I recently set about building a portfolio website for myself, and while I do have some web development skills, I didn’t want to start from scratch: I wanted to edit and individualize a template. As I was considering what I wanted from my website, I researched some writing portfolio sites and took a gander at some of my friends’ sites. Based on this search I was able to formulate an idea of a site that would be effective for displaying my work, as well as match my personality.
If you’re looking to build a website or a blog, there are some basic steps you need to undergo to get things running smoothly, so here are some tips and tools for getting a website that keeps viewers engaged and wins customers.
1. Do Some Research into Industry Brands
Since I was building a website for my portfolio, I looked for examples of other writers’ online portfolios. They weren’t all the same by any means, but doing some brief research helped me make some decisions about what I wanted from the layout and the design. I decided that I wanted something minimal and monochrome, that I ought to have tabs for different types of work, and that I make everything clean, clear, and simple. Based on my research, I was able to start building an idea of what I wanted, as well as organize the content I was going to include.
2. Decide on Content and Layout
Although your layout may change as you start building a website, it is important to have an idea of what you want from your site. When thinking of the content to include, it is important to make a plan of where the content will go and to think about what customers, or readers, will be interested in. While content helps to gives a website substance and provide information, it needs to be relevant and well-written, which means it requires some planning. As I started planning my website I categorized my portfolio and started to think of the pieces I wanted on display. You want your best work on show, and for your site to make sense, so start making a plan of how the site will be organized before you start creating.
3. Find a Website Building Tool
If you do not have the time or skills to make building a website from scratch a piece of cake, there are plenty of website building tools available for you to use. Sites such as Weebly and Wix provide a variety of different templates for different types of sites, and you can edit specific pages to produce a site with the layout that you want. Website building tools are great to get things up and running, and can be a long or short term solution for businesses that need a good-looking site in a short amount of time.
4. Choosing a Hosting Service
Building a website isn’t simply about creating something attractive that will draw customers in; you also need to think about where the site’s information will be kept. Looking into a hosting service will enable you to ensure that your website is able to cope with traffic, and that all your information will be stored in a safe place. Depending on the size of your website and its traffic, there are a variety of different hosting options you could go for, so doing some research and finding the best hosting plan for your situation is imperative
5. Purchase a Domain Name
While a website building tool will give you a URL that you can use for your site, it is much better to purchase your own domain name. As a rule, it is good to have your business name in your domain name so that it is easy for clients to remember, or to orient your domain name around local keywords to help you rank in search engine results. Owning your domain name is also indicative of how professional you are, and your level of investment in online visibility and marketing.
6. Gathering Your Images and Content
Once you have started working on the layout of your website using website building tools, you have to start gathering the necessary content for your site. It is not enough to simply write content and expect the customers to come running; viewers also need to be visually stimulated. Using website design and images can help draw viewers in, so gathering images for content from either your own creative work, or getting permission to use someone else’s can add pizazz to your site and help you to draw customers in.
In addition, making sure that your content is sufficient, typical, accurate, and relevant to your potential customers is critical. While it may be easy to write a quick blurb about your business, it is important to back your claims up with statistics and examples, showing your customers that you are trustworthy and capable, as well as telling them so.
7. Search Engine Optimization
While writing engaging and informative content is crucial, using keywords and conducting keyword research is going to help you draw in the traffic that you want. Tools like Google Adwords and Google Trends can help you to understand the search trends for certain keywords, and help you to find words to incorporate into your content so you can rank in search engine results pages.
As well as researching general, industry-related keywords, you also want to find local keywords that affect your business (e.g. Plumber in Provo) and incorporate those into your content. Again, the inclusion of these keywords will help your website to rank for local keyword searches and increase your online visibility and conversion.
8. Register Your Website with Search Engines and Directories
While your business may be registered with sites such as Google or Yelp, it is also important to make sure that these search sites have your updated URL. While users may be able to find your physical address on Google and Yahoo, making sure that your website address is available is important because potential customers want to research a company before they go and visit a physical site, and you want to drive traffic to your website.
While a lot of these steps are labor intensive, they will make your website more available and increase your online visibility. Having a well-designed, functional site that is optimized for search engines and users really increases your Internet value and can make a significant difference to your business and online traffic. Building a website is hard, so remember to make deliberate decisions and to utilize the tools that are already out there and available to you.