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Ultimate guide to building your first website

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This is out-and-out the most asked question we ever get. Because there's so many different aspects to it such as: Budget, Willingness to learn, purpose & tech ability. We try and break down all of these elements to provide you with an answer to each.

How much work do you want to put in?

If you want to put less than 10 hours work in; want to be online pretty much straight away; want to have an e-commerce store and don't really care about scaling. Squarespace is the one to go for.

Use Squarespace, use a discount from one of the many places around the web, and use somebody else's work to structure your own.

However, the result will be visually ambiguous, ok-ish performance-wise and very restrictive by nature... But you'll be up and away in no time. Needless to say there's a tradeoff.

Here's some reasons to use it:

  1. You don't have enough time to actually build a website
  2. Want to test something ASAP
  3. Have an almost pre-built website ready for you
  4. Don't mind the price
  5. Don't really care about SEO

Here's some reasons not to use it:

  1. Limited customization options: Squarespace may not offer as much flexibility in terms of design and functionality compared to other website builders or content management systems. This may make it difficult to create a truly unique and personalized website.
  2. High cost: Squarespace's pricing plans can be relatively expensive compared to some other website building options, especially for e-commerce websites with a large number of products.
  3. Limited SEO capabilities: While Squarespace does offer some basic SEO features, it may not have as many advanced options as other platforms. This can make it harder to optimize your website for search engines and get it ranking higher in search results.
  4. Limited integrations: Squarespace may not have as many integrations with third-party apps and services as other website builders, which can limit the functionality of your website.
  5. Limited blogging options: Squarespace's blogging features may not be as robust as those offered by other platforms, which can make it more difficult to create a professional-looking blog and manage your content effectively.

TL;DR

It sucks, but works kind of good enough for the right use case, it's basically one step above a facebook company page

This is for you if you don't have the time or effort to build a website

Do you need e-commerce?

Moving on from the bottom of the barrel, let's talk e-commerce

Are you planning to create an e-commerce store within the next year of your website being live? If so: just pick Shopify. Why? Because it's extremely simple to use, it's self-contained, meaning you don't need to worry about setting up Structured Data for Google, you don't need to worry about manually designing everything, because there's so many Shopify themes that already look incredible.

Just be aware Shopify costs £19 a month but that covers pretty much everything apart from your domain (which is usually around £12 annually).

Here's some reasons to use it:

  1. Ease of use: Shopify is known for its user-friendly interface and easy-to-use features, making it a good option for those who are new to e-commerce or building websites.
  2. Wide range of features: Shopify offers a wide range of features and tools for building and managing an online store, including payment processing, inventory management, and marketing tools.
  3. Large app store: Shopify has a large app store with hundreds of third-party apps and integrations that can help you add additional functionality to your online store.
  4. Strong customer support: Shopify has a dedicated customer support team that is available to help with any questions or issues you may have while using the platform.
  5. Scalability: Shopify is a scalable platform that can grow with your business, so you can easily add new products and features as your business expands.

Here's some reasons not to use it:

  1. High transaction fees: Shopify charges a transaction fee for each sale made through the platform, which can be costly for businesses with a high volume of sales.
  2. Limited customization options: Shopify may not offer as much flexibility in terms of design and functionality compared to other e-commerce platforms or content management systems. This can make it difficult to create a truly unique and personalized online store.
  3. Limited payment gateways: Shopify only offers a limited number of payment gateways, which may not be suitable for businesses in certain countries or regions.
  4. Complex pricing structure: Shopify's pricing plans can be confusing and may not always be transparent, making it difficult to understand the true cost of using the platform. E.g if you're taking deposits, it's up to the plugin suppliers mercy to not screw you with pricing for the plugin.
  5. Limited SEO capabilities: While Shopify does offer some basic SEO features, it may not have as many advanced options as other platforms. This can make it harder to optimize your website for search engines and get it ranking higher in search results.

TL;DR

Shopify is the best for very little input, with a lot of output when working with e-commerce stores. It can get nasty price-wise if you need e-commerce functionality that is outside the ordinary use. E.g Deposits on products.

I don't need e-commerce

Fantastic, well your options have reduced to two, so that saves a lot of hassle. It also helps that the two products are about as far away from each other functionality-wise and price wise.

I have a budget under £10k

Perfect, you'll want to use Wordpress. We can guide you through that process below. First and foremost we want to tell you why we will suggest this.

  • It's extremely cheap
  • It makes up over 30% of the web (at the time of writing this)
  • You own your website
  • You can set up SEO fairly easily
  • You can technically setup an e-commerce platform with WooCommerce at a later date (although it's not very good)

A little preface

Okay, Wordpress has two different basic editors. The old version, and the new version. Lots of people hate the New version of the editor

Gutenberg Wordpress rating

However, I actually don't think it's that bad, if your plan is to build your website with some simple text, some simple pictures and some thought is done about SEO (more on that later).

How hard is it to actually build a site?

The first steps in setting up your own site are never easy. There's a lot of different concepts, and they can easily become overwhelming. However, our advice is always the same. Don't get daunted, if you can edit a Word Document, you can probably build a website using Gutenberg. Which brings us perfectly onto the editor...

Here's how the editor will look for you. If you think this is extremely hard to use then our advice would be to do one of two things:

  1. Consider building it with Squarespace instead
  2. Consider spending some time learning via YouTube

Once you've watched the above tutorial, you want to start thinking about structure and what a client would want to see on your website. Because this guide is more of a generic overview, we can't go too deeply into this, however get in touch and we can give you some pointers.

Setting up Domain name & Hosting

There's three points that you actually need to know about:

Domain

This is the domain (e.g www.yourwebsitename.com) that people will be able to type in to find your website. This is nothing related to Google, however we would advise choosing .co.uk if you're planning on running a UK based company

Hosting

This is where the storage of the website is. For your website you do not need to pay a lot, as you probably won't have more than 1000 - 10,000 visitors in your first year.

Content Management System

This is where you will make changes to your website, the smoother the content management system, the easier it is to change things on your website. For budget websites, Wordpress is fine, however when you're looking at scaling, it really isn't the answer.

Let's get started

  1. Purchase the cheapest package from here. this will cost significantly less on the first year, approximately £50 and £200 from that point onwards yearly.
  2. You will also need to purchase a domain name - Remember to buy .co.uk if you're trying to target UK demographic, and the more letters, the more likely somebody is to screw up your domain name... Also, never use hyphens. You can purchase this from Siteground as well for approx £15.
  3. Once you've done the two steps above you can setup Wordpress for yourself using this video

I have a budget over £10k

So this is where we come in. At £10k, this is the real starting point for building something incredible. The above options are fantastic for bootstrapping something that will last a year or two, however this option will be built for speed, scalability and longevity (did you know we still have a website running blazing fast from 2015 with a headless CMS).

Out of this world editing experience

Does real-time previews sound good? How about real time previews with internationalisation built-in? How about real time previews with internationalisation built-in with the capabilities to create landing pages on the fly that tailor for your clients?

Well that's exactly what we can provide with Sanity as a content management system.

It's such an impressive content management system that we've used it on the Roboto website, and consistently scaled content effortlessly and swapped, chopped and changed throughout to match our ever evolving needs. It really is the gold standard of CMS', so much so that it's won nearly every award for it on G2

You can read more about the functionality and get a real time preview here. Side note: this article was built with Sanity.

Performance where it counts

We can push performance in your website into the 90+ within Google lighthouse. This is a metric that Google actually cares about and uses for ranking websites, even more so this year, than ever.

We will be able to provide the best possible performance for your website and advise and consult whilst building, to ensure you're still getting an analytics rich website without the performance blocks.

Cutting edge, without the hassle

We're huge believers in adopting new technology without the hassle. What we mean by this is essentially avoiding all the pitfalls by employing an agency that has spent more time studying the documentation, running R&D and improving their development process than most internal teams can ever hope to.

We only use tech that has staying power, Enterprise scalability, and satisfies our extremely fussy standards. We only suggest technology we use and battle-test ourselves...

Honest takes on tech

We aren't bought by any company, we support companies we want to support and as a principle we don't pursue kickback and affiliation links. The great thing that we can provide is a wealth of experience, with how we've dealt with various scaling pain-points and bleeding edge technology... We're looking at you React Server Components.

If you're thinking about starting a new website, get in touch, we can probably give you more helpful information in 30 mins than most TEDX talks...

Get in touch

Wow you got this far?

Good job, if you've not fallen asleep yet, we'd love to talk shop. Get in touch today and we can tell you all about the future of JAMstack, Next.js & Structured Content.


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hello@roboto.studio