After we’ve settled on a basic look and feel, I’ll get to work actually developing the site.
Developed on WordPress
The vast majority of the sites I develop are on WordPress, which is the world’s largest content management system. A content management system separates design, content, and functionality. Changes to any of them can be made without reworking the others. New content or functionality will automatically inherit the design features of the rest of the site. Updating your site with fresh content will be fast and easy.
I will use best practices to build in everything you’d normally expect to see in a modern website. Some basic standard features would include:
- Your logo
- Custom color theme
- Static site pages with your content
- Easy menu navigation
- Categories to organize and find content
- Site search capability
- Blogging functionality, so you can quickly provide up-to-date information
- “About” page, which tells visitors who you are.
- “Contact” page, which gives your contact information and provides a form visitors fill out to send you an email. (Email addresses should never be shown on a website.)
- Social media links (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, etc.)
- Copyright information
- Control panel, with multiple user access
Features that are often included are:
- Maps and directions
- RSS Syndication
- Image library
- User profiles
- Online store
- Testimonial page
Don’t see what you are looking for? With over 32,000 site plugins available, I can set up just about any functionality you would want.
The most important part of any website is content. The words describing you and your mission are the most important part of the website. The more information you provide, the better. Start by pulling together brochures, email, articles, or anything else you have about you and your organization. I can then use the information in your site. If you need help writing additional content, I or my associate can provide writing services at an hourly rate.
As always, getting started is the most important part, so don’t let lack of content stop you. We can always add more content later.
Domain name and hosting account
If you have a domain already, great! I can configure it to point to your site, set up email, etc. If not, getting a domain is easy and cheap (less than $20 per year). I recommend getting a .COM domain name (.ORG if you are setting up a non-profit, religious, or charitable site). Don’t use hyphens or other punctuation in your domain name. The dot in .COM is enough.
It is convenient to use the same company for purchasing your domain as for hosting your website. The hosting company provides the server where your site is actually located (unless you want to purchase and maintain your own servers). While no company is perfect, the large shared hosting companies like Hostgator and GoDaddy, provide great quality at a low price. They also provide tools that make setting up your website easier, which keeps your costs lower.
On balance, I recommend Hostgator. I worked for HostGator in the past, and I have friends who work there. HostGator provides excellent service and support for small businesses and trains its employees well. If you click on the Hostgator ad or links on this page and purchase your hosting there, I will get a small referral commission, but you are free to use whomever you want.
I’ve used GoDaddy.com for my own domains, and they also have treated me well enough. I myself have no complaint with GoDaddy’s reliability. When I purchased my first domain, I was persuaded by the ads on TV, and since that time, I haven’t had a compelling reason to switch. GoDaddy is aimed at very simple, do-it-yourself websites. Its user interface has grown too complex, however, and I have grown weary of the constant barrage of upselling and cross-selling pitches the site makes. I have chosen not to participate in the GoDaddy referral program simply because it is not my recommendation, but I have no problem working with GoDaddy if that is who you like.
I do NOT at this time recommend 1&1 Internet. Although it was an early leader in hosting and domain names, in my opinion, it has not kept up with its competitors and is not as reliable as the others. Customer service is grudging, and the representatives seem not to be well trained.
As always, I can help you with selecting and purchasing your hosting account.
You will want to set up email accounts for your domain. If your domain is example.com, you’d want something like firstname.lastname@example.org. For most companies, email is the lifeblood of communications, so it is essential that email is always working. All the hosting providers do provide email hosting included in your hosting account, but in my opinion, Google has by far the best email service in the business. Consequently, I recommend signing up for Google Apps for Business, which uses the Gmail infrastructure.
The cost for Google Apps for Business is $5 or $10 per email account (aliases and group addresses are free). You can sign up for a free trial here. Again, if you follow the link or the ad in the sidebar, I get a small referral fee. Of course, you are free to sign up directly or to use your hosting company’s provided email service.
Most websites will take four to five weeks to develop and go live. Usually, it take about two weeks to do the initial planning and design work, a week to develop the site, and another week or two to make any adjustments. Obviously, time spent writing content or resolving hosting or domain issues would extend the time to complete.