Questions to Ask Before You Build Your Website
You’ve decided that you want to build a website and you’re approaching the project with a great deal of enthusiasm. That’s great, but there are many questions that you’ll want to ask yourself before you get down to the task. The following guide should help to point you in the right direction and ensure that you have a clear vision in mind before starting on building a website.
What Kind of Website Should I Build?
This is such a simple, but such a critical question to ask. There are literally dozens of different kinds of websites that you can build, so it is important that you decide on the type of website before you start anything else. What do you want to accomplish with your website? What is its purpose or goal?
Deciding on the type of website is not unlike shopping for a car. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all website, just as there is no such thing as a one-size-fits all car. Someone with a large family may find that a minivan is the most appropriate vehicle for the job, but this may not be as desirable or suitable for the flashy executive who wants to show off to his neighbors. A sporty convertible might fit that bill better. Someone might want a high-powered muscle car for taking to the race track on the weekend, while someone else might want something far more fuel efficient to act as a pizza delivery car.
The same is true when choosing the type of website. Is the website for personal reasons or is it for your business? If it’s for your business, is it strictly an informative website that tells people where to find you, or is it going to act as an online store where people can buy and order products directly? Is the goal to build a community around an online forum? Is it a blog?
If you want to open an online store, turning to a tool and provider like Volusion could be a perfect fit. It has a Deal of the Day feature, it can integrate with your eBay store, and it allows for real-time customer reviews and feedback. This type of engine may not be as appropriate for a personal blog about ponies.
What Kind of Web Hosting Is Best?
Your website needs to be hosted somewhere, so you’ll need to decide on the type of web hosting that best suits your purposes. If you absolutely must have the greatest level of control over everything that has to do with your web server, then a truly private and dedicated server may be best. This is, by far, the most expensive option and it is also, by far, the most technical. It is not recommended for anyone who isn’t already familiar with all the technology involved. One step down from this is a virtual private server or VPS for short. This isn’t a true dedicated server, but you are provided with a segmented section of a full server. This may be a viable option.
Most websites, however, use what is called shared hosting. This is when several websites are stored and served from the same web server. Shared hosting is typically the least expensive option, but it has its limitations. Most shared hosting has limited bandwidth and storage, for example, and the speed of the server is dependent on all the other websites that are hosted on the same server. You are at the mercy of your web neighbors, so to speak.
And that is why cloud hosting is increasing in popularity. Companies like Squarespace and Weebly offer cloud hosting as part of their website builder packages. This provides minimal downtime, faster speeds, and theoretically infinite scalability.
Should I Have a Blog?
There are many reasons why you might want to have a blog. If you plan on building a personal website where you want to share your thoughts and opinions with friends, family members and the general public, a blog is typically one of the easiest ways to do this. You can simply and easily update with new blog posts without ever having to adapt your theme or site layout, because the blog engine does it for you.
Similarly, if you plan on building a company website where customers can get more information, having a company blog can be of great value. You can provide updates on new products, give people insights into your office, and help to grow a community around your brand. The blog can also tie in very well with your social media efforts, encouraging people to return to your site on a regular basis.
There are website builders that come with built-in blogging software. Web Hosting Hub is one such example, making it easy for you to have a blog without having to do any hard coding yourself. Blogs aren’t for everyone and they may not be appropriate for all kinds of websites, but you will want to ask yourself whether a blog should be a part of your website or not.
What E-Commerce Tools Are Available?
What if you wanted to build an online store? Doing all the coding yourself to have product listings, a functional shopping cart, discount codes, shipping tracking, and all the other features that are needed for e-commerce can be an incredibly daunting, confusing and time-consuming task. Just like blogging, through, there are tools available that make this process far easier and more straightforward.
For example, Big Commerce is a website builder that provides an all-in-one e-commerce package. Through a single web-based interface, you gain access to tons of different free site templates, as well as an online shopping cart, multiple payment processing, and trackable coupon codes. It also provides support for gift certificates and supplies powerful analytics. This is all done through an easy-to-understand step-by-step wizard that does not require any technical expertise. Volusion is another great provider and site builder in this space.
Where Can I Download Free Graphics?
A website is pretty boring if it is all straight text. You will need to invest in graphics for a site logo, for example, as well as images for the header and within each of the individual pages on your site. In sticking with legalities, it is best known to download images from other websites without their permission, so where can you download free graphics?
The good news is that many of the website builders reviewed on this site actually come with a library of graphics, icons and images that you can use freely on your website as you see fit. This can be a great starting point and then, should you choose, you can pursue other avenues for getting additional images. Freelancers, Creative Commons-licensed content and paid stock images are other ways that you can get graphics for your site.
How Do I Attract Web Traffic?
After you have decided to build a website and you’ve chosen the tools and providers that you are going to use, you’ll want to start thinking about how you want to promote your website and attract traffic to it. There is another article posted here that talks about SEO and Internet marketing that should give you more ideas about how to get more people to visit your website. This will include thinking about keywords, paying for advertising, and leveraging social media.
Now that you are ready to build a website, you should use our website builder comparison tool to decided with provider is best for your particular needs and preferences.