Website Basics

by | Dec 5, 2014

WebsiteHaving a website built by a professional can be expensive.  A basic website consisting of 3 to 5 pages can cost well over a $1000. If you add ecommerce functionality where you are actually selling products and services directly from your site, that price can double.

If you are just starting to develop your internet presence, you may choose to design your own website. With all of the great tools available online and a little patience, time and focus, you can have your site up in no time. Before you begin building your site, let’s examine what you will need to get this done.   

What You Will Need

You will need to purchase your domain name. This is your uniform resource locator (url) or web address. Although I said “purchase” it is really more like renting. You will pay a yearly fee to keep your name. If you miss paying the fee, the domain name will no longer be yours.

There are many places to purchase domain names. I personally use GoDaddy because I can always find great coupon codes. I rarely spend over $10 for a domain name and usually can find a deal where I spend only $2 or $3 the first year.

You will also need a company to host your website. There are a huge number of companies to choose from. I personally recommend Hostgator. You should not pay more than $8 per month for web hosting. Look for a service that offers unlimited bandwidth, unlimited emails and a generous allotment of disk space. You also want to be able to host unlimited domain names. Hostgator also offers a ton of free software including WordPress.

You will also need an email capture client like MailChimp or GetResponse. I personally use MailChimp because they have a free package that is great for most beginners and that is where I started. However, I am thinking about moving over to GetResponse because of the advance functionality and beautiful lead capture forms they have.  

Make sure that you have good quality images for your website.  You can use images of your products as well as stock images. Make sure you are familiar with licenses for any image that you use. Do not just grab an image from Google. Most of these images have copyright protection and you can get into trouble if you are caught.  

Components of a Typical Site

A typical website consists of a home page, supporting pages that can be reached via a navigation bar and other auxiliary pages that are not on the navigation bar. The home page is the page that your visitors will land on if they type your domain name. This is the virtual “front door” to your internet real estate.

The top section of the home page will usually contain your name and/or the company name. You may also include a logo, slogan or other image. This is usually followed by a navigation bar. The navigation bar allows visitors to go directly to other pages that you feel would be important to them.

The middle section of the home page, under the navigation bar, should contain some type of lead generating element.  Although there are analytical tools to tell you how many people visited your site, you will not know exactly who those people are unless they give you their email address. A good lead magnet can help you accomplish this. 

After your lead magnet, the content on your page should be attention grabbing and directed to the audience. If you want to keep people on your page longer, you must answer the following questions from your audience’s perspective using your content:

  • Why do I need to be here?
  • What can you do for me?

The bottom of your home page should highlight other pages from your site. This can be blurbs about items you have on sale, a listing of your latest blog posts or feeds from your social media streams. However, if you don’t do a good job with the content in the middle section of the home page, no one will scroll down to see this other stuff.

The footer of your site should contain your copyright statement, contact information, social media connection information and links to your other policy pages like your privacy policy and terms of service.

Supporting Pages

You should have an “About Us” page that gives information about you and your company. While you want to maintain a professional tone, your bio here should be engaging and not stiff. Unfortunately, most About Me pages sound like obituaries. Since the About Me page is usually accessed from the navigation bar, a person who clicks this link is genuinely interested in learning more about you. Make sure that your personality shines through the words.

You should have a page where all of your product and service offerings can be accessed. Even if you have separate pages for each of your products, you should have one portfolio type page where the visitor can see a listing of all of your items. The worst thing in the world is to have a visitor come to your site to purchase a product but they can’t find it.

Lead Generating Page

In addition to the lead magnet we had on the first page, you should have a landing page on your site that is designed to capture your opt-ins. There should always be a link in your navigation bar to your latest opt-in offer.

If you have a membership site, you will need a registration and login page that gives your current clients access to premium information on your site. This page will probably be automatically generated depending on the membership software or plugin that you use. Make sure that you have a link to this page on your navigation bar.

If you run an ecommerce site, you may need to have a home page for your store. This will depend on the software or ecommerce plugin that you use. This link should also be in your navigation bar. Many people will make this the last link in the row so that it will stand out.

It is a good idea to have a contact form on your site as oppose to having your email address listed. There are tons of spambots out there roaming the internet for email addresses on websites. A contact form will allow your visitors to submit a question or comment directly to any email you choose.

Other Auxiliary Pages

You may need to add other pages to your site that do not require direct access from the main navigation bar. These may include pages for your individual products and services, landing and policy pages.  

WordPress Platform

Now that you know the basic content you need, it’s time to decide what type of platform you will build on. WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and a content management system (CMS) that makes it easy to build great website sites. It is used by more than 18.9% of the top 10 million websites as of August 2013. This platform is the most popular blogging system in use on the Web, at more than 60 million websites. Although it is known as a blogging tool, WordPress is can be used to build awesome websites that do not include a blog.

Building your own quality website can be a lot of work but it is not hard and it can save you a lot of money.  If you would like more information on how to build your own website, I would love to help. I have a 4 video series that will show you in real time how I built a WordPress website in about 90 minutes. This training is only $97 and you can click here to learn more. I am also hosting monthly Website Basics Online Boot Camps where I not only teach you how to build your website but I virtually look over your shoulder as you do it and I am able to answer any questions you have, right on the spot. Click here to find out more information about our next class.