So you are thinking about building a website, but you are new to this whole thing. You do not even really know where to start. It can be easy to find yourself frozen before you get started if you do not have a clear list of steps to guide you. To help you out, here is a step-by-step guide to what you need to start a website.
Step 1: Register your domain name
A domain name is what people type into their browser to view your website, for example, www.yourcompanyname.co.za. Domain registration is the procedure by which you can secure your website address. Once you have completed domain registration, the domain name becomes yours for one year. Before registration expires the domain must be renewed, else the domain reverts to being available to the public.
A benefit of creating a custom domain name is the ability to create custom email addresses. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org. A custom domain email address reinforces the credibility and professionalism of your brand. Also, in this digital age, many people do not want to do business with a company that does not have its own domain email address.
There is a wide range of domain name extensions available, such as .co.za, .com, .org, .net, .info, .biz. The extension that you select, will depend on the type of business that you have.
Step 2: Sign up for a website hosting package
After your website is designed, you will need to publish it using a web hosting service. Web hosting services store your website files in high-powered computers connected to a very fast network. When a user types in your domain name (www.yourcompanyname.co.za) in a browser, the Internet connects to the web host and then transfers your website information so that the user can browse your website.
The hosting service provider charges a monthly fee to host your website. The type of hosting package that you select depends on the type of website you are creating as well as the design platform you are going to use. For example, a large website or a website with lots of images and videos will require more storage space compared to a smaller website. Or, if you are going to design your website using WordPress, you are required to have PHP and MySQL.
Remember: Some providers register your domain name for free when you purchase a hosting package from them.
Step 3: Plan your website
Once you have decided on a domain name, it is time to think about your website. Ask yourself these questions:
- What is the purpose of my website? i.e. sell items, showcase products, provide information, submit articles, etc.
- What are the goals of my website? Drive traffic, capture leads, raise conversion rate, build email database, etc.
- Does my website require special coding? Or can it be designed using WordPress? Do I hire a website design company?
- Review your competitors or industry-related websites, see how they do things, can you do it differently or better?
- What pages should I create? i.e. Home, About, Services, Contact, etc.
- What content, images, videos, and graphics can I use?
- What are my website priorities? Can I start with a simple site and build more over time?
Step 4: Design your website
This step is the most fun as you get to be creative and build your website. Make sure the following aspects are included in your design:
- Your website is responsive. i.e. your website looks good on all mobile devices.
- Your website follows the best practices for design and user experience.
- Your website is search engine friendly.
- Your website is set up for Google Analytics (an analytical tool to find out how many people visited your website, when they visit your website, which page was visited the most, where did they arrive on your website from, etc.).
Step 5: Go Live
After you have added content, reviewed, and tested your website, it is time to make your website live.
Step 6: Promote your website
How your visitors will find your website? Include your website address on all of your marketing efforts such as business cards, social media, business directories, and paid advertising.
Step 7: Analyse your website
It is important to understand how your website is performing and who is coming to your site. Website analytics can yield great insights into what you need to do more of, or what you need to change.
If you have chosen a website design agency to design your website, the above steps will be managed by the agency. It is a good idea to thoroughly go over step 3 with the agency and brainstorm ideas if required.
“Getting a quality website is not an expense but rather an investment.”
– Dr. Christopher Dayagdag
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