies’ to-do lists.

There are many tools out there to help you build and host a website. These can often put your site together using ‘wizard’ tools, meaning that you never really need to dip into the technical areas yourself.

While these tools can be easy to use, they can sometimes limit your ability to make modifications to ‘standard’ designs.

If you’re looking to take a step away from standard website hosting tools, you’ll need to learn how to build a website from scratch.

Planning Your New Website

Before you jump right into your website’s code, it’s important to have some kind of plan to work towards. Let’s even forget the computer for a moment.

Grab paper and a pen, and sketch out how you see your website coming together. There are two different but equally important aspects of this work.

First, you need to list all the pages you want to have on your website. Think about what a user will be looking for, and how you will help them find this.

Once you have a comprehensive list, create a spider diagram to show how all the pages will fit together within your website.

Draw lines between the page titles to show the main links between pages, and to illustrate the start of user funnels. This diagram will be the foundation of your website’s structure.

Secondly, you need to sketch out how you want the site to appear visually to users. This might change once you’ve seen it on a screen for the first time, and that’s fine. But you need a blueprint to which you can build towards, rather than muddling about without a clear direction.

Once you have a clear structure and appearance set out on paper, it’s time to move onto coding.

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What You Need to Know About Coding Your Site

There are three main code elements you need to be aware of before you can have a full knowledge of how to build a website from scratch: HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

HTML is the first we’ll look at. Think of it as the ‘skeleton’ of the website. This code is used to separate out headings from paragraphs, build tables, and set up links, titles and much more.

CSS is used to make sites look attractive. It is normally coded into a website’s ‘style sheet’. This is called upon by web browsers to see how to render each web page. CSS can dictate widths, heights, colors, transparency and much more – it is a very powerful language.

Javascript is a common scripting language, which is used to build interactive elements beyond simple links. This makes your page capable of responding to users, for example by providing drop-down menus, or validating input fields. But there are many more applications for Javascript than these simple examples.

You’ll also need to pick a decent text editor to use while coding. You can use something as simple as Microsoft’s Notepad to code – code is saved as plain text files.

But there are more helpful programs out there, many of which use color and auto-fill tools to help you build your website quickly.

Don't Forget to Test and Test Again

Once you have your code in place, it’s time to test, test, test. If your site doesn’t work properly, it’s unlikely to rank well in search, and users will shun it.

It’s never possible to solve all problems before going live, so you also need to spot and react quickly to problems later on. But solving as many bugs as you can before the site is live will drastically improve how users perceive you and your site.

It’s not good enough to test only in Internet Explorer or Edge. You need to be checking website appearance and functionality across all major browsers (and some minor).

This is due to the different ways in which browsers render website code – some elements of which can cause errors in some browsers.

Recent versions of Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer account for roughly 74% of all browser usage. But that still leaves 26% of Internet access granted via older versions of these, or through smaller browsers.

You need to test as widely as possible to ensure there are no major errors. You also need to think about implementing responsive design to improve how your site looks on mobile devices. Desktop websites are often rendered poorly by these.

Getting Your Site Online

Choosing an excellent host for your website is vital. You need to be able to rely on your host to keep your site accessible.

Look out for a service that offers 24-hour live support, so that if you ever have difficulties, there’ll be someone there to help you.

When you’re choosing a domain name (a URL), choose something memorable.

If your company is brand new and you’re still thinking about names, make sure that a relevant .com address (or whichever extension you prefer) is actually available before settling and spending on branding for the name you’re considering.

Otherwise, you’ll lose out traffic to a website owned by someone else, which confuses your potential customers.

What Next After Figuring out How to Build a Website from Scratch?

Congratulations! You’ve worked out how to build a website from scratch, and now it’s up and running. But your work isn’t over yet.

From here, you need to start thinking about how your site is going to compete online, and that means having a marketing strategy.

Two of the most important components of this strategy are likely to be content creation and search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.

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