How To Start A Website
Many of you might have arrived here from a Google search wondering – how on earth do I start a website? I mean at first it can seem somewhat baffling the sheer amount of choice you have with so many different options. Do I go for a self hosted website or one of the free ones? Do I pay someone to design the website for me or not? How do I run the site day to day? I want to sell a product or service – but how? Fear not, we’re here to help you understand what is best for you. Sit back, have a hot drink of your choice, as we talk through the 5 key areas to think about.
1 – “Free or not to be free”… that is the question?
So you want to know if you should go with one of the many free website hosting systems out there or if you should pay to have your own website professionally designed? The answer depends on a few key factors. What’s your budget? If you have some sort of budget you should probably consider hiring a professional to launch your website. This has benefits in terms of offering you a custom design, value adding services such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and support if something goes wrong. If you have little or no budget you might want to consider one of the free web services out there. However, for your customers or clients consider would it be off putting if adverts appear on websites hosted by the free sites? Consider those key factors again – what is something goes wrong? How do I get my website to appear in search engine results? When you answer the individual questions of budget, support, customisation you will begin to arrive at your answer.
2 – SEO is the new black….
If you haven’t heard Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the new black. Once upon a time you could build a website and the people would come! Sadly, today, in this burgeoning digital world once your site has been built it’s shouting to be heard amongst giant and older established websites. It’s scurrying and running at the feet of giants trying to be heard but simply can’t. See my earlier post for more details on this. Don’t fear though. SEO is here. You need to think about SEO if you want to have website that people will actually be able to find and visit. I know of too many people who build a website expecting a tidal wave of customers and clients who are then disappointed when this doesn’t materialise. If you do decide to go with a web designer to run your project make sure you’ve talked through SEO with them and specifically what SEO benefits they have of going with them. The second major hint. Think about “Off Page Optimisation”, ask your web developer about this. They should talk about “Link Juice”, ‘Article Marketing”, “Link Building” Etc. Here’s the red light warning for you. Avoid anyone promising to get you to Google position number one in a week or so. This can take up to six months or longer realistically, depending on how competitive the search terms you want to appear in Google search results for, especially with newly launched websites. Avoid anyone who uses Black Hat SEO techniques. Research that term to find out more. Only use White hat SEO I would strongly advise.
3 – What is CMS? What about a brochure website?
So you may have heard the term Content Management System or CMS for short? But what does this actually mean? Well, put simply it means you can manage – update, add, edit, delete, modify the content of the website yourself. These type of websites are increasingly popular because you don’t have to normally pay a third party to update your website. This can also save you money and empower you run your own website. You login much like you do on Facebook, arrive at the CMS dashboard or homepage and you can begin to edit your website.
Many businesses say they just want a brochure. Something they can point customers to find out more about their product or service. That’s all well and good but you might want to consider if your clients / audience would also like regular updates? If you know your content needs to be regularly updated, think about a CMS as it may save you time and money updating it yourself. If you do want a website you point people to a brochure style site may be more useful. However, Google and other search engines increasingly prefer dynamic, CMS style websites as dynamic and regular fresh content can be positively viewed by search engines.
4 – How do I choose a good Web Designer / Developer?
So, you’ve decided you’d like a professional Web Designer to build your website? Fear not we can help you to make your choice. Like most good decisions you make a bit of research and due diligence on your part will pay off down the line. Look at testimonials and reviews, preferably on third party review sites to see what others thought of their service. Ask them what value adding services they have, such as SEO and social media assistance? How can you contact them – telephone, email, instant message, forums, etc? How is the website hosted? What happens if things go wrong? Any good Designer or Developer should be able to assist you and make you feel comfortable. No question should be too silly. Feel free to ask them all the questions you have.
5 – How do I get this thing launched?
You may have decided to get your website launched. But what next? Here’s the individual things you need to think about. What platform are you going to use for your website? Think of your platform as technology that powers your website. Many open source platforms such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc are very powerful open source platforms that can greatly assist you in having a website. They are also relatively inexpensive and look very professional. This website is built using WordPress for example. Whilst the powerful software that runs the site is free and open source. Designing and setting up your website to be customised and professional takes experience and the input of a professional web designer to bring the vision to life. If you do hire a web designer they can take care of your hosting. Think of hosting as the physical space where the files that store the information about your website sit. They live on something called servers (the filling cabinets if you will) where the internet opens the files and shows you the information. You will need to buy a domain, that is the actually name, eg, www.yourbusinessname.com of your business / service or information site. You will also need to think about how your email system will work. If you want your domain and email as well as hosting taken care of, often a web designer / developer will take care of all of this. Leaving you to get on with running your business or service.
I hope you’ve found this article useful in thinking through how to start a website. As a web development company we’d be happy to assist you in bringing your project to life. Feel free to start a discussion with us may help you to take the next steps in your journey. We’re friendly and no question is too silly, we’d be happy to hear from you.
Otherwise we wish you luck in getting your website launched!