Building a Website in Six Steps
In my last post, we discussed setting dates for a variety of things that should be done before you launch your business or your blog. One of those tasks being to design + build your website. Whether you’re a blogger or an entrepreneur creating your website is usually one of the most exciting parts of your launch (other than making money). It shows that you’re ready to take your business to the next level and show the world who you are. So I thought we should discuss a few basic steps to get you going on your first website!
Before jumping in, I encourage you to have your mood board completed so you can refer to it when picking themes, colors, and images for your site.
Step 1: Choose a Platform
This is just what the name implies; it is the software that will be used to create your site. For newbies and even those with some knowledge of websites and coding, WordPress is the most popular choice for a platform. It is great to use because most of the work has been done for you by a host of developers and web designers. There are hundreds if not thousands of Wordpress themes for you to choose from to express your message and brand. Rather than having to take the time to design a site, you have the ability to upload one and simply insert your own pictures and text. Other options include Drupal, Squarespace, and Blogger. For the beginner though, WordPress.org is the recommended choice. Wordpress also has a free version (www.wordpress.com) but the themes aren't as nice.
Step 2: Choosing a Domain Name
If you’re ready to create a site then it’s safe to assume that you know what you’ll be offering your audience. Whether it’s handmade products, professional services, or simply entertainment through your posts, it’s important that you choose a name that is memorable + represents your brand. Ask yourself:
What am I offering?
What is my business niche?
What is my focus?
Use these answers to come up with a name. Write down all your ideas and then check online to see if the one you want is available. Name.com and Godaddy.com are great resources to not only search domain names but also purchase them. I will warn you now, it may take a few tries to find one you like that no one has taken. I encourage you to consider adding words to your name, such as “the” or “blog” to keep your favorite domain name. For example, ashleighmarie.com was taken, which is why I made it itsashleighmarie.com. This is very helpful if the domain is taken but is not being used. If the name you like is taken by a company that is still up and running, I’d encourage you to choose a different name. Otherwise, anytime someone searches for you they will run across the other organization and if after so many attempts of trying to find your site they'll just give up. Buying a domain may cost a few bucks but trust me it's worth it to have your own business name.
Step 3: Find a Web Hosting Service
You can’t have a website without a host, unless you are using wordpress.com. The hosting service is where your data will be stored, which is on their servers. Depending on how much space you need now and in the future, it might be worth it to pay a little more money each month to ensure that your site won’t crash or get turned off. If you don’t have the budget to pay for a web hosting service, there are some free web choices such as AdWordSpace, the only con is that these servers don’t always provide enough bandwidth for a major business website.
I personally use Bluehost and must say it meets all of my needs!
Step 4: Plan Your Website
Before you begin to put together your website in cyberspace, it needs to be put together on paper. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that you draw and design your website (I couldn’t do that). I’m simply encouraging you to plan out your website. How many pages do you want? What pages will have a link in the primary menu and what pages will be included in a drop-down menu? Regardless of your niche, 4 pages every site should have are:
- Home Page
- About Me Page
- Blog Page
- Contact page.
Having a rough idea of how you want your site to look goes a long way to getting your site created in a timely manner. It’s also important that you have your copy for these pages. What good is a site if all you have is pretty pictures but no information?
Step 5: Install or Sign Up for Your Web Platform
WordPress.org makes it easy to install their website program on your computer; Bluehost actually offers one-click installation. You can then log into the content management system and look around to see how to set up pages, edit and upload content and more. The ease of adding pages and content on Wordpress often depends on the theme you choose.
If you chose Squarespace, you can choose from their themes and change the color, content, and fonts to make it your own. I had Wordpress for a while but found myself constantly changing the theme whenever I ran across a new one that I fell in love with. So, I went with Squarespace because my choices were a bit more limited, and I was more likely to stick with the theme I chose.
Step 6: Design your Website
For those who are familiar with coding, you can use HTML or CSS to change the pages to look like you want you envisioned. But, if you’re like me HTML and CSS isn’t something you know or are interested in learning. Both WordPress and Squarespace offer options for free themes and design templates to begin with. Don’t be afraid to dedicate a week or two to searching for the perfect theme. What I enjoy about both these platforms is that if you realize the theme you chose isn’t the best, you can always change it.
I hope you find these steps helpful! Please leave any tips you have for building your website in the comments below :)