Getting a website up and going is a daunting task for every new business. Or maybe you have a website already, but are unhappy with its look and performance. Don’t fret! Making a great website is easier than you think. Our goal here is to create an easy step-by-step process for you to build or revamp your website. If you follow these steps you will have a website up and running by the end of the day – and a great one at that!
HOSTING AND DOMAIN
The first step in creating a website is to get a server from a hosting provider and a domain name for your future website. Lots of hosting sites offer the purchase of a domain name with their service. However, I would highly recommend separating the parties that you purchase these two items from. This will help with security, and also make things easier for you if someone goes wrong with with your hosting provider. Ever heard the saying ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’? This is one of those situations.
InMotion is a great option for your hosting provider, and a trusted source. They will offer a free domain for a year, but beware of this sales tactic because after one year the price you end up with is much higher than their competitors. I would recommend getting a domain name from NameCheap, and then using InMotion to host your actual website.
To Do: Buy your domain name on Namecheap and then purchase InMotion hosting services.
Once you have the domain name and the hosting service, you can download your website builder. Below we supply the steps for a WordPress download and setup (to read why we recommend WordPress for your website, read our blog post here). You can download WordPress directly through InMotion after purchasing your hosting service, so this makes things easy and quick for you. To do this, there are six steps:
- Login to your cpanel.
- Go to the software section and click on the Softaculous icon.
- Click on the WordPress logo, then click on the Install link.
- Fill out your WordPress setup info, then click Install.
- Click return to overview and wait for your installation to complete.
- Visit your website and you should see a brand new WordPress install filling up your site. Congratulations! The hard work is done.
FIND YOUR THEME
The reason WordPress is so great is that it uses pre-made themes that you modify, avoiding the complication of hand-coding a website. When you install a WordPress theme, often you will never have to see the code, much less know how it works.
Divi is a fantastic theme to use for WordPress, and hands down is my recommendation when choosing a theme for your site. You can get access to Divi through a site called Elegant Themes. When you purchase Divi you get it along with all the themes Elegant Themes offers in a package deal. Divi is extremely customizable and easy to use. It is secure and their team offers top notch customer support. From here, you can build every element of your site by yourself (for the highly creative types). But let’s say you don’t want to spend time customizing the design of your site, and would rather focus on the business side of things – that is when the child themes come into play.
Child themes can be used to speed up the development of your site. They inherit everything from the original theme (in this case Divi) while adding a bit more in regards to functionality and/or appearance. There are free child themes you can find online so I’d encourage you to go out and explore before settling on one.
Here at Cascade Digital Marketing, we offer child themes for several different business types, making your search process faster and more optimized.
CUSTOMIZE YOUR TEMPLATE
This is where the real designing comes into play. Once you have your child theme set up, the rest on your end can be simple. If you choose Divi, you’ll still need to upload images, choose a color scheme, choose formatting, write the content, etc. Sounds tedious, but Divi makes it easy to customize all aspects of your site. You can turn on the ‘visual builder’ tool with Divi to build your site in real time (meaning you edit right on the page rather than in a word block or toolbar).
If you choose a child theme, all you’ll need to do is upload a logo, change the contact information, and change the copy. When we design sites for our customers, they still have access to customization elements – we just offer to handle it for them and tailor the site to their needs.
INSTALL SECURITY PLUG-IN
Now that you’ve created a website, you should think about protecting it from hackers. Don’t want all that hard work to go to waste! Installing a security plug-in, like Wordfence, will allow you to do site scans, customize your security tools and options, utilize their strong firewall, and keep your site up to date. If you choose to use Wordfence (which is what I recommend) the first step you want to take is to optimize your firewall. Make sure to carefully read the settings to make sure they are set up how you would like it, and then you are ready to launch your site!
Congratulations, you’ve just built yourself a fully functional, professional website. It really is that easy! Now that you have your site, you will need to take on new tasks such as marketing it, keeping your site up to date, and so forth. You’ll want to learn how to effectively use SEO (search engine optimization) and online advertising like Google AdWords to generate traffic to your site and leave customers feeling satisfied with their experience. Luckily, if you’ve reached this site you may know that SEO, marketing and web design are some of the things we do best at Cascade. If you need help and are considering hiring on marketing management, contact us and setup a free strategy session.