The first thing you want to ask when you’re trying to setup a website is: why are you doing this?
Really, in everything you do in life, there has to be some sense of purpose, right?
Setting up websites is no exception. You don’t want to go wasting your time just because you suddenly thought, “oh hey, today’s a good day to setup a website, where do I get one?” Ideally, it doesn’t work that way.
When I was younger, I setup several websites just because. I love setting up websites. It thrills me when I finally get signed up and tweak with the control panel for the first time. And then, one day, I don’t feel like my website is going anywhere anymore. And so I stop the madness and continue with what I’m doing IRL. Don’t be weird geeky like me. (Unless you just really love starting things for the heck of it, then fire away.)
You don’t want to waste your time and money doing something that leads you nowhere. You want to be investing it where it matters. The only way you can do that is if you know why you’re willing to see this through and what you want to accomplish. Forbes wrote an article identifying some mistakes when setting up websites.
Now first things first
When establishing an online presence, we will (mainly) need two services:
- A domain registrar. If you’re on a budget and prefer to hack this step with an inexpensive domain registrar, check out domcomp.com for handy domain registrar price comparisons. Of course, some web hosts provide free subdomains included with their services. And still, there are the free domain registrars like FreeDNS and Freenom. But ideally, you’ll want a domain of your own especially if you’re planning to start a business-based website. Having your own top level domain (i.e. yourname.com) has a certain legitimate feel to it than going for the free ones just to save money.
- A web hosting service. As I’ve said, you can choose to follow the safer route and build your website through user-intuitive interfaces or you can choose traditional web hosting where you can add more functionality either by learning a few technicalities (and possibly a little code) or hire someone to manage your site’s backend for you.
Choosing a domain name
When choosing a domain, it’s important to note two things: do you want your domain to be memorable for you and your audience or for the search engines?
If you want your domain to be memorable for you, then select a domain name that doesn’t necessarily have to describe what your website is about in one go. Something like Amazon or Gumroad. When you hear Amazon for the first time, would you instantly think that it’s an eCommerce website? Nope, it sounds more like an exotic travel and tours website. But it’s memorable.
If you want your domain to be memorable for search engines, then you would choose a name that perfectly describes what your website is about. For instance, free-webhosts.com is a website dedicated to featuring (you guessed it) free web hosts! It doesn’t get more concrete than that.
Choosing a web host
Now, from the myriad of web hosts out there, I dare you to pick one that is at the 10th page from the results of your Google Search.
There’s A LOT. I know right. But believe me, I’ve sort of tried it all. I’m the girl who sets up websites just because, remember?
In this case, the best thing to do is get back to your reasons for starting a website in the first place. If you need it to setup a portfolio for your offline job (preferably a profession not related to technology), then a site like Wix or Weebly can do the job for you, plain and simple. If you want to setup an online-based creative business, then you need to delve further into your business specifics and take your web host decisions from there.
Website Builders. If you prefer a user-friendly interface. Some examples:
- Weebly (Free)
- WordPress (Free; with payment options for adding your domain)
- SquareSpace (Paid)
Traditional Web Hosting. If you’re comfortable writing, editing code and installing your own web software. Some examples:
Cloud Web Hosting. If your website primarily has high traffic, Some examples:
- Amazon Web Services (Free and paid)
- Digital Ocean (Paid)
n n Please note that VPS requires some pretty technical web server management skills and knowledge. There are a lot of VPS hosts out there that are not cloud-based. But really, isn’t it cooler to have your web server on the cloud than on the ground? (Pun intended.)n n
As you can see, I didn’t delve deeper into the types of control panel for each web hosting service. These are technical information that can be happily answered by your web host provider. But, because of the amount of information out there on how to setup websites, I simply wanted this guide to help you make the most of you web experience.
Today, it’s even easier for companies to take advantage of the average end-user through aggressive marketing techniques. Just because a web service is well advertised doesn’t mean it’s the best out there for your needs. That’s why I stressed the importance of knowing your goals because this will ultimately guide you in your quest to find not the perfect web host, but the perfect tool to put yourself out there in the online world. You’re not here to work for your website. You’re here to make your website work for you.