The thought of creating a website from scratch can be quite daunting. After all, where do you begin? How do you ensure you cover every step? How can you guarantee optimal usability while protecting the overall security of the site? It seems like quite the challenge, right?
While it is certainly a challenge, it’s completely doable. You’ve seen some pretty awesome websites out there, fueled by some really fascinating web development principles and tools. There’s no reason why you can’t be the next person to create such a site–in this article, we’ll break down each part of the web development process, highlighting some tips you can use to ensure you’re building the best website possible.
What is Web Development?
We have to start here: web development encompasses all the tasks and responsibilities associated with creating, building, and maintaining websites and web applications. It’s quite broad; it could refer to building just a single page of a website or an entire social networking application. But no matter your project, there are certain steps you’ll take to ensure your site is modern, well developed, and easy to use.
To properly demystify web development and everything that goes along with it, let’s begin with a quick summary of some of the most common words you’ll see when working in web development:
Back-end web development: the back end is the more technical side with which users don’t interact, composed of the code that makes up the website’s infrastructure.
Front-end web development: this is the side that users see, made up of the visual elements that are so important to the user experience such as images, text, and content.
Fullstack web development: fullstack web development combines both the back and front ends, bringing the two roles together into one job.
Content management system: CMSs are typically used to create simpler websites, as they provide the necessary framework for non-technical users to easily create and edit websites.
Payment gateway: for websites or apps that need to be able to collect payment from users, developers need to provide safe and secure links to payment websites, ensuring that private user information is protected.
Cloud service provider: today, the majority of websites are hosted on the cloud, which means that remote servers handle the large amounts of storage required to host a website, relieving companies from this responsibility.
How Can I Build a Website From Scratch?
Creating your own website from zero is a challenge, but one that’s definitely attainable. Let’s cover the basics and help you get a better picture of what the project will entail.
Review and reflect on your (and your teams’) skills: this goes for any project! Before you get started, make sure your skills match those required of the task, guaranteeing you don’t reach a point in the timeline where you have to give up. When working on your website project, make sure your team does boast some coding experience and those with the right design skills to help the front end of the website take off.
Finetune your project and define your goal: now that you know you have the right team for the job, outline your project, the different stages, what you’ll need and when, and what your ultimate goal is. With all this clearly defined, you’ll be able to prepare a realistic plan and deadlines.
Choose your hosting provider: with your project laid out in front of you, you’ll know the amount of storage you’ll need, the estimated features of your website, and how much you want to pay for your hosting provider. Research various options and take your time making this decision.
Create the layout of your website: there are lots of templates out there and you’re free to use one of those or create your own. With the layout decided, you’ll be able to start building and adding content, creating new pages as you go.
Test your site: even the best designs have flaws and make sure you are testing your website and features as you add them so that you’re not doing a lot of work twice. In fact, setting up periodic testing days throughout your project can help catch mistakes before it’s too late and give you more time to determine possible solutions.
Update your website: unfortunately, your job isn’t done just yet. You’ll need to continuously update and check on your website, fixing any bugs or issues that arise and fending off any new cyber threats. Set up periodic checks on the aforementioned issues to guarantee everything is going well.
Now that you have the basics, let’s dive right into the good stuff: what you need to know to build that beautiful and modern website.
Building Modern Websites
Let’s start with the fun stuff: your designs! From the outside, web development (and especially the back-end) may seem boring, with just lines of codes that go on and on. But as we mentioned before, web development encompasses the entire website creation process, including making it usable for clients.
Try to include the following in your next project:
Go for a clean look: prioritize the information that clients need to know, and highlight that information on the home page. Don’t be afraid of white space and do some research on the best colors to use. It may seem tempting to fill every spot with some information, but less is more when it comes to usability.
Spend time defining your brand’s image and look: choosing a specific font or color seems like a minor task, but we’re sure we don’t have to tell you about the importance of branding. While making sure everything is the same font and color can be quite tedious, it’s an essential part of creating a highly functional website.
Prioritize market research: there is a lot of research out there that tells you the best colors to use, what fonts attract the most customers, and what to keep an eye out for. This is valuable information that can help your website go from good to great, especially if design isn’t your forte.
The next necessary element of website design is one that’s gained more of a voice in recent years, but there’s still lots of work to be done. Accessible web designs are those that boast elements that allow all users, regardless of any disability or reason, to access the website in comparable ways. For example, a website that’s accessible to the visually impaired would boast text descriptions in images with a voice feature, allowing those users to receive the same information as other users.
When designing an accessible site, make sure you:
Prioritize the user experience: take the time to meet with accessibility experts and truly guarantee that these users have an equal or comparable experience on your website, doing whatever you can to ensure your site is truly accessible.
Provide options: some accessibility options are for temporary accessibility difficulties, such as nighttime browsing or weak WiFi connections. Let your users pick what they need at the moment through various options.
Guarantee operability, robustness, understandability, and perceivability: for a web design to be accessible, it must be all four of these:
Operable: anyone can operate and navigate the website, regardless if they’re using their voice, finger, mouse, or keyboard.
Robust: the accessibility features on a website don’t limit the website’s qualities or overall user experience, guaranteeing equal access for all.
Understandable: the content should be understandable to all users (this refers to offering foreign language options, using colloquial language, and providing explanations when necessary).
Perceivable: website information must be available to at least one of the user’s senses; if the user is hearing impaired, there must be a visual option to read any audio on the website.
Lastly, modern and well-designed websites prioritize marketing and sales in a way that incorporates search engine optimization (SEO), social media accounts, and content marketing into the site. What does this mean? Well:
Updating content regularly: you can’t create content once or twice and expect it to be effective always! You’ll need to keep up on what’s happening in the world, making sure that your content is always accurate and reflects the real world.
Checking out your competition: what are your competitors doing better than you? And in what areas are you stronger? Well, that’s a question that will help you improve your services, retain loyal customers, and hopefully capture some new ones. Periodically check in on what they’re up to and what they’re offering, making sure you’re not falling behind.
Investing in content and SEO: you could be releasing the world’s best content, but if your site isn’t ranking on searches, no one will see it! Creating the right kind of content and mastering SEO rankings could be the difference you’re looking for--it’s time to make that a priority.
Seems pretty simple, right?! We’re kidding--we know it can be quite the challenge and that’s why our Web Development Bootcamp is a great choice for those looking to learn the basics of web development and then use their knowledge for some pretty cool projects. So if you are looking to build and maintain modern websites, there’s no better place for you. See you in class!