Discover the basics of web design and development, and check out our ten top tips for making your own website for the first time.
Whether you’re considering a career in web development or you want to make a website for other reasons, learning how to do it yourself can be valuable and rewarding. A website can be a great way to promote your business, show off your portfolio of work, or introduce potential employers or clients to the kind of person you are.
There are several different ways to create your own website, depending on how much you want to do yourself. We’ll run through the best options later on, but we’ll start off by discussing web development and design, how much websites cost, and how to pursue a career in the field.
What is web development?
A fairly self-explanatory term, web development involves the creation of a functional website using different coding languages and design elements. A web developer may be given a particular web design, and they then have to convert the design into a fully-working website that matches the client’s wants and needs.
Below, we’ll discuss the two different kinds of web development: front-end and back-end development. To learn more about coding in order to create digital content, check out our Digital Marketing ExpertTrack by the University of Leeds.
You can learn all about these programming languages in our blog post on the basics of coding for the web, but they are definitely important to learn if you want to get into web design and development. They’re not difficult to learn either, so why not give them a try?
To get started, our open steps by Raspberry Pi will take you over the basics of HTML, including structure and tags, and attributes. If you find what you learn interesting, head over to our coding courses to discover even more.
On the opposite side of the coin, we have back-end development. This is the aspect of web development that we don’t see as consumers. Back-end developers are responsible for servers, databases and applications – all essential for a website. Examples of programming languages that back-end developers tend to use include Python, Java and C.
Getting started with back-end development is a little trickier than front-end, but fortunately, there are many ways for you to create a website without having to learn it all. However, if that’s something that interests you, take a look at our Software Development Basics or Programming Essentials with Python ExpertTracks for a detailed introduction.
What is web design?
A web designer solely focuses on the look, feel, and usability of a website. This may sound similar to a front-end web developer, but there is a tangible difference between them. While front-end developers code the design so that it’s brought into fruition, it’s the web designer who comes up with the design in the first place. It’s a very creative role that requires an eye for design and graphics skills.
Web design and development certainly can overlap with one another, and often, one person may be able to do both. But still, it’s worth pointing out the distinction in case one appeals to you much more than the other.
You can learn about the components of web design in the video below, taken from our open step by the Digital Marketing Institute.
How to learn web design and development
Maybe, when you clicked on this article, you already knew that you wanted to learn web design and/or development yourself. Alternatively, perhaps you’ve been convinced, and now you want to know the next steps before trying to build your own website.
Fortunately for you and your wallet, there’s no need to go back to school or university to learn these skills. Many people self-teach coding for the web, and this process is made all the more easy due to the number of fantastic online coding courses and resources out there.
An online coding course can help you find your feet and get the practice that you need to make it in the world of web development. Once you’ve learned the basics of coding in a course like Introduction to Web Development by Rasberry Pi and Teach Computing, you can then look into bigger and better things.
You can try your hand at Building Web Applications in Django with the University of Michigan, or Creating Accessible Interfaces with UAL and the Institute of Coding. Then, the next step is to practice, practice, practice. We’ll go into more detail about this later on when we talk about how you can forge a career in web design and development.
How much does it cost to make a website?
It’s time to move on to the nitty-gritty of building a website. Let’s talk practicalities. How are you going to make a website, and how much is it going to cost you?
Essentially, there are four main ways to build this website:
- Use a website builder
- Create your own on WordPress
- Hire a professional designer
- Build entirely from scratch
The option you end up going for will decide how much money you’ll spend in total.
Even if the method is technically free, like WordPress, you’ll still have to pay for hosting and a domain name. Web hosting is typically upwards of £2 per month but can be a lot more. The domain name is usually a one-off payment that costs around £10 per year. You also may end up paying for a bunch of plugins and extensions to make your website more appealing.
If you choose a website builder (which will mean most of the work is done for you), you can expect to pay between £10-30 per month. This can be even higher if you buy a VIP or enterprise package. Some examples of popular website builders include Squarespace and Wix.
If you hire a professional designer, the price can really depend. Expect to pay for the quality of the website! The cheapest you can expect is about £25 per hour, but this can rise to £1000 a day for sophisticated websites with premium features.
Building from scratch
There are also additional costs to consider. No matter how you build your website, you’ll need to pay if you want any extras like marketing materials or security measures.
10 tips to make a website
Let’s move on to the main part of that article – ten steps you need to take to set up your own website. Depending on your chosen method, you may be able to skip some of these steps. However, it’s good to be aware of the most important website features.
1. Choose the purpose of your website
Before you start building your website, let’s go back to basics. What is your website for? Knowing the purpose of your website will help you understand what you’re trying to achieve and how to get there. Is the primary purpose of it to sell products? Is it for self-promotion? Is it to be a platform to share your art or writing? Make sure you’re clear about this.
2. Register a unique domain name
It’s essential to develop a unique and memorable domain name. It’s much harder to change down the line, and it can even affect your ranking on search engines, so it’s crucial to get it right the first time.
Does your business have a good name? If so, that’s a great place to start. Other than that, keep it short and sweet, avoid unnecessary numbers, hyphens and symbols, and use keywords to help it rank on Google. Also, pay for it to end in “.com” or “.co.uk” depending on where you’re from. Other domain name extensions might be cheaper, but they can make your site look less professional.
3. Set up web hosting
For your website to exist online, you must pay for somewhere to host it. This shouldn’t be too difficult or expensive – you’ll just need to do some research into the best kind of web hosting for you based on your website requirements. Checking for positive reviews will help you to choose a reliable web hosting provider.
4. Decide how you want to build your website
As we mentioned previously, there are several methods you can use to build your own website. The option you choose will depend on your skill level, timeframe and budget. While you won’t need technical skills to get a professional to create your website or use a website builder, you will if you want to build from scratch.
5. Code your website
WordPress is considered a kind of website builder, but it actually allows you to write code and have more freedom than options like Wix and Squarespace. So really, your choice depends on whether you want to try your hand at coding or not. If you do, take a look at our open step, Writing your code: The tools for the job for some tips.
Then, of course, we have a fantastic range of coding and programming courses to suit your needs and current level of expertise. You can learn more about what all of the different programming languages are used for in our previous article. When it comes to writing the code for your website, this is your chance to be creative.
6. Pick your visuals
Whether you pick a theme on a website builder or design everything from scratch using CSS, you’ll need to make your website stand out. Think about a few colours that fit your brand identity or convey the message you want. Depending on the purpose of your website, you might want it to look sleek and professional or colourful and disruptive.
7. Add website content and pages
Once you’ve got a basic website up and running, you might want to add some different pages so that the viewer or customer can navigate to different areas of the website. This might include a homepage, shop, or ‘about me’ section. Then, you’ll need to add website content, such as images, videos, text, blog posts and items for sale…the options are endless!
8. Optimise your website
An important part of having a website is ensuring that everything runs smoothly. If you’re using a website builder or professional developer, they should make sure that everything is working properly. If you’re responsible for everything, you also need to make sure you optimise the site for SEO and UX purposes. Find out more in the video below.
9. Make it responsive
If you’re coding the website yourself, you’ll also want to make sure that it’s responsive. This means that it can be viewed on many different devices, including smartphones and iPads. Learn more about this in our Understanding responsive design open step by UAL’s Creative Computing Institute, from their Introduction to UX and Accessible Design course.
10. Ensure it’s accessible
Accessibility is linked to responsiveness and website optimisation, but it deserves its own section. You should be able to create a website that suits the needs of people with all types of disabilities, whether the disabilities are permanent, temporary, situational or changing.
You can find out about the seven principles of inclusive design in our The importance of accessibility in UX design open step, but they generally focus on providing different ways for people to use the website, prioritising the experience of the user.
Web development jobs and how to get them
If you’re interested in working in web development, you’re in luck. It’s a very in-demand career – Stack Overflow stated that in 2021, 81% of professional web developers in the US were employed full-time, with another 11% being employed as freelancers.
Some examples of jobs in web development include:
- Web Designer
- Front End Developer
- UI Designer
- UX Designer
- Interaction Designer
- Art Director
- Web Developer
- Full Stack Developer
But how might you get one of these in-demand jobs? We’ve already discussed the necessity of being able to code. After that, it’s all about practice. Work on your own projects, create a portfolio you can show employers, and put your code on GitHub to receive help and constructive criticism from other developers.
Once you start getting more experience, it shouldn’t be too difficult to work as a web developer. You can charge more money and get higher-level jobs as you get better. It’s important, though, to keep learning new skills, software, and potentially even new coding languages so that you stay ahead of the competition.
Hopefully, you’re ready to go out into the world and set up your own website. Whether your web development journey ends there or not is up to you! Perhaps you’ve been inspired to learn to code or start a new career, but if not, at least you’ve gained valuable knowledge and experience for any future website building needs you may have.