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A Checklist for Businesses Building Their First Website
Creating a Website
The internet has become such an ingrained part of our everyday lives that it seems odd if a company or organisation does not have a website. In fact, it has got to the point where not having a website may make you feel slightly wary of the company and may make them seem less legitimate. It is important then, as a company that is just starting out, to make sure that your business has its own website. If you have limited knowledge about creating websites it can seem like a fairly daunting task and it can be difficult to know where to start. In order to make the process more digestible, creating your website can be broken down into parts and specific things you will need.
1. A Domain Name
A domain name is arguably one of the most crucial parts of creating a website. Selecting and acquiring your domain name is an important task and should be done relatively early on in the process. You don’t want to have created your website and chosen your design, branding and company name only to find out that the domain name you wanted has already been taken.
It is best to choose a domain name that is fairly short and easy to remember. It is also useful to choose a domain name that is, or is related to, your company name. This makes it easier for customers to find you and makes your website more cohesive. You will have to pay a small fee to a domain name registrar in order to acquire your domain name, if someone has already taken the name you need you may be able to buy it off them – usually for a higher price.
2. A Web Host
Once your website has a name it will need somewhere to live. Often business websites are likened to your office space on the internet and web hosting can be seen as the landlord. Web hosting is what lets everyone else in the world view your website. Without some form of web hosting, only you will be able to view it.
There are free hosting options available but, in the majority of cases, it is not appropriate for a business website. For those just starting out a shared hosting plan may make the most sense. This is where you share space on a server with other users – it is a less expensive option but you may have to abide by certain rules and limits. A more expensive option but one that gives you more control and less limitations is a dedicated hosting package. Dedicated hosting is where your website is hosted on a server that is ‘dedicated’ to your use. If you are not hugely hosting-savvy, you may want to choose a managed hosting plan as this can take some of the burden of managing and maintaining your hosting.
You will also need to ensure that your domain name is pointed to your website. This can be done through your domain name registrar. It is important that you do this as it means that when people type in your website’s address they will be able to see your website.
3. A CMS
A CMS is a ‘content management system’ and it is the system that lets you organise and manage the information and content on your website. Without a content management system it can be difficult and time consuming to update your website. There are a variety of CMSs on offer and which one you choose may depend on what kind of website you have.
WordPress is more suited to websites that are focussed on content – blogs in particular – and can be good with high levels of traffic. However if your website is quite graphics-based, a different CMS like Drupal may be more appropriate. Content Management Systems like Drupal or Joomla are also particularly well suited for e-commerce websites or social networking.
4. A Design
A key part of any website is its design. Not thinking about how your website will look and function is like setting up a shop but not giving any thought to the decoration or layout – an attitude that can actually put visitors and customers off doing business with you. If you feel that you know about design and web trends then you may be able to do this yourself but for many people it is easier to hire the services of a professional.
Professional web design companies will be able to create a fresh, modern design and in most cases will have a development team who can actually build the website for you. Using professionals can take a lot of the stress out of the design process leaving you to think about other important issues.
You should make sure that your website is tested throughout the design and development process. You don’t want to create your website only to realise that it does not look right in a particular browser or certain functionality does not actually work. Test your pages in the main browsers, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE, and make sure that your web page code is free of errors.
5. The Content
If you want people to come to your website and not leave straightaway you will need to create high quality content. Creating good quality content that people want to look at will help to attract new visitors to your website and will make them stay longer on your website. If you don’t create useful content your visitors will not come back. It is also beneficial from a search engine perspective – Google is constantly adapting and improving its algorithm so that more emphasis is put on useful and high-quality content. Focusing on content can help you to improve your rankings in the search engines.
6. The Data
Finally, it is useful to start tracking your website metrics as this can tell you a lot about how well your website is doing. An analytics package or programme can show you how many people are visiting your website and their activity. Monitoring your analytics can help you to see whether any changes to make to the website or your advertising are making a positive difference. Keeping track of your analytics is obviously not a required step but can be hugely useful.
- How to Register a Domain Name - wikiHow
How to Register a Domain Name. These days just about everyone has a website, from local real estate brokers to teenage bloggers to amateur photographers. Registering your domain name is the first step in establishing your online presence...
- Web Design Basics from About.com
Web design uses the same rules and features as other design techniques. Learn the basics of design and you'll know how to build a great Web page. This page will also teach you how to adapt design elements and principles to the Web medium.