How to build a website
"Tired of sifting through free websites, web design, web hosting, website templates and website builders to learn how to build a website?"
See the best way to create a website by choosing the type of Web platform you want (i.e. blog, forum, eCommerce, custom) and learning more about the best Web solutions available for that type of website.
There are a lot of ways to create a website. There are a lot of different types of website that cater for different business requirements. There are a lot of hosting and domain packages to choose from.
The choices are bewildering.
Regardless of whether you want to start a blog, or set up a small business online, this guide to building a website will show you the fastest, easiest and cheapest route to get the website you want.
Before building a website
Before you start deciding on how to build a website it is important to understand what the requirements are. It is very easy to pay for a web solution far in excess of your requirements.
Conversely, it is also easy to make the mistake of not choosing something flexible and scalable that can grow with your needs, or the needs of your business.
In addition, you also need to think about how much you are prepared to pay to get the website you want.
Remember that paying for a quality website generally saves time, effort and money in the long run because you don't waste time learning how to develop a site from scratch.
It's important for both bloggers and small businesses to get a website operational quickly and efficiently. This allows you to focus on growing your business and making money. Remember that an online business should not be about building a website, but about making money online from a website.
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Choose what type of website to create
How to build a blog
Blogs are super easy to create without needing any Web experience. Many top blog platforms offer hosted solutions which means that you don't need to worry about finding a Web hosting service - although you should always purchase a domain name to build up SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
For a straightforward blog (with domain purchasing and great SEO), your best option is WordPress. WordPress hosts tens of millions of blogs and many of the world's top bloggers use WordPress.
Read How to start a blog with WordPress for a complete guide to designing a killer WordPress blog.
You might also consider the following blog platforms:
How to build a forum
Forum software is readily available but comes in a variety of flavors - commercial, free, hosted, etc.
Assuming you want the easiest solution that will work to grow traffic and start generating money, you can use one of the following solutions:
- PHPBB (free, open source forum software) with a high quality hosting service
- vBulletin - high quality, popular commercial forum software
- ProBoards - easy to use hosted forum software
You can learn more about hosted vs. self hosted Web software by reading What is the difference between Web hosting and hosted websites?
How to build a small business website
Building a small business website is something that has been done millions of times before. There are plenty of high quality website building tools and online web designers available.
Many website builders offer hosted solutions, which make life a bit easier because you don't have to find a Web hosting service - What is the difference between Web hosting and hosted websites?
Here is a list of the best Website builders rated according to their SEO (Search Engine Performance).
Choosing a website builder saves you plenty of time and effort. This time can be spent growing your business or blog. There is no longer any real need to become a Web development expert as well as an online business owner.
The only thing you need to decide is which website builder offers the best package for your specific requirements.
Check out the section on How to build a niche website for more information about custom Web development for businesses and startups.
How to build an eCommerce site (shopping cart)
An eCommerce website is a complex bit of software. It requires secure payment and transaction facilities, logging, reporting, fulfillment, sales, checkout, shopping carts, stock, tax, and a whole host of other facilities.
Unless you have a serious development team, it is not really feasible to put this together by yourself. The best way to build an eCommerce store is to use one of the existing shopping cart software solutions.
Fortunately, there are a wide range of high quality shopping carts to choose from. Some offer a range of packages from hosted, to self-hosted, to embedded - yes; it is possible to embed shopping cart solutions into existing websites.
The most important aspect of finding the right eCommerce Website solution, is understanding your own needs (i.e. how many products, what type of products, images, etc) and matching those to the packages offered by the eCommerce web platform providers listed here.
Remember that it is still possible to develop custom Websites with eCommerce features, as we'll see in the following section on niche website development.
How to build a niche website
If you have special requirements that can't be met by the various Web templates and online website builders available, then it is time to look at more powerful and flexible web development - like the one used by SME Pals.
It isn't necessary to start building a great website from scratch. Most good Web designers and developers use a CMS (Content Management System).
Most CMS are open source and free. However, you should be aware that designing and developing a website using a CMS generally requires some knowledge of CSS, HTML, and/or PHP.
All CMS systems offer extensions or modules that can be used to enhanced their functionality. For example, the Ubercart project adds complete eCommerce facilities to Drupal.
If you have no Web experience then it is likely you need to speak to an experienced Web designer.
Here is a list of the most popular CMS Web platforms in the world today.
Is you're going to opt for the control and power of a CMS then it is likely you'll also want to choose a high quality small business hosting service to go with it.
Have you recently designed and built a website, blog or eCommerce store? Share your thoughts on the various Website builders, designers, hosting services and CMS systems you used to get online and (hopefully) making money in the comments.
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The best way to start a website for beginners and businesses alike - including great, step-by-step beginners' guides.