Do I really need a website? This question arises whether you plan to introduce your small business or launch a massive campaign for global outreach. The answer is YES.
Having a website is vital for individuals, freelancers, companies, international corporations, and business of any size. The second question is how to build a new site from scratch.
This is where most newbies have their backs against the wall. With so many evolving website building technologies to choose from, some might find it confusing to pick the best-matching one. The choice will mainly depend on the project complexity, key goals, website type, budget, and technical background.
In this ultimate guide, we will review all of the available website building tools and technologies to highlight the pros and cons, key features, and the benefits they deliver. So, stay tuned!
Step 1: Website Building Methods Explained
Before we dive deep into the building methods, we need to figure out what actually a website is. According to the latest stats, over 1.94 billion sites are available on the global web in 2019. Users may come across endless variety of online projects divided into categories depending on their type, technology, functionality, and other criteria.
However, they all have one thing in common. Each website comes as a set of globally accessible web pages that are united under the single domain name. The main purpose is to let individuals or groups of users establish their web presence by means of creating and publishing content, web pages or sections that are hosted on a single server.
A web page may be available in two different view types:
- The first one is the way users see the page when they visit your website (a rendered view).
- The second one takes the user behind the curtains and displays the source code. It might be previewed with the help of text editor, for example, Notepad.
In other words, a website is the combination of the markup code and the content including media files, texts, design, elements, widgets, etc. All sites might be divided into two major categories: static and dynamic.
What is a Static Website?
The term “static” means that this website type is available in the form of a static HTML document that represents necessary content. Each document is hosted on the web server with its own unique URL. The page looks the same to the visitor as on the server.
The key feature is that a website owner needs to handle the development process manually every time he or she wants to make changes or modify the pages. Such approach requires deep coding and programming knowledge.
|Pros of Static Websites:||Cons of Static Websites:|
| ✔ Good for timeless content representation.|
✔ Cheaper to host, operate, and maintain.
✔ Faster website speed.
✔ No CMS is required.
| ✘ Each content update or on-page modification should be done manually.|
✘ Requires enhanced programming and coding skills.
✘ Less flexible in terms of website customization.
What is a Dynamic Website?
This website type differs from status, as the web server automatically generates the project every time a new visitor is trying to access it. In other words, a user does not need to handle on-page changes or modifications manually. He or she gets access to pre-designed website layouts or templates that already include relevant features, elements or even content.
Dynamic websites are more popular with non-technicians and newbies, as they do not require much of learning curve and deliver enough flexibility combined with ease of use.
|Pros of Static Websites:||Cons of Static Websites:|
| ✔ No technical skills are necessary.|
✔ Faster content update and site modification.
✔ Ready-made layouts and templates.
✔ Requires less time to build a site from scratch.
| ✘ Requires content management system.|
✘ Some technical background might still be necessary.
✘ Dynamic sites require servers that are more powerful in terms of resources.
To get started with the new website from scratch you need to make up your mind regarding the project type. The choice will depend on the technologies you are going to use for the building process. You should consider several crucial facts before picking the instrument. Those factors include the website type and size, project structure and complexity, the approximate amount of pages and content volume, etc.
We have stressed out 4 major instruments and technologies to build a website from scratch. They are as follows:
- Self-coded HTML-based sites.
- All-in-One Website Builders.
- CMS-based projects.
- Frameworks for creating sites.
Let’s see, which one will turn out to be the ultimate solution to meet your particular project goals.
#1. Self-Coded HTML Websites
This method is a better option for user craving for maximum customization and web design freedom. Self-coded websites mainly refer to the static type. The key advantage is that you are actually the one to write the HTML page source code or even design the CMS of your own to manage the content.
The bad news is that the process is extremely challenging in terms of technical skills. You need to be an expert in coding and programming. Otherwise, the project will never work out. Those who does not have such skills, opt for outsourcing web development teams or freelancers, which is hardly the best alternative considering website building costs, timeframes, and other aspects. A few companies may really afford to outsource.
If you decide to complete the building process yourself, you will need to create each and every new page or section from scratch manually. Even if you need to build the same structure for the new page, prepare to copy and paste the source code from the initial one. In other words, the slightest modification or update calls for good technical skills and plenty of time.
The entire process seems to be pretty simple from the start:
- Get an HTML or text editor.
- Open a new page.
- Copy and paste the code from the editor.
- Save the changes.
Programming is the key challenge here. You will need to write a new piece of code for every new button, element, widget or feature you want to see on the website. If the project has numerous pages with contact forms, calendars, user acquisition tools or other functions, it may take you years to build a website from scratch.
Even if you do everything right, no one will ever guarantee smooth website operation as well as proper content management especially if you design the CMS platform of your own. Moreover, you will need to take care of the hosting for your website. As a rule, self-coded websites are not very demanding in terms of server resources. On the other hand, you will still need to register a domain name separately.
HTML Website Building Costs: the cost will depend on whether you plan to code everything yourself or opt for outsourcing or custom web development teams. If you prefer someone to do the job for you, the price will also vary depending on project complexity, structure, features you need to implement. Moreover, you will need to pay for every new update. The final price may range from $5,000-$10,000 for a simple website up to $25,000-$3,000 for a digital store.
Self-Coded Website Pros:
Self-Coded Website Cons:
| ✔ Customization and Web design flexibility.|
✔ Good for huge companies that require exclusive representation.
| ✘ Time-consuming web build g process.|
✘ Enhanced programming and coding skills are necessary.
✘ Manual customization and updates.
✘ Results in huge costs in case of outsourcing.
✘ Separate hosting and domain management.
✘ No customer support. You are on your own.
#2. Website Builders
Website builders were designed to make the building process as easy as possible. They appeared to be the only way for newbies to establish their web representation with no technical skills. Moreover, new software has proved to be a faster and sometimes cheaper way to get started with the new online project. We have highlighted some key features that have made website builders so popular with users globally.
Ease of Use
The first and foremost advantage of website builders is the ease of use. As we have already mentioned, they do not require technical skills in the majority of cases. Most platforms offer an intuitive editor with a so-called drag-and-drop functionality. It makes the editing and customization process super easy. It usually consists of several simple steps:
- Get a ready-made layout or template.
- Redesign the existing structure by moving objects, on-page blocks or elements.
- Create a new structure from the blank by adding new elements from the list provided.
- Customize the page using advanced settings to resize, rearrange or re-style the existing layout.
All the above-mentioned steps can be made with a couple of clicks thanks to the WYSIWYG technology. It is the same as playing with pre-designed LEGO blocks. The process of content management and publishing is also very fast.
Moreover, modern website builders follow the latest technology trends and implement AI and AR-based instruments to let users build sites in minutes. Some biggest industry names use artificial intelligence that actually builds a site for the user using info provided (website type, niche, required features, etc.). In other words, you get a ready-to-use website with relevant content, widgets, and integrated apps.
Apart from self-coded sites, website builders are not just site constructors. They come as a full-cycle kit not only to build but also host your new sites. Moreover, users get a free domain in most of the cases. In other words, you may handle all your web assets from a single platform with no need to take care of them separately. You pay for the plan and get everything you need in the pack.
The same thing is with features. As a rule, users get full access to all features depending on the hand they buy. The feature set consists of free templates for different website types, integrated security means, free apps, custom support, etc.
Flexibility and Control
Website builders let users handle the process from anywhere. All you need is the device connected to the internet. Sign in within seconds and get full access to all the building tools. Some platforms come with mobile versions and apps to make it easy for users to edit websites on the go.
Although such software does not deliver as much design and customization freedom as self-coded sites, you may still benefit from responsive layouts that work well on different devices, opt for advanced settings to customize the pages, etc. Some well-known website builders have advanced editors and developer’s access for experienced users who still want to create some of the features on their own.
Some users might not like the fact that if they ever opt for a website builder they are likely to stick to it. A few platforms really have the website import/export feature. On the other hand, would you really need to switch the platform considering the above-mentioned features? If yes, there are some website migration alternatives available.
Website building costs: most platforms offer plans for any budget. The average price for a fully-features site with a domain, hosting, and set of extra tools is somewhere around $15-$20 per month (sometimes even cheaper).
Website Builder Pros:
Website Builder Pros:
| ✔ Easy to use.|
✔ All features in one.
✔ Great for newbies.
✔ The world for different website types.
✔ Responsive layouts and editing on the go.
✔ Worldwide accessibility.
✔ Advanced technologies.
✔ Ready-to-go sites in minutes.
| ✘ Less customization and web design freedom.|
✘ Some plans are too pricy.
✘ Limited migration capabilities.
#3. CMS-based Websites
Our next website building method combines several technologies. CMS or content management system is the key feature of the method. It must be installed on the webserver letting users manage or modify content without “touching” the website template itself.
The ease of use depends on the approach you implement when building websites from scratch:
- Simple Editing – with this approach, you may use the CMS platform to add or edit content, upload media files, images, etc. The system ensures some baseline customization features like enabling third-party apps, integrations, and plugins. Such an approach does not require special coding skills. All you need is to download the CMS platform, install the template, and edit content to go live with the website.
- Advanced Editing – as we have mentioned before, CMS-based technology combines various website building methods. Here you actually have full access to the template’s source code with the ability to edit it or modify in accordance with your needs. Users are free to implement their own web design, create new functions or features.
The first approach is good for newbies with no technical skills. We may come across thousands of successful projects built with some of the most popular CMS platforms in the world such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and more.
On the other hand, the second one will work out only in case of deep knowledge of HTML, PHP or CSS. Moreover, such projects call for constant supervision, as you will have to take care of plugin updates and template updates, backups, etc. At some point, you may still need a decent level of programming skills.
Let’s have a look at some key features that refer to CMS-based website building technologies.
When opting for this particular technology, get ready to handle all the operations manually. For example, a user is the only one responsible for registering a domain as well as finding a suitable hosting for the website. Unlike website builders, CMS does not come as an all-in-one solution.
On the other hand, some reputable hosting providers like Bluehost offer CMS-optimized packages for various platforms with seamless integration, automated updates, and a full set of extra features to put an ease on the building process.
The good news is that you may implement literally any design idea, while CMS provides full access to the mockup code editor. It is possible to make some slight modifications even without deep programming knowledge. For huger tasks, some learning curve is necessary.
With CMS technologies, users get endless customization features in terms of website functionality. Thousands of plugins are available for download and activation. You may find add-ons for any project type form payment method integration and analytics to SEO boosters, marketing tools, and more. However, you need to be ready to handle the setup and installation on your own as well as proceed with regular plugin updates manually.
Website building cost: the CMS itself is free. You only need to pay for a domain and hosting (about $5 per month). Sometimes you may need to pay for premium plugins, templates, and third-party service premium accounts.
CMS-Based Site Pros:
CMS-Based Site Cons:
| ✔ Maximum flexibility.|
✔ Endless customization features.
✔ Relatively easy to use.
✔ Access to the code editor.
| ✘ Manual control.|
✘ Technical skills required.
✘ Plugin activation and setup.
#4. Web Design Frameworks
A framework is actually a ready-made template. This is why some users are often misled thinking that using frameworks is super easy. Well, it is not. They are designed to let experienced designers and web developers stay focused on creating unique website functionality rather than programming common features that can be met elsewhere.
In other words, you actually get a website blueprint without the content management system where you need to do intensive coding in order to bring your idea to life. In most cases, frameworks do not even have typical dashboards or control panels.
So, what makes them so popular with users?
Open Source Platforms
Most frameworks are available as open-source mockups. It means that you may easily access, edit, change or modify the template code. Moreover, users may find different frameworks available in various programming languages to pick the best-matching variant.
Despite the fact, frameworks require some coding; they are more efficient if compared to self-coded sites. Some templates come with already built-in functions. For example, you may get a template with an integrated system for users’ comments in your blog or connected image galleries for your portfolio. At the same time, frameworks make it easier to communicate with databases as well as integrate third-party services.
Before the framework is deployed, developers proceed with AB testing to ensure its smooth operation. It ensures stable website running although. The bad news here is that framework-based sites are generally slower. They will hardly be a good idea for a growing business that requires complex website structure with tons of media files and content to be uploaded further.
Website building cost: frameworks may come in various packages and plans with the monthly price somewhere between $50 and $1,5000 per month for enormous online projects.
Website Framework Pros:
Website Framework Cons:
| ✔ Ready-made templates.|
✔ Built-in features.
| ✘ The learning curve is still necessary.|
✘ Not good for growing projects.
✘ High costs.
✘ Low-performance level.
Have a look at the table below, to sum up, all the info about website building methods and technologies we have discussed.
|Website building method||Self-coded||Website Builder||CMS||Framework|
|Ease of Use||Requires deep technical, coding, and programming skills. Calls for a separate content management system.||Good for newbies and non-technicians. Intuitive editor and dashboard.||Good for newbies although some technical skills are still necessary. Requires setting, domain/hosting management.||Designed for pros. Web designing and programming skills are necessary.|
|Features||Total web designing freedom. No integrated CMS. The ability to code everything from scratch.||All-in-one solution. All features within a single plan.||Access to the source code, numerous plugins, manual control over the features.||Pre-designed templates, some built-in features, low performance, and stable operation.|
|Good for||Any project. The more complicated your site is, the more time and money you need.||All types of websites with numerous templates for any niche and project type.||Great for content-based sites, eCommerce projects will require extra customization.||Good for small business sites and portfolios, Not good for growing projects.|
|Price||From $0 to $100,000 in case of hiring third-party developers.||From $0 to $40 for a full-cycle website including eCommerce features.||From $5 to $300 in case of paid templates and premium features.||From $10 to $2,000 depending on the plan.|
Step 2: Plan Your Future Website
If you want to prevent your website from flawing before you create a single page, detailed planning is necessary. The project is doomed to failure without brief, clear goals, primary project objectives as well as needs it is going to server.
You need to have a clear understanding of how your website might help potential users. Is it a digital store, blog, portfolio or small business site? What kind of info should it represent and in what way? What is your buyer persona? What structure should a project have and what features will it need to serve the goals? If you have the answer to those questions, you are at the right path.
Defining the Website Type
This one is the most crucial step, as the project type will define your site functionality and features you will need. Are you going to launch a blog to share your ideas with people or monetize the website? Do you want to sell products online and get involved in the eCommerce niche? Would you like to represent your services and competence with a professional portfolio?
Each website type requires different approaches. The building process will be different with only a few common things. The idea is to clearly realize the key features that define a particular website type.
Portfolio Website Features
This type refers to a small business website used by freelancers, independent service providers as well as small and medium companies. The main idea is to represent the service and the business itself in the most attractive manner. Let’s say, you are a professional photographer wanting to build a website from scratch for better recognition. Here are some baseline features a portfolio should contain:
- About You Section – you need to introduce yourself to the public showcasing your working experience and competence.
- Portfolio – this one is to highlight some of your best works and photos. Image collections may be divided into categories. You may try some gallery and slider widgets to make the page a bit more interactive.
- Contact section – your customers should have a simple and fast way to get in touch. A huge percentage of potential clients leave the website because of complicated contacting forms or navigation. It means you should not overload your website with useless content and stress the most beneficial aspects of the services provided.
Website builders and CMS platforms might come as a great relief, as they deliver a selection of portfolio templates with already integrated contact forms, About Us sections, dynamic galleries, and other great features you might need. Opting for frameworks might also be a good idea. Self-coded sites will require programming each and every feature from scratch, which is impossible without special technical skills.
Blog and Content-Based Website Features
Are you eager to share your knowledge with potential readers, write handy guides, share blog posts, news, and articles? Then you need to create a content-based website or a blog. This type is mainly used by writers and bloggers eager to share some useful pieces of info. They can also some money thanks to online monetization.
Blogs may cover tons of topics from angling and car repairing tips to some more professional issues like building an online store from scratch or developing a mobile app. It all depends on your own imagination. Some people consider this type as the easiest one to create. However, it should also have some of the crucial features. Otherwise, it will be doomed to failure. A successful blog requires the following:
- Attractive Design – although we are talking of content-based sites where the content matters, it should still have an attractive design. Users may opt for numerous themes and ready-made layouts with animations, parallax effects, and other perks to make the site a bit more interactive.
- Editing Platform – you will have to work with content a lot. In other words, you will need a platform with a powerful content management tool to deal with texts, scripts, media files, typography to make your text more attractive to readers, etc.
- Simple Navigation – you need to ensure fast and simple access to all sections of your website. The more articles users read the better for your blog. It does not only mean a clear menu or search system but also relevant internal links.
- Social Sharing – it is one of the most important features for the blog. Users should have a chance to share your articles via the biggest social platforms.
- Subscription and Comment Forms – subscription forms might be the best way to grow your audience and keep them aware of new posts published. Comment forms will keep your audience engaged.
Those are only a few features that a professional blog should have. As you might see, it is even more complicated in terms of the building process if compared to portfolios. The good news is that some of the website builders have blogging features with various layouts, typography, and SEO settings.
However, opting for CMS (for example, WordPress) is probably the best solution. It has a powerful content management system in addition to tons of customization features and blogging templates.
Digital Store Features
eCommerce projects are the toughest in terms of technical implementation. They usually have different apps and add-ons, third-party services, and technologies that require smooth and stable running. Otherwise, your buyers would probably leave.
A successful online shop is not only about selling goods. It is also about marketing and promotion campaigns, loyalty programs, users’ acquisition, and more. Here are some of the baseline features a digital store should have:
- Simple Navigation and Search Options – ensure fast access to different product categories for your customers. Make it easy for them to find the good they need. Implement filters and special options to sort out products by prices, sizes, types, etc.
- Easy Checkout Process – many buyers leave due to a complicated checkout process. You need to make it fast and simple. This is where you may need a shopping cart and payment method integration to ensure purchasing flexibility for the customers.
- Shipping Options – it is pretty hard to stand out from competitors in the eCommerce niche. You need to offer some unique features. Free shipping options might do the trick.
- Product Management – the platform you choose to build a website from scratch should have an advanced product management system to indicate price, update descriptions, add beautiful product photos and videos, work with baseline SEO settings, etc.
- Customers Review Section – a great way to may your online store more trustworthy. Let your customers share purchasing experience as well as comments about your product quality.
- Marketing and Promotion – attract customers with special offers, promotions, coupons, promo codes, discounts, and other programs to boost clients’ loyalty.
The best way to build a full-cycle online store is to opt for website builders designed specially for eCommerce needs. They come with a full package of product management, marketing, and promotion kits, while their templates already include all features a web store needs.
Step 3: Choose Your Website Building Platform
When choosing a platform, you need to consider your website type and functions it should have. Different website building methods come with different technologies. We are to highlight the best options in each niche: Wix, WordPress, and Shopify.
Option A: Wix – The Best Website Builder
Wix – is the most recognizable drag-and-drop website builder that uses artificial intelligence to let newbies build sites in minutes. Wix community consists of more than 154 million subscribers in addition to almost 3.5 million websites live. The system is good for any website type but suits small business needs the most.
Key Wix features:
- Ease of Use – perfect for newbies with no technical skills.
- App Market – tons of widgets and apps for website customization.
- Flexibility – third-party integration, advanced settings.
- Responsive Templates – build a mobile-friendly website.
- Wix Editor – drag-and-drop functionality and the ability to design some of the elements.
How to Build a Website from Scratch on Wix (Step-by-step Guide):
- Register and sign up for the plan. Wix comes as an all-in-one platform. It means that you only need to pick up a suitable plan with all the features you need in the pack and start building a site. But first, you need to sign in. The registration process is super easy. A user needs to indicate an email and password or sign in using social account.
- Pick and customize your template. A user will be offered to choose from over 550 responsive templates divided by categories. Simply choose the one you like and start editing it. Users may opt for Wix ADi – an AI-based website builder that creates ready-to-publish sites in minutes. Another way is to edit ready-made layouts using an intuitive drag-and-drop editor as well as design some of the elements on your own using Wix Corvid. The dashboard provides a full set of objects, forms, elements, buttons, and other things to add on your site. You may also customize your page by getting widgets and add-ons from the App Market.
- Subscribe and get your free domain name. Each plan starting from Combo offers a free 1-year domain. It means that you do not have to register and pay for it separately. All you need is to pick the one and connect it with the website. If you opt for the cheapest Connect Domain plan, you will need to handle the registration separately.
- Preview and publish your website. The interface offers several ways to preview the website and check how it looks like on desktop, smartphone or tablet. If you are satisfied with it, simply click on the “publish” button and go live with your brand new site.
Option B: WordPress – The Best Hosted CMS
WordPress – is the most popular CMS in the world boasting almost 25 million websites live. Initially launched as a content-based platform, WordPress has grown into a multi-purpose website building instrument with tons of great features and maximum customization freedom. Here are some of the main WordPress benefits:
- Open-Source –full access to the source code.
- Free Platform – the CMS itself is 100% free.
- Thousands of Plugins – endless customization opportunities.
- Powerful Engine – fast website operation and improved content management.
Creating a Website from Scratch on WordPress (Step-by-step Guide):
- Register and sign up @ Bluehost. To avoid useless manual operations with WP setting and installation, Bluehost offers a selection of WP-optimized hosting solutions. The platform offers a traditional sign-in form where you may also use your social account to register.
- Choose a domain & hosting plan. Bluehost offers 3 major plans for WordPress: Basic ($2.68 per months), Plus ($4.96 per months), and Plus Choice ($4.96 per month). They all come with a free 1-year domain, which means you do not have to register it separately. Pay for a plan and link a domain name to your account.
- Install WordPress. Users would need to install WordPress manually if it was not for Bluehost. Each plan includes automated seamless integration with the CMS. You do not need to do anything. Simply go to the next stage.
- Pick a theme for your website. WordPress comes with thousands of free and paid themes. They refer to various categories including blogs, small business, eCommerce, etc. Most of the themes are mobile responsive. Premium layouts come with a more stylish design, in case you need to stand out. Choose a theme and install it from your dashboard or download from a zip file.
- Get the Necessary plugins. Customize your website with all necessary plugins from a huge WordPress marketplace. Users may choose from SEO boosters, analytic tools, contact forms, scripts, tables, charts, galleries, and more. Bluehost will take care of the plugin updates. Otherwise, you would have to do it manually.
- Add Content to Your Site. Now you may enter your CMS and start creating new pages, add texts, publish blog posts, articles, releases, etc. The interface is pretty easy with all necessary elements to add from “read more” tag and images to YouTube videos, author blocks, etc.
Option C: Shopify – The Best Ecommerce Platform
Shopify – is an all-in-one SaaS platform with all eCommerce features you might need. The software was initially designed to build online shops from scratch. It has evolved over the years bringing advanced eCommerce functionality such as automated EU VAT calculation and integrated payment methods in addition to some of its essential options:
- Advanced Product Management – add new products, unite them in groups, create product collections, add photos and videos, write descriptions and edit SEO settings.
- App Store – tons of widgets include apps for payment processing, analytics, promoting via social media, etc.
- Flexibility – your website may be integrated with third-party services such as Zoho, Zendesk, QuickBooks to boost its functionality.
- AR-Customer Experience – implanted AR-technologies let you create great product views with the help of 3D Warehouse application.
Creating an eCommerce website from scratch on Shopify (Step-by-step Guide):
- Register and sign up for the plan. The registration process will take your less than a minute. The system will ask you to indicate your email, password, and the name of the online shop. Then users will be able to start a 14-day free trial. When the trial is over, you will need to subscribe to any of the three of the basic Shopify plans depending on your store size and features you need.
- Choose and get your own domain name. You may use a domain name of your own or register one within the Shopify platform. Then you only need to connect it with your store and move on to the template editing stage.
- Pick and customize your template. Shopify offers about 10 mobile-responsive templates. They come with pre-installed features although you may still customize them with widgets from the App market as well as when accessing HTML/CSS. The system has an intuitive control panel making it easy to set up the store, add new products, create new pages or sections, etc.
- Preview and publish your website. The system has a preview mode to have a look at your website on various types of devices and screen sizes. If you are satisfied with the result, publish your store by clicking a single button.
Step 4. Before You Start (FAQs)
Defining the website type and the needed features is crucial before getting started. However, there are some other fundamental issues to look into. They include various issues to consider, as they may also determine the future project success. Here are some most frequently asked questions when budding a website from scratch.
The Bottom Line
Users have a wide option of methods and technologies that let them build a website from scratch. All you need is to choose the most suitable technology depending on your needs, technical backgrounds, and expectations. It is very important to set clear goals and define the website type before you dive deep in the process of creation. Moreover, you should clearly understand your own abilities not to have your back against the wall.
Beginners should opt for website builders with a full pack of features in one platform. Such web building technologies have everything you need to deal with the site of any type and zero learning curve. A bit more advanced users would appreciate the customization freedom delivered by CMS paired with trusted hosting. Experienced programmers and coders would appreciate the ability to design each and every feature on their own.
Whatever you choose, start with a briefing, compare and contrary various methodologies and opt for the most trusted and reputable one to ensure project stability and success.