This checklist will show you exactly:
1. What you need to get started with a website, and
2. What you don’t need and probably never need for your website.
If you’ve already done some research and have a rough idea what it takes to build a website, this checklist can help you find out if you missed anything (just in case).
One of the biggest mistake people make when building his or her first website is trying to do too much.
What you end up with is an endless list of things you need to do and things you need to pay for.
Soon you are overwhelmed and end up doing nothing – does this sound familiar?
We know this because we’ve been there before. We were completely paralyzed by endless questions and options when we were building our first website.
After making our fair share of mistakes, we learned that you should just get started with the bare basics to build a website that serves the core function needed for your business (selling items, contact form, etc) and add more features as your website grows.
Just like packing for a vacation to a new place, how do you know what features and tool you will actually use for your very first website?
A domain name is often the first thing you need when starting a website. It is your digital address that people will use to get connected to your website.
For example, the domain name for this website is www.onelistmedia.com.
Some popular domain name providers are GoDaddy and NameCheap, but we would recommend Google Domains. You can easily check if the name you want is available and how much it will cost, which is usually around $10 – $20 per year.
I am a believer of business email address for anyone who is serious about building a business.
There is nothing more effective in crushing your website’s or your business’ credibility with emails like “firstname.lastname@example.org” or “email@example.com”.
The first question that pops into my mind is – “wow, they can’t even afford $5 a month on a business email? This doesn’t look very professional. Is their service or product even reliable?”
I know that sounds harsh and judgmental, but that’s how a lot of people think!
It’s not easy to build trust and gain credibility on the internet. When I see businesses using free email accounts for their business website, it really makes me question how robust and trustworthy is the business. This creates unnecessary doubt that you really don’t need – especially if you are starting a new business.
Sure, if I already know your business and I’ve been using your service for years, I can care less about what email address you use.
However, that is not always the case – most of your website visitors will be finding more about you for the first time. They won’t have a prior relationship with you, so there is more room for doubt.
So, long story short, if you are serious at building a website that can help you attract new customers and grow your business, get a business email address with your website domain name. It’s very easy (and cheap) to get set up with Google’s G Suite. Once you have a domain name, you use it to can create a business email like jonathan@ABCcompany.com.
A website builder software is what you use to build your website.
Some of the more popular web builders that you might have heard of are WordPress, Wix, Squarespace and Weebly.
Depending on your skills level and what complex features you want on your website, some website builders will work better than the others.
Here are some of the most popular website builders, and what we think about them:
Here is a handy table that compares Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress.
When we are building websites for people, we like to spend time to discuss their specific needs – some people need WordPress because their needs are so specific, like renting laptops. Other people, like a plumber, can get away with a Squarespace website.
Each builder also has different strengths when it comes to advanced website functions, like SEO. That’s something that would be best discussed/researched more indepth.
If you would like a customized recommendation, please Contact Us today and we’d be happy to help get you setup with a website builder – free of charge.
Pro Tip: WordPress is no doubt the most flexible and powerful website builder on the list.
Even so, WordPress is, in my opinion, not something I will suggest for people with no or limited technology skills, or for those who have never owned a website before.
Because WordPress has a much higher learning curve and setup costs than any fully managed website building software like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly.
WordPress also don’t offer you a dedicated support team, whereas drag & drop website builders do.
I will only recommend using WordPress (aka self-hosted website builders) if:
Otherwise, I would suggest to start with any drag & drop website builders like Wix or Squarespace,
A host is the storage unit where your website content lives online.
Whenever someone enters your domain name in a web browser, the browser will fetch your website content from your website host.
The type of hosting you choose depends on how many visitors you have coming to your website.
The cost of your hosting will increase when more people visit your website as you will need to upgrade from basic to advanced hosting.
There are 4 general types of website hosting:
Shared Hosting: You are sharing a server with other websites. Imagine you are renting a small dorm room back in college. You get your own room, but you are sharing the common areas like the kitchen, living room and etc.
VPS Hosting: You are still sharing a server with other websites, but you get more capacity to handle more visitors. Imagine that you upgraded to an apartment in a residential building. You are still sharing the building, but you now have the entire apartment all to yourself, separated from other people.
Dedicated Hosting: You have a server all to yourself and don’t need to share. Now you are renting an entire building. This is often used by very large, enterprise level websites. For the rest of us, you will most likely never need dedicated hosting.
Free Hosting: This is provided for all fully managed drag & drop website builder we mentioned above.
If this is your first website using a self-hosted website builder like WordPress, it is hard to know how much traffic you will have. So I recommend that you start with Shared Hosting (but be carefully of the super cheap options).
Once you get a better idea how many visitors you get a month and how fast your traffic is growing, you can always upgrade to VPS hosting.
If you are using a fully managed website builder like Wix, Squarespace or Weebly, you don’t have to worry about hosting. They manage the entire hosting aspect for you so that frees up your time (and technical headaches) to do other things.
No matter how many visitors you get, they will have you covered and your monthly cost will never increase as long as you keep with the same monthly plan.
For WordPress websites that demand faster loading speed and more hands-on support, check out WP Engine. It is a fully managed hosting provider which means they handle the security and software installation for you.
A website template is a pre-made website design that allows you to have a professional-looking website.
If you are using a self-hosted website builder, like WordPress, you can find great WordPress templates at WooThemes and Mojo Marketplace. You can also use a builder like BeaverBuilder or Elementor.
If you are using a fully managed website builder (Wix, Squarespace), they will provide you with free website template designs. Here is a summary of each website builder’s template design selections:
Wix: Large website template library with over 500 professionally designed templates.
Squarespace: Some of the best website design that can rival some custom designed websites.
Using a Logo is a great way to help create a brand for your business and website.
There are 2 ways you can create your own business logo – even if you’re not great at design, or if you don’t know how to use any image editing tools:
Option 1: Hire a graphic designer: 99 Designs gives you access to 950,000+ designers. You can post a logo design project and just wait for graphic designers all over the world to apply for your project. You only pay if you like the final results – but it may not be the cheapest option.
Don’t have time to post an ad, interview designers and wait weeks to get a design back (which you won’t even know if you like or not).
Don’t have a big budget to spend hundreds of dollars on a custom logo.
Don’t have any design chops or can’t use image editors like Photoshop to create your own logo.
Don’t need a one-of-kind logo design, but still need a professional-looking logo.
There is a secret to creating a professional-looking website without hiring a website designer.
Can you guess what it is?
It’s using high quality, unique images! Not rocket science, right?
Yes, using high-quality graphics and photography is the easiest way to help make your website look 100x better. When you see a website that has fuzzy images of fake stock models, doesn’t that impact your perception or confidence in the website or the business it represents?
Of course, they do!
Not everyone is a gifted photographer (certainly not me), so finding professional images for your website can be a challenge.
No need to panic, though…. Here are some awesome sources where you can find beautiful images to boost the professionalism of your website:
For anyone who is serious about their business / website and have the ambition of growing the number of visitors year after year, you will need Google Analytics.
It is the data analytics tool you need to understand how your visitors are interacting with your website.
You can find out how many people are on your website, which page they visit the most, how long they stay on each page, which page do they visit next, which page do most visitors exit, etc.
All such data can be used to help you understand your visitor better and know which pages you need to improve.
For instance, if a specific page is highly visited, but the visitors don’t stay around for very long (compared to your overall website average) and it is an important page, then you can examine why this is the case, so you can improve your page.
Such data can give you incredible insights about how your visitors behave and surf your website so you can make improvements. This is especially important given you can’t physically see or speak with your visitors (like in a real physical store).
While Google analytics cannot give you ALL the information you need to improve your website, but it is a good place to start.
All the drag & drop website builders we discussed above (Wix, Squarespace, Weebly) have tutorials on how to get your Google Analytics set up on your website.
If you want to use WordPress, I recommend Google Analytics by MonsterInsights plugin.
Creating a website is the backbone of any modern business – it’s the easiest way for your customers to find and interact with your business.
The reality is, you NEED a website…it’s just a matter of how you get there. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to give me a call, text, or email: 916 934 2083, firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can help you get started yourself in the right direction, provide consulting, or design a website for you. There are also a TON of resources online. Feeling lost? Just Google your problem and there is probably an answer!