Are you going to make a website
From 0 to start: 6 steps to building your first website
Climbing a mountain often takes months to years of hard work - both for the climb itself and for the preparations for it.
Starting or marketing a business is similarly difficult. It takes years of hard work to recognize the path to success, to walk on it and to practice.
Most of the articles I write for my blog are designed for intermediate to experienced marketers and business owners.
But that's not fair.
Every now and then I get emails from readers (and yes, I read them all) telling me that they love the articles I publish - I love that. But they also tell me that most of the content are completely incomprehensible to them.
Sometimes I forget the readers who are just preparing to take their first steps towards the marketing mountain.
If you're one of those readers: I'm sorry. But today I can hopefully make it up to you.
The most common question beginners ask me goes something like this: "How do I create a website and get it up and running so I can try out my first marketing strategies?“
That's a good question. And it is one worthy of an answer.
Today I'm going to explain the website creation process to you, how to create it and make it work - from A to Z. I divided the whole thing into clear steps and tried to express all the information as simply as possible.
Ready? Let's go …
Never rely on third party websites
Everyone has seen advertisements for websites that let you “create a website with the click of a button”!
Below are typical blogging platforms.
Mostly offer both free and paid options.
I fully understand why these websites are tempting to first-time users, but it is best to avoid them.
If you're just doing this to pass the time and blogging is your hobby, not a thing - then you can use such a website.
But if you're trying to build a business, you're going to run into ruin right from the start.
In short: don't do it!
I'll give you a few reasons for that ...
Reason # 1 - It doesn't save you any costs: The providers attract you with free offers. But then you realize that there is not much you can do with such a free concept.
Sure, you can create a standard blog, but it's paved with ads (that won't get you anywhere), support is poor, and you have extremely little storage space.
As a result, you decide to upgrade the product to a subscription concept.
The subscriptions aren't extremely expensive, but they aren't cheap either.
Hosting your own website is similar here - it gets a little more expensive sometimes.
Reason # 2 - You have more restrictions: This aspect would also be a reason for exclusion for me. For now, you won't be changing a lot on your website, that's completely understandable.
But you will hinder your growth if you use one of these platforms. Compared to a real standalone content management system (CMS), you only have very limited options in terms of design, functionality, file access and the ability to customize your website.
Reason # 3 - It's not that much easier (if anything): The final reason people are drawn to these platforms is because they promise to make everything "easier".
In fact, I think that's not the case.
If you really know what you are doing, you can create a WordPress website in 5 minutes.
Every time you do this, you will gain more experience with it and with it you will get better (and faster) at it.
The CMS systems that I will introduce to you later in this article are all more extensive, easier to customize, and to use (with gradations) than any of these third-party platforms.
1. Your website needs a living space (or: what is hosting?)
The first component of a website to consider is hosting.
That sounds intimidating at first, but it isn't.
Just think of your website as a collection of files. If it is "hosted" on your computer - like all your other files - only you can open it.
If you host these files on a server, anyone can access this server over the Internet.
Hosting companies offer you space on these servers, or even your own server if you want to pay for it.
You buy a hosting package from a hosting provider who will let you upload your website files (or offer plug-ins that make this easier). Once you've chosen a domain name (that's Step 2 - don't rush!) Anyone can view your website.
There are a few things to keep in mind when looking for a host.
Hosting Factor # 1 - Online Reliability: If your hosting doesn't go as planned, nobody will be able to access your website. This is just as bad as not having a website at all.
In 2015, that's not a big problem for most medium-sized websites. Nevertheless: please don't forget that!
Any good hosting provider will have no problem ensuring online availability. Typically you will see formulations like: "100% guarantee on network availability."
That doesn't mean your website will be online all the time, but hopefully it comes very close to 100%. If your website goes offline, such guarantees usually mean that you will receive hosting credits in such cases.
However, one should expect that your website will rarely go offline. If you suspect problems are occurring, sign up for an availability tracking tool like Uptime Robot. It will let you know when you should find a new web host.
Hosting Factor # 2 - Customer Service: Anything will go wrong at some point. Point. If you are a beginner at websites, you will get mixed up with something from time to time.
Usually the problems are easy to fix, at least for an expert.
Let's say you're doing something, or something gets out of control and causes your page to crash. The longer it is not available, the more it will cost you.
If you caused the error, your site will likely be offline until the problem is resolved. This is where good support comes into play. Most good support teams will even have full backups of your website that they can restore if the going gets tough.
Check the website to find out more about the host provider's support team.
You may prefer email communication, but when time is short, this is absolutely the worst form of support.
It would be better for you if support is available over the phone and / or live chat. Both forms are better, but at least one of them should be available.
Hosting Factor # 3 - Speed Matters: Even if I won't go into it now (it doesn't matter until you've created your site and got it up and running), website speed is extremely important to SEO.
Not only do fast pages have a higher rating, a fast page will also help you maximize your conversions.
Hosting is only part of the big picture, but an important one. The difference between poor and good hosting can affect load times by up to 50% and more - that's a lot.
So how do you find a fast host now?
This is a little difficult because there is no easy way to compare providers.
You can find articles claiming to have compared web hosts, but this is a difficult undertaking when you want to include all possible variables unchanged.
You should also be careful who you trust. Hosting affiliate commission is typically over $ 50. So some bloggers will do whatever they can to get you to sign a contract with certain companies. This is why some bloggers aggressively promote hosting websites like Bluehost and HostGator.
Hosting speed is something you can never be 100% sure about until you've tried it (or received a trustworthy recommendation). So much for that. Please note the following best practices:
- Avoid shared hosting - Shared hosting means that you share a server with several websites - often hundreds or thousands. This is slow, and if you are very unlucky and share the server with spam sites, you can even be penalized by Google for it. Solid alternatives to this are either VPS hosting (sometimes shared, but more tolerable) or dedicated hosting (the best option).
- You get what you pay for - The hosting has one of the most expensive fees when setting up a brand new website. If you're on an extremely limited budget and want to get the cheapest hosting, that's okay - but don't expect miracles for $ 5 a month. In general it can be said: The more you pay, the faster the hosting is too.
Spend a little time on web hosting forums once you've found a few web hosts that you'd like to try out.
Then compare their services and prices and find a concept that fits your budget. Then you can continue with step 2.
2. The perfect name
Now is the time to start thinking about the theme of your website.
If you already have an idea, it will be all the easier. If not, think about what your big plan should be:
The reason you should at least have a rough plan about the theme of your website is this: Now you need a name for it.
Important NOTE: There is no such thing as a perfect domain name. Some names may be a little better than others, but they are ultimately only a very small part of your business compared to the actual content of your website. Make up a few names using the methods below, then sleep on them for a night and pick your favorite the next morning.
Option # 1 - the knock it out method: If you have a special creative talent, you can immediately raise your hand yourself, because you have a great domain name ready that is already floating around in your head.
A few years ago, when there weren't that many good domain names out there, it was even easier, but it's still possible if you're creative.
Select any domain registry (from which you can buy the domain) and look for the domain names that came to mind. It will let you know if the domain is for sale or not.
Please note that you should avoid hyphens in the domain name. If you're a newbie, take some time to read through the list of domain name best practices.
Some of the top rated domain registries are:
Which register you choose doesn't really matter. They all work more or less on the same principle.
Option # 2 - Use a tool: If you need some creative food for thought, there are some great and free domain name generators available for you.
They all have a slightly different structure, but the process is more or less the same.
You enter a keyword or two and the generator will look for ways to combine those words into one domain name. The really practical advantage here is that they also show you whether this domain can still be registered.
You can register a name using the link they provide (usually an affiliate link), or you can just go to your preferred register and do that there.
The first example tool for you is NameMesh. As the name suggests, it tries to interlock the words. If you click the "Hide Registered" button, you will only see the domain names that are currently available.
Another good tool is Panabee. It works exactly on the same principle, but can give you different results. If there is a blue heart next to the proposed domain name, it means it is available for purchase.
A lot of the names will sound idiotic, but you usually get a few that are just fine.
Once you've picked out a domain name, you should register it and then link your domain name to your hosting account. It's pretty easy. Your hosting company will send you an email after registration that contains DNS server information (which looks like web addresses).
If you google "[domain registry name] + DNS server," you can usually find a help file that will show you how to associate your domain name with your hosting account.
This is what it looks like at Namecheap:
3. Simplify the creation and editing of your website with a CMS
CMS stands for Content Management System.
Please remember: You save the files of your website on your hosting server. If you really wanted to, you could edit these files every time you wanted to make a change to your website.
However, this is obviously extremely time-consuming.
A CMS lets you edit your website from within the domain yourself. You can log into the domain and then adjust your layout, your settings and content, as well as create new posts and pages - often using templates.
In other words: It makes creating and updating a website a lot easier and saves you a lot of time.
There is no such thing as a perfect CMS. There are hundreds on the market, some better than others. In general, however, all of the better ones have different strengths and weaknesses.
I'm assuming that you're just trying to create a relatively simple website or blog and get it up and running (like Quick Sprout). If so, then take one of the more well-known CMS that I will show you below. That will make your life a lot easier for you.
If you're trying to build a custom webapp or complex tool, you need a custom solution too. Either cooperate with a developer for your project or hire a development company to do this.
Unfortunately, it's impossible for me to show you step-by-step how to install each of these CMS on each host, but you can find a tutorial by googling it or doing the following on YouTube:
"Install [CMS name] [hosting company]"
Option # 1 - WordPress: WordPress is the king of the CMS. It's by far the most popular option.
Just to avoid misunderstandings: WordPress.com is the third party site where you can blog for free, but on WordPress.org you can download the WordPress software and install it on a website.
WordPress has made a name for itself as an ingenious blogging platform. If your primary goal is to create a blog-based website, this is a good option.
It offers a very intuitive administration back-end that makes it easy to change the most basic page options as well as create new posts and pages.
Plug-ins are an area that is both: strength and weakness.
WordPress has more than 39,000 plugins in its library - that is a lot.
That's good because it means you can use plugins to do pretty much anything you want with WordPress.
But not all aspects of plug-ins are good:
- They can puff up your side - It's important not to overuse plug-ins. If you have too many of them, they can slow your website down considerably.
- They can represent security risks - When plug-ins are kept up-to-date, they are relatively safe. But since most plug-ins are free, their developers usually don't update them. Over time, they can become security risks and lead to your website being hacked.
- They are not extensively assessed / tested - Anyone can publish a plug-in for WordPress without verification. This means that if you install a plug-in, you also take the risk. Sometimes you update a plug-in and it brings the entire website down.
Overall, having plug-ins when you really need them is quite useful, but just try to keep the number as low as possible.
Option # 2 - Joomla: Joomla is coming right after WordPress. It's not that intuitive, but it's still relatively easy.
Again, it's fairly easy to create and edit posts and pages, and you can manage the website's settings to some extent.
Like WordPress, Joomla also has a large plug-in library (which, however, does not come close to the scope of WordPress). But the same restrictions apply here as well. The plug-ins are not tested by anyone and are out of date relatively quickly, which leads to security risks.
Option # 3 - Drupal: Of these three options, Drupal is the most advanced. It's the hardest to learn, but you can also make more customizations with it. It's a bit like Lego pieces that you put together piece by piece as you want (which is not easy for beginners).
Instead of plug-ins, Drupal uses modules. It's not as extensive as the other two alternatives, but there is a reason for it. Drupal shows you which modules are currently under development and which are being maintained. This is a very important step in preventing security risks.
I wouldn't recommend Drupal for beginners, but if you already know that you need advanced customization options, this could be an option too.
Option # 4 - Rainmaker: The Rainmaker platform isn't nearly as well known as the first three options, but I still wanted to bring it in. It was created by the bright minds at CopyBlogger, which is how you can tell it's a high quality product.
The reason I am listing it as an option here is not just because it is a highly innovative CMS, but rather that the CMS was specifically designed for Internet businesses.
Here are just a few of the features included:
- Creating membership websites, forums and online training courses
- Upload, manage and sell digital products, e.g. B. software, e-books and more
- Integrated analysis & reporting tools
- Integrate A / B testing
- Cloud-hosted, including upgrades, maintenance and security precautions
- Export content to WordPress - at any time.
These are a few unique and useful features that will help you troubleshoot common problems Internet marketers have without finding a plug-in or service.
You will notice that a lot of things look the same as WordPress because it is based on that.
The system has its limits when it comes to themes. I'll get into that shortly.
Rainmaker is limited to Genesis themes. There are currently 27. If you like it simply, you will quickly find an attractive theme here. So that's not necessarily a weakness.
Once you've chosen a theme, it's pretty easy to apply custom CSS or design changes that you like.
A really big bonus point is that the CMS supports so many types of content.
Instead of necessarily buying a landing page tool or finding a good podcasting platform, you can use the content tools provided.
Finally, you can also monitor the traffic and perform conversion rate optimization - directly in the CMS. This is an extremely ingenious feature, but it's designed to be simple, which makes it ideal for beginners.
The biggest limitation is that if you want to use a feature that isn't built in, you're out of luck. There are currently no plug-ins for the Rainmaker platform - so what you see is what you get.
4. Market yourself - choose a design
By this point, you should have a website that should be up and running.
Now we should make it outstanding.
For every larger CMS you will install a theme. Themes are built on the basic CMS, but are designed to look and work differently. This allows themes to be created specifically for different types of businesses: artists, entrepreneurs, podcasters, local businesses, etc.
I will now go through themes for the 3 major CMSs that I mentioned above. In theory, they all work the same way.
How to find a suitable WordPress theme: You have a few different options when it comes to themes. The first option is to find them in WordPress itself.
Go to "Appearance> Themes" in the side menu and then click on "Add New" at the top.
You can sort themes according to "Featured" or "Popular", or search for your criteria in the extended "Feature Filter".
If you want to see a preview of the theme, click anywhere on it to open the preview window.
If you like the preview (in the right panel), click Install. If not, click on the "X" button and you will be redirected to the search page.
As soon as you have installed a theme, you should activate it so that it appears on your website. You can do this directly on the screen that appears when the installation is successful. Or you can go back to your main theme page. There you will then see your new theme as a selection option.
Click on it as before, but this time an “Activate” option will appear, along with a “Live Preview” option if you are not sure whether you really want to activate it.
The second option is to find a theme through a third-party website. These are usually paid themes. You can expect $ 30-60 per theme. You can also find some great free themes, but the best are all paid ones.
The fee is only paid once, and that's exactly what I recommend if you are serious about your business. However, you can always start with a free theme and later switch to a paid one.
The most famous marketplace for this is Themeforest, but you can try others if you want. Just search for “WordPress Themes” on Google.
However, with Themeforest you will have a lot more options.
You can sort themes by category, tags, price, brand awareness, and more. On the right side you can see a price for the theme and the sales figures for it.
If you click on a theme, you can see all ratings, a preview and even more details about the theme.
Paid theme categories are not only generally much more extensive, but you also get support from the theme developer himself, which can be very useful for beginners.
How to find Drupal theme: Just like WordPress, Drupal has its own portfolio of themes. The difference here is that it was accessed outside of the administration panel.
The search engine isn't quite as user-friendly, but you still have a decent number of theme options - just I wouldn't say they come close to WordPress.
In most cases there isn't a simple preview, so you'll have to click on each theme and look for links to documentation and demos.
If you find one that you like, scroll down a bit and you will see the download area under the theme description. Always download the latest versions
and pay particular attention to the version number. Version 6 themes will not work with Drupal version 7 and vice versa.
You have to upload the theme to the Drupal theme directory. You can find it under:
/ sites / all / themes / yourThemeName
Then go to "administer> themes" and then click on "enable" for the new theme. Finally, you should go to the user settings and select the new theme.
If that sounds difficult, here's a quick tutorial to show you how to do it.
You can also buy paid themes for Drupal, which I recommend you anyway. They're a lot easier to browse and they look better too. Again, you can use Themeforest again, or any other theme marketplace you like:
How to find Joomla theme: It's a bit different with Joomla, because you can only find a theme through third-party websites. But if you search for "free Joomla themes", you will come across many reliable, free offers.
Alternatively, you can still use Themeforest or another paid marketplace.
The installation is relatively logical. You download the theme and then upload it to your CMS.
Just watch the Joomla video or follow the instructions in the Joomla Template Installation Guide to find out how to do it.
5. How to edit your website without damaging it
I remember my time when I was a complete beginner in anything to do with the internet. I was afraid that I might crash my website. While this is relatively unlikely, if you are careful, it can happen.
One of the most important ways to protect your website is to use a child theme. A child theme is usually a stylesheet that is kept separate from the rest of the theme files.
You can integrate CSS files into a child theme to customize the look of your website. There are two reasons:
- It will be difficult to crash your page - if necessary, you can go to your hosting portal at any time and simply delete the child theme files.
- It protects you from updates - if you update a theme in WordPress (which is often necessary for security reasons), this will undo all changes that you made in the theme files yourself. A child theme is not affected by this, which means you don't have to waste time making the changes again.
How to create a child theme in WordPress: The reason many sites are simply hacked is because their software is out of date. If you take into account how often WordPress, its themes and plug-ins are no longer up-to-date, you would ideally have to update everything at all times.
A child theme for WordPress is imperative.
To create a child theme, you have to create a new CSS sheet (e.g. using a simple text editor) and add basic theme information (see the image below).
After that, you should upload it to WordPress (like any other theme) and activate it. Since a child theme has no functionality, WordPress will continue to use the parent themes - at least as long as you enter them correctly in your child theme.
Here is a complete and simple guide on how to create a child theme.
As soon as you have a child theme, you can view it via "Appearance> Editor". You can add any kind of custom CSS as you wish and then click "save" for the changes to take effect.
Create a subtheme in Drupal: If you want to use Drupal, you cannot create a “child theme”, but have to create a “sub-theme”.
The concept is the same. You can implement styles in subthemes that overwrite your parent theme.
Here is a complete guide on how to create a Drupal subtheme.
How to create a child theme in Joomla: You cannot create child themes in Joomla. The closest thing to this is creating a duplicate theme.
If you click on "Duplicate", an exact copy of the original theme is created, which then becomes the default copy.
Please note that this is unfortunately not the same as a child theme. Basically, you always create a new duplicate theme from time to time to use as a backup in case something goes wrong.
6. You have a working website. And what now …?
At this point, you should now have a functioning website that looks good too.
You can finally tick off most of the technical aspects and concentrate on the things you originally intended to do.
Next, try the following four steps. However, depending on your project or business, these will only be necessary to a limited extent.
Step # 1 - Create a Logo:Doing self-promotion is important. A logo is one of the main features that customers use to recognize your business.
If you already have a business, you may already have a logo. That makes it easier. If not, you should have one created for you. Here are a few different ways to find designers:
- Fiverr - You will pay around $ 5-20 for a logo. For this price you won't get one breathtaking received, but it should be enough to get you started.
- Upwork - submit an order request here and designers will apply to create your logo. Foreign labor is usually very cheap, whereas western designers could cost you a few hundred dollars. The same applies here: You get as much as you are willing to pay for it.
- Dribbble - if you want a top logo with a perfect design, search for "logo" on Dribbble. Search through the designs that are presented to you until you find a designer that suits you. Contact him and place the order. This is the most expensive of all options.
Step # 2 - write a base copy: Right now your website is pretty empty. Start getting to know your CMS better. Then create basic pages like the About the Company page.
Next, start populating your homepage with the first messages that you want your new visitors to see.
Step # 3 - Install Analysis Tools: Even if analysis isn't really important right now, it could be useful in the long run.
Install the Google Analytics code on your website so that you can track your visitors.
Step # 4 - Plan Your Marketing Strategy: This is where Quick Sprout comes in. Now that you have a website and know how to use it, it's time to figure out how to attract visitors to your site.
I've written tons of articles on how to create marketing strategies and generate traffic. Now you can finally use it:
Before you start with the 6 steps to create your first website, I have one more thing to say: Be patient.
Everyone struggles to get their first website up and most struggle during the first few websites. The more you practice, the better you get at it.
If something frustrates you, take a deep breath, breathe a minute, and then google your problem. If you take any of the CMS from this article, there are tutorials out there that cover pretty much every question there is - if that's what you're looking for.
Alternatively, you can use Youtube well for this. It is often easier to imitate a video than to work through a text.
And: Even if creating a functioning website won't make you successful overnight, it is the first step to climb the mountain.
Never stop learning, keep trying, and you will slowly but surely see real success.
If you have any questions about how to create your first website, please let me know in a comment. Then I'll try to clear up any ambiguity.
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