How do I set up a Website?
Every small business owner, or dreamer, has done it. Come up with a brilliant product or value filled service, created a bullet-proof business plan, then sat down to learn how to set up a website with little or no budget.
Endless pages of information about generator software, coding, content management platforms and domain name servers can seem overwhelming. You know your business needs a website, but you don’t have the budget to hire a development company. Here’s a few tips on how to get a solid website running, by yourself, quickly and painlessly.
First, you need somewhere to save your website files to, and a URL for your customers to type in. For simplicity sake, I will go ahead and recommend a hosting/domain plan from WebsitesDirect.ca. For just $135 per year you get all of this taken care of. Other plans are available from hosting companies, but be weary of cheap shared hosting from the big guys – you will not enjoy the security provided by a Virtual Private or Dedicated Server. Your web host should give you instructions on how to set up email accounts, and complete the next step.
Second, you need to create the pages of information that will inform your customers and assist in closing your sales. The old way was to write long HTML documents, making sure they were all properly linked together. Step in to the present, and use a tool like Softalicious or Fantastico to install a content management system (like WordPress) in the root (home) directory of your hosting account. A few clicks, choose a password, and bingo! You have a full featured website up and running on your new domain.
Third, your website is up and running, but it looks pretty bland, and doesn’t have any content. Make use of the Content Management tools to choose an open source theme that fits the look you’re going for, and start creating pages and posts. WordPress gives a neat feature in the “Reading Settings” that lets you have a default home page as your most recent blog posts, or you can set a “Static” page, typing in and inserting your content via the easy to use WYSIWYG editor (markup text is also a supported view, for those more code-inclined).
Fourth, use your GMail account to get you in to Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Verification is easy by adding a line of code, entering your private key into a Plugin (Plugins are bits of code packaged for automatic installation to your site, and will be covered in our next article) or by uploading a file to your server. Google Analytics will track your visitors, while Webmaster Tools will allow you to submit a Site Map and review keyword performance .
Your end result will be an easy to use website for your customers, created by you, with all the information your customers need neatly posted for their digestion.
You may find that you have a knack for it, and enjoy it, or may end up hiring help. Regardless of your comfort level with marketing your business online, it is possible to promote yourself quickly and cost effectively using open source platforms.