Creating a website doesn’t have to be scary! After 20+ years of doing this, I know a thing or two about the process.
First, start with an idea. What is the purpose of your website? Is it purely informational? Will it be to sell something? How about portfolio of your work?
Whatever it is, make sure you have a reason to entice people to visit before you start. Otherwise, it may be very difficult or costly to acquire traffic.
Decide How To Build Your Website
Pick a Domain Name
Once you have your idea, you’ll need to make some more concrete plans.
Brainstorm! Often you’ll find yourself needing to pick from a decent-sized list of options. Have Options B, C, D, E, F, G, etc. available if Option A is taken.
With so many available TLDs (Top-Level Domains) to pick from such as “.net” or “.design”, the “.com” ending is still by far the most commonly used and understood.
When in doubt, go with a “.com” domain.
Make your domain as close to your idea as possible. Remember, short is often better than clever.
The easier it is for other people to remember your domain name, the better off you will be in the long-run. Check with friends or colleagues to see what they think of your name.
When you’ve decided on a domain you want, actually try to visit it first. If it comes up empty in your browser, there’s a good chance it’s available.
Find a Domain Registrar
With literally thousands of domain registrars available on the internet, it can be a challenge to decide which one to use.
A few registrars I personally recommend are…
- Amazon Route 53 (best in the long-run, but not quite as easy to set up)
- Google Domains (easy to set up and manage)
- LunarPages (I’ve used them for around 8 years and have been extremely happy with their services)
Some TLDs (Top-Level Domains) like “.to” or “.cat” require specific registrars that you can’t get anywhere else. Check the registrar to make sure they have your TLD.
ProTip: Many registrars offer enticing first-year deals but charge much more than average to renew your domain the following years.
Look at the renewal price as well as the first year price. As of this blog post, you should not pay more than $12 US Dollars per year for a “.com” domain!
Register Your Domain
Ideally, register your domain for many years. 5 or more (10 years would be even better) will boost your Search Engine ranking automatically.
The reason for this is many spammy sites only register for one year and then disappear. A longer registration shows a commitment to your domain name. Because you’re paying per year, be confident in your choice or it will cost you in the long-run.
For example, I personally registered PickJB.com up until the year 2025, back in October 2014. That’s because I plan to stick around for a very long time! 😃
Never register domains that include copyrighted names like “Google” or “Facebook” — the owners could send you Cease and Desist Orders, sue you for Copyright Infringement, and force the registrars take down your domain.
One common misconception about domain registration is that you own your domain. This is not true. You are simply leasing it a year at a time.
Find a Web Host
Like domain registrars, there are literally thousands of web hosts to pick from.
These vary in price far more significantly than domains, so do your homework!
You can pay anywhere from a few US Dollars per month to quite literally millions! It all depends on your needs.
I recommend using a service that scales to your needs automatically, like Amazon Web Services. In low traffic months, you pay less. In high traffic months, you pay more.
If you want something more predictable, choose a fixed-rate monthly or yearly web host. For the vast majority of websites, this should be no more than around $10 US Dollars per month for the basics.
Build Your Website
Despite popular belief, you do not actually need an internet connection nor a web host to build your website. You can do this entirely offline, and when you’re ready, upload the files to the internet.
Well, that is unless you use online-only services like SquareSpace or Wix, but that’s a bit different.
Lately, I’ve been using this static site generator called…
It’s how I built this very blog. I can create tons of similarity-designed pages and it does all the hard work for me.
Your website can also be far simpler or more complex. Build something you’re proud to share before publishing it online.