You don’t have to be a tech expert to create a website. However, you’re missing out if you don’t have an online presence for your business. More than 3.7 billion people use the internet, making your website an online brochure, a way to attract potential customers, a method of connecting with your audience, and a sales engine. Regardless of how small your operation may be, a website can only add value to your business. In fact, it’s tough to get a business loan without one.
It’s normal to have no idea where to start when you’re building a website, the technical jargon can be confusing. You might even think it’s too expensive. You might be afraid that you can’t do it yourself, but rest assured, you don’t need a lot of money or IT knowledge to create a website. Stop putting it off, and start creating a website so that your business can boom!
It Starts With a Name
Before you do anything else, you need a domain name. That’s the web address that people will search to reach your site. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money bidding on a common URL, come up with a unique domain name. If you want to use an existing domain name, you may have to shell out big bucks for it, and it may not even be available. Your domain name should be memorable, easy to type, and it should be relevant to your business.
Once you’ve decided on a domain name, you’ll have to purchase it. You’ll likely be spending $10 a year to own your domain name. Lifehacker lists the best domain name registrars as:
- Go Daddy
Do You Need a Hosting Provider?
Web servers host sites so that they can be accessed via the internet. Your host provider stores your website’s files. Many free website platforms, which we’ll describe below, use their own servers to host websites.
You can get more freedom and control over your website by hosting it yourself. Fear not, this doesn’t mean that you have maintain a server in your living space. You can rent server space from any of the domain name registrars above, but there are alternatives that are worth considering.
PC Mag lists the best hosting providers as:
Get Started Right Away Without a Hosting Provider
Drag-and-drop website builders let you design the look of your site without dealing with code. You can move images, texts and links around using your computer mouse. It’s as easy as creating a digital collage. The following drag-and-drop platforms allow you to start building a website as soon as you have a domain name.
The basic plan is free, and you don’t even need a domain name to start building your site. If you use the free plan, Wix will create URLs based on your username. Upgrade to a premium plan if you want to use your own domain name or access more features. Wix offers plenty of templates that let you easily design a professional-looking website. The templates are flexible; you’re not locked into a particular style.
Weebly offers everything you need to create a website. The company offers fast loading speeds and protects websites against hackers. When you’re just starting out, you can use the free version. Your website will be hosted as a subdomain. Therefore, the URL will be something like http://domainname.weebly.com. The competitively priced paid plans offer features like e-commerce options, forums and membership access.
Squarespace is marketed as a visually oriented website builder. It has some of the cleanest templates, and you can quickly set up a designer-quality website using the platform. You can add e-commerce functionality to your website by opting for one of the most advanced pricing tiers. Although Squarespace doesn’t offer free plans, its pricing is still competitive.
Other website builders are available, including the following:
- IM Creator
Each has a different pricing structure and its own pros and cons. You can look up reviews online to find out which one might be best for you.
More Freedom With WordPress
Some people consider a self-hosted WordPress.org website to be more comprehensive than the website builders mentioned above. Getting started with WordPress can be confusing for beginners. WordPress.com can host your website for free but has limited functionality. If you purchase a hosting package elsewhere, you can create and manage your website on WordPress.org.
What’s the difference? WordPress.org gives you full control over your site. It’s free to use, but you’ll have to pay a separate provider for hosting. You can use paid or free themes, which are akin to templates, to design your website. WordPress doesn’t offer the same simple drag-and-drop functionality as Wix, Weebly and Squarespace. However, you can still work with a visual editor, and you don’t have to understand HTML.
WordPress.com offers hosting and lets you create a website more affordably. However, it has several limitations.
The free version requires you to run ads on your website. You won’t get commissions for these ads, and they can detract from the look and credibility of your site. You can’t use your own analytics program to evaluate website statistics. You can’t use plugins, which are powerful tools that can enhance the way that your website operates.
WordPress.com may be useful for hobby bloggers or people who don’t want to make money off of their websites. Most experts recommend using a different platform if you have an e-commerce company, though.
Creating a Self-Hosted WordPress.org Site Step-by-Step:
Here are the steps for creating your own site using WordPress.org.
- Register for a domain name.
- Purchase a hosting package.
- Install WordPress in your hosting account. Your hosting provider should be able to help you with this.
- Go to the WordPress login page and sign into the dashboard. This is the behind-the-scenes look at your website.
- Choose a theme. You can download it from another site or directly from WordPress.
- Add content to your site using posts and pages.
Is it Really That Easy?
Creating a website can be effortless, especially if you use a website builder like Wix or Squarespace. Starting out on one of those platforms can give you the knowledge and confidence that you need to design your first site. Once you become comfortable, you may want to take more control over your website, moving to a platform like WordPress.org. You still don’t have to be a techie to use WordPress, but it can get confusing at times. Fortunately, there’s plenty of support available online for any website platform that you choose to use.