The Ultimate Checklist for Building a Great First-Time Website

Building a website can definitely feel intimidating – unless you’re already a tech wiz, you’re probably not sure where to start, and every design you come up with feels and looks horrible.

With the right guidance, however, you can have a site up and running with minimal fuss. All you need is a plan and a detailed checklist that ensures you solve for all critical issues at the right time.

One big mistake most first-time website-builders make is trying to do too much at the same time. It doesn’t take long for them to start feeling overwhelmed. Once that happens, things begin to fall through the cracks.

Here are 6 things you need to get your very own site up and running in no time.

#1. Your Domain Name

A domain name is your address on the internet. People will use your domain name to find, visit and connect with your online home. Deciding on what your domain name will be, and then getting one, are the first things you need to do when creating your website.

A domain name will cost you between $10 – $20, depending on the top-level domain you choose., GoDaddy, and NameCheap are some of the popular platforms where you can buy and register your domain name. Personally, I’m a big fan of GoDaddy for the easy domain management and NameCheap for the free WHOIS guard feature.

You might need to make several attempts to find the perfect domain – after all, there are so many websites online that you’ll find many of your ideas are already taken. Keep searching until you find one that works for you!


#2. Choose a Website Builder

Next, you need to pick a website builder software for building your website. You can decide to code your website from scratch, but it is easier to use one of the many web builders out there – Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress.

Your choice of builder software will depend on your skill level and the sort of features you want on your website. Some website builders such as Webpage Scientist are much easier for beginners.


#3. Website Hosting

Your website host is the place where all the content is stored. It is a server that is accessible over the internet for visitors to reach your site 24/7. You can host either through the platform you bought your domain name from or through the website builder. Most website builder software also allows you host the instant you are done with the design of your creative assets.

Your hosting cost increases as more people visit your site. The increased cost happens because you need to move from a basic hosting service to more advanced hosting services that can handle the increase in traffic to your site. Make sure you’re paying attention to loading speeds on your site – if people are complaining that it’s too slow, the amount of traffic you’re getting could mean it’s time to upgrade your host.


#4. Pick a Website Template

Creating a custom website design can be an expensive venture for a first-timer. It is smarter to pick a template off your website builder software and run with it. You can always upgrade once you have daily site visitors and have gathered data on the sort of user experience that will keep them glued to your webpages.

Most of the popular website builders mentioned earlier have loads of professionally designed templates that will work for any website you are building.

Some templates are free while others cost a small fee. Decide on your budget before you go in – if you decide to spend a bit on a unique website design, that is the best option. However, starting out with a customized template is also smart until you build up some regular traffic.


#5. Design Your Logo

Your logo is the first step towards creating a brand identity for your business and website. You can hire a graphic designer to design the logo. While it can be expensive, you end up with a professional-looking brand identity. However, if you have a limited budget, you can use a free or paid logo generator online. The paid options are still more affordable than a professional graphic designer. When you’re just starting out, it’s hard to find the cash to pay creatives – but doing so will give you a jump-start in your industry by painting your brand as serious, professional and trustworthy.

That being said, if you have some design chops or basic Photoshop or Adobe Corel Draw skills, you can quickly knock together a logo for yourself – for free! Exercise your artistic skills and see what you can come up with. After all, you know your brand best – you might be the best person to create its visual identity.


#6. Write Your Content

If you’re acquainted with search engine optimization (SEO), you’ll know that amazing website copy and content is key to getting your site ranking high on search results. Google favors original, interesting content – so be sure to write from scratch and never copy and paste from other websites. There are a couple of reasons why you’ll need SEO to lead your business so add it on your marketing strategy!

If you want to capture a lot of monthly website visitors, you’ll need captivating copy on your website’s homepage. If you can, enlist a professional copywriter to do this for you – they know exactly the words to use and how to format them. If you’re running an e-commerce store, maximize your sales by getting a sales copywriter to write your product pages for you.

Of course, hiring writers can be costly. But, if you’re serious about starting your brand right, it’s a good idea to get your website content written by the pros.


The Bottom Line

A lot of first-time websites can be built using the above checklist. It can feel like you have a million things to do, but when you break it down, you can make a super-simple and easy to follow plan.

Keep on track with your plan and checklist, and you can create an amazing site with ease. Remember that no amazing website is built entirely by one person alone – bringing in specialists to help craft your site is a great idea.

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Madalin Tudose

A web developer with a crush on SEO. Having my skin in the game of website development and digital marketing for more than 10 years already, you might consider me an expert. At least this is what people call me. Honestly, I HATE that term. I prefer to describe myself as a person who takes action and risks. I test every hypothesis, document every step of the process, and implement what works.