The main reason people use a web designer to build their websites is because it can be a very involved process and quite challenging to get things right.
That being said, many people want to go it alone and get their hands dirty. Building your own website can be a fantastic project and something that is very rewarding. Not to mention, you can save some money by not hiring someone like me!
For those that do want to design their own site, I have put together a list of resources I highly recommend that will help you take things to the next level and make your site amazing!
Disclaimer: some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that while you do not may any more than you would ordinarily, a small percentage of the money each company makes will go to me as a commission.
WordPress is the worlds leading content management system (CMS) used for building websites. It is used by 33% of the internet and powers many of the worlds busiest websites, such as Mercedes Benz, Reuters Blog, Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stones, Facebook Newsroom, The Walt Disney Company, Microsoft News Centre, Sweden’s Official Website. Variety and BBC America to name a but a tiny fraction.
What makes WordPress stand out is that it is a very adaptable platform. With WordPress you can run any kind of website, from a simple page talking about an upcoming event, to a blog and through to a thriving online store.
The functionality of WordPress can be extended by installing different themes and plugins.
Themes allow you to instantly give your website a new design and feel. Many themes go beyond this and add extra features such as social media integration, responsive design making your pages look great on desktop, tablet and mobile and can even give you drag and drop page building abilities.
Plugins take this further by adding on almost any functionality you could think of. The possibilities are almost endless.
WordPress is constantly being updated and made even more secure, all of which is free and it’s easy to maintain your site through the inbuilt update feature.
If you are building a new website, you want it powered by WordPress.
SiteGroundFrom £2.95 /month
If you want a website, you need a place to host it. There are many cheap hosting companies out there, I have used most of them myself at one point or another and after years of building websites, one of the many things I’ve learned is that you get what you pay for.
Important things to look for in a host are great support, fast and reliable servers, specialised WordPress hosting, powerful management tools, comprehensive backup options and website security features included.
Lots of the cheaper hosting companies offer these features at an extra cost and very quickly you find you have spent more than you would if you had just used a quality company from the start. For these reasons I highly recommend SiteGround as your host. Perhaps even more telling than my recommendation is the fact that SiteGround is one of the very few hosting companies that is recommended by WordPress it’s self. It is the company I personally use and they have some fantastic offers for new customers that are well worth a look.
When It comes to the most valuable tools I use when building websites, hands down the one I recommend the most is the Divi WordPress theme by Elegant Themes. Divi comes with so many added features that it’s a no brainer. First and foremost you get a drag and drop page builder that you gives you the ability to craft webpages that are beautiful, responsive, feature-rich and easy to build. If you want to take things further, you can customise your page with your own code and even add more options with third-party plugins. Help videos are built into the page builder and access able at the click of a button.
For a full tour of what Divi has to offer, check out this page.
An Elegant Themes membership also gives access to their WordPress plugins which add advanced social network and mailing list integration to your webpage.
All sites I build, including this one, are built using my own customised version of the Divi Theme, you will get lifetime security and feature updates as part of the price you pay when using my services. If you decide to go it on your own and build your own site, however, Elegant Themes have annual and lifetime memberships available (I recommend watching out for their Black Friday sales each year for some truly outstanding savings)
Affinity designer/photo£49 each
If you’re building a website, you need to use high-quality graphics. This means you will need a professional image editing and graphic design package. The industry standard is Adobe’s creative suite, including Photoshop and for good reason, it’s a very mature and advanced set of tools but it comes at a price, a hefty one!
There are a few alternative options though and the one I use and recommend is Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo. These apps are available for both Mac and Windows and even have iPad apps available. They offer a very similar toolset as the Adobe apps but at a much cheaper and one-off price. After I discovered the Affinity apps I realised that I didn’t need to pay a monthly subscription for Creative Suite as everything I needed was available in Affinity.
ShutterstockFrom £0.16 per Image
A website is only as good as its images. The saying goes that a picture speaks a thousand words, but as far as the internet goes, that’s not quite true. It would be closer to say a picture sings those words. A webpage that is just text is far too dry and dull to grab people’s attention. Poor quality images give the impression of poor quality service or company. For this reason, you need to think about what images you are going to use on your site.
You very well might have products you want to advertise or events you want to document, making sure these images are of high quality is one of the most important things you can do to make your website successful.
For those that don’t have access to a professional photographer or don’t need photos of their own creation, there are thankfully quick and simple ways to source quality imagery for your site. Sites such as Shutterstock have thousands of photos and even video you can choose from for your site. You can either buy credit packs allowing you to download a set number of images or you can sign up to one of their subscription options and get a monthly allowance of credits to use as you need.