The A-Z Guide On How To Launch Your First Website
The virtual world is a vast growing space of information. It is exponentially growing every day because of one simple reason. Everyone who seeks to carve their own space out of the World Wide Web wants to “be out there”.
There were about 3.5 billion recorded Internet users between 2015 and 2016 and there were 2.1 million users recorded the previous year. It’s fairly obvious to everyone that the Internet is exponentially growing as more and more people use smartphones and computers of all sorts.
People are more likely to find out about you or your business on the Internet, which is why even big companies focus more on creating a powerful web-presence instead of printing advertisements on flyers or doing TV commercials like they did 10 years ago.
If you’re running a business or if you simply want to get your own slice of attention, the Internet is the place to be. This is why we recommend launching a website for your business or your personal services as soon as you can. Think of it as your business card on the Internet.
Your potential clients will seek a way to know that you actually exist and a way to contact you. They will do a Google search as soon as they hear about you or the services you offer.
Once they choose to look for you, you have the chance to give them a powerful impression of yourself or your business, by showing them a highly compelling website. You can use your website to provide users with something to validate your existence with, but you can also use it for marketing purposes and to gain a lot more exposure.
You no longer have to be a tech-geek to be able to build websites as the tech-geeks of yesterday made it much easier for you to launch your website today!
You don’t need any extensive coding or technical knowledge to get a website up and running, you just have to follow a few simple instructions and have the ability to click. That’s it!
In this article, we’ll guide you step by step to creating and launching your very own website. We’ll also give a lot of useful tips on how you can use it to give your marketing a major boost!
So, without further ado, let’s get straight down to it!
Step 1: Figure Out What Kind of Website You Need
The most important thing to figure out beforehand is what do you want people to do once they find your website?
Do you want to give them some basic information about your business, such as how they can contact you and where your business is located? You might want a way to promote the products you’re selling or your services. Once you know what your website’s ultimate goal is, you have something to build it around. You’ll also know how frequently you have to update it and what kind of content is required to achieve that purpose.
To help you with this, here are a few basic purposes you can choose from:
Portfolio or Resume Website
You can use it to showcase your work and market your skills. It is one of the smaller types of websites and is easy to design and get up and running. It only represents you and the work you do. You can add various types of media, such as sounds, videos and images to give your visitors a quick glance of what you want them to know.
You can give a text based resume as well, that you can send in seconds even if you’re not home and prove to some of your future employers that you’re a web savvy person.
It’s great for businesses that have a list of products that they can’t sell online or for businesses that have a physical location. If you have some services you want to market or give some basic information about, you can do that as well.
Having an informational website helps in adding a lot more credibility and visibility to your business. It can help you raise awareness and eventually gain more customers in the process.
Creating informational websites is one of the easier ones to do, as it only requires five webpages at max that you can fill with some text and images.
A blog is great for writers, journalists, companies and anyone who seeks to give a piece of their mind on a regular basis. It can be used for marketing purposes as well if you fill it with compelling and useful content that interests your readers.
It is an excellent place to showcase your writing talents and give feedback to your clients as well. You can also strengthen your brand by giving it a voice and a personality.
An eCommerce website is the one you should choose if you seek to sell products online. It is built to sell products and collect payments. You can have 10 or hundreds of products that you can collect payment for through Payoneer, Paypal or other web-based wallets.
Step 2: Choose The Right Platform For Building Your Site
As technology evolved, more and more website builders have come to surface. By using a website builder, you don’t have to know code and building a website isn’t as challenging and isn’t expensive at all.
Here, we are going to focus on a content management system (CMS), to make our lives easier.
Basically, a content management system is a user-friendly website building platform which makes it much easier for you to build a website and manage their content.
The most popular CMS are Joomla, WordPress and Drupal. Each of these has their own strengths and weaknesses and which fall outside the scope of this article.
We’ll stick with WordPress as that is the most widely used CMS on the Internet right now, as 18.9% of all websites are built on WordPress.
It’s Very User Friendly
Newbies can rejoice as WordPress has made it incredibly easy for you to build a website. If you’re familiar with Microsoft Office programs, you’re set for building your website and publishing your content.
WordPress can be easily customized with plugins and you can do just about anything to your website within a matter of minutes.
Creating a website with WordPress is like making microwaved food for dinner. You have a delicious meal without having to do any of the cooking yourself! Almost everything in your website will be pre made, and all you have to do is choose the stuff you want to have on there.
It won’t cost you a penny to create a website with it.
Most WordPress templates are completely responsive, so they can be viewed on every mobile device.
WordPress is capable of running most type of websites and can handle great amounts of traffic. Big brands such as BBC America, MTV News and The New Yorker use WordPress.
If you want to build a large eCommerce site with hundreds or even thousands of products, consider hiring a professional web-developer or using Magento as your CMS. But if you want to learn more, you can find detailed guides on how you can hard code it yourself.
Step 3: Get A Domain Name and A Hosting Plan
These are the first practical steps you have to take before designing your website.
Getting A Domain Name
A domain name is the address of your website. This will be the name of your website. It has to be short and compelling; basically a one word definition of what your website has to offer. It has to be something like “mybusinessdomain.com”.
Once you found the right domain name, it will cost you an annual fee to gain ownership of it and to register it. But remember to be thoughtful when choosing a domain name, because you’ll have to stick with it for a long time.
Make sure that you’re the owner of the domain name you choose and be quick to register it.
But you don’t necessarily have to use these dedicated websites to get your domain, because a lot of hosting services such as HostGator offer a domain registration mechanism and a free domain name as well.
Getting A Hosting Plan
You have to have your own space on the Internet to store your website and you can buy it from various companies. These companies have an insane amount of computers connected to the Internet and they rent their hardware for a specific amount of money. You can get your hands on some very cheap and reliable hosting services by finding the right deal.
Choosing your host is also an important step, because it will determine your website’s speed and the quality of customer service you’ll be receiving.
Some of the best in these areas are InMotion Hosting, BlueHost and HostGator, because they have a great customer service and have user-friendly interfaces that are a great help to managing their servers. You can also buy fully managed hosting services for a bit of extra, which means that they will take responsibility for your website and take care of any issue that comes up.
Most beginner services range from $3-$5 per month.
Step 4: Create A Design
Once you have chosen your domain name and your hosting service and installed WordPress on your server (or have it installed), you can go online!
Of course, all you have right now is the default WordPress template, which you won’t be using for much so it’s best to switch for something that fits your needs better. You want to make your website look as awesome as possible. If you have a bit of money to spend, you can buy a theme that works perfectly for your site, but if you don’t want to spend money on that, there are hundreds of free WordPress themes you can use.
Your website has to be clean and information should be easily accessed, so that it will keep your visitor’s attention. Themes already took care of that aspect.
Let’s not forget about the opportunity to hire a developer or web designer to code a custom website for you or hard code it yourself. Both are solid options and only depend on how much time and money you’re willing to invest, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s stick with WordPress.
Choosing a Theme For Your Site
First, Log into your WordPress dashboard
You can do it by directly typing the address of your admin panel like this http://yourwebsite.com/wp-admin. Just replace yourwebsite with your actual domain name. You’ll see that everything in the WordPress dashboard is conveniently labeled on the sidebar, where you can access most of your site’s settings.
Now, click on “Appearance”, and then click on “Themes”. Pretty easy, isn’t it?
You’ll get a long list of well-designed themes and you’ll hopefully find one that fits your taste and the goal of your website. You can find a number of professional and elegant themes here. If not, visit ThemeForest.net where you can browse through many free or premium templates.
Install Your Chosen Theme
If you found the theme that suits you, installing it is done simply by clicking the “Install” and setting it to “Active”.
You can change your themes as many times as you want, without losing any of your website’s content.
Install the Necessary Plugins
Plugins are what you use to add useful features to your website, such as a search bar, text editor, backup programs and other management tools.
There are more than 30,000 available plugins and all of them offer something useful for your website.
You just have to navigate on the side bar to “Plugins”, click “Add New” and start searching. Installing them is done in one click, by clicking on “Install”. Be careful that you don’t sweat!
Step 5: Establish A Marketing Strategy
Launching your website won’t mean that it will be instantly flooded with traffic, but you can really make a major leap by having a marketing plan in place.
If you’re prepared to launch your website, you want to do it with a big bang and make some serious noise on the Internet. This isn’t necessary if you only want to have a website that’s up and running but it will definitely get you more attention and can move you to a point where you would be after 6 months of continuously publishing content.
Here are some of the most used marketing strategies:
Search Engine Optimization and Marketing
SEO is one way to gain organic traffic to your website, by ensuring that it appears on top of search engine results for specific search queries. This will greatly increase your chances of being found by someone who is looking for the products and services you offer.
You can do some on-page and content SEO yourself or hire a SEO expert to help with maximizing your results.
Social Media Marketing
Sharing content on numerous social media platforms will get you a lot more attention. Create profiles with your business name on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
You can use these to publish and promote your website’s content regularly and get visitors for it. It is also the best way to communicate and engage with your audience.
Use Paid Advertising
You can also pay a fixed amount of money to search engines like Google for each click your website gets. They will put your website on top of the search results, giving it a lot more visibility. You can also use Google AdWords where you can set your budget for a few dollars a day or 10 cents per click. Your main goal with this is to get the best return on investment for each penny you spend on receiving traffic.
Step 6: Publish Your Website!
Now that you have everything set, it’s time to go live! Open your doors and spread the word about the website you’ve created. But be sure to only share what is already done and not any of the pages that are still in development. You should always show your good side! Make sure that visitors understand what you offer within the first 7 seconds spent on your site.
Step 7: Test and Monitor It!
Share it with as many people as possible and ask them to give their feedback on it.
Crawl through your entire website at least ten times. Click on every link and use every function to its fullest extent to ensure that there aren’t any bugs. Do this in all major browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer11.
You can also use services to such as:
- Site-perf.com, this is a very useful and responsive online tool that grabs a lot of data from the URL you enter. It lets you test a website from various different servers.
- Google Page Speed Online, this is one of Google’s web performance tools that measures your website’s speed and gives many tips on how to improve it.
- WebSiteOptimization.com, this site will measure the size of your pages and the time it takes to load. It will measure very individual element and calculate their size. It is done by a unique script that uses a lot of optimization factors to determine how well your website performs.
The information here doesn’t exhaust everything there is to know about building a website, but it does provide context, the keywords you will be working with and the essential steps required to get your website up and running.
I hope we helped you understand the basics of building your first website and that you’ve enjoyed reading through this article!
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