If you’re thinking about creating a new website, there are some things to keep in mind to make the whole process easier and avoid making the obvious mistakes every web designer has made. There are many reasons to start a website. Maybe you’re thinking about launching a site because you want a place where you can express your thoughts or perhaps you already own a business and want to be reached by your costumers online. No matter the reason, it’s important to be prepared and know what to expect.
Creating a website from scratch used to be a lot harder than it is today. In the old days, you needed to know about programming, about setting your own server and about making sure your website was online at all times. If you didn’t have the proper knowledge it could get pretty tricky. Today that has changed and everyone can create a website and have it online in a matter of minutes. There are many tools that allow you to have an online presence without being an expert in website creation. In fact, you don’t even have to know how all the specifics, it’s just a matter of using the right tool and the job will be easily done.
But if you’ve never created a website before you may be wondering: where do I start and what should I do first? Well, it all depends about what you’re going to use the website for. Right now, there are platforms like Blogger and WordPress that will let you make a site following a few steps. The whole process is very simple and straightforward and after five minutes, you’ll be able to have your own website online and ready to go. These services offer free space and also other paid services that will give your website tools to make it more powerful and complete.
Here are some things to keep in mind when creating a new website
Let’s start with the most important thing, your domain name, the name everyone will use to access your site. You may have heard this before: make sure your future website visitors can easily remember it. This can’t be stressed enough, and even though it’s continually repeated, I keep seeing new website with names like SimpleCreative1345.com. First, your visitors will probably never remember a random number in your domain, so unless it’s important because it represents something important brand-wise, don’t use a number at all. Same goes to the use of other symbols like the hyphen. Chances are if your domain name is Good-dogs.com, people will only remember it as GoodDogs.com, without the hyphen in the middle and they’re going to be confused when they visit a website and it’s not yours. Nowadays, it’s really hard to find a new domain name that’s available because everything has pretty much been registered already. It’s also good if the domain is short but good luck finding those now. Just think about the domains that you remember the most like Bing and Mashable. They’re simple words that are somehow short and easy to remember. The domain can be both, a dictionary word everyone has probably said at one point in their lives or a new word that you came up with. If it’s a new word, make sure it’s easy to pronounce and that after you repeat it several times, it becomes easy to remember. You don’t want to register a name that everyone will forget after hearing it once.
Be careful when registering a new domain, you probably don’t want to register something that has already been register before by another person. Why? Because that person may have used the domain name for shady purposes, like spam and other malicious practices. If this is the case, that domain may have been blocked, banned or may be considered a malign domain by search engines like Google and Bing. That would actually explain why the previous owner dropped the domain name and you were able to find it again as available. This is why whenever I’m about to register a new domain name, I make sure to check first if it’s been registered before. If it has, and the domain happens to be too good, then I find it suspicious that they dropped it. A good tool for checking a domain’s history is Domaintools.com. If you’re planning to monetize your website in the future, then I would stick with new domains only, since it’s too risky to register a domain that has been dropped by someone else. A friend of mine noticed that there was a very good domain available and that it was previously owned by one person. He didn’t think much of it, registered it and starting using it. After a few months, he noticed that there was no traffic coming from any of the big search engines. A quick search in Archive.org allowed him to see what the site was used for before he managed to register it. Turns out the domain was previously used for very shady spam practices. He eventually gave up and abandoned the site.
This is something important that everyone who creates a new website should keep in mind. Your site should be located close to where your visitors are. If you’re going to offer a product that is supposed to be useful for people in England, then it’s not a good idea to host your website on the United States. I came up with the idea of creating a website about a TV show that was very popular in Asia. Since I had no idea how to host the site there, I just decided to host it in the US. I realized my mistake 3 months later when I was told the search engines actually consider the location of the server in order to display results. I immediately changed the location to Asia and noticed a big bump in traffic. That taught me to always host the site as close as possible to the people who is going to be visiting it.
Another thing to consider is how big your server should be. Some people start their site with very low expectations. They wish to someday get a considerable amount of visitors but they don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon. That’s actually mistake that should not be made. If your site is going to be interesting for a lot of people, then be prepared to receive a lot of visits. You have to option to either host your site on a shared hosting solution, a VPS or a dedicated server. Let me quickly explain what these three options are all about:
Shared hosting solution: your website is going to be hosted on a server that is already hosting other websites. You’ll be sharing resources with those other sites and if one of them suddenly increases its traffic and it causes the whole server to go down, you website will also go down with it. It’s the cheaper option but be aware that it will not going to be able to handle a lot of traffic. If you only have a few visitors a month you’ll be OK, but if your traffic increases (which is what every website owner wants) it’s going to be tricky to keep it online. Also, you won’t have total control of the
VPS: your website is going to be assigned its own virtual resources. You’ll still be sharing server space with other sites but this time if another user is having traffic issues, chances are that the whole server won’t go down, since it will only be used its assigned resources. Hosting your webpages in a VPS is a little more expensive than doing it on a shared solution. But if you’re going to be dealing with important traffic, then it’s a no brainer. I’ve had extensive experience using VPS and they’re very solid, if you’re using the resources that you order and don’t require more you’ll be fine.
Dedicated server: in this case your site is going to be alone in its own server and everything available hardware-wise will only be used by you. This means that no other website will be sharing any resources which is highly recommended if you’re going to be hit by high traffic and your site is resource-intensive. There are many options here to choose from, having a dedicated server doesn’t guarantees that your users are going to have a smooth experience. It’s important to make sure the server is equipped with the appropriate amount of resources that will be able to deal with all the traffic you’ll be receiving. Here there’s a lot of testing and trial and error. Also, you’ll be constantly optimizing and tweaking your server resources, and also doing lots of website code adjustments to make sure everything is running as smoothly as possible.
Keep in mind that even though you need to consider a good hosting solution that will be able to keep your site online at all times, it is also really important to optimize the code of your site. You can order the most robust server that comes with plenty of resources but if the code of your site is not properly optimized, having such a good server will be useless. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, make sure you’re running the latest version and that all your plugins are up to date.
When I created my first website I had no idea which hosting company to choose. For me, it was important that my site was prepared for an influx of traffic but another important factor was price. I noticed prices varied from very cheap to very expensive and it wasn’t clear for me why there was so much difference in prince between services. I wanted a cheap and reliable hosting provider. Well, after experiencing with a few of them I noticed that such thing doesn’t really exists. Either you get a cheap provider and deal with all the problems you’ll be experiencing, or get an expensive one and enjoy the wonders of good responsive support.
The first hosting company I tried was a disaster and I remember seeing my website down and whenever I tried to contact their support, I would wait on the phone for more than an hour before someone took my call. In the end, they would tell me that they would “work on it” and that I should be patient. When I noticed that my site (which by the way was hosted on a shared hosting solution) continued to grow and that the fact that it was continually down was affecting its growth negatively, I decided to move to another server. That’s when I tried a VPS for the first time and right away I noticed an incredible increase in performance and responsiveness. I couldn’t believe I wasted so much time dealing with the shared solution when I could’ve started with a VPS from the beginning. Having more control over the server was also a big plus that allowed me to learn how to tweak the resources of the server in order to increase its performance.
As my site continued to grow, one day the VPS would go down continually and after contacting support several times, they recommended I should move to a dedicated server. I thought a dedicated was too expensive for me, so I moved to a bigger VPS which didn’t solve the problem at all. After struggling for several weeks with too much downtime, I finally agreed to move my whole site to a dedicated server and my problems were solved.
Here’s something very important that you should be aware of when choosing a hosting company. First, use a website like webhostingtalk.com to choose a good service. Here, you’ll find lots of reviews from users who have already tested every company, which can be really useful to make an informed decision based on the experience of others. Web Hosting Talk is probably the most popular forum about web hosting. Many companies have an account there and they continually post discounts and special offers that you can take advantage of. Use the search tool to find specific reviews about a determined hosting company. For me, even though many companies have good offers in place, after dealing with so many already, I’ve noticed that it’s all about support. If the hosting provider can respond quickly and effectively whenever you notify them about a problem, then that’s the best company for you. It’s important that the technicians that respond to your tickets are savvy enough to identify a problem and provide a solution as fast as possible. Although speed is always welcome, if they’re going to respond fast but they’re not going to solve your specific problem, then it’s no use. Right now, I’m happy with my hosting provider. Even thought they’re not the cheapest in the market, they have excellent support that responds fast with a quick workaround for any problem.
I’ve tried to sum up the most important factors that should be considering when creating a new website. If you have any question, please leave a comment below and I’ll provide a response as soon as possible.