woman creating website

How to build a website from scratch as a total beginner

Posted by for Careers

Ready to take your personal brand or business to the next level? Building a website is the perfect first step. Here’s everything you need to know before you start.

Welcome to The Curiosity Academy, Stylist’s new learning hub where you can access workshops, how-to guides, new research and learn the most up-to-date skills from the UK’s most in-the-know people.

Knowing how to create a website is an important skill for so many careers. Whether you’re self-employed and want to show off your portfolio or starting your own business, building a website is often the first step to achieving your goals. 

There are lots of tools and beginner-friendly applications you can use to help you create your own website but the process can be quite overwhelming when you’re first starting out. That’s why we’ve recruited the help of Jasmine MacPhee, the founder of Find Your Intern – a digital platform that offers career support and opportunities to young people – to take you through the basic skills and tools you need to know about before you start building your own website.

Think like a brand

“Think like a brand no matter what level you’re at,” is Jasmine’s biggest piece of advice when it comes to designing a website. “Look at established brands that you like and take note of how they’ve designed their website and the information they have on it,” she says. You can also take inspiration from them when it comes to colours and fonts too.

“You can use that information to create a personal brand for yourself, which will make it a lot easier to design your own website,” Jasmine says. A website is an essential part of building your personal brand, which will help make yourself easily recognisable to colleagues, potential employers and clients.

Choose your website builder carefully

There are so many different website builders out there that you can choose from but you need to think carefully about which one is right for you. “The main things to consider are budget and skill level,” Jasmine says. She warns against using sites like Wix, which allow for a lot of customisation, if you don’t have many graphic design skills, as this can lead to messy layouts and an unprofessional appearance. Instead, Jasmine recommends sites like Squarespace, which allow you to pick from a selection of ready-made templates.

“Other things to think about is whether you’ll need shopping functions or other specific applications and if the web builder you’re looking at offers that,” Jasmine says. 

Jasmine has put together a list of her favourite web builders for different skills and websites on the FYI blog, if you’re unsure which one to go with.

Pick a colour scheme and stick with it

Having a solid colour scheme will be really important to your website, not only to its appearance but to support your personal brand too. Jasmine recommends picking three colours: a primary colour, which should make up about 60% of your website, a secondary colour, making up about 30%, and an extra colour, which should be used for about 10% of your website.

“Simplicity is key so sticking with three colours usually works,” Jasmine says. Try to avoid overwhelming your website with patterns too, as this will make it look unprofessional and difficult to navigate.

Figure out what the purpose of your website is

“Make sure you know exactly why you’re creating a website before you start building it so everything on there is relevant,” Jasmine says. She explains that most websites are usually split up into three main sections:

  • A page to showcase your works and services
  • A page about you
  • A page with contact details

Keep it simple and only include pages and details that are completely relevant to the purpose of your website. “Be sure to add images to support this,” Jasmine says. She also stresses the importance of making sure your website is optimised for mobile devices, as most people will be looking at your website from their phones.

Learn some SEO basics

Search engine optimisation is a really important skill to learn if the purpose of your website is to allow new people to discover you and your work. Applying SEO skills mean people are more likely to find your website via a search engine and there are so many things you can do to increase the chances of this. 

Some basic SEO tips Jasmine recommends applying are:

  • Rename your imagery to describe the subject of the image and/or your brand in detail.
  • Include copy with relevant search terms on each page of your website.

Invest in your own domain

Creating your own website is a fairly affordable process but one thing Jasmine does recommend investing in is a domain name. “It’s a huge part of your personal brand and having the website builder’s name in your domain takes away from that,” she says.

Even if you’re not planning on building your website now, Jasmine recommends buying the domain you want as soon as possible so no one else takes it. “The best domains are usually your first and last name but if that’s not available you can add in a verb that is relevant to your personal brand,” she says. For example, ‘StyledByEllie’ or ‘WillCreates’. Once you’ve bought your domain, make sure your social media handles match it, so it’s easy for people to find you and your personal brand is more recognisable.

You can find more expert tips and guides on The Curiosity Academy’s Instagram page.

  • Jasmine MacPhee, founder of Find Your Intern

    Jasmine headshot, founder of find your intern
    Jasmine has helped countless young women secure their dream jobs.

    Jasmine is the founder of Find Your Intern (FYI), the only platform to find paid creative internships, supported by an active membership, flourishing community and shop. 

The Curiosity Academy is Stylist’s new home for learning, packed with workshops, guides & video classes from the UK’s most in-the-know people.

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Images: Jasmine MacPhee, Getty

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