These days, creating your own website is a far cry from how it used to be. In the past, you’d have to be reliant on a website designer, or learn how to create your site using either code or sophisticated website design software. My new book Create Your Own Website The Easy Way is your guide to taking the DIY path, and it’s full of inspiring examples, resources and tips to help you create your own brilliantly professional-looking website.
1. Choose a platform that suits your needs
If you’re not amazingly techie that’s fine. You can still create your own website, and one that looks amazing as well. Use a very simple system like Strikingly or Weebly, or just set up a blog on WordPress and save yourself the headache of diving into something that’s way out of your comfort zone. At the end of the day, this should be fun!
If, on the other hand, getting your head around technical matters gives you a buzz, you’ll be up to the challenge of creating your site on self-hosted WordPress, which is at the other end of the scale in terms of complexity.
2. Appearances are important
Your website has to look professional in order for it to be convincing. If you know your design abilities are limited, control your temptation to experiment. Stick with a professionally-designed template layout, and don’t mess around with it; it’s designed to look great just as it is, with the fonts the size they are, and the colors the way they are. Don’t risk messing it up by making little changes—as this will certainly be a giveaway to site visitors with a more highly-trained visual eye.
Once you have your own content in there—logo, words and images—it’ll look much more your own.
3. Make use of ready-designed graphics
There’s no reason why you can’t have great graphics on your website just because you’re not a designer—often it’s the graphics on your site that breathe life and individuality into it. You can make use of ready-made, on-trend templates at Canva.com, create graphics around wording at Stencil, or make square sidebar graphics using Instagram tools such as Wordswag. These are easy to use, allowing you to choose from a pre-selected range of fonts or design elements, which keep you on track if design is not your forte.
If you’re confident with your eye for design, you can find patterns, fonts, web elements and styled stock images at Creative Market; entire brand packages are available on Etsy if you want to get really creative with your banners, fonts and color combinations.
4. Know your limits
You can’t always do everything you want to and as well as you’d want to by yourself. If you can’t create the graphics you want, look for help: you can easily find freelance designers in the Projects section at 99Designs. If you get stuck with your WordPress site, or you need custom programming for your Squarespace site, find a freelancer: Upwork is a good place to look.
It’s not worth tearing out your hair or losing sleep if a professional is able to help you at a reasonable price.
5. Keep it simple
It’s often a giveaway that a website is a DIY job if the layout is fussy or there are too many disparate elements on a page. Don’t use millions of fonts. Don’t add all kinds of widgets. Keep your look streamlined. Less is very often more!