Complete Guide on How to Start a Website
Choosing the right hosting service for is only one step in the process of building and publishing a website online. Be it for personal or business use, in our guide, you will learn how to create a website from scratch. I guarantee you, that this guide is beginner friendly, so you don’t need to spend time learn coding if don’t want to.
Here you will learn from how to choose a website building platform, through how to buy domain name and hosting, to how to create and publish your website and generate traffic.
Before we continue, I want to let you know that this will be a long read. So get a cup of coffee or tea before we jump it.
Ready! Let’s rock!
These days you don’t need to be a web developer to make a website. Basically anyone, who has access to a computer and internet, can create a professional website, without any major time or financial implication.
What Type of Website You Need?
So the first step in the process of setting everything up is to define the type of website you want to create. Keep in mind that you can combine multiple types into one website.
Business profile website: this is a simple few-page only type website which is used mostly by small businesses. The goal of these websites is to give and overview of the products or services offered by the company, address and contact information. A business-card website is simple, has usually up to 5 pages, and includes a logo of the company, text, couple images and eventually a contact form and map location.
Portfolio website: is very similar to business-profile site, with the additional section which showcases your work. These type of website us used by design agencies, artists, photographers and other creative companies.
Product brochure website: is for showcasing products or services that cannot be brought online, it is more for information purpose.
eCommerce website: is similar to a product brochure website with the extension that users can actually purchase the services or products your website is offering. Setting up an online shop might take more time and effort than a simple, business-card site. With the help of the tools and services we will enumerate below, you will be able to start selling online quickly.
Blog: can be added to any type of website as an extension or it can also run individually on a separate website. Blogs are meant to provide information on various topics form a subjective point of view, based on experience of the writer or blogger who is maintaining the blog.
Forum: can be used as an addition feature to your existing website or it can also run individually. The goal of a forum is to gather a community around a certain topic. The community members will address questions on the forum, where you and your company can publicly answer.
News website: is very similar to a blog, with the difference that is updated more frequently with fresh content. Most news sites are updated multiple times a day. A news site can cover local or global news, or can be specialized on certain topics such as tech, business, health or other categories.
Choosing the Right Name for Your Website
Once you’ve figured out the type of website you want to create, and you know your audience and strategy, it is time to choose a good name for it. You will need to register a domain name. Most of the time individuals or businesses choose domains such as yourname.com or yourbusiness.com, but it can be basically anything that is available.
Some companies choose to register domains that have catchy names, are brand-able, unique or intuitive. Keyword domains are also very common. These usually contain one ore multiple keywords that the company is targeting.
For example, if your company is offering computer repair services, an ideal domain for you would be computerrepairservice.com – this might already be taken, but I hope you got the point.
Ok, so you choose a name, but still can’t decide on what domain extension you should pick. There are various extensions you can choose from:
- Top level domain extensions: .com, .net, .org – these are the most popular and are used by small businesses as well big corporations from all over the world.
- Country specific domain extensions: .uk (United Kingdom), .us (United States), .in (India), .de (Germany), .fr (France) – and the list continue. These domains are used entities who are targeting specific countries. Some of these extensions can only be registered by resident companies or individuals.
- Topic specific domain extensions: .club, .design, .site, .yoga, .business, .flights, etc. – these domains can be used by who target a specific niche.
If you are building a brand, you might want to register most of domain extensions, because you don’t want that someone else to acquire some of these domains and take advantages of your brand name.
Choosing a Website Building Tool / Software
So what tool or software should you choose for building your website? There are so many options so you might get confused choosing a site builder. Choosing the software you want to use for building your website depends on the type of website you are planning to create.
The tool you are going to use for your website depends on the type of site you are going to create.
If you plan building a website that will be updated frequently, probably your best bet is a CMS. A content management system, as the name suggests, enables you to manage your website’s content. This type of tool / software allows you to upload content (text, images or videos) to your website quickly and easily. Although it requires a minimal level of technical skills, it not involves any experience with programming. Most CMS are easy to use and are very intuitive. In our guides you can learn more about how to create a website using a CMS such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla.
Another tool you can use to build your website is a Website Builder. This is a web based application, which allows you to create a professional website using the visual interface of the software. Does not require programming or web designer skills. The use of a website builder is extremely simple and most of them include a wide range of features and drag and drop functionality. You can learn more about popular website builder (Wix, Weebly, Mozello and others) in our reviews and tutorials.
If you are building an online shop to sell goods online, you will need to use an eCommerce platform. In this case you can choose a self-hosted software or you can find an online eCommerce solution. If you don’t have the necessary experience and knowledge running a self-hosted store and don’t want to deal with hosting and security, you better opt for renting an eCommerce platform. Just like website builders, an online eCommerce platform will enable you to create your online store with ease, while the company will take care of all technical and payment processing aspects. You can learn more about most popular online store builder (3dCard, Volusion, Wix and others) in our guides.
The long and tedious process for creating a simple website is to use programming. If you want to learn HTML and CSS coding while making a website that is a very good thing. You will be able to customize every part of your website and make it look like you always wanted. You can choose a template and customize the HTML and CSS part, turning into a custom webpage that fits your style and needs. This however is a long process and requires advanced knowledge of programming skills. In your guides you can learn more about how to make a website using HTML and CSS programming.
Choosing the Right Design for Your Website
The look of your website is very important. Visitors are in hurry and you have only few seconds to grab their attention and make them stay on your site. Having a great design can make a really big difference.
Choosing the perfect site design, again depends on the type of website you are building. In most of the cases (when using a CMS or a builder) you will need to choose from a wide range to pre-designed templates. It is important to know the following aspects when choosing a theme for your site:
- Use a simple a clean design
- Use mobile-ready (responsive) design
- Add unique design elements and images
- Make it intuitive and easy to navigate
- Choose design that is suitable for your niche
If you are not confident about the look of your site, you can always hire a web designer or developer to improve it.
“Content is King!”
The content you provide on your website also has a huge impact on the visitor’s intention. Poorly written content will make the visitor to leave and don’t visit your website again. You can’t just copy the content from other websites, first because you will break copyright laws and second, because search engines will discourage sending you visitors.
Focus on creating useful and informative content for your audience. Try to present this content in an appealing way, so your visitors will not only read and learn from it, but will also share it through social media. This will bring your website more visitors and higher authority, resulting in more sales and more revenue.
Testing and Launching Your Website
Before making your website publicly available, you want to make sure that everything works fine. You will have to spend a good amount of time to test and fix issues on your website. You will have to pay attention to the following:
- Verify the content (punctuation, spelling, grammar, etc.)
- Test design elements on different devices (phones, tablets, larger screens)
- Test website functionality (test orders, fix broken links, send test emails, etc.)
- Verify SEO elements (headings, keywords, meta data, title tags, etc.)
- Test performance and improve website speed (upgrade hosting plan if necessary)
At this point, you are ready to launch your website. Now you might think you are done. Actually the fun part only begins.
Promoting, Maintaining and Improving Your Website
In order to make money with your website, you will have to promote it. There are many ways to drive traffic to your website, but one thing is for certain: this requires lots of time, effort and resources.
Maintenance is also important. You will want to update the system as well the content on regular bases. This will help you to improve security of your website and also provide up-to-date information to your visitors. Creating backups are also needed, in order to restore your website in case of any failure.
Measuring website stats and collecting visitors’ feedback can also give you insights on how to improve your website. It is an ongoing process, but if you are committed to make your website the best, you will have extraordinary results.