Registering a domain is the first step to building a website and establishing an online presence.
A website is a virtual location of interrelated web pages, content and files with the same domain name and hosted on, at least, one server.
Once you have a domain name you’re sure will fit your vision and purpose, you’ll need several tools to build a website. Go through the following steps:
- Get a hosting plan
- Choose a website building software
- Choose a template
- Add essential tools and plugins
- Add content
- Create a professional email address
- Test and check your website
1. Get a Hosting Plan
A hosting service provides the server(s) where all the contents of your website will be stored and served to the World Wide Web. When an individual types the name of the site on the browser, the contents of the page are fetched from the server and displayed to the person.
The type of hosting plan you should choose will be determined by:
- The purpose of your site
- How many site visitors you’re expecting
- The growth potential of your site
- How much you’re willing to spend
- The website building software you’re planning to use
There are five main types of hosting. They are:
Free hosting: You don’t pay the hosting company with cash. However, you could pay with ad space, limited features, lack of control and lack of site ownership. The hosting company uses your site to advertise its products.
Shared hosting: Your website and other sites use the space and resources of one server.
Cloud hosting: Your site uses the virtual hardware and security resources of several servers for its hosting needs.
VPS hosting: You share a server with other websites but unlike the shared hosting, your site has a dedicated bandwidth and resources reserved for it.
Dedicated server: Your site enjoys a server all to itself.
If you’re building an advanced site from the beginning, you’ll also need to decide the Operating System (OS) of the hosting plan you choose.
Basically there are two, Windows and Linux, and certain apps run better on each OS. WordPress, Joomla and Magento shopping cart work better with Linux while Umbraco and nopCommerce shopping cart work better on Windows.
Carefully look at the details of each plan the hosting service offers and pick a suitable one. You’ll be told:
- Web space your site is given,
- Bandwidth for each plan,
- Number of emails allotted, and
- Other bonuses added.
Once you’ve purchased a hosting plan, the next thing is to point your domain name to your hosting service IP/Nameservers.
If you’re buying your hosting service from your domain name company, you won’t need to take this extra step. If not, search for how to do it on the FAQ page of the hosting service or Google it.
2. Choose Your Website Building Software
Coding a website from scratch is a time consuming process that requires hard work.
An alternative is choosing a website building software that will be used in designing and building your site.
Depending on your coding skills and the kind of features you want on your site, you’ll prefer some software over others.
Here are four of the well known website builders.
Wix: Wix is a drag and drop website builder that tries to meet the needs of all types of websites – blogs, ecommerce, and booking tool.
Weebly: Weebly concentrates on ease of use. You don’t have to know how to code to create a good looking site.
Squarespace: Squarespace is all about design and fits photography sites the most. The design templates create a custom look.
Self-hosted Platforms: Self-hosted platform means you use any software you choose to build your site. Most people install WordPress while some others code from the scratch with some software. With WordPress CMS, most hosting services have the installer in your cpanel. This is flexible, allows you take control of your site and could need developer skills or hiring a developer.
When choosing a website builder, consider its features, how customisable it is, if the price is worth it and how easy it is to use.
3. Choose a Template or Theme
A template or theme is an already-made design, look and style for a site, including the colour scheme, layout, font style and size.
It gives your website a structure that your audience can see. With a template, your website has a particular look and colour that will either attract or repel site visitors.
Once you use a theme, you won’t have to hire a website designer.
It is usually better to use a template than to pay for a custom design when you’re building your site.
The fact is that your theme is the online representative of your brand and can affect visitors’ engagement. To enable maximum positive user experience, pick one that will be appealing to your target audience and responsive on all devices.
Templates are the cheaper option and will give you the opportunity to see how your target audience interacts with your site, what suits your brand and site visitors’ interests without spending too much time or money.
Besides, you can easily change your template and give your site a look your audience likes within a short while.
Squarespace, Wix and Weebly provide free templates while WordPress templates are a mixture of free and premium types.
Each website builder has numerous templates you can pick from. There are several factors to consider when picking a template. Pick a template that will fit the purpose of your website, whether it is
- Company website
- Curriculum vitae
Once you’re done, it’s time to customise your theme. That way, your website has chances of being unique and to fit in closely to your brand’s identity. You can:
- Change size, colour and font style
- Tweak arrangement of the layout parts
- Add new pages and element
- Add elements to improve user experience or drive sales
Most website builders make theme installation and customisation easy. WordPress is especially flexible although it requires more time and expertise.
4. Add Essential Tools and Plugins
Managed website builders (Wix, Squarespace and Weebly) usually have a specific set of plugins or widgets you can use for your site.
With WordPress, however, you add any plugin and tool you want. Most plugins can be used on WordPress.
Aspects of Your Website That Will Need Plugins and Tools
Your website will need several plugins. So, look at different aspects of your site to identify your must have plugins and tools.
Security: While your web host will provide security, it doesn’t harm to use extra security to protect your site from comment spam, hackers and malicious intent.
SEO: Search Engine Optimisation helps your site appear at the top of the Search Engine Results Page. Some plugins will help optimise your content, web page and site for search engines. Yoast is a good example. There are others that optimise page speed.
Monitor Traffic: Tools like Google analytics are a must have for your site. They help you know what kind of content your audience likes, inflow and increase in traffic, and pages visited the most.
Drive Traffic: Aside from monitoring traffic, you will need to increase your website’s visitors and audience. The effective way to achieve this is through plugins that help with email lists and other techniques that drive traffic to your site.
Monetising Your Site: Tools like Adsense are used to place ads on your website.
Interactions with Your Audience: Plugins are needed to have effective chatting and feedback services. Adding livechat plugin will help.
There are also other plugins used for specific purposes like ecommerce, membership sites, and affiliate marketing.
5. Add Content
It’s time to add content to your website.
First, you would need to add content to your landing pages like your home page, about page, contact page and work-with-us page.
Finally, add content to your blog page.
Note that your website content can be written text, images, video, animations or gifs. Make sure your site is optimised for the content.
6. Test and Review Your Website
Your website is ready to be launched.
Before that, test and review to reduce errors. Preview your site to check for the following:
- Grammar and spelling mistakes
- The template – Are the buttons and layout positioned and working as they should? Is the template mobile responsive? Is the formatting working?
- Site and page speed
- SEO – How optimised is your site?
With website builders, you’ll simply have to hit a button while building and you’ll a preview of your site on different devices or screens.
Finally, ask others to test your site. If you’re creating content for an international audience, find people in other continents who will test your site once you publish it. That way, you can be sure your site is easy to navigate and works well in different parts of the world.
Building a website properly will optimise your site and help you achieve your purpose faster.