The Basics – Getting Started With a Website
People who’ve worked with me know that I am a big enthusiast of all things digital – marketing, messaging, mobile. I’m especially enthusiastic when it comes to starting and running a new business.
Now is just a fantastic time in history to be in business for yourself. The barriers to entry are low, the tools that everyone has available at very low cost are amazing, and the ability to market yourself to the entire world has never been easier.
Nevertheless, many (most?) businesses aren’t technology businesses so it’s not surprising that people launching a new venture might not know how to get started.
The first place to start is having a website. This is your sign to the world that tells them you’re open for business. While you might not actually conduct any transactions on your website, trust me – it’s the first place people will look when they’re trying to decide whether to do business with you.
At it’s most basic, a website has three key pieces.
- First, you need a domain name. These are the words people type into their browser to visit your site. Where do you do this? GoDaddy is one of the largest and best known but I like 1and1.com and Namecheap.com. There are many others and you’ll form your own opinion as you get experience. I also like to use domainr which is useful when you want help finding creative domain names (something called name hacking, a subject for another time perhaps).
- Second, you need a place to host your website. At its most basic, this is nothing more than a computer connected to the internet that your domain points to when people type in your address. My recommendation here is bluehost.com – especially for their hosted WordPress option, which we’ll discuss next.
- Finally, you need the content to show to visitors of your website. This is everything else – the pages, the pictures, the words, the embedded video, the cat gifs – all the stuff you want to sell, tell and show the world. The best option for easily creating and managing this is by using WordPress. The design part is taken care of by something called a theme – pre-built, versatile layouts that mean all you have to worry about is content.
WordPress, a free, open-source tool, started out as mainly for bloggers but has long since blossomed into a full-blown and highly-popular Content Management System (or CMS) used by companies all over the world. This means that you can log in and type up that blog post, insert your favorite Weird Al video from YouTube and you’re done.
What’s more, there are thousands of add-ons (called ‘plugins’) that let you easily do advanced things. Like automatically send your posts via Twitter, let people sign up for an email newsletter, or set up an e-commerce storefront. You can also apply a design (free or paid) to your website that makes it display properly on a desktop, a tablet or a phone – all without you needing to do (much) extra work.
That’s it. Follow these three steps and you’ll have the basics out of the way quickly and will be working on things like SEO.
Still have questions? Add them in the comments below or let us know.