Tips to building better websites
Nowadays it is so easy to build websites. With the countless web companies on the world wide web offering free web hosting services, creating a web page is as easy as blink of an eye. However, it takes practice and lots of trials and errors to build a good website. So here’s a guide on how you can build a better website.
No good decision in this world should be made without proper planning. The same goes with building websites. You would need to plan on several things, like:
- What kind of website do you plan to build?
- How long do you intend to keep the website up?
- Who are the intended audience?
You have to know what type of website you want to create. Would it be website that offers graphic/designs, a portfolio for showcasing your artworks, a shop, a directory listing or perhaps just a simple personal site in which you can blog about your life? In short, your website must have a purpose, because if it doesn’t, you might end up adding in all sorts of things into your website that your visitors can’t tell what your website is all about. If you’re not sure what kind of website you want to build, try looking at this list here: Types of websites
Most people tend to skip this part. People think that they would be keeping their websites for a long period of time but suddenly after two months, they close the websites down, because they’re either too lazy to update their websites or they are just way too occupied with other things.
You must know what kind of audience the website is intended for. Is it for entrepreneurs? For teenagers? Or is it for little children?
Deciding on a site name
This actually can be part of the planning stage because choosing a good name can take up hours to days, or even weeks. Choose a good name that will make a long-lasting impression on your visitors. It is recommended to choose names that are not too generic such as Candy Swirls or Dreamykiss because there is a good chance the name has been taken up by someone else.
Also, when choosing a name, avoid doing these things:
- Giving name such as crayon-purplezz or twinkling-love-xx. Adding numerous single-letter after one another is annoying and no one would want to type that in their address bar.
- Do not add unneeded and unnecessary hyphens, for example, little-sweet-me-xoxo. Hyphens should only be included if you have two or more words that must be separated and would look stupid if joined without hyphens. And in the case of little-sweet-me-xoxo, you certainly do not need the xoxo, so that should be removed along with the hyphen before it. In fact, there shouldn’t be more than 1 hyphen in a URL.
- Don’t make very long site names like Super Awesome Web Page of Kitty or Eternal Kiss And Memory. No one’s going to bother remembering that and people would definitely won’t like typing the whole thing in the address bar.
- Avoid adding numbers to your site name. For example, colourfulneon23. This will make your site looks awfully immature and will simply confuse other people.
- Do not use brand names like Nike, Levi, or Pepsi. You could get into trouble and involve yourself in a lawsuit.
So how do we choose a good name for a website then? Make a list of names that you think would make you stand out from all others. You can find inspiration from songs or poems, but DO NOT copy them hundred percent.
Finding a web host
This is a crucial bit in building a website. Make sure you find a good and reliable host, which translates into a host that you can depend on when you’re having a problem with your website and the webhost should have a good uptime. Looking for a reliable host may seem easy at a first glance, after all, nowadays it is mighty easy to find people who offer web hosting services. If you’re going after free web hosts such as Freehostia, Freewebs, 000webhost, or x10hosting, be sure to check if they allow you some freedom on your website such as no forced pop-up ads. The good thing about this kind of web hosts is that they normally do not need to see your work samples or whether you know how to build a website or not.
However, if you want to be hosted under someone else’s domain, normally they will have requirements of some sort and it is advised that you should read all the host’s requirements. I’ve written a more thorough article on the guide to getting hosted on a subdomain here.
Also, it is a good practice to make comparisons between different web hosts and look at the packages they can offer you. Some hosts will offer small hosting spaces and bandwidth. This may not be suitable if you want to create a portfolio website or websites that you intend to generate large traffic. Here are some websites that offer web hosting and they are quite reliable (based on my personal experience and other people’s reviews):
Bubble Hosting – run by Kya and some volunteers and is the web host for a few of my web sites. So far I have face no issue/problem with this host.
CBD Hosting – run by Jade and the web host for my main personal website. CBD Hosting has been up and running since 2006 and I have faced no problem whatsoever with it.
Floriental Hosting – run by Georgina and one of the most trusted person around.
Layout and design
Once you have your website up, it’s time to put a layout to the web pages. A layout is very important to a website because it is the first thing your visitors will see when they arrive on your website. The layout can be of any designs and if you can make a layout that is unique to your character or your website purpose, it is even better. It would be wise to avoid using other people’s work/designs on your layout because there might be legal issues involved such as copyright issues. This includes using celebrity images on your website. Unless your website is the official website of the celebrity or a fansite, do refrain from using the celebrities’ images no matter how fond you are of them. Plus, this is your website, it should be about you. Why should some other people’ faces be decorating your website? People will tend to think this is a website about the celebrities, and not about you.
Navigation links should be placed where your visitors can see it clearly and without having them to search high and low for them. Visitors do not like having to scour around the webpage for navigation links. If they can’t find it, it’s likely they will simply leave the page. The ideal locations where you should place the navigation links is either at the top of the page or at the sides. And for other text links, make sure they can be clearly distinguishable from normal text. And do not use numerous different colours to style your normal text because visitors might be confused. I do not want to keep on clicking on words only to find out they’re just normal texts. Normal text’s font-size should be legible to most visitors. For example, do not use tiny (i.e hardly-there-at-all) font-sizes or dark font colours on dark backgrounds. Remember that your visitors don’t have super visions.
Choosing the right colours is equally important. Be creative in the mixing and matching of the colours. Do not, however, go overboard with it, such as using too many colours because it will make the layout look messy. And about using fonts, don’t just restrict yourself too using fonts that are available in your computer. You can download fonts from websites such as Dafont, 1001 Free Font or Ffont, or use fonts from font libraries such as Google Web Fonts. But be moderate in your usage because using too many different fonts will make your website look childish.
What kind of content must you include? Generally, this should be according to your website purposes. If you’re building a portfolio, obviously your artworks should make up the majority of your contents. Same goes to personal websites, you include general information about yourself. Be careful though, to not include very personal information such as phone numbers or home addresses.
Your website should also have a page that explains the purpose of the website and a contact page. Even if you do not provide a contact page, there should be a section with your contact details so that visitors can reach you if needed.
Divide your content into separate sections. For example, put your graphics/designs (pixels/cgs/vectors) on one page and place your writings/tutorials on another page. And if needed, organise them into sub-sections. Do not lump your contents into one page because not only it will make everything look cluttered and crowded, but it will also cause your page to load up slower than it should be. Organising your contents may take more time and resources but it will make things easier for your visitors.
What about music? Many website owners make the mistake of thinking adding music to their websites is a form of good entertainment. Unfortunately, most visitors do not share your view. In fact, music on websites will only bring annoyance to the visitors. You can read more on music on websites here.
It is also important to communicate with your visitors as this will make them feel welcomed. More importantly however, is the way of communicating. Here’s a few Do’s and Don’t’s in communication.
- Do not use leet chat language or chatspeak on your website. This can make you look immature and no one’s going to take you seriously. Besides that, people who are not familiar with said languages will find it hard to understand you. Examples of leet chat or chatspeak: “t4lk1ng l1k3 th15 15 4nn0y1ng”, “Typin lyk dis dun mke u luk kewl”.
- Keep your cussing to a minimum. While it is understandable that every once in a while we need to post our rantings on our blog (this is strictly for personal sites), do not use swear words all over the place or in every blog posts. Not everyone will be comfortable reading a paragraph full of cuss words.
- Try to use proper grammar at all times. I know this can be a little hard for some, especially for those who are blogging in a language other than their mother tongues. Occasional mistakes are permitted and in personal websites/blogs, they are often forgiven and won’t pose too much of a problem. Having said that, there are people who can write grammatically-correct sentences even if they’re not blogging in their native language. Using proper grammar, along with correct punctuations will help to deliver your ideas/points/arguments better.
That’s all and hope you’ll find this article useful in helping you to improve your website. Feel free to send in your suggestions to make this article better.