You’ve decided now is the time to have a presence on the internet.
It might be because you own a business. You want people to know who you are, what your skill set is, and what problems you can solve for them.
Perhaps it’s a personal vision. You have a story you want to tell, a voyage you want to document, a passion you want to rave about to the world.
Regardless of the reason for setting up a website you are determined to see it through.
You are going to do it. And as I’ve often said . . .
You can do it right the first time. Or you can do it right the second time.
Some people do it right the third time. You don’t wanna be that guy.
There is more to creating an efficient and effective website than you may first think. A person can toss a website onto the internet without much, or even any, advance planning. This isn’t the best idea ever though.
There must be a planning process during which you ask yourself questions such as:
1. What is the ultimate purpose of my site?
2. What do I want the site to do for me? And do for the reader/user?
3. What are the most important ideas, concepts and information I want my site to convey?
After the planning you have to begin (and complete) the process of bringing your ideas from paper (you should be writing this down) to solidity. As solid as anything in digital format can be that is.
The Process of Creating a Website – Start to Finish
If you have never set up a website before you are probably wondering what the process looks like. It will look much like this.
1. Choose and purchase a domain name.
The domain name is the address of your website. Such as WordPressArtAndScience.com. There are many domain name choices and all the good ones are taken. Or maybe it just seems that way. You may have to get creative.
You want to choose and purchase wisely.
Domain name choice:
- Pick something people can remember and spell.
- When you say it out loud people need to be able to understand, spell and remember it.
- Shorter is usually better.
- Go for the .com whenever it’s available.
Purchasing a domain name:
- Buy it from a trustworthy source that has available customer support (read my domain name horror story here).
- Purchase domain privacy if you have reasons for people to not know who you are. Otherwise your name, address and contact information will be plastered all over the internet.
2. Choose and purchase hosting.
“Hosting” means “the computer that runs your website for you”. I currently use MidPhase and Bluehost. Square Space is another. WordPress.com is another.
Depending on what CMS (I’ll explain that down the page) you want to use and how much money you want to pay and what services you need or don’t need – there are probably over 100 hosting companies you can consider.
Most important again is to go with a company that has been around for enough time to have an established track record. Make sure they have customer support which you can actually get in contact with.
In all my years of running websites I’ve almost never needed to contact customer support at my hosting companies. But when I do – it’s important. You want a company with responsive customer support.
3. Decide on a CMS.
A CMS is a Content Management System. WordPress is one CMS but there are others. Pure HTML/CSS is a CMS that requires much work on your part. Joomla and Drupal are some other popular ones. Square Space has their own CMS which you will use if you get an account with them.
According to http://www.cmsmatrix.org/ there are over 1200 different CMSs.
They all have strengths and weaknesses. WordPress may or may not be the right CMS for your website.
I told you what CMS stands for but that may not make it clear what a CMS does. Think of the CMS as the frame of a building.
A wooden frame will hold up a two story house. A steel frame will hold up a skyscraper. Both frames are similar in concept but different in capability. Same concept with a CMS. They do the same thing but each does the same thing in different ways with different capabilities.
The CMS organizes your website. It provides the navigation and framework into which you put your words, photographs, video and other information. The CMS is what you customize to be the colours and layout you want. It’s how you put things where you want things to be.
4. Assign you domain name to your host.
If you buy your domain name and hosting in the same place this may be done for you. If not you have to point your domain name to the correct DNS. More abbreviates. Good stuff right?
5. Install the CMS on your host.
Depending on your host and your CMS of choice this may be done for you, or you many be able to do it yourself with an automated script, or you many have to do it manually.
6. Configure the CMS.
For WordPress this includes things like configuring permalinks, setting your time zone, your website title and tag line and other such things.
7. Customize the CMS.
This is where you arrange things to be located where you want them located. Set the colours to be what you want them to be. Arrange the layout of your pages and posts.
You may also need to add plugins to enhance the functionality of your CMS. If you are podcasting or showing videos you may want to enhance the ability of the CMS to deal with that media. Maybe you need a membership site or a way for people to purchase products or services from you.
8. Create navigation and pages.
How do people move around your site? Where is the menu located and what is on it? What are the static pages your site will always have?
9. Set up email accounts and an FTP account.
With a domain name comes email. You can use your gmail account of course. But you can create your own email accounts at your domain name.
You also what to know your FTP login. This will make backing up your site easier and if disaster strikes you may need FTP access to fix your site if it’s broken, hacked or stuck in maintenance mode.
10. Plan, organize and begin the dynamic aspects of your website.
If your website is a blog or has elements which will update on a regular basis you need to organize those. Do you need to use categories? Should the blog be broken down in sections? Do you need photo galleries? And more . . .
11. And then there is SEO – if that’s important to you.
I do not do SEO. I am not an SEO person. If you attempt to hire me for SEO I will not take your money for anything other than the most basic SEO functions. There are people who know much more about SEO than I ever will. I will refer you to one of them.
12. Secure your site from intruders and malicious code.
Is your user name easy to guess? Do you have any security measure in place to monitor your site for and protect if from intruders? Do you have backups of all your work in case the site is compromised?
And that’s about all there is to setting up a website. Pretty easy huh?
Here’s the truth.
You can do all of this yourself.
You can learn how to do all these things. You can research on the internet. You can use customer support. You can teach yourself HTML and CSS and WordPress. You can do these things.
I didn’t spring from the brow of Zeus knowing what I know today about WordPress and websites. I learned all this via years and years of experience. My first website went up in 1999. I wrote the entire thing in HTML using a text editor.
Everything I know I’ve figured out, taught myself, learned from others and learned from doing. I built many websites. Then had to rebuild them because they were terrible. I have broken many many websites. Then had to fix them.
You can also learn all these things. I will even teach you the things I know enough about to teach if that’s what you want. Interested in having me teach you about WordPress? Click here for more information.
But what if you don’t have time to research, learn, experiment and fail?
That’s where I might be able to help you.
I say “might” because your website needs may be beyond my skill level. Or WordPress might not be the best choice for your site. There could be other reasons someone else is better qualified to assist you than I am.
If I’m not the person to assist you I’ll help you find the person who is right. I know some other local people who are really good at this stuff.
And if I am the right person for you to work with?
In that case I’ll help you with the planning and purchasing of your website and all that goes with it. Then I’ll build the site for you. If that sounds like something you might be interested in click here for more information about hiring me to build your website with you.