1. Be clear on your purpose.
Building a website can be a long and arduous procedure if you are not sure what you are doing. However, if you have a clear focus as to what you expect your website to do for your business/organization, things will flow much more smoothly. The purpose can be anything from selling widgets online to keeping members of your soccer team updated. Regardless, figure that out before setting sail on your journey.
2. Establish your target audience.
Your target audience will affect what sort of content your site includes as well as how it will look and function. Obviously, writing for kids will be much different than writing for adults. For business websites, a narrow and specific target market, will not only make it easier for you to market your product or service, it will also make it easier for customers and clients to find you.
Also, consider how many graphics and "bells and whistles" you'll want. If your audience is not very computer literate and generally includes people with slow Internet connections, it doesn't make sense to include large, slow-loading graphics, animations, and video clips. You want your site to be user friendly and don't want your visitors to leave because they've become frustrated with navigation or because your website loads too slowly. Conversely, if your audience is younger generation, including flashy graphics and other "fun" elements might be more appropriate and even necessary to grab their attention.
3. Determine your budget.
One can spend anywhere from $99 to $10,000+ dollars on having a website developed. Your purpose should help you decide on your budget. Remember, a website should ideally be a work in progress. Don't worry if you can't do everything you want with it initially — you can always add to it later, and it will work better for you and your customers if you keep it up-to-date and fresh.
4. Assess value of your time.
Many people have undertaken to create their own websites, especially with advent of desktop publishing programs. Still, they expend a huge amount of time and energy and end up unsatisfied with results. While it may be true that "anyone" can design a website, same could be said about any type of work. If it takes you hours and plenty of frustration to cut your own hair, wouldn't you be better off going to a barber or hairdresser?
If you have a flair for design, feel confident in your writing and marketing skills, and have time, knowledge, and passion to build your own website, go for it! If your time would be more productive doing your own work and contracting out web creation, that might be worth considering.
5. If hiring a professional website designer, make sure you are comfortable working with him/her.
Do you feel he or she understands your vision? Does he or she provide useful ideas and solutions you hadn't thought about? Have you looked through his or her past work? Do you feel like you're getting professional service? Is price right for your budget? What is included in fee you will be paying?
6. Think about how you'd like website to look and function.