Whether you are the successful business owner, the ambitious entrepreneur, the stay at home mom or the novas socialite odds are you will need to start a website at some point. If it's worth doing it's worth doing well, it's worth doing with all of your heart. So, you pour your heart into your business or ideas or kids or relationships, but how in the world do you convey all of that on a web site? How does doing any of that benefit you? Whether you are paying a professional or doing it yourself here are 5 simple steps to get you started on the great site you know you need.
What's in a Name
• Your name should NOT be confusing. Often you will hear people say that your domain name must be memorable. That's a good concept, but not as important as you might think. The truth is no one knows domain names anyway. Knowing that Google and auto-complete are always just a click away our brains somehow categorizes web addresses as trivial. No one knows phone numbers or urls. That's why we have phones and search engines. Even still, your name should make sense.
• Your name DOES need to be representative. Don't chose a name that does not relate to your site. If your site is about you and your family, don't chose SconeOn.com or something like that. However, if your site is about delicious Scottish cakes, SconeOn.com was actually available the last time I looked.
• Your name SHOULD be widely available. You don't want your website to be SconeOn and your facebook page to be SconesAreGreat while your twiiter account is SconeTastic. There are several tools out there that can help this process. So, don't waist your time checking them all individually.
The Host with the Most
Now that you have a name for your site you will need a place to host it. A host is an amount of server space that physically holds your website files so that computers all over the world can see them. It is important to choose a host that meets your needs. Unless you are savvy with the installation, application, maintenance and trouble-shooting a server... accept this modest plea: Pay someone to do it for you. Find someone who will be available enough to make updates and responsible enough to solve problems. If you're looking, I know a guy ;)
There are a lot of great templates out there. You can use them. You can pay someone else to use them. It's not bad. It's not wrong. It's not going to hurt your business or discourage people from coming to your site. BUT none of them were designed for your target audience. Even if you find one that looks like it would be perfect for you, it was NOT designed with you or your clients in mind. Do you know how I know that? If it was it would be called custom.
The right templates can be a good starting point, but it cannot be the right ending point. Your audience deserves more than a cookie cutter made for the masses. The deserve, they desire, nae they require to hear from you!
Follow a Schedule
That's right, your audience wants to hear from you. That means that you have to post new content, and THAT means that you need a schedule. You might be sitting there thinking, "Oh, no. I'll keep it up to date." Let me tell you, my friend, if you've got that kind of time than you have too much of it on your hands. I'm a designer. My wellbeing exists online, and if I didn't schedule to post on (most) Mondays than I would never do it. Trust me. It's worth having a schedule.
This step is kind of a double whammy. You need to share your site. You need to open it up for others to post or comment or log-in. You need to make the whole experience something in which they can participate. Once they do, they need to be able to share the experience with others. They need to be able to tweet it, buzz it, facebook it, link it, follow it and share it with everyone they know.
Follow these five steps and you will be well on your way to having an awesome site. Remember that no site is ever complete. Always be on the look out for updates, new content and different ideas. If you need help then don't be afraid to ask. That's why we designers are here.