These days a website is a common thing. They come in all shapes and sizes, and not only that – they can serve a huge range of purposes. Whether it’s just to inform an audience about something, or whether it’s a fully-functioning online store, you don;t have to look very far to find the website.
In fact, it’s more unusual these days for a business not to have a website – unless of course you are such a social media whizz that you can leverage those platforms to do the job of a website. Even here though, there are limitations to what can be achieved.
A website is really a tangible online presence, and gives something a bit more concrete to link all the other online bits and bobs to – like social media, contact information and customer sign-up buttons! I always think it’s nice to set a stake in the online ground with a website – without this stake, it’s often a lot harder to be found and Google won’t be able to send a whole lot of traffic your way without it.
In the beginning, and if I stretch my brain back this could be around the 1980s-1990s…a website was a bit more complicated to set up. There weren’t the tools for the masses so to speak, and it really came down to computer geniuses with skills in computer programming to construct a website. Hot on their heels, followed the graphic designers to capitalize on advising people what they should have in their website and how it should look.
But now, there are great platforms and programs available that let us do it for ourselves. Great news, huh? For some people, it’s no biggie to dive on in and get cracking, using Google to find the various tools and templates available. However, for others it’s still quite a leap of faith to build your own website.
However, I am going to take you through a few basic steps and then show you where you can build your own website for free. You don’t even need a domain name to get started.
Don’t worry. There is no reason to be afraid
A good place to start is to think about what you want your website to do – some of the common options are
Inform people – often referred to as a “brochure site”, these can be a single page or a few more, they are there purely and simply to get some information across to an online audience. It could be you want an online audience to know you have a shop, what you sell, the location of your shop, how they can get there and contact information like phone and email. Nothing more, nothing less.
An online shop – for those who actually want to sell physical products online. This is a bit more complicated, as eCommerce sites as they are called, require more functionality in order to allow people to select a product, pay for it and provide a delivery address. Plus, there is the stock option – is it automatically updating your stock levels, or do you want to do it manually.
The biggest chunk of website types will fall somewhere in between these two extreme ends of the spectrum. So let’s begin by writing down a few key factors about the website you are planning:
- What do you want to show or tell?
- Who do you want to reach with your website?
- What do you want people to do when they are there?
- What is your single main purpose for the site? (make sales, get customer signups, get people to phone or email you, etc, etc). This will be the “call to action” on your site and it should be clear to your visitors what you want them to do while on your site.
What about domain names?
You may already have something in mind, or have even purchased a name through a registrar. Some common ones are GoDaddy, Namecheap, or 123Reg – there are loads of providers out there!
However, please note you don’t need a domain name to build a site. It might make sense to add one at a later stage, but why pay for one in advance when you can create your site for free and spend some time getting to grips with setting it all up. The exception to this rule is if there is a particular domain name you want to secure – i.e. to stop anyone else getting it!
Please also be careful of the many add-ons that domain name providers try and sell you – it could be a fee to keep your contact details private, or it could be purchasing additional versions (.net or .org, for example) or even trying to sell you web hosting packages as well. 99% of the time, you don’t need any of these, so even more reason to get started for free and familiarize yourself with what’s available and make an informed decision about what extras you might actually need, if any!
Just as a small aside, I can recommend this domain name provider if you do want to purchase a name ahead of building your site. They are a trusted source, and one I use myself as well. I guarantee they won’t sell you anything extra!
Let’s get down to business
What I really want you to do here, is check out my full article on building a free website, but in summary the main points are:
Why build a website?
We have covered the various reasons above, thinking about what you want a website to accomplish for you or your business.
The 2 aspects of having a website
– which are:
- CMS (content management system)
- a fancy way of describing the process used to get the text and graphics into your site. In this free option, it is WordPress, one of the most widely used CMS platforms in the world.
- everyone’s website has to sit on a computer server somewhere, and very few people have this capacity themselves. This is why there are also many web hosting providers out there – some of who charge for the services (e.g. for a monthly fee) and some who don’t. The place where I am guiding you to go to build a free website also includes the hosting – so it’s still free! Sometimes there are tricksters out there who will let you build the site, but when it comes time to make it live – BAM! There’s a hosting fee to pay, and an ongoing one to keep it live.
- CMS (content management system)
What makes one website better than another?
- Ease of use
- it’s not much fun for a website visitor if they come to your site and can’t find their way around. They put the whole experience in the “too hard basket” and head off to find an alternative site that’s easier to use.
- this relates back to when I asked you what you want to use your site for. It should have some bearing on either your personality or your business, and be consistent with how you want to appear to your audience. A classic example is Financial Providers. For argument’s sake, let’s say a site has a casual or cartoon font, and has a layout that’s all over the place. Does this inspire confidence if a visitor is looking for someone to do their accounts? Ah, probably not! Equally so, if a creative agency has a site which looks very “corporate” and boring, how does that get across that they are vibrant, modern and full of unique ideas? It doesn’t! So it is really important to “show” who you are with your website.
- Quality of content
- without good quality content, the search engines won’t rank you and won’t send people your way. So, things to think about are grammar and spelling, breaking up the text at times, having some pictures to appeal visually, and most of all – it needs to make sense and relate to what your purpose is.
- Ease of use
Learn more and get started here, or jump right in if you are confident and keen to get started.
Support and help is available, if you need it.
With this free web-builder, you can easily get started and create a website in minutes. However, if you need any support or help along the way, then you can easily join the Wealthy Affiliate community (also for free!), where you can get as much help and support online as you need.
Alternatively, feel free to ask any questions in the comments section below, and I will help you out.
So in conclusion, you too can get started with a free website that’s simple, easy and can be created in a matter of minutes. WordPress is one of the best and most flexible platforms available, with different designs for you to choose from.
There are also a heap of nifty little things called plugins, that allow you to add great features to your site as you go along and get more confident. Almost all of them are free to add as well – so what have you got to lose? Get started today.
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