How To Start A Website – The Beginners Guide

June 14, 2017 by in category Web Design with 0 and 2
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When first looking at getting your idea online, it can be a daunting task. So we’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to start a website. Whether you want to start blogging, launch an eCommerce store or setup a brochure site for your business, follow these simple steps to get your brand online.

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In most companies, there is an individual or a team responsible for the website and significant budget assigned to the web environment. Yet we find that management often has no clear understanding that risk mitigation must be part of web management or else organizations are leaving themselves open to hackers, facing potential loss of content and functionality, as well as downtime. With so many dollars going towards this effort, it’s critical to protect your investment.

1. Get Your Domain Name

This will be your first port of call. A domain name is the name you want to give to your website, that generally reflects the business and what it’s about. For example, the domain name of this site is “jacksadvice.com”.

In order to get a domain name, you need to pay an annual fee. However, you can also buy the domain for longer terms (e.g. 2,5, 10 years etc) which normally come with a discount. Trying to find one that’s available, particularly if it’s a .com can be somewhat challenging at times, so it will take some creativity and perseverance. You can check to see if the domain name you want is available by clicking here. However, just use that link to check the availability of your chosen domain. Don’t buy it yet, as we’ll deal with that in point 3.

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It’s worth pointing out however, that buying a domain name doesn’t give you a site, email or anything else. It’s literally just the address that people will use to find your site when you’ve built and launched it.

2. Secure Your Brand Across The Web

Now that you’ve checked to see if your chosen domain name is available, it’s time to see where else you can secure it across the web. More than likely you’ll want to use a number of social networks in order to push out your content, market your business and grow your audience.

That’s where Knowem.com comes into play. Knowem is a great free tool that allows users to see whether their brand name is available or taken across a wide range of different blogging and social media networks.

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Just type in your brand name, and see what’s available. Then secure it across all of the available networks. You don’t have to use them all, but at least you’re protecting your brand name. Should any of the networks that you’re not using now make a comeback in the future, you’ll be glad you secured it.

3. Choose A Hosting Provider

If the domain you’ve picked from point 1 above is the address, think of a hosting provider as the premises you’ll rent. A hosting provider gives you the ability to be able to setup a website, email accounts and in some instances an online store.

There are many different criteria for deciding on the hosting provider you want, depending on your needs.If you’re planning to use WordPress for your site, I highly suggest purchasing a web hosting package from us at ThePixel. That’s where JacksAdvice sits. They have built their server architecture with WordPress in mind. They have their own plugin (SG Optimizer) which helps speed up your site for free at the server level. On top of which their customer support is fantastic, particularly their chat option. You can check them out here.

Hosting providers generally have the ability for you to purchase your chosen domain through them also. In many instances, they’ll even give you the first year free. So it’s worth shopping around to see what the best package is that you can get.

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4. Decide between Shared, VPS or Dedicated Hosting

This will depend entirely on what your needs will be for the website. The differences between Shared Hosting, VPS and Dedicated Hosting largely depend on two things.

1. How much traffic your site will get on a daily, weekly and monthly basis
2. How advanced the functionality of your site will be

What is Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is a package offered by hosting providers, where many websites sit on one web server and share its resources.

Pro’s: It’s cheap

Con’s: Resources are shared amongst many different websites, so you might see a large dip in performance and site speed depending on how many websites share the server.

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What is VPS Hosting?

VPS Hosting (Virtual Private Server Hosting) is a server that is virtually split to act like many servers through the use of software. A VPS has more dedicated resources in terms of CPU’s (Central Processing Units) and RAM (Random Access Memory) than a Shared Server.

Pro’s: VPS Hosting allows users to gain access to increased performance and in most instances tailor the software installations in order to customise the server to their needs.

Con’s: It is more expensive than Shared Hosting and often requires more advanced knowledge of website architecture to manipulate the files necessary to setup a site.

What is Dedicated Hosting?

Dedicated hosting is a package offered by hosting providers to allow users access to a devoted server. Unlike Shared Hosting that hosts multiple clients at one time, a dedicated server provides all resources to just one client.

Pro’s: Full resources are devoted to the one client, allowing greater performance and speed. Most dedicated servers come with a dedicated IP address, which in turn provides faster access for visitors and helps with increasing SEO rankings.

Con’s: They can be incredibly costly, running at an average of a few hundred dollars per month

If your sites traffic is under 10,000 visitors a month and the functionality isn’t too intense, you should be fine with a Shared Hosting plan.

4. Decide between Shared, VPS or Dedicated Hosting

This will depend entirely on what your needs will be for the website. The differences between Shared Hosting, VPS and Dedicated Hosting largely depend on two things.

1. How much traffic your site will get on a daily, weekly and monthly basis
2. How advanced the functionality of your site will be

What is Shared Hosting?

Shared hosting is a package offered by hosting providers, where many websites sit on one web server and share its resources.

Pro’s: It’s cheap

Con’s: Resources are shared amongst many different websites, so you might see a large dip in performance and site speed depending on how many websites share the server.

What is VPS Hosting?

VPS Hosting (Virtual Private Server Hosting) is a server that is virtually split to act like many servers through the use of software. A VPS has more dedicated resources in terms of CPU’s (Central Processing Units) and RAM (Random Access Memory) than a Shared Server.

Pro’s: VPS Hosting allows users to gain access to increased performance and in most instances tailor the software installations in order to customise the server to their needs.

Con’s: It is more expensive than Shared Hosting and often requires more advanced knowledge of website architecture to manipulate the files necessary to setup a site.

What is Dedicated Hosting?

Dedicated hosting is a package offered by hosting providers to allow users access to a devoted server. Unlike Shared Hosting that hosts multiple clients at one time, a dedicated server provides all resources to just one client.

Pro’s: Full resources are devoted to the one client, allowing greater performance and speed. Most dedicated servers come with a dedicated IP address, which in turn provides faster access for visitors and helps with increasing SEO rankings.

Con’s: They can be incredibly costly, running at an average of a few hundred dollars per month

If your sites traffic is under 10,000 visitors a month and the functionality isn’t too intense, you should be fine with a Shared Hosting plan.

5. Select A Platform

WordPress is an ideal platform for beginners to use for blogging, low-end eCommerce and brochure sites for a business. It’s completely free, but as you start to add more functionality in the form of “plugins” (add-ons for your site), you may run into some once-off and recurring costs. There is however a huge library of free plugins for you to get started.

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There are a vast amount of tutorials across YouTube for complete beginners to novice’s. In order to get a professional looking design for your site, you should look at our custom, basic and one-page website solutions. Many hosting providers (including ThePixel) provide one click installs that make it relatively easy to get your site off the ground in less than an hour (if it’s basic).

If you require a full eCommerce solution that provides enterprise level security and functionality (such as booking engines or shopping capability for 1000’s of SKU’s), that will cost significantly more. Some of the more popular platforms are Magento, Kentico and Joomla. However, they typically require professional web developers and have annual licence fees so you’re costs will increase substantially.

6. Ensure You Have An SSL Certificate For Your Site

What is an SSL Certificate?

An SSL Certificate comprises of a collection of small data files that act to notify users that the website they are visiting is secure when people connect to it through their browser.

Why do you need an SSL Certificate?

If you sell anything on your site, this has always been an absolute must. If your site collects credit card and personal information, then you need to ensure it is secure and protected. However, Google recently changed their algorithm to take this into consideration for all sites. This is particularly apparent when accessed by Chrome with an eventual roll out to even brochure sites.

So what happens if you don’t have an SSL Certificate?

Well, at the moment these are the messages you will see when you go to a site that isn’t SSL encrypted.

That doesn’t seem so bad at the moment. However, website owners are starting to notice the impact that it can have depending on their type of business. I’ve heard reports from a number of businesses in certain sectors that have seen a massive dip in traffic. The reason being due to Google preventing their site from loading, similar to the below image.

Thankfully, it’s very easy to rectify. If you have a brochure site, you can get a free SSL Certificate from Let’s Encrypt. It’s provided by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG), which has sponsors from some of the biggest tech companies. It provides a basic level of security. However, you need to make sure that the hosting provider you’ve chosen accepts SSL Certificates from Let’s Encrypt, as not all hosting companies do. If you’re taking transactions online and collecting personal data, I recommend going for a paid version.

A simple google search for “SSL Certificates” will throw up a number of options. More than likely your hosting provider sells them and makes the process of implementing them easy enough as well. So it’s worth seeing what they offer. But shop around, as they will sometimes charge above what the market average is.

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