The eight steps to successfully starting a new website
There’s nothing as powerful as a website to help you communicate with your audience. Whether you’re looking to test your business idea, sell products or services online, or simply establish an online presence, starting a website is key to reaching your audience, getting found by potential customers and turning profit.
While there are lots of things to do and consider when launching your first website, fortunately there is a plethora of tools available that can make this task less daunting, even if you have little to no technical skills.
In this post we’ll walk you through the key steps you need to follow to start a new website so you can see it’s not as complicated as it may initially seem.
Step 1: Decide on your website’s purpose
If you’re thinking about starting a website, you probably have an idea about what it’ll be about and its purpose. If you don’t, now’s the time to clarify what that is.
You may want a website to introduce potential customers to your business, tell them what you do, provide a few credentials and contact information if they want to check you out online or reach out to you. Or you may want to sell products and services directly online.
You might even want to add a blog where you share useful information that educates and delights your audience.
Whatever your idea, it’s important to know how you will use your website as this will guide how you develop it going forward. When you know your site’s purpose, you’ll be able to more easily decide on its design as well as the web pages, content and plugins you’d need.
Step 2: Pick a domain name and select a web host
If you don’t already have one, picking a great domain name for a new website is a weighty task. If your site becomes successful, the name you select will be with you for years, perhaps even decades.
You may have already thought of a fantastic name by now. But what if you run a search and discover it’s taken?
Fortunately, there are lots of options and this post will help guide you through the pitfalls of picking a business name and a domain name. Read it to find many tips and ideas on how to find a name that matches with your idea.
Need more advice? Check out these useful resources on finding and registering your dream domain: Questions to ask before buying a domain name and Brandable vs. descriptive domain names (and which one is right for your small business)
Once you have your domain name, the next step is to select a web hosting provider. Think of it as a digital landlord for your website and everything on it – text, images, videos and more. Web hosting is necessary to get your site live and found by your audience.
If you don’t know much about web hosting and which one would be right for your website, don’t worry. In this post you can learn more about the different types of hosting so you have an easier time deciding which one you would need for your website.
Step 3: Choose how you want to build your website
Once you’ve got a general idea of what you want your site to do and how you want it to look, it’s time to start building it.
Fortunately, you have lots of options no matter your skills, time and budget. Here are the most common ones:
A) Do it yourself
If you have the time and technical skills to build a website yourself, kudos to you. Not to mention that with web hosting from 123 Reg or our Managed WordPress hosting, you’ll also get a free domain name as well as access to all the tools you need to build your dream website.
B) Use a website builder
If you lack the time, skills or budget to build it yourself, you can always use a tool like the 123 Reg website builder to quickly get a professional-looking site up and running.
All you need to do is to choose a great-looking template from our collection (they’re all free) and customise it to match your brand.
The great thing about this option is that you don’t need any technical or special skills to make changes. All it takes is dragging and dropping elements onto the page.
If you want to sell products on your website, you can do that, too. Simply choose one of our ecommerce packages to get your online shop up and running and selling.
C) Hire a professional to do it for you
This third option is costlier but it may be a better option if you have a bigger budget and need a custom website.
If you decide to take this route, you have two options: either 1. look for freelance web developers and designers or an agency that can work on it for you; or 2. try our Make Me a Website service where you not only have a team of experts building your website, but also promoting it online after it’s built. This also allows prospects to find your business online once it’s up and running.
Step 4: Make it safe and secure
Since you’re starting a new website, you might not think that security is a priority at this point. But it is. Hackers have started targeting small sites more often than big sites. Why? Because they know smaller sites are vulnerable and easier to break into since they don’t take the necessary steps to secure them.
Don’t let a hack damage your new site and reputation. Get an SSL certificate to make sure that your website is safe and that any data submitted through it – whether that’s a visitor’s login credentials, information sent through a contact form, or even a credit card transaction – is secure.
You should also strongly consider using a website security tool to protect against malware attacks. You can use something like Sitelock from 123 Reg.
Step 5: Optimise it for visibility in the search results
When you employ search engine optimisation (SEO) best practices, it makes is easier for your audience to find your website in the search engine results pages. This is a vital step since your site is new and no one, users or search engines, know you exist.
SEO tactics and techniques can help with that, by slowly yet steadily increasing your visibility in the search results when users look up your website, business, products or services.
There are lots of elements that go into the process of properly optimising a website for users and search engines. To make it easier for you, read this guide where we’ve covered all the essential SEO first steps for a new website.
Step 6: Start building an email list
Many new site owners feel they need to wait to have at least 100, 200, 500 unique visitors to justify putting up a newsletter form on their website. Don’t make that mistake as you’ll be missing out on the opportunity to build your email list. This allows you to keep in touch with subscribers and eventually turn them into customers.
Here’s the thing: building an email list is one of the cheapest, most cost-effective ways to engage your audience, build authority and trust. And your audience includes the first, second, fifth visitor that lands on your new website.
Read this guide for some useful tips on how to build your first email list and get started with email marketing.
Step 7: Sign up for Google Analytics and Google Search Console
A key part to growing a successful website is constantly monitoring it to see how well it’s performing and what else you can tweak and change to make it better.
Step 8: Promote it
Once your website is live, you need to promote it to drive awareness and get people to visit it, otherwise no one will know you exist.
There are lots of things you can do to market your new website, including writing high-quality, relevant, properly optimised content that your audience wants to read, using pay-per-click advertising (PPC) to quickly grow your site’s visibility and attract more prospects in the paid search results, and setting up accounts and becoming active on the social networks that your audience spends time on.
You can find lots of tips and advice on how to promote your new website in these posts:
Ready to start your new website?
All you need is an idea you believe in. And if you have that, then go through the eight steps outlined in this post and you’ll soon realise that starting a website is not as complicated as it may seem. Good luck!