Profitable Preparedness Podcast – Episode 14
Building Your Website… A Step by Step Guide
Building a website can seem like an overwhelming endeavor, but unless you are creating a very technical website with robust features it has become very simple.
Back in the day, I was interning in a financial planning office (we’re talking late 90’s) and I was given the responsibility of creating a website. That was the time where smaller businesses were just beginning to see the importance of a web presence. Most websites at the time were glorified digital brochures that rarely updated content.
Most companies hired web designers who would create websites writing html code. I was in college at the time, so I enrolled in a Linux coding class.
That is where I learned that every functional portion of a website (from color and layout to fancy clickable buttons and contact forms) was hundreds of pages of computer code running in the background that told the software program what to do when a user clicked on a link or filled out a form.
If you are my age or older, you may remember the old green screen apple computers. When you turned the computer on there would be a green capital C with a colon and a few forward slashes. You had to type the code that corresponded with the action that you wanted to perform. If you wanted to run the floppy disk in drive A (remember floppy disks?) you would have to type something along the lines of run drive A.
To this day the same type of code is running in the background of all of our computers, tablets, computers and smart devices. The reason we do not see all of that text is because they created something called a graphic user interface or GUI. Instead of typing run drive A, we click on an icon on our computer labeled drive A and the code needed to run the program starts automatically. There are many different languages that computer code can be written in. C, C++, Java, PHP, etc. The way I keep this straight is people from all over the world can say the same things. Some speak in English, some in Spanish, French, etc. Kind of the same thing with computer coding language.
The graphic user interface eliminated the need learn to code to effectively operate the computer. All of those icons on your computer, phone or tablet are action generating code buttons. Click on the Facebook icon on your phone and the code tells your phone to run the Facebook software/app.
Back to my first website design, I was taking a linux coding class and immediately realized that I would walk into oncoming traffic if I had to write code for 40 hours a week. So, I passed the class and ran as quickly away from coding as possible.
Microsoft had just released a software called Frontpage to build websites. It was set up very similar to the other Microsoft office platforms, and the idea was to build a website in a software and then publish the finished product to the web. Voila! The average person could build their own websites. I think Frontpage sold for $150 when it was first released, and I poured hours and hours into formatting and troubleshooting until I finished the job. As a person with minimal web design experience, I cannot say it was easy but it was manageable and got the job done.
Fast forward 20 years to today, and now there are many web based software systems that make Frontpage look like Henry Ford’s Model T by comparison. The functionality and user friendliness is leaps and bounds better to Frontpage standards.
So, let’s dig into the systems or platforms that are available to build your website.
Step 1: Choose the Right Platform
There are a handful of website building platforms, but honestly I have not heard of most until I began researching this podcast.
The top three most popular (in order of popularity) are:
In addition to those, there are many others that are irrelevant for this discussion. A few of those, however, are Microsoft Sharepoint, Dot Net Nuke, Datalife Engine, etc
WordPress is hands down the most popular and the only building platform that I had heard of previously.
So, feel free to research the other platforms mentioned above. Unless you are a coder or a fan of platform alternatives, I would recommend just planning on using WordPress.
According to ithemes.com, “Wordpress is an online, open source website creation tool written in PHP language. In non geek speak, it’s probably the easiest and most powerful blogging and website content management system (CMS) in existence today.”
So, if you decide to go with WordPress you have accomplished Step 1. No need to install or download anything at this point
Step 2: Purchase your Domain Name and Sign Up for Web Hosting
Once you have identified how you are going to build your site (step 1), now you have to come up with a domain name.
As we mentioned in the brandingpodcast, it is best to avoid all of the crazy domain extensions that domain companies dream up to sell more product. Examples are yourdomain.tv, .biz, .book, .toaster or whatever else them come up with.
Anything beyond that I would look for a different domain. The exception is a non for profit registering a .org
Another tip that we mentioned in the branding podcast is to make a list of all of the possible domain names that you are interested in. Rank them in order of favorite to least favorite.
When it is time to purchase the domain, start with your favorite .com, if that is not available or expensive check out your favorite with .net. If available buy immediately.
I have not confirmed this but I suspect there is software that scoops up all of the domain searches and purchases them and attempts to sell them back at a hefty mark up.
If your favorite is not available in .com or .net move to the next on your list.
Once you found a domain, immediately move over to the social media platforms that you plan on using on make sure that you create accounts that correspond and are consistent with your domain name.
Example, if you registered yourdomain.com, make sure you visit Facebook and create a yourdomain Facebook page, same with Twitter, Youtube or whatever.
Those who listen regularly know I love my side notes so…
Side note: Regardless of what you are selling or what your business model looks like. Please do not plan on using social media as your primary communication method for your customers or subscribers. The goal should be to drive all traffic to your website where you work to get your customer’s names and email address at minimum. I have worked with quite a few business owners that made that mistake. Now, Facebook wants to charge some unbelievable sum of money to communicate with a percentage of their customer base. The impact on their business cash flow has been huge in a negative way.
Finally as it relates to domain registry, I have registered domains through Google and Go Daddy. Some hosting companies like Bluehost.com will give you a free domain when you sign up for a hosting package. We do not have any loyalty, it all comes down to the best deal at the time you are buying. I do like how the Google service ties in with my Gmail account for easy access to registration. If you are considering hosting through Bluehost you might as well take advantage of the free domain offer.
Depending on the popularity of the domain you chose, they generally run between $8 and $20 per year. Like hosting, sometimes you can get price breaks by buying a multiple year registration instead of just one. Note: Both domain registrars and hosting companies bill you upfront for the entire sum.
A quick Google search for Top web hosts 2018 will yield a ranked list of pro’s and con’s of each hosting company. A web host just connects your WordPress website to the domain address that you registered.
I mentioned Bluehost before, that offers a free domain with hosting plan. I have also heard good things about hostgator. Just look for the best deal that supports WordPress.
I found that if you go to the order page on some of the hosting sites it will offer you a better deal if you leave the page. I was comparing pricing for this article and when I headed to close the tab is said Don’t leave, get three years hosting for the price of two.
Most hosting will run you from $3 a month up to $9 per month, but beware of the introductory offers. Most will say you can get a hosting plan for $2.95/month, but the fine print will say $6.95/month renewal. And they want you to pay upfront.
I think it is totally unrealistic to expect to start a business with no monetary investment, but as with anything in life we need to make sure we are spending all of our resources wisely.
Once you have entered all of your personal and domain information, review for accuracy and you are ready to roll.
Step 3: Setting Up and Designing your Website
Now that you have your domain and web host taken care of, go into settings/control panel and look for the option to download WordPress to your website.
Almost any well regarded web hosting company will have an easy installation for WordPress.
WordPress has a pretty easy learning curve. Things are fairly intuitive, but sometimes you can get into sticking points like, why won’t my subscribe box send emails where I need it to. It is normally a small over site, and you can troubleshoot issues through your hosts help page or by doing a Google/Youtube search for the problem you are having. More often than not you are not alone.
OK, now for the fun stuff… You get to choose from a list of templates. This is the backbone design principle of what your website will look like. There are well over 1,000 themes to choose from to make sure that you differentiate yourself.
- Research first–If there is a website that you like or if you can find a website you like, take ideas and layout
- Once you find what you like (or what flows well) write it down
- Ask yourself
– How you want to introduce yourself
– What kind of content do I want to share
– What kind of services/products or whatever you are going to offer
– How your viewers are going to work with you (forms)
– What do you want your audience to know about you/company
– Write it down
– Get your content ready
– Draw a diagram of how you want your website to look (this can be messy, just get it down)
– MVP (minimum viable product) slowly evolve
– Once you have your rough draft your ready to proceed with WordPress
To access the admin theme of your website, just type in https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin (Of course you should replace the your domain portion with the actual domain address of your website.
On the left side of the screen are many options including plugins, which are add on capabilities that allow your WordPress website to do different tasks. But, what we are looking for is the appearance tab and then themes. You can browse through the free themes, but if you are looking for something different you can find paid themes that vary in price from http://themeforest.net
Once you find a theme that you like click on install now and then activate.
I have included a link to a YouTube video that gives you a step by step WordPress Tutorial to help you through the process.
The link is: https://youtu.be/2cbvZf1jIJM
- Design Elements
– In the Branding: Episode 13 we discussed your logo, if you haven’t listened to that, check it out
– Your logo can be a great starting point when choosing your theme and website colors
– We recommend using 3 colors (these colors can be in your logo) and make sure they work cohesively
– Know you will have other images/pictures/videos that will give more life to your content
– Use royalty free images on sites like Pexels.com
– Make sure the font you use is consistent throughout, this will make it easier for your viewer to follow
– Font size can draw attention to articles that you want to highlight on and also make it easier to find
– Keep it simple not cluttered
– Make sure your TABS lead the viewer to the sale
Once you get a theme in place, and content loaded I would encourage you to check out the huge offering of free plug in’s
You can have good analytics installed in your website to see who is visiting, you can install search engine optimization tools to help people find you among other things. I have also included a list of the most popular free WordPress Plug In’s here:
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As always, if you have business ideas that you would like to bounce off of us, if you find yourself stuck or have an existing business that is waning; send us an email at Profitablepreparedness@gmail.com and we are happy to help.
*Rant Audio Clip: Property of Warner Brother’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation*
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