Quick guide to your first website

I often get asked what is needed to make a new website and it seems like every time I start rambling on with a list of things and prices. For someone who’s never done a website it probably seems a bit daunting really, just having 300 words thrown at them that don’t really make any sense. So, today I while responding to a friend’s request for information, I thought that I might as well just create a handy post for everyone.

Domain

This is the address to the site. Or rather it’s a reference that then points to a location on a server. Without one you’d have to type in some vague IP address every time you wanted to visit a site. (anywhere from $3.99 – $40/yr)

Hosting

The hosting includes two parts, ideally both would live on the same server but, this isn’t always the case. First is the the files just like your own computer, second is a database where almost everything that contains text should be stored. This allows someone to make edits to menus and pages without having to know how to write code and dive into the under-workings of the site. ($4.99/mo – $10/mo)

SSL

Anytime you’re dealing with people’s private information you should have an SSL certificate. Specifically, if you’re taking credit cards online you MUST have one. The way around this is to send a user off site to pay, I send them to PayPal, and then once they’ve paid they’re directed back to your site. This works well but, sometimes people are a bit put off by going off site. I’d rather pay with PayPal than use someone’s on site thing. ($70/yr)

Platform

This isn’t really necessary. You can have a static html page or even hand code something to do what you need. But, there are quite a few great platforms for completing large projects quickly. The most popular is WordPress, which now powers 30% of websites, it’s easy to setup and manage as well. You simply download it from WordPress.org, create a database, upload the files, navigate to the site and it’s like, 1 click later and you’re up and running. Then you track down a theme or create your own, track down some plugins, and start putting pages and posts together and hope for traffic. The second most popular platform is probably Joomla. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and have large developer communities and plugin/theme repositories. Personally, I like WordPress more. (Mostly free)

Now, that probably seems like a lot to digest but, the good news is many hosting companies provide great support and some even have one click installers that can have a site up in under an hour.

Now, the only thing holding you back is getting started. Go pick your new domain name, and build something awesome; or contact me today with your new project idea!