If you’d like to create an effective website but don’t know where to start, this article outlines the steps and explains how to create a website. Here are some of the key things you should consider before you begin:
- Determine Your Market – The first step is to identify what communities you wish to reach or serve online. For example, major search engines such as Google or Yahoo serve everyone, while smaller websites have more of a niche market.
- Identify the market of your website offerings and perform in-depth market research.
- Determine your target demographics – professions, ages, additional interests, etc.
- Research Keywords – It’s important to determine if online browsers are searching for your topics, products, or services. The most effective keywords are not necessarily those that are highly searched, but that are specific enough to relate to your specific website.
- Assess Your Available Resources – It is important to decide how much time and money you are willing or able to invest in your website. For example, a long-term online business would require more money than a temporary website. Content sites may require less of an investment upfront then do shopping sites. Here are some things to consider:
- Content sites may require less money upfront, but you will have a great deal of competition as content sites are fairly easy to create.
- Online stores or e-commerce sites—websites that sell products—require more continual maintenance. Remember to take shipping, sales, shopping cart security, inventory maintenance, and other online store related responsibilities into account financially and time-wise.
- Narrow Down Website Concepts – You may have a long list of great website ideas, but it’s important to determine which stands to bring in the most ROI (return on investment). Also, consider which ideas require the most dedication and which might be the most appealing for you to work on long-term. Odds are you’ll be more successful if you choose something that is both profitable and interesting.
Getting Your Site Online
Now that you’ve determined what the concept and purpose of your website will be, you should do the following:
- Register Your Domain – Choose a domain name that is simple to spell and easy to remember. Typically, websites that end with .com get more traffic. Feel free to be creative, but try to choose something related to the purpose of your website.
- Choose a Website Hosting Company – It’s important to pick a web hosting company with great reviews. There are large hosting companies such as Godaddy.com as well as smaller ones such as Dreamhost.com.
- Determine How You Wish to Build Your Site – While some individuals may already know HTML or CSS code, for those that don’t there are other ways to build websites. Here are several different website building options:
- Use a website-building program – This allows you to build your web site, however, you have to trust your own sense of style and design ability. If you’re at all unsure, this is probably not the best option.
- Learn a programming language – This is a great option for someone technically inclined and who has time to do it. This allows individuals to build their own websites from the ground up. Languages include:
- HTML – computer language designed for web designers that build sites.
- XHTML – Newer web language that adheres to W3C’s standards. While it is nearly identical to HTML, it follows strict rules for marking information.
- CSS – Cascading Style Sheets provide more flexibility than HTML.
- Hire a Web Design Firm – Hiring a professional may be the best option for advanced sites, especially when it comes to e-commerce sites.
- Creating an Effective List of Keywords – Using keywords that your target audiences search for frequently can give you better search engine rankings. Keywords should be placed throughout your content, but not saturated to the point that it ruins the quality of your text. Search engine optimized website pages will make your website more visible and searchable online.
- Launch Your Website – Depending on the web hosting company you choose, they may have an FTP feature or you may be able to download your own. If you hire a web design company or SEO firm, they will most likely take care of this step for you.
- Take Your Website for a Test Drive – Make sure you surf through your own website and consider asking a few friends to do the same. Let them give you corrective criticism and use it to make your site more effective. It’s important to see how functional and user-friendly your site is before you drive traffic to it. It’s very important that your navigation and instructions are intuitive, too.
- Inspect Your Website Carefully – It’s important that you look at every detail of your website for things like broken links, missing tags, search engine optimization, design flaws, etc. These can all affect your website’s traffic and profitability. Make sure you create a site map and submit it to Google along with other major search engines. After Your Website Has Launched Your website is done and everything seems to look and function the way you want it.
- Frequently Update Your Site with Quality Content – You should set up a blog attached to your website and update it regularly with quality articles. If you do not have the time or ability to create articles for your blog, hire a knowledgeable copywriter. Quality content should be optimized so that major search engines can find it. This can also improve your search engine rankings.
- Set Up Your Shopping Cart – If you have an e-commerce site you will need a secure way to accept payments online.
- Market Your Website – It is very important that you market your website once it’s gone live. Remember to submit your site to major search engines, directories, and extremely high-traffic sites such as Yelp Spread the news about your website through word of mouth to everyone you know and ask them to share a link with anyone they know that may be interested.
- Consider posting comments on high-traffic blogs focused on topics related to your business—make sure you don’t spam them as site moderators will watch for this. You may want to hire an SEO firm to promote your website. If direct mail marketing is part of your marketing plan, be sure to include your new site’s address on every direct mail campaign piece. Follow the steps outlined above and you should be on your way to creating an incredible website that you will be excited for everyone to see.