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Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Website

POSTED 03/12/2015
By Ebony Bellamy

Is this your first time creating a website?

Do you have a list of ideas and plans to start an online business?

Maybe you want to start a blog or develop an online portfolio.

If you haven’t gotten around to it, here are some tips to help you create a website for your e-commerce business, blog or any platform you need a site for.

Meet Your New Best Friend, CMS

A CMS or content management system is an application that lets you create, manage, edit and store content like photos and text.

There are several you can choose from based on your level of experience and what you plan on using it for.

If you want something free and open to the public there’s WordPress and Joomla. For private CMS try Squarespace or LightCMS and finally for CMS geared toward e-commerce there’s Magento and Shopify.

If you’re interested in using WordPress, 02Skills has a free course that shows you step by step how to use it.

Maybe you want a CMS like Magento for e-commerce.

“Magento has the ability to support nearly an infinite amount of products,” said Sam Oh, who has been running online businesses for seven years. The founder of Money Journal reveals the drawback to this site, “The downside is that the developer community is much smaller than WordPress. Extensions usually come at a cost and PHP is a must know language if webmasters want to make customizations.”

Each CMS differs so look for the one that best suits your needs and your wallet.

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The Name is Everything

Be creative. Your domain name should represent your company. Make it easy to remember. Avoid using numbers and special characters.

“If the primary domain is, for say, a business I always suggest going with the brand name (business name) because the goal of marketing is as the business grows so will the brand recognition,” said Lisa W Boyle, a freelance SEO and Internet marketing consultant and creator of the company Paradigm Shift SEO.

There are sites like GoDaddy.com that help you choose and purchase domain names, shows the cost per year to keep your name and even offers options for subdomains.

Web Host or No

A Web host is a company that makes your website and many others accessible to everyone.

There are various types of Web hosts such as free, shared and dedicated. With some free Web hosts, advertising is included so expect banners or popups. Shared hosting allows you and other website owners to share one server. This makes it more affordable. The beauty of dedicated hosting is you have the server to yourself. It allows for faster performance but costs more.

If you’re not interested in a Web host 02Skills has a course called LAMP that teaches you how to build, secure and set up your own server.

The LAMP course costs $196 but it includes four courses that further explain how to set up and secure a server, SQL and PHP.

Understanding HTML and CSS

HTML and CSS are two acronyms associated with web development.

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language and it’s the language used to create Web pages. Every Web page starts with a <html> which lets you know that’s the language it was written in.

If you want to learn about HTML considering taking this free course by 02Skills or consider reading this article “100 Best HTML & HTML5 Books to Learn HTML From.”

CSS or Cascading Style Sheets is the style sheet language used to describe the look and format of the document being created with HTML. CSS lets you control the aesthetics of your website.

Take a look at “12 Best Free CSS Tutorials for Mastering the Language of Style,” if you want to learn about CSS.

A Picture Says it All

Avoid generic stock photos and vector graphics especially if your website is a selling platform.

“The more photos you can add of a product, the better,” said Robert Brandl, the founder and chief tester of WebsiteToolTester a company that was created in 2009 to help individuals and companies create websites. “I would add as many photos as the website’s design supports. For complex products I’d also suggest to use videos.”

Take advantage of Photoshop.

“It is a fairly simple program for most tasks and will allow you to save crucial time by being able to make image corrections, quick design mockups and web element designs with ease,” said Ivan Ciraj, a sales representative at Kingsways Real Estate Brokerage. He’s been creating websites for six years including SquareOneLife. “When adding images to your website, resize them appropriately so they’re not unnecessarily large in terms of pixel dimensions.”

Something to keep in mind is saving your image for the Web. This will allow you to “further reduce the image size and have fine tuned control over the output quality,” said Ciraj.

Don’t forget to choose photos that are visually appealing and work with the content on your website.

Test Drive

Make sure each Web page looks and behaves the way you want it to.

If a link is supposed to open in a new tab but opens in the original tab the person was in, you should fix that before your website goes live. Broken links, unviewable photos or missing captions are some other problems you might encounter.

Check your website in the latest versions of browsers so you can see what your audience sees when they visit your site. Check to see how your site loads on mobile devices.

“In 2015, having a mobile friendly site is an essential requirement,” said Shah Bahpyu, the co-founder of the e-commerce store Lil Spaces which is based in Canberra, Australia. “Over 50 percent of our visitors visit our site from a mobile device.”

Branching Out

“If you have money to invest, look into Google AdWords or Facebook targeted ads to reach your consumer,” said Brandyn Morelli, the co-founder of Onyx Agency a web design and development company in Los Angeles. “Make sure to sign up with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with your company or product name.”

Take advantage of social platforms and the friends you have on it. Ask them to like your page or to share the link with their friends and family. There’s nothing wrong with shameless self-promoting.

If you need some guidance with Google Adwords, consider taking this $49 02Skills course or you can check out, “Google Adwords Certification Courses: Make the Best Impressions for Your Career.”

Something else you might want to keep in mind is SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization and it’s the process of increasing the amount of traffic to your site by ranking higher on search results. To get started with SEO, look into 02Skills’s SEO course or “9 Best Free SEO Tutorials for Optimizing Your Website.”

Google Bonuses

“Sign up for Google Analytics. Most CMS systems allow you to easily input your Google Analytics ID directly into your site,” said Morelli. “This will provide all sorts of information on who’s visiting your site, where they are coming from, how long they are staying, and which pages they are visiting.”

Don’t forget about Google Webmaster Tools.

“Submitting your site here allows you to track how you are performing on the search engine in terms of clicks and views within search results,” said Ciraj.“You get daily updates about what search terms your site is showing up for, on what page or ranking number it is displayed and how many people actually click on it.”

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