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How to build a website

So you have an idea for a business but you need a website. With all the website builder options available it can be overwhelming selecting the right platform to use. You’re probably thinking “why would this guy tell me how to get a website on my own when he charges to build them?”. Well, the answer is simple, I am a big believer in providing value and sharing information. Not to mention getting a site online is only scratching the surface of what I offer my clients. So if I an help somebody I wouldn’t have worked with anyway, then so be it.

Self Hosted or Hosted

First thing to consider when setting up your own website is to determine if you want to host the website on your own hosting or have it hosted for you with a company like WIX or Squarespace.

Self Hosted:

If you’re wanting to have more control over your website files a self hosted option might be the route to take to avoid paying to many monthly fees. To self host your website you’ll need a hosting package, I like to use Namecheap or SiteGround. Namecheap is a very inexpensive solution to get your hosting account set up quickly. 

Going the self hosted route will require a little bit of work on your end to set things up but once you get the account set up, you can get a website launched on WordPress or any other quick install platforms available within your hosting package. Setting up a WordPress site in your hosting account’s cPanel takes about 5 minutes and you’re ready to start adding to your website. Both of the sites I linked to above have great support and can even walk you through the process.

Hosted:

If you’re looking for a solution that requires little to no legwork on your end you’ll want a hosted solution like WIX or Squarespace. They take care of everything and you pay a monthly service fee. These solutions are great for just getting started but the limitations on what you can do and what your site can look like can be a pain. There are pros and cons to hosted solutions, here are a few to consider;

Pros – 

  • You don’t need to worry about backups
  • Security is usually maintained by the company
  • Sites use a CDN to load your assets quickly.

Cons – 

  • You never own the website source code. If they shut down so does your site.
  • Sites hosting websites are often targets of hackers. If they can hack the site they have access to the sites that are hosted.
  • If they disable features you can’t keep using them.
  • Usually pricing is fair but if prices increase you must pay to keep the site live.

Install WordPress

Once you have your hosting figured out the quickest way to get a site online without any knowledge of coding is going to be WordPress. To install WordPress on a hosted solution, you simply login to your cPanel account and scroll down to the Softaculous Apps Installer and click on WordPress then Install. The installer will ask you what directory you want WordPress installed in and then you click install. If this is your main website on the domain/URL you’ll want to leave the space for folder/directory blank. This tells the installer you want to install WordPress in the root directory. If all goes as expected, you’ll get a message saying that WordPress was successfully installed. Visit your website in a new window and you should now see your new site using the default template. From this point, you can sign in to the WordPress dashboard and begin adding pages and posts. The installer did all the legwork for you.

Select A WordPress Theme

So, at this point you should have a working website running WordPress. While WordPress is great, the default theme typically lacks much of a design. The good news is that there are themes you can download and install. 

From your WordPress dashboard you can go to the Appearance menu item and click Themes. From there you can add a new theme or your hosting provider might even have the option to browse themes. Find a theme you like and install it. While these themes will change the look of the site, using a theme will always mean you need to fit your idea or business into the theme’s layout. You can also look for themes on Themeforest and upload them on the dashboard’s theme page.

Another option is to download a blank theme (this is a theme with all the styles and layout stripped) then install a plugin called Elementor and use that plugin to design your own theme templates and design. This involves quite a bit more work but will give you total flexibility on how you design the site. 

Hire A Professional

As with anything, there is a trade off. If you have the time and are willing to maintain your website then you’re all set. If you’d rather have a custom site built around your business while you focus on the day to day business, hire a professional. Have a budget in mind and know what you want out of a website. If you need somebody to help with your website, reach out to me and we can get you dialed in.

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Failure To Launch

No, I am not talking about the movie here…

Anyone that knows me has been hearing me talk about my personal website launch for what seems like forever. This site has never been at the point where I felt it was ready to launch, so I kept pushing it off. There was always one more thing I needed to add, one thing I needed to tweak or one project I haven’t added yet. I realized that I am always working on new projects and if I keep waiting until this website is perfect, it will never get launched.

So rather than continue waiting… and waiting some more, I have decided to remove the coming soon page and launch the website. Even if it’s not perfect yet, websites evolve over time and that is what will happen here. While this website is live it will continue to evolve and grow as I add new projects.

The point is that sometimes we want everything to be perfect before we launch projects and in reality nothing will ever be perfect. You will never know what your website needs to be until you have real visitors interacting with the site.

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Website Icons

This is going to be a quick and to the point post about website icons. Having an icon with your content can help give a visitor a better visual of the message you’re trying to deliver… for example if as a visitor you load a website full of text, you likely won’t know where you want to look first but if you use icons it makes finding items or information much easier and can improve the user experience on your website. I wouldn’t recommend only using icons, but including them as an addition to a heading can create a visual “break” throughout the website.

If you’re like me and have decided you want to use icons you may be wondering where to get them. Sometimes creating icons for a website can be time consuming and over all just a huge pain. I found this website a while back Free Website Icons that has hundreds of thousands of free icons available to use. I must warn you, if you don’t know what type of an icon you’re looking for you will more than likely spend hours browsing through the icons… they are all so great! Just be sure to give credit for any icons you use.. or you can always purchase them.

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Animation Overkill

In my very limited free time I tend to find myself browsing other websites to see new development trends.

I have been noticing more and more that websites are including more and more animations like fade in content or sliding content. While I am a big fan of using animations to pull a visitors attention to a particular feature or something important, I am seeing animations used everywhere on websites to where they might look cool but they serve no real purpose.

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When Is It Just Too Much

When building a website it is normal to want to fill it with information, images and animations. Sometimes it is easy to forget the