What I Wish I Knew: The Real Talk Guide to Building Your Website

Jumping into making your own website is super exciting, right? But, let’s be real, it can also feel very overwhelming, confusing, and stressful. Looking back on when I first started, I’ve picked up a bunch of tips and tricks that I really wish someone had just sat down and told me. So, here I am, ready to spill all the secrets and share the four big things I wish I had known before I jumped into creating my own website.

1.) In-depth Research Is Your Secret Weapon

Before jumping right into building your website, spend some time looking at websites from businesses and brands similar to yours. Pay attention to everything from their layout to those little details that make you stop and say, “Oh, I love this!” or “Hmm, not so much for me.

Notice the sections and features they include. Are there blogs, portfolios, or e-commerce elements that stand out to you? How do they guide visitors through their site, and how easy is it for someone to find exactly what they’re looking for? It’s super crucial that you take note of what you like and what you don’t like. This step is essential but often skipped. A lot of us get excited and dive right into designing our site without a clear plan. By taking time to see what’s out there, you can pick up ideas on how you want your own site to feel and function.

Doing this really helped me get a clear picture of how I wanted my website to be, guiding me from being unsure to having a solid plan for my site. Trust me, it’s a simple yet incredibly impactful step that can make a huge difference in your website building journey.

2.) Write The Plan – Map Out Your Website Structure

It’s absolutely crucial for you to take the time to map out the pages you want on your website, along with the specific information that will go on each page. Trust me, this step is a game-changer! By creating this blueprint, you’re not only helping yourself stay organized but also providing guidance for your website designer and even helping you decide on which template to purchase when searching.

Having a clear outline ensures that your designer knows exactly what you need, preventing any frustrating issues. It also helps you avoid investing in templates that might not have everything you want (if you’re deciding to do things yourself). So, grab a pen and paper (or your favorite note-taking app) and start sketching out your website’s blueprint. If you are a visual person like me, you could also create a moodboard with inspirational photos and ideas! You’ll thank yourself later for this bit of foresight.

3.) Before You Click Purchase: Explore Your Template Options

If there’s one key takeaway from this blog, it’s this: before you rush into buying a website template, make sure it aligns with most of your website needs. This can save you tons of money and future headaches. Your template should be adaptable enough to evolve with your business as time goes on. Don’t let those flashy demo photos lure you in; take the time to think about whether the template’s style genuinely fits your brand and if it’s suitable for where your business is right now.

I’ve been there, wowed by a template’s stunning demo images and aesthetics, only to find that my own photos and branding just didn’t match up once I added them. That’s why it’s important not to get totally carried away by a template’s looks without considering if it really works for your business.

Remember, a template is just a starting point. To make it reflect your unique style, customization is key. For example, when I first got into photography and was setting up my business, I would find these gorgeous templates with beautiful horizontal images on their homepages. But, at that time, my portfolio didn’t have a lot of horizontal photos, so buying those templates meant my work wouldn’t showcase well without having to shoot more horizontal images to fit their layout. I found it easier to choose a template that suited my vertical photos.

If you’re considering selling products in the future, choose a template with a built-in store section, even if you’re not using it immediately. You can always disable and enable it when you’re ready. From my experience, creating your website is much easier and smoother when you buy a template that already has the majority of what you need, so you can focus more on the little details than building things from scratch.

In essence, find what works for you now and allows room for growth in the future.

4.) A Website Is Never Finished

A real talk for you – Your website will never “feel” finished. Your site grows and changes with you, reflecting every new step and shift in your journey. So, if you start to get caught up in making everything perfect, just take a moment to step back. Breathe, and remind yourself: your website is more of a journey than a final stop. It’s built to adapt, to shift, and to embrace new ideas as they come.

Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, in a couple of hours or days, you’ll get hit with a new inspiration or notice something you want to fine-tune. And you know what? That’s totally fine. There will always be something to add or adjust. Don’t worry about making everything perfect right away. Your website is your digital spot, meant to grow and change with you. Embrace the chance to make adjustments and try new things. Watching your style and preferences evolve from when you first start to what your site becomes will be an amazing experience.

To wrap it up! Deciding to build a website can feel like a big step, but it’s one exciting journey packed with learning and growing. Think of your website as your online space that evolves with you over time. It’s all about tweaking and refining as you go. No need for everything to be spot-on perfect from the start. Websites are meant to adapt and grow. So enjoy the journey of customizing and seeing your vision come to life. Cheers to the tweaks, the changes, and all the growth that’s yet to come. Keep exploring, keep adjusting, and most importantly, enjoy the creative process. Your website is your stage – let’s make it shine in your own unique way!