How to Get a Website
You've just realized that you need a website. You have a business or maybe a product and people are interested. They're coming to you with questions and you happily answer them and give them a business card. They look at it and see that it's just your name and phone number so they ask if you have a website. You don't. You know you need one, but you're really not sure where to start.
I'm going to walk you through the steps to getting a website.
1. Choose a host
The first thing you need is a hosting provider. Owning a website is like renting space on the internet. Your hosting provider is your landlord and you have to pay them monthly or annually to keep your space.
My preferred hosting provider is GoDaddy. Their interface is easy to use and they have 24/7 customer service where you can ask questions about their offerings and get someone to walk you through setup and troubleshooting.
2. Choose a domain
Once you've chosen your host, it's time to choose a domain name. I recommend choosing a domain name that's the same as your business name. When I first designed my website my domain name was kiahsmith.com. The problem I ran into is that my business is called Kiah Smith Creative so my clients would automatically look for me at kiahsmithcreative.com and wouldn't find me there. Eventually, I bought the kiahsmithcreative.com domain and pointed kiahsmith.com to it. My reasoning for not using kiahsmithcreative.com from the start was that I thought it was too long. Even though my domain name is longer than I prefer it to be, it causes less confusion for my clients.
If your preferred domain name is already taken you have two options.
- Get creative with how you write your domain name
- Choose a domain extension
By getting creative I mean instead of using mydomain.com you can try my-domain.com or mydomainservice.com. "Service" could be any word relevant to your industry or offering. Many shorter domain names are already claimed, so you might have to resort to adding an extra descriptor to your URL before you find one that's available.
A domain extension is the .com part of a domain name. The common extensions and their meanings are:
- .com - commercial
- .net - network
- .org - organization
However, you don't have to settle for these vanilla extensions. There are now a slew of descriptive extensions that you can use for your domain name. Some interesting ones include:
At the time of writing this, there are 366 domain extension options available and 278 options coming soon. Personally, I love the .diy extension and look forward to seeing people use that.
A full list of extensions can be viewed here.
3. Use a web builder or find a designer
With your domain in hand, it's time to get set up with a website. If you're confident enough, you can use one of the many available web builder platforms and DIY your own web design. I'm of course going to recommend Squarespace here because their templates make it easy to setup, swap in your own info and know that you'll have a beautiful modern and responsive website.
If you want something that doesn't look like a cookie cutter site, find a designer. As a Squarespace web designer, I make sure your site doesn't look like it's just another Squarespace template. I also look at your business as a whole and analyze how your site fits into your plan and can best serve you. I use my knowledge of user experience to create a sitemap that organizes your content into a hierarchy with the most important information front and center for your site visitors. My goal would be to design a site that attracts your target audience and works to grow your business.
4. Launch your site
Whether you've chosen to DIY your web design or work with a designer, the final step is the site launch. If you've gone with GoDaddy as your domain host and Squarespace as your web host, then connecting the two services to push your site live is fairly simple. Squarespace has detailed instructions on how to do this. If you've gone with a web builder other than Squarespace, you can call up GoDaddy to help walk you through launching your site.
When launching a new site, I recommend drumming up some excitement. Tell your friends and family about it, post a screenshot on all your social media channels and make sure your existing clients and customers know that they can now find you online.
There's a whole lot more that can go into a launch strategy, but that deserves its own post.
Where are you currently at in your effort in getting a website up and running? Do you already have one, but are considering a redesign?
Let me know in the comments below.