You have a great new idea for a website, and can’t wait to get started. I know the feeling – it’s exciting isn’t it! As with anything else, a little bit of planning and foresight at the beginning of a project can help save you considerable stress down the road. Use the 9 steps within this blog post as your guide to building a successful website.

1. Define the purpose and goals of the website

You have that great website idea. Take a moment and clarify that idea a little bit more. Who is target person you want to visit your site? What content is needed to attract your target to your website? Are you going to sell products, or is it just an informational website? What are the goals for the website and how will you deem the website a success once you have it built? What functionality is needed to make those goals a reality?

2. Do your research. Learn from other websites

Now that you’ve defined your website purpose and goals, find good websites to review. For example, if you’re selling something on your website, visit the top ecommerce sites online. Go to Amazon.com, or Buy.com. What makes these best in class websites good? What can you learn from their process and purchase path? Another example – say you are a lawyer in Utah that needs a website. Go to Google and search for websites from lawyers in other markets. Make notes about the things you like and dislike. Try to figure out what elements appeal to you about the sites that you’ve seen.

3. Map out your user experience

Now that you’ve done your research, put together a simple map on paper of your future website. Sketch out the different pages. What content or pictures will be on each page? How will your visitors navigate the site and find other information? What functionality is needed to make this map a reality and meet your goals?

4. Find the best website hosting provider

There is a saying in the web hosting industry: There is no perfect web host, just the best web host for you. Now that you’ve defined your needs, you can find that best website hosting provider. Don’t make the mistake of using a free web host. If you’re tempted to do this, make sure you read blog post How to Choose the Right Website Hosting. But most importantly, read the website hosting reviews at http://website-hosting-reviews.net and you’ll be on the right track to finding a great web host worthy of your new website.

5. Choose and register a great domain

A domain name is simply the web address for your website. For example, website-hosting-reviews.net is the domain name for this site. Choosing a great domain name is important for the success of your website. Read the blog entry How to Choose a Great Domain Name with Google’s Help, which will put you on the path to choosing that great domain name.

Make sure the domain is registered in your name. This is important. Some dodgy web hosting providers will register your domain in their name, which means they have legal rights over your web address (hosting providers reviewed in http://website-hosting-reviews.net don’t follow this practice). This traps you into continuing to use that web host in the future as you can’t transfer the domain name away. To leave the shady web host you’d have to get a new domain to use for your site. If you’ve invested time and money in marketing your website this can be disastrous.

On a similar note, if you choose to use a 3rd party to build your website you should personally buy the hosting package. The majority of hosting packages come with a free domain now days. If you have the person who is building your website buy your hosting, they may put the domain in their name. The web designer may not have negative intent when they do this. Some web hosting purchase paths will register the domain under the person’s credit card billing information. So if the web designer buys the hosting and then invoices you for it, the domain may be registered in their name. This may cause problems down the road if you ever have issues with the person who built your website as they will have legal rights to your domain name.

6. Make a project plan

Building a website can take longer than originally anticipated. However, if you take the time to map out all the steps in the project chances are you‘ll get it launched faster than you would have otherwise. A project plan can help you realize dependencies between tasks. It also helps you figure out what tasks should be started first as they’ll take the longest and may need to be completed before other tasks can be started.

7. Build your dream website

Now get started and build that dream website! Just to caution you – there’s going to be a point when you run into a roadblock you didn’t anticipate. Don’t worry. Every web development project has issues. Just don’t give up. The web has some great information on any seemingly arcane issue. Use Google search to help you find solutions. Also, leverage your web host’s online FAQ’s and forums. If you signed up for a web host with excellent phone service give them a call. A big issue to you may be no big deal to them as they’ve solved similar problems numerous times in the past.

Remember you don’t have to build it all at once. Build what is needed to give your visitors a good customer experience. You can add more functionality later. A great example is my brother’s business website http://stgeorgevacationrentals.com. His first website had a phone number where his customers could call to make reservations. After a couple of years he added the ability to book a condo online, which was a sizeable project. Rather than waiting to launch his website with all the functionality, he got his website up with a good, but minimal customer experience and continually improved from there. This is a good website practice. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do everything at once.

8. Learn web analytics. Test & learn

If you’re ready to implement web analytics tools, that means your site is up and running. Congratulations! Google has excellent tools to figure out how much traffic you’re getting, where it’s coming from, and how long they’re staying on your site among other KPI’s (key performance indicators). Plus, the Google tools are free and easy to implement. Click on “Business Solutions” on Google’s main page, and then click on “Analytics”.

You should also figure out how to use your host’s traffic analytic tools. Some hosting companies have good traffic tools with tons of information. In general I think Google’s tools are easier to use and more intuitive. Use the traffic information to test & learn your way to a more effective website. What copy helps increase conversions? Are your visitors able to find your call to action? Etc., etc.

9. Market your website

Sorry Kevin Costner, “If you build it they will come” is not applicable to websites. Don’t underestimate the effort it takes to market you website. People just aren’t going to show up once you’ve launched your site. I plan to do a full blog on marketing your website in the future. For now, here are some easy ideas:

• Include your web address on your business card
• Use an email address with your domain (i.e., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
• Sign your business website up in free local search (see http://getlisted.org)
•Learn all about search engine optimization
• Start a blog at your website
• Pay for advertising using Google Adwords

Author: This Article was written by a web hosting expert at http://www.website-hosting-reviews.net. Website-Hosting-Reviews review website hosting providers to help you find the best host to meet your website needs.

 

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