How to start a website for minimal cost

I’ve been a Web Developer for over 15 years.  I feel it is my purpose in life to help others in a way I am confident I can.  I’d like to speak to those who are novices with websites.  If you have a business and would like to gain a certain basic know-how of websites, I hope this article serves you well.

I’ll start with the easiest route.  I’m sure you’ve heard of GoDaddy, InMotion, BlueHost, or Rackspace.  There are many others, but you’ll need only one.  I like GoDaddy because they are popular, but I also found BlueHost to be excellent.  These companies are “hosting companies”.  They setup and maintain your “piece of the web”…your place on the internet.  And what you need to provide them is what your domain name will be.  A Domain Name is a unique english word(s) that define your website to a browser (ie.  IE, Firefox, Chrome).  When you type in the domain name “google.com” in your browser, the hosting company receives that request and directs your request to a specific server(s) that hosts that content.

Figuring out what your domain name will be is step #1, because it makes it easier when you begin looking at buying your hosting space.  Hosting companies take care of tying your domain name to your hosting space when you doing it all at the same time.

So now you’ve thought of that cool domain name.  I would not choose a long domain name like “thisisasupercooldomainname.com” or a short domain name acronym like “abc.com” because people will remember a name that relates to your company.  For example, if I tell you my company is The Bockler Group, logically you’ll search for this name, or even try that directly in the browser.  It’s logical that my website domain name is the same (or related to my company name).

You’ve got your cool domain name in mind and you’ve settled on a hosting provider.  When you go to their site, they prompt you in a big area to enter that domain name to see if it’s already been taken.  The domain name must be unique, because the internet can’t have another google.com, right?  How would it know which server(s) to point to?!  You may or may not have to adjust your domain name, but let’s assume you’ve come up with one that isn’t already taken.

As you progress in the buying process, you’ll be asked at some point about the privacy option.  Generally you’ll want this option.  If the website is for personal use, I would recommend buying the added feature.  Because when you buy a domain name, your personal information is available for public knowledge.  Try a WhoIs Lookup and you’ll see what I mean.  Choosing the privacy option for a yearly price is a good thing.

Now onto the hosting.  This can seem a little nuts, but here’s what you need to know.  Since this article is for the novice, I’ll make an assumption that you’d like to use it for a blog or basic company site.  WordPress is the standard for this.  It’s an easy-to-use platform, especially for beginners.  I would highly recommend it, especially if you’re trying to get the most out of the least amount of work.  It is a blog by default, and there are thousands of themes that you can apply to your blog to make it look great.  The big draw is the way it allows you to edit your content and publish it.  No need for a Web Developer!

Choosing a hosting option can seem a little daunting, but keep it simple.  The basic option provided is not permanent, so I would recommend it.  If you ever need to upgrade, it’s something the support team can help you in doing.  As long as it states that it supports WordPress, that’s going to be your best bet.  If they have a one-click install of WordPress advertised for that hosting option, even better.  In fact I would highly recommend it.  The hosting providers mentioned all have this option.

Once you’ve selected your domain name, and have selected a hosting plan, you’ll be good to go.  Once you’ve finalized payment, you should be able to login and see a dashboard (or homepage showing you options on your account).  You should see options where you can setup an email account (I’ll discuss this later) and also to install WordPress.  Go through the wizard, and you’ll quickly have it installed.

At this point your site should respond when typing in your domain name into the browser.  If it doesn’t, don’t worry yet.  It may take 24-48 hours for everything to work.  After which, it should be stylized to a default WordPress theme when it was installed.  More information about themes and WordPress options can be found at sites like WPBeginner.com.

It’s fairly easy to get going on a new site these days.  WordPress makes it super simple.  Even though it takes some “getting in there and figuring it out” time, you’ll find that having a site up and running in hours is pretty sweet.

Happy Coding!  Please feel free to ask me questions about any details I might’ve missed.  It’s what I live for!

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