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Many clients that have the need for a website do not really know where to get started. What do you need to set up your online presences? How do you start your own website? What steps to take? They ask themselves “How do I set up a website for my business?”. Let’s go through the basic steps you need to go through to set up a website. By covering this we will cover these common questions:

  • How do you create a domain name?
  • What type of web hosting do I need?
  • How do I create my own website?
  • How do you design a website?
  • How do I build a website?
  • How much does it cost to set up a website?

Domain name

domain name

One of the first things you need to do is get your domain name. A domain name is the link to your website. One like google.com for example. Either you already have a business and then you try to find a domain with the same name or a name that fits your business. A domain is really important so you should spend some research on this. Make sure it is appropriate, easy to remember and pick a top level domain name suitable for your business. A top level domain name is .com, .nl .me, .webdesign and so on. These days there are many, but .com is still the best one out there. Simply because .com is well known and fits all types of businesses. A domain like .tech would only fit if your business is really in the tech field.

How do you create a domain name?

It is good to remember that most web hosting companies –  companies that take care of the hosting of your website – also deal with domain names.  There you can set one up. They only do not always offer the best deals that companies specialized in domain names do. So do compare your choice of hoster to some domain names companies before purchasing a domain name.

Domain with your webhoster

I would however recommend you to set everything up with one company as that makes everything convenient. Domain and hosting in one place and billing done by the same company. And in my case that is Dreamhost. There are other good hosters out there of course. Especially in the field of Managed WordPress hosting DreamPress competes with the likes of Siteground and WP Engine.

Domain name companiesNamecheap

An example of a domain name company we work with is namecheap.com . There you can get pretty much any domain name you would like to have. And they always have great deals. We often book more special top level domain names like .xyz, .webdesign, .met with them as they tend to have better deals for these tlds than our favorite web hoster Dreamhost.com. And that brings us to the next question.

Dreamhost

What type of web hosting do I need?

Web hosting is the storing and serving or showing your website on the internet. There have been companies specialized in this for decades. You could technically run your website on your own PC at home, but that would mean taking care of security and storage as well as some other difficult things like DNS and mail. That and the fact that most ISPs don’t allow private persons to host their own website. So you go for a web hosting company. And if possible one that takes care of the web hosting as well as the domain. Dreamhost is one of those we recommend. They offer all the types of hosting you can think of:

  • Shared Hosting
  • VPS
  • Cloud hosting – DreamCompute
  • Managed WordPress hosting – DreamPress

NB In general you should start out with something at the top and upgrade to a better version going down the list.

Shared Hosting

Most people when they start out shared hosting is fine. You share a server with other websites and thereby you are sharing the memory or RAM used. You are often limited in the use of RAM and input or output or meaning how often you write things or change things on the site. You often are also limited in traffic to your website. But for a beginner this tends to be fine and this also is the cheapest option. And Dreamhost does offer unlimited storage, sites to run and bandwidth so that is pretty amazing. They will throttle your RAM usage once you have grown some though so you will have to move to a VPS/Cloud or Managed packages some day.

VPS

A VPS is a virtual private server. This means that you still tend to share the server with others, but unlike shared hosting the memory usage for you will be yours alone to use and change. It also often means that you have more control over the server and the way you manage it. Especially if it is unmanaged. More freedom and user rights to set things up to your needs basically. This does however require more skills on your part! Dreamhost does have great managed VPSs.

Dreamhost Managed VPS

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting and VPS are often used at the same time, talking about the same thing. Cloud hosting is basically a totally free instance where you can scale RAM, storage, set up the whole server, control in fully, expand it with ease with cloud balancing and more. It is like a VPS but on steroids. Dreamhost for example has VPS, but they are all managed by them. Their DreamCompute instances are instances you fully control. So that is how they distinguish things. But many other hosters would call cloud hosting VPS too. So confusing sometimes really.

Digital OceanA great Cloud Hoster besides DreamCompute is Digital Ocean. I can highly recommend them if you need a lot of power and full control. And they have server parks all over the world so there is always one near your place.

Managed WordPress Hosting

As most of my customers and I work with WordPress it is worth mentioning the booming business of managed WordPress hosting. This is a service offered by quite a few web hosters out there. Basically they have set up servers to work specifically for WordPress. So RAM, storage, caching, security and so on is fine tuned for WordPress. They also offer backups, automatic updates and much more. This is really great for businesses that have some more $ to spend and really do not have time to maintain their website.  DreamPress, Siteground, WP Engine and a few others offer these services.

If you would however like more than just updates, but also a web developer on standby that offers great service, hack cleanups, fixes when updates don’t work out, uptime checkups and much more I will recommend our maintenance services.

How do I create my own website?

Well you already know you need a domain name. But you will of course also need to display your content. And for that you need a website designed and or developed. Though people talk about web design most people in the business talk about web design and web development. They distinguish between the designing and building of a website. Most freelancers and agencies do both, but some freelancers are just designers or just developers. And you as a customer tend to need both.

How do you design a website?

Designing your website can be done by anyone that knows design and preferably webdesign more specifically. Sometimes websites are designed on paper, but more often in Photoshop, Affinity Photo, Gimp, Inkscape or Adobe Illustrator. There all page layouts with color schemes, font families and or logo are worked out in before the design is actually turned into a website. Sometimes however a frontend developer will design all directly in the browser with HTML, CSS and JavaScript.  If a logo and or complete house style is needed it is necessary to start with design from scratch. And that is never done in the browser but with a program specifically for design like the ones I mentioned earlier.

The conversion of design into a website requires knowledge of programming. That is often called web development. And that will bring us to the next topic

How do you build your own website?

Web Development

Web development is as stated briefly the actual building of the website. The conversion of an idea, a design into the actual website. This can be a static website built in HTML and CSS, but can also be a full fledged content management system.  There are many programming languages dynamic content management systems can be built in. We work with PHP, MySQL and HTML/CSS. And fortunately there are also made ready made Content Management Systems or CMS that are open source and free of charge like WordPress.

Templates / Themes

But, with a ready made content management system you are not there yet. Your CMS needs a beautiful frontend, a great template or theme to make it look good and for it to represent your style. It should reflect your business culture. That template is either based on the layouts designed as we discussed before or a theme you purchased elsewhere like at themeforest or our Ianua WordPress theme.

Ianua WordPress Theme

Clients with a small budget tend not to have a budget for a fully designed site that is 100% original. So often they go for a ready made theme or template. And that is OK really. When you are starting out you should spend your money wisely. Once you have grown some more you can spend budget on an original design and complete custom build.

How much does it cost to set up a website?

This is of course one of the most common questions I get. How much does it cost to set up a website? And unlike ready made products like a t-shirt this is hard to tell in the realm of web design. Why?

  • Web design is custom by nature – This as pretty much every project is custom. There is not a single project that is the same;
  • Cost of living – Salaries and cost of living are not the same around the globe. $1 USD in India or Thailand will get you a lot more still than in London, New York or the Netherlands;
  • Skills – More experienced developers or designers charge more because they know more and can deliver better products.

But I will give you some ballpark figures here. Figures that make sense to me, a Dutch digital nomad with 12+ years experience working from different, sometimes expensive, locations globally with primarily western based clients.

  • Basic site setup – ready made theme, custom is part of the setup and or already has existing site $500-1000
  • Basic website or blog , no custom design $1000-2000
  • Basic E-Commerce, no custom design $2000-3000
  • Basic website including design $3000-5000
  • Ecommerce including design $5000-8000

NB Design does not necessarily include full house style (logo, business card and so on)

NBB Again, further customizations may require more work / $

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