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Website creation 101

March 28, 2013

My son is going to start his own business. One thing I know is that he will need a website and I would like to pay for that. Can you tell me what it would cost and how I would go about getting one done for him?

Thank goodness for parents!

The first thing to think about when getting a website is the purpose of the site. A site, essentially, can either be informational, for e-commerce, a marketing tool, or a combination of all three. But whatever the case, the first step is to know what the site will be doing because that will set in motion all future decisions.

Once you know that, the next step is to get a web address, or URL, as well as a host. Of course, the most common type of URL is the .com address, but in the last few years, many other suffixes have emerged, and many more are soon coming down the pike (see below). You can search for possible URLs from the many hosts that are out there, such as:

  • Host Gator
  • 1 and 1
  • Go Daddy
  • Network Solutions, etc.

The host will, as the name suggests, host the site on its computers.

Now, as for actually getting the site done, you have a few options:

  1. Point and click: Most all hosts will have a template of styles to choose from, both in terms of design, as well as, often, by type of business. For instance, if you are starting a real estate business, you should be able to find real estate templates that you can choose and customize. This is by far the easiest and least expensive way to get a site, and you can also rest assured that the basic design of your site, while lacking bells and whistles, will be clean and professional.

    Of course, the design is only half the battle; you will still need to populate the site with content. If it is an e-commerce site, the host will have a system that allows you to upload your items for sale, but even so, you will still need to create content for the home page, about page, inside pages, etc.

  2. Hire a web developer: If you need a custom site for whatever reason, it would probably behoove you to hire a web designer. Your website is a critical piece of your business, and as such, you have to take it seriously. A good web designer will cost thousands of dollars, but in the right circumstances, that should be money well spent.
  3. Do it yourself with a program like WordPress. WordPress is a popular program that many people use to blog but, increasingly, is also being used for website design. Creating a website with WordPress is very easy and affordable. There are literally hundreds of themes from which to choose, and even better, the themes can be customized and installed quickly.

The advantages of using WordPress for your business website are many:

  • The cost: Most WordPress themes are either free, or less than $100
  • Content management: What do you do when you have a site that you do not really understand technically, and yet which needs to be updated with new products or content? You have to go to your webmaster, that’s what. Not so if you use WordPress. WordPress has an easy to use, built-in Content Management System, or CMS. It makes adding or changing content to the site simple, easy, and fast.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): There are tons of plugins for WordPress, including many that make SEO a breeze, so that you can easily assign keywords, excerpts, tags and more to your content.
  • Assistance: There is a large community of WordPress people out there who can help you.

Yes, as you may have guessed, I had my own website designed using WordPress, and so am a bit biased, but biased for good reason. In any case, whatever choice you go with, be sure to do it right as your website is your business card, signage, marketing brochure, marketplace, and front door, all rolled into one.

Today’s Tip: According to a new survey conducted by the domain marketplace, most small business owners do not know that a slew of new domain suffixes will be rolled out over the next few years. Joining the ones we know like .com, .edu, .net and so on will be new extensions like .music, .bar. flowers, .bio and so on. You can learn more about these Generic Top Level Domains here.

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