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How to Get Started

Before you begin building your own site or hiring someone to do it for you, please learn everything you can. Spend some time searching on Google and YouTube. What should you research? These are a few of the basics to get you started:

  • Hosting companies
    Your site needs a name (domain name) and a place to live (host). There are many hosting companies and their prices vary, so do some comparison shopping. A good company will have a strong presence in search results and you may have seen their ads on tv and on the web. A few examples are Godaddy, HostGator, SiteGround, 1and1, BlueHost to name a few. A good company should also offer a phone number you can call for support and/or live chat. Don’t do business with any company that can only be reached via email. And ssk around and see what people you know recommend.
     
  • Site design platforms
    Static HTML
    These sites can be built with web authoring tools such as Dreamweaver. The software can be expensive and there is a learning curve. You can do this yourself or hire a professional. Static HTML sites can be limited in functionality. This is most appropriate for a small site, if  you have a small budget, and plan on switching to something else later.

    Hosting Software
    Some hosting companies, such as GoDaddy, have their own design platforms.  These are usually limited in functionality but easy to use if you’re comfortable with web software and text editors like Word. This is great if you’re a do-it-yourselfer and a bit fearless. And on a budget. The downside is that if you ever want to move your site to another host you can’t.
     
    WordPress
    Another popular web site platform is WordPress. It is easy to use and it’s very easy to find online resources to help you learn it and it’s easy to find professional web designers who know it.  It’s ideal if you plan on blogging. You can create your own site for free, which will have limited functionality and design or you can higher a designer to create a very robust site for you.

    Drupal
    This is also terrific for websites and is more sophisticated than WordPress. You’ll likely need help from a professional to build the site, but after that you can easily maintain it yourself.
     

  • SEO – how to rank in search engines
    This is an art and science to search engine ranking. There is much to learn and the rules change frequently. Do some reading about this so that you know enough to get yourself off to a good start or to ask good questions if you’re going to hire a professional web designer. 
     
  • The basics of good web design
    People read on the web differently than in print; the scan the page quickly. Don’t write in all caps. Don’t use blinking text or spinning images. Make your navigation consistent on every page. These are just a few basics that you must understand. If you are not a visual person or have a good sense of color and fonts, please hire a professional to design your site.