What is a website?
User's point of view
For users, a website is a set of web pages accessible via a URL(https://www.monsite.com for example). All sites have a home page and allow a wide variety of different things to be done. Some are primarily used to promote products, others allow users to watch videos, others are social networks or work tools. All are accessible via a web browser on a computer, tablet or mobile phone.
Finally, when a user wants to find a site that can provide the information they need, they almost inevitably go through a search engine like Google or Bing. Each of them proposes, from a short query, to provide a list of the most relevant pages on a given subject. It is therefore essential for the user to get the best information at the best time to access one website rather than another.
Site owner's point of view
When you own a website, things are a little different. You know that your site is a collection of interconnected pages that contain information. This is not enough since your site will also need to be stored somewhere, at a hosting provider, which will make it accessible online. The URL of your site can also be personalized with a domain name that you will need to rent.
Depending on the nature of your site, you may need a database (if it is a showcase site for example). Finally, your site will need to be kept up to date so that it does not suffer from malicious attacks and so that your users' data is also protected.
What are the advantages of creating a website?
Without a website, your online identity will be limited to social networks. You will not be able to control the presentation of information and you will find yourself in competition with other pages that, like you, want to capture the attention of users.
A website allows you to have your own personalised space where you can put the content of your choice online. This can be products, advertisements or services that you wish to promote to the greatest number of people. Your site belongs to you, so you can publish whatever you want.
Control your communication
Do you have any information to pass along? Your website is here to help you. While it may not be sufficient on its own to spread information effectively, it is an important rallying point for all information related to you. You will therefore have a choice of content, presentation and even offers that you will make to your users. The identity of your brand will be present everywhere the website will be part of your marketing universe.
Have a good referencing
A website allows the optimization of natural referencing on search engines such as Google or Bing. This aspect of the subject is very important since everyone uses these kinds of tools to find information. The sooner your site will appear in the results of these engines, the more likely you are to generate traffic.
A good referencing is therefore the key to a better visibility on the Internet. Without a site, you don't exist online and you don't work on your SEO. Users won't be able to find you easily or learn more about what you offer.
How to create a website?
Do it yourself with a CMS
The Content Management System or CMS refers to a tool capable of aggregating and retrieving information online without the need for specific programming knowledge. Among the most popular CMS, here is our selection of some of the names that come up regularly:
They all operate on the same model. You will start by entering basic information about your site such as its name and description. You will then have to choose your graphic theme that will condition the display of your pages, the colors and the general appearance of your site.
Finally, when you're done, you'll need to include all the content you need to create your website. This can be visual elements such as your logo, promotional photos for example. Your final task will be to integrate this content by adding information about you. Your activity, the products and services offered, possibly an online shop if you want customers to be able to order directly from you.
Advantages of CMS such as Wix or WordPress
- Facilitated content creation
- Realization accessible to all
- Simplified support
Disadvantages of CMS
- Often technically costly
- The possibilities are limited from a functional and graphical point of view.
- You will be left to your own devices in case of a problem
Do it yourself without CMS
Are you qualified enough to code your website yourself? In this case, take the development of your portal in hand from start to finish to reduce costs and get exactly the result you want.
You will first have to choose a web technology that will serve as the basis for development. At the moment, React seems to be the best choice to offer lightweight and highly compatible websites. You can then choose a CSS framework to complete this base like bulma.io or Bootstrap for React.
Finally, add a MySQL or MongoDB database to store the information you need. All you will need to do is develop your pages and push it to a hosting provider such as Gandi or OVH.
- Extremely low costs
- Increased customization
- You have a hand in every step of the project
- A monumental amount of work
- A wide variety of specialized skills are required
- In the event of a breakdown, you can only rely on yourself.
Using an agency
The specialized agencies are there to help you create your website. They put their expertise and experience at your service to accompany you through the creation process and make the right decisions to better showcase your business.
Some agencies are specialized in certain sectors of activity and will be able to highlight your work better than others. Favour the agency that listens to you the best rather than the one that offers you the cheapest quote. Your web service provider will accompany you well after the delivery of the site to keep it up to date and ensure that all the necessary security measures are in place.
This long-term collaboration implies having an excellent relationship with this provider. In the event of a problem, you need to be able to count on them quickly.
What are the software used to create a website?
Accessible to all
We have already mentioned the subject of websites like Wix that can assist you in creating your own website. However, there is also specialized software available to help you create all or part of the contents of your site.
Conceived as a software halfway between beginners and professionals, Dreamweaver offers a two-step approach to design. On the one hand, you will be able to move graphic elements to create your website without having to type a single line of code.
On the other hand, if needed, a code editor will be available to go much further in the realization of your site. Without knowledge in this field, you will not be able to use it.
Ideal for creating quality visuals, Photoshop is the indispensable tool for all your graphic creations. Despite some shortcomings in the support of web formats, Photoshop remains an institution in terms of graphic creation for all media.
Requiring special technical skills
Visual Studio Code
What are the steps involved in creating a website?
Define the objective of your site
Why do you want to create a website? What is your main objective? Do you want to do business online? Promote your products? Present your company?
Whatever your objective is, you need to define it clearly. It is by keeping it in mind that you will be able to design your entire site in a coherent way. Your objective should be summed up in one simple sentence. For example: "I want to sell my products online". Even if you already know that you will propose other contents around the sale, your priority will be clearly defined in the design of the pages.
List the elements to be included
What do you want to put forward? Pictures? Texts? What information is important to communicate online?
The information and its nature play a crucial role in the creation of your site. On the one hand from a technical point of view, on the other hand about the referencing of your portal.
Concerning the technical part, be aware that images, videos and all media must be optimized for the web. This means that they must not weigh too much, otherwise your site will be very slow to be displayed to your users. These slowness will negatively impact your SEO.
SEO, precisely, depends on the content and its quality. Putting a lot of similar or similar content online may be a disservice to you. Conversely, a few varied contents, really well written and on current events can really make the difference with search engines. Quality always takes precedence over quantity.
Create a navigation plan
Your users will need a menu to navigate easily on your website. Available categories, quick links, essential pages should be there to help them access the information they need quickly.
The navigation plan must remain simple in the user's best interest. Target the essential categories of interest to your users such as company information, mission, contact information and product lines.
Work on your graphic charter
Your graphic charter must be adapted to the web. Some colours, for example, are not supported by web browsers. So make sure that all graphic content is fast to load, compatible with modern browsers and suitable for both desktop and mobile use.
Designing / Having the site designed
Once all the elements are ready, the contents, the charter and you know what your site is going to be used for, it's time to think about the realization. We have already mentioned the subject of tools earlier, but remember that an agency can quite easily take on this task.
The realization is fluid when everything has been well thought out and anticipated beforehand. As your portal takes shape, you may realize that some decisions may not match your vision. Quickly bring this information to the attention of your agency to minimize the work that needs to be redone.
How to code a site?
The choice of the technological base depends on your programming skills. The programming language you choose will be used to structure the pages, telling the browser what it should display and how it should do it depending on the device used.
Hosting your site means storing web page code and media such as photos or videos on a secure server where any user can visit your website. You can set up your server yourself but we recommend that you use a hosting provider for security reasons.
The main ones are :
They all have similar rates and promotions.
If you are not competent enough to subscribe yourself with them and put your site online, an agency can help you to do so and take over from your host if necessary.
Over time, updates will be available for the technologies on your site. New security threats will also emerge. The support of your website is therefore to keep your website data up to date and protected. If you do not do this regularly, your site could be the target of malicious attacks or data leaks.
With a CMS, each update is done with a simple dedicated button. The agency that developed your website can also offer you a support contract, it will manage this aspect as long as the contract is valid. If you have created your website yourself, the updates will be your responsibility in a systematic way.
Website or web application?
A website can be consulted via a browser, without the internet, you will not be able to access it. The very nature of the site is to convey information to the user. The user has little or no means of getting in touch with you.
The advantage of websites is that they can be consulted from anywhere on any type of device without the need to install a specific application.
- Compatibility with all devices
- Ease of access via the browser
- The number of potential visitors
- Few possible interactions
- Inaccessible without internet
- Compatibility issues on older devices
Web applications are tools that work online, at least in part. They allow you to perform tasks such as typing text, editing a photo, watching videos or chatting with friends. Web applications can be partially installed on your phone, but this is not required.
Unlike traditional websites, web applications can be used partly offline for some. The most important content is stored on your phone or computer so you can access it anywhere. If you need additional information, you will still need to connect to the internet.
Web applications are on the rise because they allow you to do much more than traditional websites without requiring much more work. Nevertheless, they remain far behind the versatility of classic applications, those found on Windows, Android or iOS.
- Richer than a classic website
- The installation allows partial offline use
- Very easy to design
- Still less powerful than a classic application
- Requires internet for access to new online information
- Takes up space on the device (phone, tablet, computer)
How to brief a web design agency?
Preparing your project
Your project may be more complex than you think. If you have to present it to a web agency, they must quickly be able to understand what you expect from them. To do so, it is imperative to gather all the relevant elements of your website creation project and to structure them in the simplest possible way.
A main document of a few pages summarizing your expectations, specific instructions, important dates and the work already done will greatly simplify the work of the agency which will be able to respond quickly.
Ask your questions early
As soon as an agency contacts you, it will surely bring to the table subjects that you hadn't necessarily thought of on your side. It will be the same during the creation of your site, some subjects could emerge spontaneously. So be sure to ask your questions as the project progresses and make sure you get the answers you need.
After a certain period of time, any concerns you may have will no longer be relevant since it will not be possible to rework them. There are no silly questions and you should always feel that you understand what will happen next.
Make all the elements available
You may already have elements that are useful for the agency such as visuals or texts used in other media. All this content can be used to illustrate your project and give a direction to follow in creating your website.
The more quality and ready-to-use content you can provide, the less the agency will have to deploy human and technical resources to make up for any shortfalls. The bill will be lower and the working time will be shorter.
Designing your own website is an adventure for which you should prepare yourself carefully. There are many pitfalls that you should not fall into after reading this article. If you feel the need, many agencies are there to listen to you and help you complete your project. Don't forget to take the time to consider all aspects of your site before you start, otherwise, even with an agency, you may not get the site you really want.
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