There are many reasons to start a website. As a hobby. To promote your business. To gather like-minded people for this or that project – possibilities are endless.
But although starting a website today is much, much easier than, say, fifteen years ago, there are still things to know and to have before you set about. Here’s what you will need.
1. Domain Name
First, you should think of a domain name for your website. Make sure you understand what it means, however, as newcomers in this field are often confused – having a domain name doesn’t mean that you have a site or space for a site. It is nothing more than a name, similarly to brand or company name in the physical world. When you register your company, it doesn’t mean that you get an office to go with it, right?
To get a domain name, you have to register it and pay an annual fee to a registrar. And if you thought of a brilliant name, better check if it is already occupied.
2. Web Hosting
Just like buying a domain name is similar to registering your company name, choosing a web hosting is similar to renting an office. Hosting company is an organization that has multiple servers connected to the Internet and rents out space on these servers to website owners.
There are a lot of things to consider when selecting a host, but two moments may be considered good rules of the thumb. Firstly, avoid free hosting like a plague. It isn’t worth it, seriously – no apparent charges mean hidden charges, poor or no support, lots of advertisement and no obligation on the host’s side. Secondly – choose well-established and well-known services. The entire well-being of your site and business may depend on the stability and quality of hosting services, and it is better to be on the safe side.
Times, when people without web-design background were doomed to produce nothing but FrontPage monstrosities, are long past, and today one may build a decent (although simple) website without learning the craft for several years. Content management systems like WordPress allow you to design websites with minimal learning, there are numerous free and commercial web editors – choose whatever you like. Professionals tend to recommend Dreamweaver, and the scope of its possibilities is indeed very impressive – but you, as a beginner, are very unlikely to use most of them, and Dreamweaver is quite costly, especially if you are not going to use it in future.
4. Web Designer
Or you may simply hire a web designer, either an individual or a team. It has its pros and cons: on the one hand, you don’t have to worry about details, learn new skills, waste time, buy software. On the other hand, it may be very expensive, there is no guarantee that designer knows his business, it is sometimes hard to express what you need and you have less control over the process. Suit yourself.
This should be done at the end of site development cycle and then regularly throughout its existence. Times of Internet Explorer’s hegemony are long past – today there are five major browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera), each of them with its own peculiarities and personal opinion about how to represent your website. In order for your site to be successful, it should look good in any of them – and it is your job to make sure of it.
People who have never created their own websites often consider it an overly complicated and complex task – it is not. Today it is easy to do – if you know what you need for it. And now you know.