A Basic Guide to Starting Your First Website
In 2020, it’s easier than ever to start a website or blog and begin broadcasting to the world. With the recent proliferation of templates, web builder platforms, and online tools, even complete novices can ‘build’ a website, often in just a few hours.
Pre-built website templates and Content Management Systems (CMS) have greatly simplified the process of publishing and updating a website, making it easy to get your site online. Indeed, some web publishing companies will even do the initial set-up of your site, removing the stress of having to think about getting your pages published. However, there are still primary considerations you’ll need to bear in mind before you get your site online.
Work out the aims of your website
The most important aspect of setting up a website is deciding what you hope to achieve from the build. Perhaps you want to set up a personal blog, or maybe you’re looking to set up an e-commerce store or company website. Deciding the aims of your site should be the starting point for any web production as they will dictate every other decision you make.
Decide on a brand/domain name
Your domain name is how users will find you online or what they will type in to visit you directly. A domain name should be short, and, in most cases, will benefit from containing descriptive words explaining what your site is about.
Domains with the subject in the title will always rank higher on search engines like Google and will have a beneficial effect on your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For example, if you were building a blog about your favorite driving roads, think about something like bestdrivingroadsUSA.com or similar. Including a geographical hint will also help your rankings.
In the case of company websites, your options will be more limited, though it is still quite common for companies to employ targeted domains that don’t feature their company name, purely for search engine ranking purposes. For example, a Wisconsin plumbing company might choose the domain, WisconsinPlumbers.com.
Decide how your site will be built
With the aims of the project and domain name decided, the next thing you’ll need to decide is how your site is going to be produced. As a general rule, you have three main options, each with their own advantages and drawbacks:
Hire a development company: Using a development is the most expensive route; however, it also offers distinct benefits, particularly from a security and support point of view. Companies like the ALT agency, a web design company operating in the Wolverhampton area of the UK, have vast experience dealing with clients from all markets and backgrounds and will look after the entire build process for you. This allows you to concentrate more on content rather than on how the site is produced. Web design companies are also uniquely positioned to offer bespoke design and development solutions, built entirely for your specific requirements.
Use a DIY website builder company: If you’re just looking to start up a personal blog or simple website, you may well find website builder platforms offer everything you need. Companies like Wix and Squarespace offer a vast range of easily updateable, pre-built templates, most aimed at a specific purpose or industry. You simply buy the package and the site will be installed automatically, including all the tools required for adding, editing, and deleting site content and pages.
Website builders are normally the cheapest option when it comes to design and development; however, you should be mindful that any alterations to their standard design or function will require the assistance of a third-party developer. It’s also quite likely you’ll be charged extra for anything beyond basic support.
Use a theme or template built on an open-source CMS: If you have a basic grasp of programming and servers, using an open-source CMS coupled with a pre-built template can offer greater flexibility than off-the-shelf DIY builder options. WordPress remains the number one CMS globally and is suitable for all but the most complex of web projects. Simply install the CMS on a server, then choose which template you’re going to use.