What you need for a modern website — that is, in 2020 — can be overwhelming when you realize what’s involved. This upcoming series of three articles tells you what you need for a modern website in a way you can digest easily.

This article gives you a high-end overview of what you need for a modern website. First, you need to know the four types of web development platforms in use today.

Types of Websites

There are several different types of websites you can develop:

  • An informational website that tells people what you and/or your business is all about. Some of these sites are
  • A blog website that allows you to write articles and post them to your website.
  • A portfolio website that tells people about yourself and the work you’ve done.

There are also different ways to design websites. For example, I learned about the StoryBrand method of producing websites last year. I used that method to design my own website and the Eclipse Flooring and Design website if you want to check them out.

If you’re not sure about how to design your site, one good place to start is the Webdesign Inspiration website. This leading web design influencing company regularly hand-picks websites they think are examples of great design. Webdesign Inspiration shows examples for desktop, tablet, and mobile sites.

Coding

You can type code directly into a plain text editor like Windows Notepad or Apple Notes. That code includes HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) information. You can also use more robust code editors like the free Visual Studio Code.

Web Design Software

If you prefer to design your website within a program and see what your changes look like, but also have the flexibility to tinker with code, Adobe Dreamweaver is the program of choice. If you don’t want to pay for Dreamweaver, you can check out the free Google Web Designer. What’s more, if you use Dreamweaver or one of its competitors, you won’t have much company. Dreamweaver has only 0.5 percent market share as of March 2020.

Online Web Creation Apps

You may have seen online web creation apps advertising in online videos and your social media feeds. they have names including Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. Some web creation apps let you create certain types of websites. For example, Adobe Portfolio lets you create portfolio sites. Some web hosting companies like GoDaddy have web creation apps as part of a website creation system.

Content Management Systems

Most websites today are created with content management systems, or CMSs. The most popular of these is WordPress, which has about 63 percent of market share as of March 2020. That is far above its main competitors you may have heard of: Joomla and Drupal.

What you need for a modern website is clear, concise information.

So What About WordPress?

WordPress is also used for creating a blog and adding articles to it. You can host your blog on wordpress.com, or you can build your own website and/or blog using software you download at wordpress.org. There’s a difference between both, and I’ll talk about that and the differences between designing a blog and a website in my “Using WordPress” article. (Coming soon.)

You Still Need the Basics

No matter what web design software or app you use, you still have to make sure your viewers can read your site. That is, you need to tell your readers:

  • How you solve the reader’s problem.
  • A call to action, such as setting up a meeting or contacting you.
  • Information about you and/or your company.
  • How to contact you.
  • Links to your profiles on social media websites.

These are not just the only things that you should put on your site. That leads to the next basic thing you should do: research. Starting with sites like Webdesign Inspiration is a good start. Searching on Google for websites, videos, and blogs about website design works, too. (You’ll notice some themes after a short while.)  If you’re setting up a business website, search for your competitors’ sites on Google. Their sites can help show you what to do — and what not to do.

Make Sure People Can Find Your Site

Having text that’s searchable is also what you need for a modern website. You have plenty of competitors looking for the same things you offer on your website, and search engines like Google may not pick up on your site. You’ll stand a better chance at being visible to search engines if you use well-tested strategies.

You may have noticed that I’ve included the title of this article several times, and doing that is one good way to raise your website (or blog article) visibility. I’ll talk about this and other search engine strategies in the “Writing for Visibility and Search” article within this section. (That’s coming soon, too.)

So, Now What?

This article doesn’t talk about everything you need to know to design modern websites. For example, you need to design for desktop and mobile (and maybe tablet) screens. I’ll talk about that in the three articles within this section. You can start your tour by reading Website Design and Platform Options.

Eric Butow is owner of Butow Communications Group and has designed websites since 1997. Please feel free to comment with questions and ideas to help make this entire web design series to be as useful as possible. Thanks!