13 Steps to Your First Business Website

1. Choose a domain registrar

Choose a reputable registrar with straightforward name management and consistent pricing. Dynadot and Moniker are both highly regarded registrars that offer good service and pricing. GoDaddy is the most popular registrar but be prepared for upsell and price increases at renewal time.

  • Recommendations:
    • Dynadot
    • Moniker (UPDATE: Contented Designs no longer recommends using Moniker, which after ownership changes has had problems with security and support.)
  • Alternative:

2. Choose and register a domain name

Use your registrar website to check the availability of the domain name you want. Be prepared to search for alternative names if your first choice isn’t available. Good domain names are in high demand so, if the right name is available, register it without delay. During registration, make sure your contact information is correct, and set the domain to auto-renew. This will help ensure you don’t accidentally lose your domain through administrative error or non-payment. The cost for registering a domain name is about $10/year.

3. Choose how to manage your website content

Content management systems like WordPress maintain your website in a database on the web server. Of the popular content management systems, WordPress is the easiest to use. WordPress is extremely flexible and powerful, however, and you can use it to create a business website that looks very professional. A content management system like WordPress should be your choice if you’ll be making frequent updates to your website.

You can also create a website by using a template. Copy the template to your PC, use the template and an editor to create your web pages, and upload the pages to the web server. A good template and quality content can provide your business with a professional web presence. The template approach is appropriate for small websites that don’t change frequently or for hosting plans that don’t support WordPress.

  • Recommendation:
  • Alternative:
    • template

4. Choose a web host

Select Linux shared hosting. Shared hosting, where your website shares a server with many other websites, is inexpensive and is sufficient for most business websites. Linux hosting is more reliable and is sometimes cheaper than Windows hosting. The cost for host a website using Linux shared hosting is about $75/year.

Arvixe and HostGator both offer reliable service at good prices, and have very high customer satisfaction. HostGator is one of the largest web hosts. Arvixe is a medium-sized company whose owner is actively involved in answering customer questions.

If your budget is tight, consider Dynadot or Google Sites. Dynadot offers a minimal hosting plan for only $12/year. Google Sites is free, but has limited features and takes some expertise to use it with your own domain name.

5. Point your domain to host nameservers

Login in to your registrar account, look for “DNS” or “nameserver”, and set the nameservers as instructed by your web host.

6. Choose your website design

Going with a clean and simple look lets visitors focus on your content, not on how flashy your website is.

7. Choose graphics for your website

Royalty-free stock images are an inexpensive way to add a professional look to your website. Upgrading the appearance of your website for a small one-time cost is a good investment.

8. Accept payment on your website

Adding a payment page to your website makes it easy for clients to pay you. PayPal lets you accept credit card payments without a merchant account.

9. Set up analytics for your website

Seeing information about your website visitors, such as how they found your website, which pages they visited, and how long they visited them, is valuable for assessing your content and marketing.

10. Upload your website content

To create or update content on your WordPress website, login into WordPress and make the changes using the WordPress interface. To create or update content on your template-based website, copy the web pages from your PC to the web server using an FTP client or the uploading interface in your hosting account.

11. Add your website URL to your marketing materialsAdding a link to your website on business cards, brochures, stationary, and email signatures makes your business more visible.

12. Advertise your website

Google Adwords lets you run pay-per-click (PPC) ads where you only pay when someone clicks on your ad and visits your website. Adwords lets you reach potential clients worldwide for as little as $0.05/click. If your business serves a local area, you can run a Craigslist ad for your business for free.

13. Repeat forever

  1. Evaluate your website analytics
  2. Evaluate and update your website advertising
  3. Backup your website content
  4. Evaluate and update your website content

 

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