Getting your idea, product or service out there is the reason why most of us want to create a website. It’s a must for any business whether large or small, these days. To effectively get your product or service across to your existing and potential customers. With so many tools and services available now what is actually needed to get your website online? In this article we will look at the basic requirements.
What do you want to get from your website?
Before worrying about colour schemes, what the best software to use whether to choose a .co.uk or .com. Decide what you want to achieve from your website. Is it to generate leads? Sell your product or service? Inform? Maybe all three? Write yourself a list of these goals to allow you to refer back to them and keep you from going ‘off-piste’.
A website doesn’t need to be complex. You just need to actively get your message across and achieve the goals that you have set out for your website.
Getting Started with your site.
By now you should have an idea of what you’d like to get out from your website. Now you need allow these ideas to become reality.
Choosing your domain name should be relatively easy.
If you’re a business, simple: Your Business Name. Its what your customers know you as, its what they are going to search for if they are looking for information on your service or product.
Individuals, this comes down to what you’re trying to get across. Are you creating a blog? A family site? Showing off your hobbies or interests? The choices for name can be almost anything. Again choosing something that portrays you, your intended site or your personality well.
What domain name extension?
A domain name extension is the .co.uk, .com, .org, part of the domain name. There are a HUGE number of possibilities, (well over 1000 extensions). We won’t list them all here, but trust me there are a lots.
What extension your choose, essentially is down to preference. Although there are some restrictions to certain types. Personally I would recommend going in this order: .com, co.uk, .uk for UK individuals and companies. Most people in the UK think of these extensions first. If you are running a charity or organisation the going for .org or .org.uk would normally be the preferred options.
How much do domains names cost?
A domain name costs relatively little. Generally you are looking at less than £10.00 / year. Depending on the extension that you choose. You can also get one for ‘Free’ with your web hosting provider. Just look for a provider that provides a free domain name. Be aware though what is free to start with may cost more when it comes to renew the domain name. As always, read the small print and know what the cost will be.
Normally its recommended that you register your domain first with a dedicated domain registrar. As these tend to offer the lowest registration and renewal costs. Plus provide you with extensive tools for administrating your domain name.
Remember you don’t need to have your domain name registered where your website is hosted. You can move your domain name to another registrar at a later date if you choose to do so.
Web Hosting / Email
Now that you have your domain name registered and the basic concept for your site ready. You need to choose and web hosting provider. A web host, is a place to store your web pages and documents then serve them to your site’s visitors when someone types in your domain name.
Generally for those reading this guide. You’ll want a shared hosting provider. Shared hosting allows many companies or individuals websites to be hosted on one powerful server with the resources being ‘shared’ between all its users. The sharing of the server allows costs to be kept low for each individual user, whilst each having their own space.
There are many other hosting options out there such as a dedicated server & VPS (Virtual Private Server) but these tend to be for larger sites and generally not needed until your site grows much larger.
Most web hosting providers, come with multiple basic email boxes. So you can setup accounts for yourself and everyone within your organisation. This should be suitable for most people. If you require more complex solution though most providers offer dedicated email hosting for a small monthly fee.
We have purposely left the site design section until the later part of this article. You may of-course wish to have the site designed before purchasing a web hosting plan. We wanted to cover as many options as possible in this section of the article. Some of which will require a hosting plan.
When it comes to creating your website there is a whole host of options to suit ever budget you may have.
Website Builder Software
Many web hosting companies now offer website site builder software, allowing you to create a website with very little knowledge. Generally it’s a case of selecting a design you like and making changes to the pages via an online visual editor to get the look and feel that you want.
Website builder software, allow you to create a professional looking website with very little knowledge in a short space of time. The limitations of this type of site design is there is very little room for customisation outside of that the site builder offers. Excellent for those wanting to get their product or service across.
You may have the technical knowledge to create a website, but like most of us lack the design skills to produce a modern looking website. This is where website templates can come into play. Like website builder software, site templates allow you to create a processional looking website in a relatively short period of time.
Website templates do allow you to tweak the page to give it a look and feel to how you would like. Many platforms such as WordPress provide easy integration of templates to allow you produce powerful websites and applications.
Good quality designers don’t come cheap. But a designer that understands good design and usability can be worth their weight in gold. Producing you a unique highly polished website.
I’ve got my Domain Name, Web Hosting and Site Designed – Whats next?
You’re now ready to unleash your site to the world. Launching your site can be daunting at first but the beauty of a website is you’ll always want and need to tweak it. Adding extra pages, updating information.
I’d recommend signing up with Google Webmasters and Bing Webmaster Tools. Both of these will allow you to get listed within their search engines. As well as getting reports on your search engine listings.
To get detailed statistics on how many visitors your site is getting how they are getting there and how long they are staying also sign up to Google Analytics.