Seven Steps to Create Your Own Website

Category: Webmaster

Do you want to create your own website? When a cookie-cutter Facebook page or Wordpress blog just isn’t good enough, it's time to create your very own site from scratch. Relax; it's not as difficult as you may think. Here are seven steps to get you started...

Creating a Website: What You Need to Know

Back in the day, you had to be a computer programmer, or at least a pretty savvy geek to create a website. But those days are gone. You no longer need a degree in computer science, or a friend with a pocket protector to get the job done. This article will tell you what you need to know to register your own "dot-com" name, hook up with a web hosting service, design your website, and make it pretty with free templates, photos and clip art. You'll also learn where to go if you do need to learn some of the techie stuff, and how to begin selling your own products on the World Wide Web.

1. Choose a Domain Name -- A domain name is your unique identity on the Web. It should be as short, memorable and catchy as possible. An unambiguous spelling (one that can easily be passed along verbally) is also a good idea. The trick is finding a good domain name that isn't already in use. Ian Hunter's 1983 hit song "All of The Good Ones Are Taken" predated the Internet, but it describes the domain name situation pretty well. Brainstorm a number of ideas; tools such as BustAName.com can help. See my article How To Get a Great Domain Name for other domain name tools, as well as information on domain backordering and domain escrow services.
Creating a Website

2. Register Your Domain Name -- A domain registrar is an organization that manages the reservations of domain names. You can easily find a domain registrar by searching for "domain registration" in any search engine. Some of the most popular registrars are GoDaddy.com, Tucows.com, and Enom.com.

Most registrars charge an annual fee for a domain name, typically less than $15. But you may also want to purchase "privacy protection," which keeps your personal contact information from showing up in the public Whois database of domains and their owners. You don't want the whole world to know your name, address, phone number, and email address.

After registering your domain name, you may have to wait up to 2-3 days for its records to be propagated across the Internet. For additional information and tips about registering a domain, see my article How to Buy a Domain Name.

3. Choose a Web Hosting Service -- A domain name alone is not of much use. You need a Web server associated with your domain, and for that most people use a Web hosting service. A Web hosting service ("Web host" for short) provides all of the servers, software, high-speed connections, and other infrastructure needed to run a Web site. All you have to provide is the Web pages and other content. Web hosting service plans come in all sizes and price ranges.

There are free Web hosts, like Freehostia.com, designed for beginners and very light traffic. But free Web hosts limit the amount of storage space, bandwidth, and features that you can get. For under $50 a year, you can buy Web hosting service that does a lot more.

See my article, Web Hosting for Small Business to learn about shared versus dedicated hosting, and other amenities that enable e-commerce and other business-oriented features.

Many domain registrars also offer Web hosting services. While it's convenient to have both services managed by the same company, it can also be more expensive. Shop around for a Web host that offers the services you need at the best price. You can easily point your domain name to any Web host.

4. Design Your Web Site -- Now that you have a place to host your Web site, it's time to design it and write the HTML code that underlies every Web page.

For many people, starting from scratch is intimidating. Your Web host may offer Web site templates or online site-building tools. You don't have to begin with a blank page; there are many free professional-looking templates available. All you have to do is add or modify some text, insert your own images, and otherwise customize the template to make it yours. You can download some free templates at Free Web Site Templates.

5. Learn HTML & Scripting -- Eventually, you will want to learn a bit about programming techniques for Webmasters. The World Wide Web Consortium offers a free online tutorial to get you started.

Scripting languages such as Javascript, PHP and Perl add interactivity to Web sites, such as online surveys, forms, etc. You may also want to become familiar with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to control the look and feel of your site. You can find free tutorials on all of these and other web programming topics in my article So You Wanna Be a Webmaster?.

6. Photos and Clip Art -- A site full of only text is boring. You'll want to add photos and clip art to your Web site. But you can't just search for a clever image online and appropriate it as your own. Doing so could land you in legal trouble, or on the receiving end of a royalty payment demand from the owner of the copyright.

Fortunately, there are plenty of places to look for free high-quality cipart and stock photos. If you aren't a photographer or graphic designer, see my article, Free Clip Art and Stock Photos for sources of both.

7. Sell Your Stuff -- If you want to sell your own goods or services online, you can create an online store, or use a service that designed to help you sell. My article How Can I Sell My Stuff Online? will help you find an online service where you can market and sell your own products. Services such as eBay, CafePress and Etsy handle the transaction for you, and take a percentage of the sale.

If you want to create your own online store, managing the merchandising, shopping cart, payment processing and fulfillment from start to end, see my article on Shopping Cart Software.

Whether you're just setting up a personal homepage or launching a complex online business, the basic steps of creating a Web site are the same. Building a sharp-looking site is just a matter of learning to use the many tools available, or hiring someone who knows them. Even better, motivated do-it-yourselfers can benefit from the many free online resources for learning webmaster skills.

Do you have other tips for budding webmasters or online entrepreneurs? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Seven Steps to Create Your Own Website"

Posted by:

Harry
11 Jul 2012

After you are done with all these steps, you will have spent considerable time and money to get a website that quite possibly will not be up to spec regarding Google which means you may as well not have a website at all.

There are many template based website services available - for example www.websoftsites.com. They provide full service, but build your site using their own robust CMS which includes templates to choose from. The most expensive version? $600.00 For a professionally made website that will be properly indexed by Google.


Posted by:

Diana Ratliff
11 Jul 2012

You're right, Bob - web design has become easier over the years and there are a great many tools to choose from now. WordPress is awesome!

However I think an entrepreneur should seriously consider whether it's smart to DO their own site. There is a learning curve for the technology, for many "free" templates you get what you pay for, and it can be very time-consuming to do.

But of most importance I think is the fact that few people, even many "web designers", understand web MARKETING. It's not just about building the site - it's about getting it found in the search engines, and getting someone to do something (call/buy/donate etc) when they DO find it. Sites are supposed to make you a PROFIT, not look pretty or gratify your ego.

That's where an experienced web designer earns their fee. So my recommendation is do it yourself for personal or hobby sites - but when it's your LIVELIHOOD on the line, hire a professional.


Posted by:

Dr. Rohan H. Wickramasinghe
11 Jul 2012

Thank you very much for this article, Bob. It is very encouraging to know that one no longer has to be a 'pretty savvy geek' to contemplate creating ones own website. Rohan H. Wickramasinghe


Posted by:

Rosemary Schmid
12 Jul 2012

I've been thinking about a page for a long time, and your article is very clear and helpful. I see some comments about "going professional" and that's probably a good idea if you've got the money, but even if you do, it is always better to know something about what you're asking someone else to do. Can't hurt. You get things together better to hand off to someone else.


Posted by:

Bill Eastman
12 Jul 2012

Great article Bob. Back in the day I learned HTML using Notepad and Laura Lemays "Teach Yourself HTML In 24 Hours". I still need to learn CSS, scripting, and CMS. There are sites about using keywords and coding for search engines.


Posted by:

Richard Robertson
12 Jul 2012

I've been coding and designing web sites for about two years now. It's like shopping for a computer. There are generic options like this article, but if you want something more functional and complex it's still best to hand it off to a 3rd party. Why? Because researching, designing, testing, etc. of a site is time consuming. I recent did a single page for myself that took over 15 hours to do. If this site allows it I'll provide the link and give instruction on how it was done. I don't mind teaching. I usually don't even charge. :)


Posted by:

PhillySsteve
12 Jul 2012

Bob, I enjoy your newsletter very much and have learned many valuable things from it. In the article about building a web site you start off by saying "when a cookie cutter Facebook page or Wordpress blog isn't good enough" I think you're doing Wordpress (self hosted version@ Wordpress.org) a great disservice. Wordpress powers some of the biggest and most beautiful web sites anywhere. If your web hosting service has cpanel which most do you can have a wordpress site up (through Fantastico) in less than a hour and then tweak it til your hearts content. There are thousands of themes, it's extremely flexible, search engines love it and there are many books and a great forum to learn about it. I think it's a way better option than a template from your web hosting service.

Regards..Steve
p.s. I am not affiliated with WP just (obviously) a big fan.
p.p.s. Maybe that should be your next article should be, How to build a Wordpress site in less than an Hour!


Posted by:

Joyce S. Kaye
12 Jul 2012

Thanks for this article, Bob, and all your other ones as well.
I have to say that you make it sound very simple for any 'ol person to build their own website. It certainly is simpler these days thanks to WordPress, etc.; open source; all the info online to learn from, etc., but it still takes some good knowledge and talent. And, as mentioned, there's the 'art project' (the look) and then there's user-friendliness, the functionality, SEO,etc.
I coach people on WordPress but have to say that with all they say about having control over their own site, many really don't have the time, interest, and computer savvy-ness to stick with it and make their site professional. There is oh, so much to know to make it right, and it probably isn't worthwhile to learn so much for just one site.


Posted by:

D.S. Rama Prasad Dubey
09 Aug 2012

Good work Sir. I have already got some 2 or 3 sub-domain web sites but am not having domain of my own due to some economic problems. Well anyway your narration will help to find out php, html, etc.


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