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