Starting a new website is an exciting proposition, but it can also be a scary one. SEO? Domain names? SSL? Web hosts? DNS settings? This can sound confusing! Don’t fret; just take a look at this simple guide to get a general idea of what to expect. A good web designer or developer will help you through each step so that starting a small business website or one for your nonprofit will be easy. My new clients receive a packet of information that provides helpful hints and good web design tips for each of these steps. Contact me to get started on your new website!
Step 1. Register a domain name.
When you’re ready to start your own website, one of the first things you should do is to select and register your domain name. Domain names are simply the “addresses” of websites. For example, this site’s domain name is
adamswebconsulting.com. Like mailing addresses, domain names are unique so that only one website is associated with each domain name. So it’s important to name and claim your website’s “address” early on!
Once you’ve chosen a domain name, you then need to register it with a domain registrar. This doesn’t get you a website or even a place to host your website; it’s just a way to reserve your domain name for you. You will pay an annual fee to use the domain name, and you usually need to pay for it up front. Your registrar will remind you when it’s time to renew or will do that automatically for you. Your web designer can help you select and register your domain name or recommend registrars for you.
Step 2. Design and develop your website.
Web design tips
Read more about what makes great websites:
This is, of course, the most crucial step. It can take a lot of time to do it right. This involves not only the physical appearance of the website but also the content (text, photos, and other graphics) and functionality (email contact form, shopping cart, event calendar, etc.) as well. To have a successful website, you’ll need to consider what you need your website to do, who your customers are, and how your site will meet your customers’ needs.
While you may have some great ideas of what your website’s content should be and how it should look, you also need to consider how it will attract your target audience. An unfortunate myth that still exists today is that just by having a website, you will increase your business. However, the truth is that if you do not have a plan for how to attract people to your website, your website will do very little for you. Take a look at some ways you can successfully market your website. A skilled web designer or online marketer can help you with good web design tips and tricks for this process. See what my nonprofit and small business web design services can do for you.
Step 3. Sign up with a web host.
When your website is ready to launch, it’s time to choose a web host. (Sometimes, this step needs to be completed earlier.) A web host has many computers, called servers, always hooked up to the internet. These servers store, or host, website files so that when people are looking for a website, they actually connect with these servers and look at the files they need. You will pay monthly or annual fees to keep your website with your web host.
There are many different types of web hosts available. Some have different capabilities and technologies than others. Some offer more space than others. And still some manage your site for you while others offer a “do-it-yourself” experience. Your web designer will tell you what kind of web host you need and can make some recommendations. Here are some tips for choosing the right web host for you.
Step 4. Maintain your website.
Once your website is launched and is live for people to see, now comes the maintenance phase. To keep your website in peak condition, you need to care for it regularly. Keep it frequently updated, and use an analytics program, such as Google Analytics, to see how visitors are using your website. (Check out these articles on Google Analytics.) You will need to make changes if you notice problems that your visitors are having. Also, as your organization (and the competition) changes, so should your website. Regular care will help your website work harder for you.