Starting a Website
If you do not have a website, you are missing out on a large amount of potential customers. In today's digital age, it is very important to have a website for your business or product. However, many do not know where to start. In this post, I will explain the process of creating a website and building an online audience.
Step 1: Create a Plan
Before you do anything, create a plan for your website. The planning process is arguably the most important step because it defines and sets goals, expectations and the purpose of your website. Here is a list of things to include in your website's plan:
- Title/Name: What will the title/name of your website be? If you are creating a website for your business, this should just be your business name. If you are creating a blog, using a name that contains keywords relevant to your topic will help with search engine optimization later on.
- Purpose: Your website should have a clearly defined purpose, whether it be to inform people how to cook, or sell cars.
- Pages: You should have an idea of what pages to include on the website. Some must-have pages include a home page containing an attention-getter and call-to-action, an "about" page explaining the topic of your website, and a "contact" page which lets visitors get in touch with you.
- Color Scheme: A color palette can make or break a website. Pick out a few colors that go together! If you already have a logo, you should use the same color palete that was used on the logo. If not, there are some great websites that can help you out with this. My go-to website for this is material.io.
- Budget: What is the maximum amount you are willing to spend on your website?
- Target Income: You should set a goal for how much you want to make from your website. We can measure how much it makes using Google Analytics.
- Monetization: Do you want to monetize your website? The de-facto standard is to use Google Adsense, but there are plenty of other websites that offer ways to make money off ads.
- Target Audience: What type of visitors in terms of demographics do you want to attract?
- Launch Date: Have a target date in mind for when you want your website to go live.
Write out your plan in your word-processor of choice and keep the file somewhere safe.
Step 2: Choose a Domain
The next step in the website creation process is to choose and purchase a domain name. A domain name is what visitors type into their browser to get to your website, and can be purchased from registrars such as Namecheap or Godaddy. Alternatively, I can purchase and maintain this for you. Regardless of who you purchase your domain name from, it is important to keep it short and memorable. Don't make it a daunting task to get to your website, as that will just drive away visitors. I recommend sticking with .com as it is the most commonly used TLD and easy to remember. However, if the name you want under .com is not available, try one of the newer TLDs like .studio or .blog!
Domain registrars also sell SSL/TLS Certificates, but I would recommend against buying one since you can get one for free using Lets Encrypt. An exception to this is if you want an EV certificate, which adds your company's name to the green bar in web browsers.
After purchasing your domain name, add it to your plan or a spreadsheet along with the cost, that way you can keep track of costs and stay within budget.
Step 3: Choose a Host
After you get a domain name, you'll want to find a place to host the website. There are plenty of options out there for shared, dedicated and virtual private servers, just search website hosting in Google. I personally use Vultr to host my websites. Trouble finding a hosting provider? Please reach out to me. I can help with this process or even lease you some of my hosting space. I can also help with setup, maintenance and upgrades of your existing server.
Pick a server in a location that is centrally located relative to your target audience's location. If your audience is primarily located in the United States, you may want to pick a server located in Chicago or Dallas, that way both sides of the country have close to equal latency. Alternatively, utilize a content delivery network like Cloudflare.
Once you have picked your hosting provider, point your domain name's A (and AAAA for IPv6) records to your server's IP address(es). Furthermore, add your hosting provider and the cost to your plan or spreadsheet for budget tracking purposes.
Step 4: Develop/Design
Some tips for website design and development: develop websites to be search engine friendly from the start. Search engine optimization can sometimes take months before you start seeing results, so it is important to start early. Setup Google Analytics to track how many visitors you are getting and goal completions (form submissions, checkout, call to action clicked, etc). Use images and call to actions effectively. Finally, make sure your design is responsive and looks good on all screen sizes.
Step 5: Optimize
After publishing your website, do some offsite optimization by gaining backlinks. This can be done in numerous ways: social media, forums, guest blogging, and affiliate links are just a few examples.
Step 6: Keep it Updated
Don't abandon your site after its published. Keep it updated and post new content regularly! Doing so will help your ranking in Google, and keep visitors coming back. If any bugs pop up, try to get them fixed as soon as possible. Finally, keep your server up to date - take the time to perform upgrades regularly.
If you need help with any aspect of creating your website, I will be more than happy to help! Simply submit your free inquiry here.