Before you begin to design a website, you will need to have a domain name and a reliable web hosting service. This article provides tips for the design phase as well as identifying a reliable low-cost host. This would be very helpful for small business owners who cannot afford the additional cost of professional web design companies and accompanying hosting services.
Designing your website
Consider hosting on WordPress
WordPress is a popular content management system that is loved by designers and clients alike because it is flexible; constantly growing and it can be used by anyone, even if you have minimal design experience. All you need to do is select from thousands of free and premium themes add your website text for various pages and then are ready to go live.
Have clean design
Forget about the flashy, multicolored designs you’ve seen with loud backgrounds, banners and loud, flashy buttons. Minimalism and simplicity are in with today’s websites. If you’re building your website on WordPress, pick out a clean yet crisp theme on which to base your website. WordPress also has a number of HTML5 themes – this means that they utilize specialized coding to make website pages load faster as well as allow for interactive aspects while allowing search engines to understand the content.
Use simple navigation
Try not to overwhelm site visitors by offering ten different pages on your menu bar. Begin by writing down a navigation plan that makes sense. The main navigation pane should have no more than seven menu items, which other sub-menu items logically flowing from these seven. The most common ones are Home, Services, About and Contact Us. Depending on your line of business, you can have two or three more main navigation items.
Follow the rules of white space and large fonts
Larger fonts make page content easier to read for the average web user. The standard is to have fonts being at least 14 pixels. Careful use of whitespace between elements can make it easier to scan content quickly and digest information on a webpage effectively. Choose themes that do not overload the page with information by trying to cram every detail ‘above the fold’ (the space on a webpage which can be viewed without hitting the scroll button). You may think so now, but we promise you, not everything is important.
Create a responsive website
Responsive websites will ensure that your website loads optimally regardless of the device being used to access it. There are specific responsive themes that you can choose from if using WordPress or any other CMS, to ensure that viewers can see your site properly depending on device. If the text is too small or webpages do not resize according to screen size, not only will your user experience be wanting, search engines will not rank your site very highly for mobile and even desktop queries.
By 2014, the number of users running queries on their mobile devices exceeded number of users running queries on desktop sites, and this trend continues to grow with technological advancements. Imagine, therefore, how much you stand to lose by not having an optimized website.
Spare your pocket
Unless you can comfortably afford it, or you need extremely customized website design, there’s no reason you should invest thousands of dollars towards web design. Many people are unknowingly goaded into investing much of their funds towards web design, only to end up with a very basic WordPress site they could have created themselves.
This is especially important for young businesses that don’t have a lot of extra funds to spare. The only things that you need to invest in are the domain name, hosting services and a premium theme that will render a quality website. If you can’t afford it, there are still thousands of free WordPress themes you can use to build your site.
Stick to one or two columns
The multiple-column website looks crumped up, which is why simpler single or double-column websites are growing in popularity. 3-column websites are not only difficult to read, they provide too much information at once, forcing the user’s eye to scan too many different elements without being able to process the information. Select themes with one or two columns for the best results.
Choosing a hosting service
Not every low-cost hosting service is bad; there are many affordable and reliable web hosting service providers. As a website owner, reliability and good service are the two most important aspects to look for in a web hosting company. There are cheap hosts that are just as good as virtual private servers or dedicated hosts out there.
When starting out, you can go for shared hosting and then move to a more specialized package once your website has accumulated enough traffic for the extra resources. Provided you do your research and the web host offers adequate features for you to run your website, you should feel free to use them for your site.
So, how do you define cheap? Due to technological advancements, web hosting services have become cheaper over the years. Today, you can find reliable hosting for as little as $5 per month, with adequate features for a starter website.
Adequate features can be loosely translated as hosting for 50-100 moderately active domains, rudimentary web stats support, web mail and email services, updated MySQL and PHP, auto-script installation, basic technical support and minimum 99.8% uptimes. Additional features that would be preferred include periodic malware scanning, additional dedicated IP with private SSL certification and regular server backups. However, for $5 a month, you can’t expect the moon. Weigh your own package to see if it’s acceptable for the features you need.
Even if you’re on a budget, there are many different ways you can establish an online footprint that’s worthy of the name of your business. If you can afford to, you can hire a freelance designer to customize certain aspects of your theme to make your site more ideal for your uses. Insofar as web hosting goes, the most important detail isn’t the price-tag attached to the services. Instead, carry out your research from existing clients to find out the quality of service the host provides. If there are any problems or downsides, ask yourself whether they are trade-offs you’re willing to make for the affordability that you require.