I do get this question a lot. A client has decided to start a web presence but has no idea where to start.
First let me say that you have made a great decision, world wide there are more than 7 million people on the internet just looking for things.
5 simplified steps on how to get started on the web.
Step 1: And this is the most important step, what do you want to put up on the web? A pretty website is nice but if you don’t have the right content up there it’s pretty useless. A great way to start is to create an outline of the pages you want (about, contact, product 1, blog, etc.) Then work on the text that you need on each page. Now this will vary depending on what type of business you are running. You should also start looking for some nice photos. If you don’t have any professional quality photos you might want to look at getting some from a stock photo web site. Statics say you have 3 seconds to capture someones attention and bad photos is a good way to turn them off.
Step 2: Pick out a domain name. You need to pick out a name that reflects your business. It’s best to use something that isn’t to long and easy to remember. Now as you can image since the web is getting busier and busier that most of the popular .com names are already taken so you might have to get creative or choose a .info or . org (if you are an organization). It still is best if you can grab a .com address. Once you have a domain name you are happy with you need to register it with a registrar (like GoDaddy.com, hostgater.com, etc.)
Step 3: Hire designer or do it yourself? You need to sit down and decide if hiring a designer is in the budget or if you are going to tackle the task yourself. If you are someone that has a little experience with web or just likes trying new things then go for it. If you are someone crunched on time and has no clue about computers then hire someone. There are many levels of designers and I’m sure you can find one that suits your needs. Just be sure to look at their portfolio and see if you like their previous work.
Currently WordPress sites are very popular and for good reason. If you can learn the software you should be able to get a good looking site with just a few tools and some time. You could also hire a designer to start the site and then you would have the option to do updates to it at a later time. My advice is that if you can afford it, hire someone to at least set it up. This way it will be done properly to begin with and some designers will give you lessons on how to use the system before turning it over to you.
Step 4: Hosting. As with any website you will need to find a place to host your site. Basically it becomes online storage for your website. There are many different hosting plans. If you are going to be using a WordPress site be sure your hosting provider has the capability to host WordPress. Your designer should be able to help steer you to the type of hosting you need.
Note: WordPress does have free hosting (WordPress.org) BUT you can not use a custom domain name and you are limited to the plugins and templates that you can use. You are better off purchasing space. Nowadays it’s as little at $3.49/month.
Step 5: Plugins, SEO, ETC: Once you have your basics in your site it’s time to start adding functionality. Having a wordpress site makes this easy. There are thousands of plugs-ins (many free) that can add functionality to your site. A plugin basically extends the functionality of your website.
Most wordpress designers will add in the basics for you when they create your site.
Here are a few good (and free) must haves:
- Search Engine Optimization (all in one SEO is a good free one)
- Email sign up lists (MailChimp, Constant Contact and most of the popular email services have plugins)
- Jetpack – this one comes free with WordPress. It will contain your site statics, sharing buttons and more.
- Contact Form 7 – This will make custom contact forms.
Be cautious about added any plugin, the best bet is to use the search within WordPress. The ones in the WordPress directory have been approved and tested.
What other tips do you have for first timers? Write them below in the comments.
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