There are now countless ways allowing an SME owner or a first-time web developer like you and me to create a website ourselves.
So, the problem now is no longer a lack of option but rather an overabundant of it.
In this blog, you will find a guide to help you sort through these options and set up a WordPress-ready website through the lens of a first-time web developer myself. There will be an example in every step based on a consultant project we worked with a student apartment company called RIBBIN.
Step 1: Choose a solution
Your main solution as a beginner is a website builder (Wix, Squarespace, etc.) or a content management system (WordPress, Joomla, etc.)
Our professional firmly suggests sticking to WordPress if you are a beginner because:
- WordPress is more user-friendly compared to the other CMSs like Joomla and Drupal.
- WordPress is free while website builders are costly and generally very limited.
- WordPress is powering up to 29 per cent of all websites and “nontechnical person can create a website, while building a product that can scale all the way up to enterprise clients with complex needs” (Cabot, 2018)
Step 2: Choose a domain hosting and web hosting
Things to understand
There are two things you need in order to create your WordPress website:
- Domain Name
Is essentially your website name which represents the address where Internet users can access your website. It is the unique address on the internet that you own. Example: YourBusinessName.com
- Web Hosting
Is a service that hosts your site on the internet world.
An easy way to understand this is if the domain name is the address of your business then web hosting is the actual business building on the internet world that the domain points to. This building hosts all the files of your website in a way that people on the internet could access it.
The good news is most web hosting services today offer domain registration as part of their offers.
Things to consider
So you only have to choose a web hosting service. Here the author put together a list of important things to consider.
Your technical needs
- Support WordPress integration and domain name management
Since you’re going to build your site on WordPress and manage your domain in one place, you will need a web host that supports the software.
- Shared Hosting
Shared Hosting is the cheapest option but the most limited control over the server performance because your site is being hosted along with other sites. As a result, the performance of your website partly depends on the resource usage of your neighbors. (Urgaonkar, Shenoy and Roscoe, 2002) In most cases, shared hosting is more than enough for SMEs. The other two options are overkill: Virtual Private Server Hosting and Dedicated Server Hosting To better understand the concept. A comprehensive comparison of the three
While you are a small business now, your business might grow bigger with more expected visitors and complexity of your website. Therefore, you should consider the scalability of the service you will be partnering with. Linking back to the previous criteria, see if the provider offers plans that allow you to move from shared hosting to dedicated hosting.
In short, the closer the hosting server to our visitors, usually means the faster your page will load. But do not limit yourself to only local providers because some international providers have their servers across the world. ?
This refers to the time web host makes your site available on the internet. Most web hosting services will guarantee uptime in percentage, the higher the better.
Make sure your hosting provider offers sufficient backup. Backups enable you to recover your website at any point if needed. You should look for automatic daily backup with a 7-day lifetime.
- Bandwidth and Storage
Bandwidth refers to the maximum rate of data and traffic allowed to transfer across among your site, users and the internet. Hosting services with better systems, connections and networks usually offer higher bandwidth. Storage describes allowed data capacity for your website. Generally, an SME does not need more than 2GB of space.
In addition to the signup cost, also be aware of renewal rates of both hosting and domain name and lookout for hidden obligations or fees.
As a beginner, it is highly likely that you might experience glitches on your website.
You will want 24/7 customer service reps to help you resolve the issue as soon as possible to mitigate the adverse impact.
What we did
We chose Hostgator.
Step 3: Setup your domain name and website
Now that you have chosen a web and domain hosting service you will need to decide on and register a domain and setup your website.
Things to consider
In the matter of deciding on a domain name, you should consider not only a food name but the ending of your domain for example .com, .net, .co.uk, etc.
1. Designing a good domain name
When considering a domain name, less is more. It is easier for users to type and remember shorter names. Names that require less reading are likely to stand out more. Aim for 6-14 characters or no more than three words
1.2 Brand name and website name
Your brand name and domain name should be the same, if not, as close as possible. This way, your branding effort would help grow your website. It also prevents confusion if people hear about your brand elsewhere and want to find you on the internet.
Your domain name should be easy to pronounce, type and spell correctly. However, simplicity does not mean your name has to be boring nor it has to have a meaning. (Duduciuc and Ivan, 2015) Eg. Google, Bing, and Yahoo
2. Choose a domain name extensions (TLDs)
When choosing your TLD, one thing you can be sure is “.com” is the best option for businesses. The “.com” extension is probably easiest to recognize and the most common. You could also consider local extensions such as “.co.uk” and “.nl”. There are many more extensions available for you to discover.
Here are ways to deal with unavailable domain names.
You need to pay yearly to continue ownership of your domain name so you might want to learn more about expiration of domain.
2. Setup and register your website with a web hosting.
Now that you have everything ready, you can now setup your website with the hosting service
The following is a screenshot step-by-step of how we did it.
Note that if your hosting service is not Hostgator, your step web hosting service might be slightly different.
2.1 Go to the HostGator hosting page and complete:
- Choose the plan (in our case the, the cheapest one)
- Choose a domain (we chose only “blogbrighton.com”)
- Uncheck “Add Domain Privacy”
- Choose your length of your plan (we chose the 1 month plan)
- Enter your information
- Add on services (Uncheck everything)
- Enter “startcode” or “savecode” in the coupon code (see which one gives you better discount)
For a full video guide:
Cabot, J. (2018). WordPress: A Content Management System to Democratize Publishing. IEEE Software, 35(3), pp.89-92.
Duduciuc, A. and Ivan, L. (2015). BRAND NAMING: SOUND SYMBOLISM, BRAND PREFERENCE AND BRAND PERFORMANCE. STUDIES AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCHES. ECONOMICS EDITION, (20).
Urgaonkar, B., Shenoy, P. and Roscoe, T. (2002). Resource overbooking and application profiling in shared hosting platforms. ACM SIGOPS Operating Systems Review, 36(SI), p.239.