If your customers keep asking you about your online presentation and all you can give them is a blank stare, it’s finally time to create a website. No matter the size of the company or your industry, a business without a website is completely handicapped in many aspects.
In order to maximize your marketing efforts, raise brand awareness and make it easier for clients to reach you, it is an absolute must to create a website for your company in this day and age. Whether you want to build it yourself or hire an expert, it’s important to get started. No matter the path you choose, here are some essential steps you need to get started and create your website in 2018. Let’s dig in.
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Choose a Content Management System (CMS)
If you’ve never created your own website, you may think it’s incredibly complicated. About 10 years ago, even the most basic of websites required you to know at least the basic HTML. Luckily, things have greatly changed for the better.
Nowadays, you can create a website with the basic IT skills. Much of this is thanks to the advancement of content management systems. These are platforms that allow even laymen to create a functional website on their own, without coding or programming. There are different CMS platforms out there, and the first part is selecting the right one for your website.
For many people, WordPress is the first and most obvious choice for a CMS. In fact, more than 55% of all websites online are created in WordPress. One of its greatest strengths is the availability of plugins for everything you need. On top of that, it’s very SEO-friendly, so you can make sure you rank high in Google search results as soon as your site launches. You can make a WordPress website on your own, with a little bit of time devoted to learning the platform. To top it all off, WordPress is completely free to use.
Joomla is the second most popular choice of CMS for websites at the moment. It does not have the ease of use of WordPress, as it requires some technical knowledge. However, it’s an excellent platform for an e-commerce website. Unfortunately, most beginners won’t be able to build a website in Joomla. You will need a couple of months to tackle the basics before being able to create a site – the learning curve is steeper than WordPress.
Joomla is somewhere between WordPress and Drupal when it comes to difficulty of use, so you can get a good grasp of it even if you’re not a professional developer. The help portal for this CMS is extremely useful and offers plenty of support for each technical issue you may have. Just like WordPress, it’s completely free to download and use for your website.
Drupal is the third most commonly used content management system there is at the moment. It is the most powerful in terms of capabilities, but it is also the most complicated to navigate. In order to use its full potential, you will need some knowledge in HTML, CSS and PHP. This means that you won’t be able to build a site in Drupal on your own, unless you’re an experienced web developer.
One of the major upsides to using Drupal is that the page load speed is faster than its competitors, as the CMS uses less resources. You can edit your website to great lengths, thanks to many available plugins and themes. Just like WordPress, it’s completely free to use and set up.
All three platforms are great, but we strongly recommend going with WordPress. Its ease of use, plugins and SEO capabilities are unmatched. Besides, you can do a lot of the work yourself, if you don’t want to hire a developer.
Note: you can also opt for a website building platform such as Wix or Squarespace. Platforms like these allow you to create a website with a drag-and-drop interface. While this is the absolute easiest way to create a website, it comes with plenty of drawbacks. First, sites made on these platforms are all cookie-cutter and you risk having a site that looks like a pre-made template. Second, none of these content management systems come with great SEO capabilities. Finally, and most importantly, you do not have the ability of customizing your site as extensively as with WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
Sort Out Your Domain and Hosting
So, you’ve settled on a CMS. Let’s get the ball rolling further. As you know, all websites must have an address in order to get to them. This is called a domain and you need to purchase it. We don’t really have a tip here, ideally you should choose a domain that is the same name as your business. However, you can go a different route if your priority is to rank for a given keyword. In any case, you’ll be able to choose between what’s currently available. The first part is called the domain, while the second part (.com, .net, .org etc.) is called a Top-Level Domain. The domain should set you back anywhere from $5 up to several thousands of dollars, depending on what name you’re going after.
Second, you need to take care of hosting. As it turns out, the files that make up your website need to be placed somewhere. With hosting, you pay for that storage. In this way, every time someone types out www.example.com, your browser fetches the files from the hosting server. There are tons of hosting companies out there, with plans starting from as little as $3 per month. You can choose your hosting plan depending on the amount of space you need, as well as the number of visitors you intend to have. With a new website, this is not so easy to guess.
To stay on the safe side and save a bunch of cash, choose the cheapest possible options and make sure that you can upgrade on the go as your company and website grow over time. On the other hand, if you already have a website and you’re looking to do a redesign, you should have a pretty good idea of how many people visit your website.
Install Your Website
Let’s use WordPress as an example here, as that is our choice of CMS. Depending on what kind of option you opted for, there are two alternatives. If you’ve chosen a good hosting company, they have a one-click WordPress installation possible. By simply going to your control panel, you can choose your domain and launch WordPress in a matter of minutes.
If your hosting company doesn’t provide this option (and it really should), you will have to install WordPress manually. You will have to download the installation file from their website and then manually go through the installation process. Note that this is slightly more complicated and we don’t suggest doing it unless you have some experience in web development, design and WordPress.
Select a Theme
Now you get to design your website and the world is your oyster. However, not everyone has expert design skills and they cannot come up with a great looking website all on their own. Luckily, there’s a neat shortcut you can take.
WordPress (and other content management systems, Joomla and Drupal included) allow you to select a pre-made theme and simply run with it, changing the text and images as you go. There are thousands of themes out there, sorted by popularity, industry, number of views and downloads and much more.
Themes have their own pros and cons. The great thing about them is that you can simply choose a template and not worry about a thing when it comes to design. There’s no need to worry if something fits in or whether the site is optimized for mobile, for example.
On the other hand, themes are templates that literally anyone can download. By going with a theme instead of a custom design, you risk having a website that looks like something else out there. Sure, you can change a few images and add your own text and videos, but the basic wireframe stays the same. If you really want to be unique and stand out with your website, running a theme may not be the wisest idea out there.
If you really want a website that is both functional and a piece of digital art, it’s best to hire a web design/development agency such as AdSpirine. An agency can create a website that aligns with your brand completely and stands out from the rest of the crowd.
Alternatively – Create a Custom-Made Design
If you don’t like any of the several thousand themes available for WordPress, or you simply want to have a completely unique website, custom is the way to go. You can create custom elements and put them up on the WordPress platform. This allows you to have the best of both worlds – WordPress’ ease of use and a fully custom look for your site.
However, setting up a custom-made website comes at a price. Literally – you will probably have to pay someone to do it for you. As it’s much complicated than choosing a theme and making some changes, you will have to hire a professional developer or agency such as Adspirine to take care of the work for you. This may be the most expensive route to take, but it is the safest one if you want to invest in your company’s future and ensure that your online presence is as professional as your business.
One of the absolute best things about WordPress is the ability to install a variety of plugins. They are essentially addons that can improve your WP site in various ways. There are currently over 25,000 plugins available to choose from. There’s a plugin for everything, from security, to SEO, to installing a contact form or making a quiz on your website.
There are some things to know about plugins before you get started. The first one is that quantity is not equal to quality. Having just a few good plugins beats several hundred that only slow down your loading speed. The second thing is that plugins are one of the major loopholes of all WordPress websites.
In order to keep your website safe, plugins should be regularly updated. Hackers can easily access your backend through outdated plugins and access your entire website because of an error that takes mere minutes to fix.
One of our favorite plugins to check out is called Yoast, and it maximizes your on-site SEO efforts. Using Yoast, you’re able to pinpoint the exact areas of your site that need improving. There is a free and paid version of the plugin, depending on your needs – but the free one will get 90% of the job done.
Get Help from a Professional
Does all of this sound complicated or tedious to you? You don’t have the skills to build your website from scratch? You don’t have the time for it because you need it to run your business? Don’t worry, we know exactly how you feel.
In order to make sure your website is built to be beautiful, functional and secure, our team at Adspirine will handle all of the work for you. Sit back and relax as we create a masterpiece of a website based on your instructions, in record time. Whether you need a website redesign or a completely new website, the Adspirine crew knows what it takes to make a website that wows visitors. Reach out to us today to get started!