10 Steps to plan your website

You will need the following to set up your basic website:

  1. The first step is to select a domain name. It should reflect the name and nature of business and your goal(s) as well as your reason(s) for being online. If you give me the desired keywords, I can look this up for you and/or obtain it for you. You will also want to check social media to be sure the account name matching the domain name you want is available. I can do the social media set up also.
  2. Obtain a hosting plan, or I can provide one for you.
  3. Design your branding for the site, which means your fonts, logo, tagline and color scheme. Fonts should contrast well against the background for easy reading. (One of my biggest peeves: when the font is barely grey on white background. I struggle to read it, and I’m not old yet!)
  4. Map out desired visitor actions, then share this map with others to see if they agree it is logical.
  5. Prepare your mission statement (keep concise, compare/align to other businesses).
  6. Collect data needed for the site such as business name, logo, contact info, media (photos and videos) you will use. Plan for a schedule of posts to keep the information on the site fresh, so visitors will return often!
  7. Prepare text of testimonials/reviews from actual previous clients. If the clients allow it, include their name or initials and a photo or avatar so that it is more personal.
  8. Gather frequently asked questions and their answers for a FAQ.
  9. Decide what look your site should have. There are many trending styles: parallax scrolling, magazine style, portfolio, etc.
  10. Decide which social media accounts you will use, and plan out how often you will post/update. The nice thing about using social media is that they can be synced with your website to auto-post any new posts on the website. I call it double dipping on promotion!

For add-ons, you will need also:

Data: Gather up information on your products/services for your e-commerce store including title, pricing, description, photos, sale dates, variations of color, size, service plan features etc.

Now what?

Once your website is up and running, you will need training on how to keep it current.

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3. Your Brand

What is a “brand”? It is the overall image of your business, how people will remember you, what they see when they think of your company. It’s not just a logo, it’s the idea, mission, solution to their problems that is represented by your images, color scheme, company name and tagline. These are the first items of data presented on the website, and we all know how important a first impression is! Your brand will include a logo, colors, fonts and other stylized parts of your website, marketing materials, packaging, etc.

What is a website?

Websites are like online libraries, collections of books and catalogs. They consist of 3 major ingredients: domain name, hosting and data. The domain name (my-store.com for example) is your “address” so that people can find you by typing your domain name into a browser, which is a program that lets you “browse” through all the websites on the web. Hosting a website can be compared to renting a house or apartment. Website’s data and programs are your website’s “things” like your furniture, clothing, appliances etc, and you need a place to keep them. Pricing varies with hosting plans and the included features, as well as the company offering the plans. Data for a website is the content (text, images, links to other related websites and videos) and software program in which the content is organized and displayed in the browser. I specialize in WordPress for the software program, since I love the fact that it is built and maintained by a worldwide sharing community, and offers all the features I have ever needed for any website, either my own or a client’s.

Online Presence

Having an online presence in today’s increasingly digital business landscape is critically significant for large scale, sustainable success. More than 50% of the world’s population is now researching, collaborating, strategizing and in general, interacting through devices, including mobile phones, tablets, laptops and personal computers more than ever. As a result, businesses with websites that are optimized, organized and easily accessible. You can reap the rewards of maintaining a highly optimized online presence in the form of increased customer satisfaction and retention rates.

Our goal is to give affordable web development service to cater the needs of individuals and small businesses.

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2. Website Hosting

There are different hosting plans available through many, many different companies for varying website needs. The features and pricing vary somewhat as do sizes and quality of housing (although the prices themselves are very different!). Where cheap apartments are small and may not have room for all your “things”, there are always better plans with more features, hard drive space to store your website’s files and bandwidth, which is like data usage on your cellphone’s plan (like cellphones, bandwidth gets used up fast with images, faster with audio and fastest with video, but also depends on the number of monthly visits to your site). Once you have chosen your domain name and have the website design planned out, you will need a place to host it. Having built websites since 2005, I have tried out many different hosting companies. The results I have had were fairly similar with all I have actually used, they start off great, with fast delivery of the website to viewers, and fairly easy to use. However, after a few months, a pattern started to emerge. The sites started to have lags and other issues (including being hacked, but I have learned how to prevent that as well as is possible!). When trying to contact their customer service I found longggggg wait times for serious issues like the downtime (meaning the server was not serving up my websites at all, just an error message or page would show in the browsers), hacking (someone not authorized and outside the hosting company accessed the sites, usually changing the website content that is shown, for malicious reasons), often there was a language barrier (customer service is usually located outside the US and their English was limited and hard to understand their pronunciation over the phone and even written). Once I finally was in touch with them, I would be treated as an idiot who knows nothing about websites and told that the problems were not from the hosting; the issues were blamed on anything else that could go wrong…even after I proved that it was not the case. They would often just make changes to the configuration without informing me what was done, even when I requested instructions on how to do it myself so I could learn and not bother them in the future. Then I would be steered to a more pricey plan when none of the “fixes” worked… you get the picture! For several years now, I have been using WebFaction hosting for an increasing number of websites. Yes, this is an affiliate link, but I DO believe in this company, and I highly recommend it. In fact, if you choose to have me obtain hosting for your website, WebFaction is the company I will use. I have not had any slowdowns, customer service replies have never been longer than 24 hours, I have never had to even call them, emails have done the trick, not that I have had much to email about either! I have not been treated like an idiot, and WebFaction’s service agents will give me instructions instead of doing it for me, as long as I tell them up front that’s I want. They also make almost everything so easy to do (with one exception: automatic installation of Let’s Encrypt secure certificates to keep everything safe in “transit” through the net), although they did improve it to make it easier to do manually, just not automatically like some other hosting companies have done. However, I even found outside help with the automation for free! And best of all, I am still on their most basic package (so obviously it contains all I have needed so far for both my clients and myself), and they have never tried to upsell me!

1. Domain Name

The domain name is the text “address” of your website. For the computers in the Internet to know addresses, there is a set of numbers, such as called the IP address, assigned to each computer. Since it is not that easy for humans to remember/use number series like these, we use words instead. When you want to find a particular website, you would type the domain name into the browser address bar directly, or else use a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo.

For example, I chose BonnieSites.Solutions as my freelance website building company name, and my domain name is bonniesites.solutions. Much easier to remember than something like, right?!

So, how does one select a domain name?

First, you will want to have at least part of your business name included, the whole name if it’s not too long. Too many characters will make it too much work for the customers, and we want to make it as easy as possible for them!

Second, you will need to decide on the TLD, or Top Level Domain. This will the the end of the domain name, for example, the old standbys are: .com, .net, .org or one of the newer TLDs available like: .us, .life, .shop etc.

Last, you will need to check if there are social media handles available that are as close to exactly the same as possible. For example, if your business was ABC Shipping, your domain name could be abcshippping.com, and Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram handles could be ABCShipping. You will want to check they are all available before ordering your domain name, because once you have it, you can’t change it! You can order another, however, no refund will be given for the first as far as I know.