Building a website has come a long way from the days when only computer experts well-versed in coding would take on the chore. Today, easy-to-use software and Web-based solutions make it a task anyone can master. For your first website, you should focus on ready-to-go templates and a simple layout. Here are five tips to get you started.
1. Define your purpose
Are you creating a personal website where you can share photos and news with friends and family? Are you a freelancer or small-business owner looking for a site to show off your artistic portfolio or list your services? Do you want to sell things over the Internet? If you want to develop an elaborate site or sell items, start with a basic site and plan to add those features later.
2. Find a Web host
Do you want a free hosting service that will put ads on your site but probably offer a domain name that includes part of the hosts domain name (such as www.Webhost.com/smith)? Or do you want to keep your site ad-free and have your own unique domain name? Search the Internet for “free Web host” or “affordable Web host,” depending on which you prefer. Choose one that includes easy-to-use Web-building and managing software, and, if you will need it, a shopping cart or way to collect payments.
3. Get your domain name
If it comes with your hosting service, go that route. If not, search for “domain name service” and register your name. Choose your domain name service with care: Compare prices and make sure you are not obligated to pay for extras. The service will check to see whether the name you want is available; if it’s not, tweak it or change it until you find one that is.
4. Plan your website
Don’t rush in. Read through your Web hosts how-to pages. Sketch out what you want your site to look like and how you want it to function. As you begin building it, anticipate how what you do now will affect features you may want to add later. Investigate what you will need to activate those later features; for example, will you need a PayPal account or a merchant account to use a shopping cart? Do you need product photos or a way to only give certain people access to your site?
5. Make it interactive
One of the most important ways to gain visibility and keep people returning to your site is to provide content and a way in which they can interact with you and with each other. Offer an e-newsletter. Sponsor contests. Include an online forum. Send e-mail notices when you post new information. Connect your site to social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Follow these steps and you will create a website that will not only serve your immediate needs but will be flexible enough to grow with your changing goals. Taking the time to research and plan your possible future requirements will allow you to simply add features later, rather than starting from scratch again.
Jack is a Website Developer from Melbourne, Australia. As well as building websites, he also provides analytics training to local businesses. Away from work, Jack likes to go to the football and spend time with his friends and family.