Finding step-by-step information on how to setup your own website isn’t difficult, and there is actually a whole lot of advice available online.
But most of this advice is pretty general, and I’ve often found that it skips a number of important things.
In particular, if you are seriously looking at setting up a website, there are some things you need to make sure you get right.
Everyone is excited about getting their site live, and it is easy to rush right to it and miss some things out entirely. This can be a really bad thing, because first impressions matter, and you want your site to look great right from the very beginning.
This is one that most people miss and few sites teach. A favicon is the little icon that shows up for a site when it is put in a person’s favorites, in the tab that is open for the web page and sometimes in other places.
This is important, because it acts as a brand for your site and makes it easy to recognize. This also means that it is very easy for users to find bookmarks to your website in their favorites without having to do much digging around.
When you have this type of icon, your site tends to look more professional, which really is a good thing.
You can make a favicon out of a normal image, just by shrinking it down, and there are a number of tools online that can help with this. Additionally, there are also sites that can help you create your own favicon.
Regardless of the approach you take, it does help for branding if your favicon is associated your site in some way and is also easy to understand. For example, the icon below is the one for Forbes:
I think it makes a lot of sense.
Pick a good favicon and it can help reinforce your brand and honestly, it isn’t something that takes very long to do.
You can make your own favicon using a range of different generators online, but you need to make sure that websites pick it up correctly.
One trick is to have the favicon in your root directory and save it as favicon.ico, but that only works some of the time.
A more effective approach is to also include coding for the favicon in the head of your site, like this:
<link rel=”icon” type=”image/x-icon” href=”favicon.ico”/>
Finally, some themes actually offer the ability to incorporate your favicon directly. This is the easiest approach by far, although it won’t work with all themes.
Check Browsers and Devices
When you are looking at how to setup your own website, it’s easy to assume that how things look on your screen is pretty much how everyone else is going to see it too.
This isn’t the case though.
People use the internet through different devices and different browsers and both of these things can affect the way a website looks.
When you take this approach, your aim is to consider the way that your site looks and how it performs.
Some sites look beautiful on computer monitors, but end up looking horrible on smaller devices. Furthermore, many sites end up functioning badly on smaller devices. The thing is, the amount of people who go online from phones and tablets is rapidly increasing, so you really want to design a site that is optimized for this market.
I personally suggest that you at least partially test your site before it goes life, because you really want to make sure your site looks at least somewhat decent across all browsers and devices.
This is relatively easy for computer browsers, but it can be a bit trickier on mobile devices. In either case, you will have to log into your site and use the preview function from the relevant browser, device or device emulator (I’ll get to that in a minute).
Once you get your site live, checking how it looks and tweaking it is considerably easier.
When it comes to other browsers, you can check this out simply by using different browsers on your own computer. However, be careful, because any addons you have might affect what you see compared to what other people see.
For example, I have adblocker on my Chrome and Firefox, which means that I don’t see the majority of pop-up ads and even don’t see some banner ads on a website. This would mean that I mightn’t see any ads on my own site, which could be a real issue.
The three main browsers to consider are:
- Internet Explorer (or Edge)
However, there are also other less common and less well-known ones that may also be worth considering.
For mobile devices, the most obvious choice is just to use your own device, but this isn’t all that practical.
Realistically, there is a huge range of different monitor sizes and OS types out there, and there is no way you are going to have all of those at hand.
Instead, there are emulator sites that show you what a site will look like on a tablet or on a mobile phone. These sites will even let you click through the different links on a site and some will provide information about how the site performs.
So, here are two examples of how bad a site can end up looking on a phone, even though it looked great on a computer. In this case, the phone that is being emulated is an iPhone 5.
Now, the one on the left might not look too bad, but the font is absolutely tiny. When you are dealing with a screen that is already small, most of the people visiting the site probably wouldn’t be able to read the text. The example on the right just looks horrible all around,
When it comes to considering the way your site looks like on different browsers and devices, I’m not suggesting that you go through and optimize every individual page. However, you might look at the overall layout of pages, particularly in relation to your sidebars and that type of thing.
If you aren’t happy with the way your site looks, a good approach is to consider what theme you are running.
There are a number of different themes available (both free and paid) that are specifically designed to look good on small and big screen sizes.
Some of these sites even give you control over the way your site looks and may let you pick different appearances for the computer, tablet and mobile phone versions of the site. With these types of themes, it’s likely that your site will end up looking good regardless of what platform it is viewed on.
Nevertheless, checking is still a good idea.
Check and Proofread
Check, double check and triple check that everything on your website is spelled correctly and has correct grammar.
While you’re at it, consider spacing, how concise you are and how long your paragraphs are.
You want your site to look good right from the beginning, and these are all things that can make a huge impact.
In fact, you might be surprised at just how many people leave websites never to return simply because one or two things are written incorrectly.
If you have any doubts at all, find someone to ask, whether it is a friend, family member, part of an online business community or someone else entirely.
If your site isn’t live yet you can’t show them the site, but you can still show them the content, or take screenshots of the previews.
While we are on the topic, it’s worth taking the time to check all of your links, yes, every single one.
Broken links are not a good sign for any website, and they can be majorly frustrating for anyone who tries to visit the site.
You may also want to consider whether it is obvious when there is a link in place and when there isn’t, and also what happens when a link is clicked (i.e. does it change color? If so, what color to?).
These are things that will be different depending on what theme you are using.
If you are affiliate marketing, this is very important, because getting people to click links is really important and people don’t just go around clicking random pieces of text to see where there is a link.
Google has a fantastic analytics tool (Google Analytics) and it’s worth getting this set up before your site goes live. There are other analytics tools out there as well.
Regardless of which analytics tool you use, having it set up from the very beginning can be very helpful. This lets you see exactly what traffic you get as your site develops and gives you a very clear picture of the evolution of the site.
Even if you don’t use this data initially, having it there may prove to be very important further down the track
Once the Site is Live
All of these suggestions are important components of how to setup your own website, but the process of setting up doesn’t fully stop once your site is live.
With any website, you always have to pay careful attention to what it looks like, whether everything is correct and just how traffic is progressing.
Many people choose to make small tweaks to their site as they go along, and every so often, they might make a major change, like picking a different theme or altering the way that they organize their headers and sidebars.
When it comes to designing and setting up your site, I think that one of the best places to get advice and direction is an online training community, which offers a lot of insight into a field that can sometimes be quite complicated.
The best place that I have found to get that type of support and training is a site known as Wealthy Affiliate. This site focuses on providing a large amount of training and support for beginners and also for people who are experienced in making money online.
This makes it a great place to figure out what you’re doing, without having to rely on any ‘get rich quick’ schemes, which never work as well as they sound like they will. After all, making consistent income (online or offline) is always going to involve an investment of time. Any site that claims otherwise is being unrealistic and manipulative.