How To Build your own Website

It is far easier than you think to set up your own website.  Years ago, only large corporations and major businesses had their own websites.  Nowadays, it is not unusual for many people to have their own website – for personal use (sharing pics, blogs), or for small business ventures.

There is a tiered approach to creating a website – depending on what the purpose of the site is as well as how much you are willing to spend on website costs and development.  Total prices can run the full gamut from completely free (yes there are still things that are free out there!) to over a hundred dollars a month on maintenance plus development fees.  We will now discuss the different types of websites that you may be interested in creating and break down the costs and level of effort required to do so.

Personal Website

A personal website may include photos of the family on vacation, or a blog to keep family and friends abreast of your goings-on.   A personal site may even include dynamic components such as a discussion forum or interactive photo gallery.  Depending on how much time and effort you put in to this personal site, it may be as simple as simply posting new photos after an event or may involve creating more elaborate pages with a secure username and log on.

100% Free Website

Most people will go with the 100% free option for a personal website.  Obviously the benefits are there is zero cost to you for this type of site.  Some of the drawback to this are free website providers usually offer few options, sites tend to be no-frills with a basic template allowing the user little customization (but remember, the cost is free).  Also, free sites usually have very long URLs (website addresses) such as: http://members.aol.com/sites/jones1004pm/home/ — longer-named sites are harder to remember and more cumbersome to pass on verbally to family and friends.

There are a myriad of free website providers out there including many (most) Internet Service Providers (e.g. AOL, Earthlink, etc.)  Other third-party free website providers include freeservers.com andgeocities.com .  In addition to long website addresses, many free service providers also insert ehir own advertisement banners on the website and may even post pop-up banners (which can be annoying to many users).

Low-Cost Personal or Business Website

If the above free option is not for you, you may want to consider the next tier – what we call a low-cost site (about $6 per month or $72 per year).  The benefits include you picking your own domain name (e.g. www.jonesfamily.com or www.tropicalsmoothies.com), flexibility commensurate with your web design abilities, semi-permanence – you own the domain name as long as you wish.  The only downfall is that it is not free – but remember the adage, “you get what you pay for.”

Next, we will talk you through the necessary steps to create your low-cost website.

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Buy a Domain Name

First, you will need to think of a domain name then purchase it.  Once you have come up with the name you want, log on to www.godaddy.com and purchase your website.  If you select “auto-renew” you will be re-billed each year automatically, if not, you must log on to the website each year manually and re-up for another year.

At this point, all you have done is purchased the website name – but you still do not have a website up and running.  The next thing you need to do is to select a webhost company to host your website files.

Your actual website files will reside on your webhost’s servers.  When selecting a webhost company, you will want to look at their reliability rates (percent up-time) as well as what features they offer.  Lastly, you should factor in the price – but this should not be your one and only consideration.  I had a friend that had a great business plan and eventually started his business website – but unfortunately chose the cheapest webhost he could find ($1 per month) and he ended up with miserable service and his site ended up being off-line much of the time – as I said before, you get what you pay for

Choose a Web Host

Next, you will need to choose and pay for a web host.  A web host is a company that will store your website’s files on their servers and provide you with services such as email and customer support for a monthly (or annual) fee.  If you google the term “web host” you will be inundated with listings and you may become overwhelmed.  A great web host directory we have been using for years is www.flindmyhosting.com   – they offer a detailed searchable directory that allows you to filter your search for specific price ranges, futures, and customer ratings.

There are a few things to keep in mind when searching for a web host.  Although you may be trying to keep your costs as low as possible, anything cheaper than about $5 per month should make you suspicious (i.e. poor reliability, low quality, etc.)  Make sure you allow your website room to grow — take a look at the hosting plans a web host offers and even though you don’t anticipate a ton of traffic right away, make sure your host will allow your site to grow (i.e. plans that will grant you more bandwidth, storage space, features, etc.)  Some hosts specifically target only the smallest of websites – you don’t want to hamper your growth in the future.

We like to review the reliability of a web host – most hosts will publicize their servers’ “uptime” as a percentage rate.  We select web hosts that have a 99% uptime.  This is important because if your website is down, your customers will not be able to access your site.

Other features that set apart great web hosts include – CPANEL (online control panel that controls your site), Fantastico (automated script installer), and statistical analysis package (AWSTATS is the best one out there).  Some hosts also offer a free online website creator – this is online software that helps you build your website without having to learn any programming whatsoever.

We highly recommend Net Link Hosts as a reliable, feature-rich web host.  Another great web host that we recommend is Web Hosting Buzz – they offer reliable feature-rich hosting including free website builders.

After you sign up for your web hosting plan, you will receive an email from your host with all of your account details to include account username and password, FTP information, CPANEL log on, etc.  Make sure you save this email and reference it.  Lastly, you will need to log on your domain provider (website where you have your domain name registered) and change the name server settings to reflect your new web host.  Give the changes about 24 hours to take effect, and voila! you are ready to start uploading files to your new website. Check out the articles about how to create an online business website .

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