A simple 5 point guide for anyone who wants to create their very first website
If your looking to do it yourself and create your first website, it can seem like a daunting task full of confusion. There are so many options available that it can make your head spin. If someone asks me, how do I start my first website? I always respond with these 5 tips.
1. Use WordPress.
As far as I’m concerned WordPress is the only framework you should even look at. Unless your website needs some advanced custom functionality, which in most cases WP plus plugins will probably cover it anyway, a WP site will always do. For a personal blog, info site, or most small to medium businesses, WordPress is usually the best choice.
Here are My reasons:
- WP is a free open source software
- WP has a huge support community of hundreds of thousands of people
- WP is constantly updated and constantly evolving
- WP has a huge directory of free plugins that extend the framework to just about any functionality you can imagine.
- Most web-hosts provide support and easy WP setup in the control panel
- WP is super SEO(search engine optimization)friendly.
Any decent web-designer should be able to work with a Word-Press site and easily pick up where someone else left off.
2. Keep your domain name in a separate place from your web-host.
I like to keep my domain name(s) and my actual website files with 2 separate companies.
Use a reputable domain registrar like Namecheap or Godaddy (I use a few, but Namecheap is by far my favorite) for holding just your domain name(s). It is very easy to point your domain name to any hosting company. If a web-host has control of your domain name they can literally hold your website hostage.
If you have problems with your web-host, or decide to sell your website this makes the process easy peazy. With a company like Namecheap you can easily transfer domain names inside your control panel if you wish. Many web hosts make this difficult to do in an attempt to try and keep you with them if you have a problem. This also provides you with an extra level of protection when using web-designers and developers because you can give access to your web files but not your precious domain name.
3. Only Use a Reputable Web-host
Not all web-hosts are created equal. I wish I could have given my self this advice when I first started creating websites. Nothing is more frustrating that working with a lame web-host.
I have used quite a few web-hosts and my 2 favorites to date are Hostgator & Bluehost. They are cheap, they have excellent customer service and they are not going anywhere. For a first timer you can get a sufficient hosting package for as little as $5 per month
Do not let a web-designer or small company host your website. Insist on signing up for your web-host yourself, then give a designer access to the control panel if you choose to use one. You may not realize it at first but having ultimate control over all of your website admins will save you many headaches down the road.
4. Purchase a good WordPress theme instead of using a free theme
This is a big one. A WordPress theme is what makes the look and layout of your website unique. There are basically 3 types of themes:
- Custom designed
There are thousands of free downloadable themes on the internet, however free themes usually come with a hidden price, such as hidden backlinks, non-removable advertising or even hidden hacks and malware that can allow the creator to hijack your website at anytime. The only time I mess around with free themes is when I am looking for ideas or testing something new.
Now I only purchase premium themes from reputable theme developers. I use to use free themes and after a couple bad experiences I won’t touch them anymore. When you purchase a premium theme you get support and a professional look that is very hard to duplicate.
Some of the Professional theme developers I have used include:
My favorite are the Woothemes collection. Moeswebtips.com uses one. Woothemes look amazing, are back end customizable, easy to use, frequently updated, and come with top notch support. They are just plain smooth and make my job a lot easier.
The last option is a custom designed theme. I don’t recommend this unless you like to burn time and money. From my experience custom coded themes are expensive to develop, usually have all kinds of bugs, as well as less functionality.
The greatest thing about WordPress themes is you can easily swap them out and completely change the look of your site without messing around with the core framework or existing content.
5. Install Google Analytics at the beginning
I cant tell you how many times I have taken on a first time SEO client and they either had very little analytical history or none at all. Google analytics is free and easy to install and is attached to an email. If your host goes out of business or you accidentally let your account expire you wont lose all that analytical history.
As an SEO I can tell you that having that info to slice and dice will greatly help your website in the future if it begins to grow and you decide to hire a professional SEM.
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