So you’ve just started a new business and you’re looking for a way to increase sales. You’ve decided now is the time to build a website for your business. What a great decision! However, you’re now asking yourself – ‘how do I build a website’?
I get it. It can be a very confusing and time consuming process and you want to make sure you get it perfect. I’m here to help! I’m a professional web design & development freelancer in Toronto, Ontario. I’ve built many websites for all sorts of clients and wanted to share my step by step process for anyone thinking about building their own website.
This process is going to be based on how to build a website using WordPress. WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) that has made building, updating, and maintaining websites accessible for everyone. I recommend WordPress and use it to build all of my clients’ websites as it is very thorough, allows for great customizability, and can be learned without having any prior coding knowledge.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced web designer/developer, you can build great websites with WordPress. For a more in-depth article on why you should use WordPress for your website, click here.
Alright, let’s get started on how to build a website! I’ve outlined the steps below before we dive into each one deeper.
The first step in building your own website is choosing a domain name. You can think of this as the name of your website – it is what you would give to people to access your website. Examples of domain names are ‘mywebsite.com’ or ‘mywebsite.net’. While domains aren’t the most important aspect of your website, it is certainly a benefit to have a strong domain name, or rather, it is crucial that you don’t have a poor domain name. Some mistakes to avoid when choosing your domain name are:
Don’t make your domain name too long – (thisismywebsiteIhopeyoulikeit.com)
If your domain name is too long, users will have a harder time knowing what your website name is, as there are no spaces to clearly identify the different words. This also increases the chances that a potential user will misspell your domain name when trying to search up your website.
Don’t make your domain name too ambiguous – (ldkfoejglw.com)
If your domain name doesn’t make any sense to potential visitors, they won’t know what the purpose of your website is and will be less likely to navigate to it.
This will also make it harder to spread word of mouth regarding your website, as people will have a tougher time pronouncing and spelling your website when trying to tell their friends and family about it.
Don’t use words in sequence where the first letter of a word is identical to the last letter of the previous word – (‘timeescape.com’ or ‘waterrecycle.com’)
When putting these types of words in sequence, it makes it harder to read for the user. More importantly, it increases the chances that when searching for your website, a person might forget to put the 2 letters in a row and end up misspelling your website name and being unable to get to your website.
As shown above, you want to make your website easily accessible for users. Besides those rules, don’t stress too much about your website name. Just focus on making it relevant to your offering, make it easy to spell out, and feel free to get creative with it. At this point in 2021 , most 1-word domain names will be taken so you might have to use 2-3 word domain names depending on how creative you want to get with it.
To check if your domain name is available or not, there are many free domain searches you can use. You can use name.com to search for your domain name. This website will show you whether your desired domain name is available and potential alternatives if it is indeed already taken.
Once you have found a domain name that is available, it is time to purchase your domain name. There are many domain registrars out there, some being overpriced. Therefore, I personally recommend namecheap.com as they seem to have the cheapest rates from my personal experience. For a full tutorial on registering your domain with NameCheap, check out this article.
Now that you have a domain name, the next step is to sign up for a website host. While the domain name is essentially the website name that visitors will use to access your website, the website host will be the server where your website actually exists.
When signing up for your domain host, you’ll see that they offer website hosting as well, and you may be tempted to purchase website hosting through them because it is cheap. Do not signup for website hosting with your domain hosting website. It is very likely their website hosting has poor quality (hence why it is cheap).
Your website host is very important. A poor website host can greatly affect the performance of your website. Most notably, a poor website host will slow down the speed of your website. The lower the speed of your website, the worse you will rank on search engines like Google because Google doesn’t want to send website visitors to slow websites. The worse you rank on search engines, the less website visitors you will get and the less leads.
This is why I would also recommend staying away from other cheap shared website hosting providers. This is is because the server will be shared with other websites. The more traffic those websites get, the slower your website will be.
The web host I use for my website and recommend for all of my clients is Cloudways. Rather than shared hosting, Cloudways uses cloud hosting so you will have your own server. In my opinion, they offer the best quality for the price. Cloudways allows you to easily launch a WordPress application, provides daily backups, allows you to apply a CDN to your website and much more.
On Cloudways, I’d recommend getting started with the Digital Ocean Server – 1GB. This plan will be $10 USD a month. To get started with Cloudways, click here (this is an affiliate link and I do get a small commission if you sign up through it. But I am an only an affiliate partner because I use it myself and recommend it to all of my clients).
Now that you have your domain name and web host ready, it is time for the fun part, to actually build a website! If you haven’t already, this is where I recommend hiring a professional to build your website for you (shocking advice coming from a professional that builds websites I know…)
Look, you could definitely try the DIY method of building your own website, all the power to you. To be honest, a lot of my clients started out trying to build their websites themselves, and either realized they didn’t have the time or couldn’t customize it the way they envisioned.
I know you may be starting a new business, and are trying to save money by building it yourself and thinking – how hard could it be? Maybe you already found a free template online that you’re happy using. I totally get it. Maybe you could build yourself a website that you think is good enough aesthetically and that’s great if you’re happy with it.
However, I believe a powerful website is the best way to actually increase your leads and increase sales. There are a lot of front-end and back-end parts of the website that a professional takes care of that you may not think about. For example, maybe you like the way your website looks. But have you optimized it for mobile as well? In today’s age, a majority of your website visitors will be on their phone and if your website isn’t optimized for mobile, they aren’t going to stay on your website very long. And what about SEO? Do you know how to setup your website so that potential visitors will actually be able to discover you on search engines and get organic traffic?
There are tons of services a professional web designer/developer will be able to help you with that you may have never even knew existed. And while a $2000 investment may seem like a lot for a professional website, if this website earns you $2001 more in sales then it is a worthwhile investment!
Okay, enough of the pitch to hire a professional. Regardless of if you hire a professional or you’re trying to build a website yourself, the following is the list of action items in order to build a website:
Once your website has been designed and all your plugins are setup, it is time to launch your website and make it live for the public to visit!
This will involve going into your domain registrar and pointing the domain you purchased in step 1 to the website host you signed up with in step 2. This process might be a bit different depending on the domain host and website host you have chosen. If you just google ‘how to connect domain from <insert domain host> to a website on <instert web host>’ you should be able to find a step-by-step tutorial if you are building the website on your own. Otherwise, your web developer will take care of this for you.
Other tasks that should be done during this stage include:
Congratulations! Your website is built and launched. You are super excited and never have to think about your website again. You are done! Or are you?…
While I technically have provided the steps to help you solve the problem ‘How do I build a website?’, the new problem is now ‘How do I maintain my website’?
While your website may be functioning well and looks great now, this may not be the case in 6 months from now. Why? Because websites need to be updated and maintained to perform well.
I like to think of websites sort of like a car – you don’t just buy a car and then never take it in for repairs or routine checks. Cars break down if they are not properly maintained. The same goes with a website.
Your website is built with software and plugins and if left untouched, they will go out of date and this could lead to many problems- relating to site performance and security. You need to perform routine checks of your software and plugins to keep them up to date and ensure they are functioning well. I also wouldn’t recommend just setting plugins to auto-update as if there is an issue on your website you won’t know which plugin caused the issue.
There’s no point in spending all this time initially creating your website if you are just going to let it break down in a few months. What I recommend is enrolling in a website maintenance plan, either from the web developer that built your website or from a web maintenance company.
The main tasks you should look for in a web maintenance provider to perform include:
I hope these steps have taught you a thing or 2 (or 5 to be exact) about what will be involved with building your brand new website. This is an exciting time for your business and it is important that you are prepared with what to expect and what is required of you.
If you have any questions about any of the content in this article or have any ideas of your own, please feel free to email me directly at [email protected]. If you are looking to build your own website and have some questions definitely reach out as well, I’d be happy to help (I’d be happy to build your website as well 😉).
Have a wonderful day!