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22 Tips for Building a DIY Website

22 Tips to Help Build Your Own Website

  

What do the most successful DIY websites do that others don’t? Over ten years and millions of websites, we here at Jimdo have studied just that. Again and again, it's a few simple tactics that help make the most of your DIY website builder, no matter what your website is about.

 

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The 22 Habits of Successful DIY Websites

If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the millions of people who have decided to build their own websites. You’re jumping into a new world, learning a new tool, and taking a chance on a new idea—that anyone can build their own website to put their passions online.

 

Now that you've taken that first step, here are some of our tried-and-true suggestions for making sure your website is a success: 

1. Start with a goal for  your website.

Be clear and specific about what you're hoping to achieve and what you need your website to do before you get started. 

2. Find inspiration from those who have gone before.

You’re not alone! Check out our Jimdo Examples page to see more awesome DIY websites. Keep track of what you like, because chances are you can do something similar on your own website.

3. Think about who your audience is.

(And don't cheat by saying that it's “everyone” ;). If you know specifically who you are trying to reach, you can create a website that's targeted to what they need. Defining who your website is for (and not for) will make it easier to create a focused, successful website. 

4. Take the time to create a site plan.

It’s like reading a recipe all the way through before you start cooking—it may seem boring, but it will save you a ton of time later on. Whether you go for simple or complex, any kind of site plan will help you once you start building. Here are our tips on creating one.

5. Make your navigation menu fit on one line.

 A horizontal menu bar that breaks onto two lines can look a bit clunky: it basically sends the message “I couldn’t decide what should go here, so I just put in everything.” Paring down your menu items so they fit on one line makes 99% of websites look better, and makes it easier for customers to find what they need—a win/win.

Navigation menu on two lines
A navigation menu that takes up multiple lines can be hard for visitors to, well, navigate.
website navigation menu
See if you can remove some menu items so they fit on one line instead. Ahh, much better.

6. Fill in your SEO settings.

Lots of people skip this step because they assume SEO is too advanced for them. Sure, there are some things in life you should be an expert in before you do it yourself (surgery and haircutting come to mind), but SEO isn’t one of them. If you fill in your Site Title, Page Titles, and Page Descriptions for each page (here’s how), you can give yourself a huge pat on the back.

7. Invest in your own domain name.

 When you opt for a paid subscription, you get a custom domain (website address) and no ads or logos will appear on your site—and these both signal to your visitors that you take your website (and business) seriously.

8. Choose a domain name that's easy to spell.

Your ideal domain name might be taken, but Trytoavoidanimpossiblylongdomainname.com.

 

Also, Its-best-to-avoid-hyphens.com.

9. Leave enough time to connect your domain.

If you’re transferring your domain to Jimdo or using a domain from another company, make you sure leave some time to connect it to your website—the process can take a few hours or a few days depending on your registrar.

10. Keep track of the email you use to register your domain.

This is true especially if you register your domain with another host. Losing tabs on your domain (or accidentally letting it expire) can be a painful experience.

11. Check how your website looks on mobile phones.

At Jimdo, all website templates are responsive, so your website will automatically adjust to fit the size of someone’s screen. Even so, it’s a good idea to double-check using View Mode—and also to make sure your font is large enough so that everyone can comfortably read it.

Jimdo websites are mobile responsive.

12. Get a head-start with Suggested Layouts.

A blank page can be an intimidating prospect, but with Suggested Layouts you can choose a pre-designed page where everything is lined up nicely, and just fill in your own content. Easy!

13. Stick to high-quality photographs.

Stretching a low-quality photo into a large image is sort of like trying to comb over a bald spot. You can try, but it’s not going to look very good. If your photos look grainy, pixelated, or blurry, accept what you cannot change….and check out some of the free resources for high-quality, professional photographs that you can use instead.  

use high-quality photographs on your website
On the web, stretching a small photograph to make it bigger leads to pixelated results...

14. Consider investing in a logo.

A professionally-designed logo can cost more than your website, but it’s a worthwhile piece of branding that you can use on all of your social media channels too—and it will look great in your website’s Header Area. We recommend using 99designs for affordable packages.

15. Use a logo with a transparent background.

While we’re talking logos, it's best to use a version with a transparent background (typically a .PNG file). That way you won't have a box showing up behind it. 


16. Take advantage of free icons.

Did you know that there are tons of creative icons out there, available for free? It sounds too good to be true, but there are lots of websites where you can download icons at no cost and then upload them to your website as Photo Elements.

Use icons on your DIY website
An example of free icons from www.flaticon.com

17. For fonts and colors, follow the rule of twos.

Pick two fonts (one for headings and one for body text) and two colors, and stick with them. If you’re new to web design, start with that and it will keep your site consistent and simple.

18. Use white space in your design.

Instead of cramming lots of content into a web page, it’s better to give each piece some breathing room, in the form of some empty “white” space around it. Websites with a good amount of white space are easier for people to read and navigate.

Website design white space
Leave some empty "white" space on your website for an uncluttered look.

19. Break up your text into small chunks.

Reading on a screen ain’t easy, and visitors will likely skim what you write. Help them out by putting your text into short paragraphs. Use columns, headings, bullets, and white space (see above) to make your words easier for people to process.

20. Make your contact information extremely easy to find.

Your own DIY website can be the easiest way to start a relationship with new customers, if you make it very clear how to do it. Put contact info in your sidebar or footer so it appears on every page—unless you’re cultivating an air of mystery or don’t really want people to get in touch with you.

21. Get to know some website widgets

If you can think it, there’s probably a website widget to help you do it. Widgets are little add-ons to your website that boost functionality–like a booking widget, a calendar, or a donation form. There are so many to choose from, and they’re easy (and often free) to install, even if you’re a beginner.

22. Know where you can turn for help.

If you get stuck, don't feel discouraged. Our Support Team is here to help—and we also have Jimdo Experts standing by who can help design your website for you. 


Any other words of wisdom you've learned from building your own website? Let us know in the comments. 

Maggie Biroscak

Content Editor


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Write a comment

Comments: 11
  • #1

    Jim (Tuesday, 07 February 2017 17:51)

    Is it possible to make the font size different in different header elements on the same page? I do have the option, Style by Element clicked on. Or does this mean all header elements will be changed together?

    My header on the top of the page needs to be larger than my "option to view available below" header that I would like to add in the middle of my home page. I would like this to be another SEO option, rather than a text element.

  • #2

    Maggie (Jimdo) (Tuesday, 07 February 2017 19:14)

    @Jim - Good question! Have you tried using Heading Elements in different sizes (small, medium, and large)? When you add a Heading Element you'll see an option to choose the size you want. It's good to have one Large Heading at the top of every page, and then use Medium and Small headings (the equivalent of <h2> and <h3> tags) for different sections on the rest of the page. And you're right, it's better for your SEO to use Headings than just making the text larger in your Text Elements. More details are available here: https://support.jimdo.com/basics/working-with-elements/heading/

    Does that answer your question? Please let us know if not :)

  • #3

    cjc0897@gmail.com (Friday, 10 February 2017 11:39)

    Great tips thanks for sharing this.

  • #4

    Marlise (Friday, 17 February 2017 17:18)

    Love Jimdo, just wondering if you guys will upload new default designs any time soon. The current designs are from 2014 and I'm dying to try some new designs, for example an one-pager.

  • #5

    Emmerey Rose (Saturday, 18 February 2017 05:57)

    I love Jimdo. Thanks Maggie for this cool guide. Love how easy it is to build a website sing Jimdo. I was wondering, can we also make our own layouts? is that possible?

  • #6

    Tara (Jimdo) (Monday, 20 February 2017 09:48)

    Hi Marlise!

    It makes us very happy to hear you love Jimdo! :)

    I can highly recommend this tutorial, if you want to create a one-pager: https://support.jimdo.com/faq/how-to-make-a-one-page-website/ We also have a blogpost that may help: https://www.jimdo.com/2016/03/21/how-to-design-the-perfect-one-page-website/

    If you just want a landing page then you'll also need to use some custom coding.

    In regard to new Templates I will be sure to pass on your suggestion to our developers. In the meantime I would play around with our other Templates, maybe you'll find one you love! Have a great week.

  • #7

    Maggie (Jimdo) (Tuesday, 28 February 2017 19:38)

    @Emmery Rose - Yes, you can definitely customize your template. Check out https://support.jimdo.com/design/custom-template/ for more information. We can also recommend Jimdo Experts if you need help building a custom template that's a bit more complex. https://www.jimdo.com/partners/jimdo-experts/

  • #8

    Emmerey Rose (Thursday, 02 March 2017 07:13)

    Thanks Maggie! Will check it out :)

  • #9

    SEO Experts Montreal (Thursday, 02 March 2017 13:47)

    It’s nice to read a quality blog post about building a diy website. I think you made some amazing points in this post. So thank you for sharing your ideas with us and please keep continue sharing with us.

  • #10

    Georgia web designer (Wednesday, 08 March 2017 14:54)

    Woow Awesome post. This is really helpfull for me. You made my day. I just loved this article. Thank you

  • #11

    A. Lee Scott (Wednesday, 08 March 2017 19:58)

    Thank you for the useful information and tips. I have a JIMBO account. How do I get started?