How to Create a Website from Scratch

Every day, billions of people use the internet to shop for their favorite products, find local businesses, and conduct consumer research. Your business or brand will need a fully functional website to engage with a growing online audience.

How to Create a Website from Scratch
Photo by Pankaj Patel / Unsplash

In 2023, it’s never been more important to have a website. Every day, billions of people use the internet to shop for their favorite products, find local businesses, and conduct consumer research. 

Your business or brand will need a fully functional website to engage with a growing online audience. There are two ways to build an interactive website: a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or a DIY website builder like Wix or Squarespace. 

You can also choose to create a website from scratch. This tutorial will show you how to build a custom website for your business. 

What is a Custom Website?

A custom website is built from scratch. Like most technology, websites are designed in low- and high-level programming languages assembled as code into a visual interface. 

The final result is a website you can use to shop or learn more about a business. In the early days of the Internet, all websites had to be developed from scratch. Soon, the demand for websites began to increase, and many people desired to create their own sites without having advanced coding experience. 

This led to the foundation of DIY website builders and CMSes. Now, anyone can create a website with beginner programming knowledge. These platforms rely on templates you can fill in with your own branding information. 

Nonetheless, the world’s top brands and even smaller businesses still create custom websites. This is usually because their businesses have special needs that can’t be accommodated with one-size-fits-all website themes. 

If this sounds like you, creating a custom website is definitely in your best interest. 

Why Should You Build a Custom Website?

Building a custom website is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor. Building a website from a template is cheaper and takes less time. However, many businesses decide to develop their own websites for the following reasons:

  • You have unlimited customization options. With templates, you can only edit the functions and widgets available to you. A custom website is like a sandbox – you have complete autonomy over its programming structure, interface, and design. 
  • You can accommodate complex and unique business needs. Another weakness of free and premium website templates is that they typically don’t serve original websites and businesses. For example, if you run a niche online store, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a template that aligns with your design specifications. 
  • Custom websites are best for proprietary website functions. Website templates are static and only perform the functions available to you. Custom websites are dynamic and can be programmed to do whatever you want. You can build your website from scratch if you want to create an online login portal or a complex interactive site. 

As you can see, there are several reasons why you should create a custom website. Starting a custom website development project should be your next step if these benefits speak to you. 

How to Create a Custom Website

By now, you should know what a custom website is and why it may be ideal for your business. With that said, here are the steps for creating a website from scratch. 

Determine Your Website’s Functionality

The first step in building a website from scratch is figuring out what you want to accomplish. Generally speaking, what is your website going to do?

Are you going to allow users to create accounts and log in? Do you want to create content, such as blog posts and videos? Are you going to sell online products?

Answering these questions is pivotal to the success of your custom website design project. With a clear direction, you’ll be able to interpret what you want from your website. 

For example, if you want to sell online products, you’ll need to build an eCommerce platform. This will allow you to accept payments, display your products through image galleries, and engage customers through customer support and order tracking. 

On the other hand, if you want a basic business website, you may just need a few pages and contact forms to talk about your brand.

Learn a Programming Language

Programming languages are the lifeblood of any website, mobile app, or digital product. You can think of a programming language, or code, as written instructions designed by humans and interpreted by machines. 

The code of your website simply dictates how it'll perform and provides directives for achieving vital functions, such as opening a new page or posting an image. 

There are dozens of programming languages to build a custom website. The specific one you’ll use will come down to your learning curve and capacity. Simply put, if you have the bandwidth to learn an advanced programming language, you should. 

If you don’t, you can opt for a simpler programming language. There's no right choice when selecting programming languages for your project. However, these programming languages are some of the best options:

  • Ruby on Rails
  • HTML/CSS
  • Javascript
  • Python
  • Java
  • PHP
  • Swift
  • C#

Again, the programming language you use will depend on your preference and your website’s functionality. You may use a combination of these programming languages to build custom elements and widgets. 

Study Front-End Design Through UX 

Your website’s code will serve as the back end. This is essentially “under the hood” regarding your website’s design. The front end of your website is a visual interface people can interact with. 

Without it, people have no way of using your website properly. With that said, you’ll need to study user experience (UX) standards to build the perfect front-end design for your website. 

Ultimately, the way your website looks will influence its performance. People can be very judgemental about your website design. The best websites have stellar designs that are highly functional. 

A perfect example of a simple UX is Google. Google has a simple website design with just a logo and a search bar. For more than 25 years, Google has used this design, which is far different from the crowded homepages of Yahoo and Bing. 

 Image of Google’s homepage

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However, your website doesn’t have to look this basic. Amazon has a multi-faceted website design that doesn’t look too crowded. Users can find their favorite products through excellent navigation and categories. 

Image of Amazon’s homepage

Image Source

They can even use the search bar to find specific products. 

If you're looking for inspiration, consider the structure and design of YUPLAY, an established platform in the digital gaming industry. 

It stands out for its clean layout and efficient user interface, making browsing and purchasing games straightforward for its users. This highlights the importance of user-friendly design in website creation.

Image of Yuplay website

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Their effective use of Call-To-Action (CTA) buttons is a notable feature. These buttons, like “Buy Now” or “Explore Games,” are prominently placed and designed to stand out, guiding users toward making purchases or exploring more content. This is an essential aspect of web design to consider for your site.

Ultimately, your front-end design should be modeled after the core functions you’re providing to your audience. 

Build a Wireframe

Once you've studied programming languages and front-end design, it’s time to design your website’s architecture. This is known as a wireframe or simply the skeleton of your website.

Your wireframe will contain all of your website pages and provide context about how each of them corresponds with one another. A common wireframe designates parent and subpages. 

Parent pages stand alone and serve as the foundation of your website. The most common parent pages are the homepage and blog. On the other hand, sub-pages are the “children” to parent pages.

Sub-pages are usually relevant to only the parent page. For example, if you create an about page, you may also create sub-pages such as:

  • Company History
  • Values
  • Team

It’s important to specify which pages are parents and sub-pages. This will become important later when you’re performing search engine optimization (SEO) to give Google more information about your website’s architecture. 

You can use design tools like Figma to create a basic wireframe. Figma is also great for creating dynamic page designs. Ultimately, your wireframe will drive the momentum of your website development project. 

Start Coding

After your wireframe is finished, the next step is to start coding for all website pages and systems. The first phase of coding entails building your website’s repository. This database holds all your website assets, including images and content. 

Your repository should be secure and hosted over a server. This is where purchasing a website hosting service comes into play. Website hosting providers will keep your data secure over the cloud and make it available anytime someone uses your website. 

Once your repository is in place, you can begin developing your website pages. You’ll need to design them first using Figma. This way, you can see your website pages up close and develop particular functions each one will use. 

When that’s done, you’ll need to code vital website operations, functions, and systems. These procedures will depend on what you’re trying to achieve with your website. 

Fortunately, the internet provides various resources for building a website from scratch. Countless free coding boot camps and websites like GitHub offer pre-made functions you can replicate on your website. 

For example, if you want to create your own login protocols, you can look for inspiration online, copy the source code you like, and tweak it to align with your website’s goals. Finally, you’ll need to think about web security. 

For example, one of the challenges of creating a website from scratch is handling user authentication and authorization. You want to provide a secure and convenient way for users to log in and access your services, but you also don’t want to reinvent the wheel or compromise security

That’s why you might want to use a standard protocol like SAML or OAuth, which are two systems that make secure user access more convenient and secure. SAML and OAuth are both based on single-sign-on (SSO), meaning that users can log in to multiple sites using one set of credentials. 

However, they have different workflows and use cases. SAML is primarily an authentication system, while OAuth is an authorization system. 

Start the SEO Process

By now, your website should be useful to your team. You should be able to navigate your website and access core features. During this stage, it’s important to begin the SEO process.

SEO is the process of making your website visible on major search engines like Google and Bing. If you don’t optimize your website for SEO, it simply won’t get found. 

During this stage, you can go ahead and create an SEO-friendly website architecture, write meta descriptions and title tags, and compress your images to optimize fast loading times. 

At this point, SEO will become an agile process. This means as you complete your project, you’ll need to revisit this step. For example, once your website goes live and has a domain, you should perform an audit. 

An SEO audit is a diagnostic tool that displays the health of your website. You can create a report from this audit and use it to guide your SEO campaign. For example, if your images are too large, you can easily compress them based on information from the SEO audit. 

Test and Improve

This is the final step of creating a custom website and is also one of the most important. By testing your website, you can find bugs, critical issues, and glitches before they show up on the live version. 

Also, testing your website lets you know how well each function performs before the launch. Website builders and CMSs already have a pre-built function allowing developers to preview and test their websites easily. 

Custom websites don’t offer a pre-made feature like these. Depending on your coding environment, you may have to perform a beta test. 

A beta test is a comprehensive process for debugging software. You can either take a manual approach to finding errors and compiling them in logs or use automation software to do the work for you. 

Whichever approach you take, you’ll still need to manually proofread and improve your website. This is to catch last-second issues before your website goes public. Ultimately, debugging doesn’t end with the launch of your website. 

As long as your website is live, you’ll need to provide maintenance to keep your systems up to date. This is how you can deter the onslaught of hackers who seek to compromise your website code, infect your systems, and compromise sensitive data for their malicious purposes. 

Final Words

Overall, creating a website from scratch isn’t an impossible task. If you’re eager to learn about computer science and basic design considerations, this may actually be a fun project for you. 

On top of that, building a custom website offers substantial benefits for developers who want complete control over their creations. The good news is that the internet has plenty of resources you can use to build your website. 

You can also bookmark this guide as your go-to resource for building your very own website from scratch.

Author bio

Brandon Lee is a content marketing expert who helps businesses master the art of storytelling and creating amazing digital content. When he’s not writing or reading, you can find him spending time with his beautiful wife and kids.