HOMEPAGE IS WHERE THE HEART IS
Create your first website by following these five simple steps
SETTING UP A WEBSITE CAN BE daunting. Googling it will turn up dozens of guides, most of which will leave you with more questions than answers. Where do you get a domain name? Do you need a web server? How much bandwidth? It’s easy to get confused.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, though. Follow our simple steps to get your website live on the internet.
Aim to make your website look as professional as possible. This means you should probably get your own domain name. A domain name such as mybiz.co.za just looks a lot more legit than mybiz.xyzfreeweb.com.
A domain name should cost you around R100 a year, although most internet service providers will gladly register your domain name for free if you are already paying them to host your website.
You’ll want a professional-looking layout. You could go and hire a web designer, though that could become costly. A better option if you’re just starting out is to look at various free web services, such as WordPress, Wix or Squarespace, which include dozens of good-looking templates to get you going.
Keep your content short and to the point. A few well-expressed ideas are always better than dozens of long, wordy ramblings. Get a colleague or friend to read your text to make sure there are no errors and that it makes sense. Put all your most important information as high as possible on your web page, so visitors are less likely to miss it. It is also good to keep this visual flow in mind when you’re choosing a template for your web page.
Images are what attract and hold a visitor’s eye, so don’t just grab the first picture you find. If you want to showcase your products, get some high-quality shots taken.
Also important: Photos can always be scaled down on your site, but you don’t want to enlarge them, because they will become grainy. Make sure you start with large images (at least 1 000 pixels wide). There are lots of tools available to crop them during the design process, and that way, you can also pick exactly which part of the image visitors will focus on.
When choosing the design for your site, remember that there’s a good chance most of your visitors will be looking at it on a mobile phone or tablet. Make sure your site looks good on smaller devices too. 60% of all web traffic in SA comes from mobile devices.
There’s no point in building your website to rival a multinational corporation’s if it doesn’t at the very least work properly. Focus on a single, quality homepage to start. Make sure that visitors to the site can easily understand exactly what your product or service is, and how to get hold of you. Rather add new website features over time as your enterprise expands.
For the vast majority of first-time website builders, a service such as WordPress is a great starting point. With dozens of free and paid-for templates, finding one that suits your business will be easy. Visit wordpress.com and click on Get Started to, well, get started.
Follow the steps for describing your site, picking the type of site you’d like to create, picking your theme (this can be changed later, so don’t worry excessively at this stage), and then choosing a name for your site. This will be used as your website’s address (such as mybiz.wordpress.com) until you decide to move up to buying your own domain name.
As soon as you’ve created your account, you will be able to log in and change the look of your site in the Appearance section. You might want to change your cover photo, for example.
Next, replace all the placeholder text with your own. Concentrate on building one or two pages. If you’d like to publish a lot of new content on a regular basis, it’s best to make use of Posts to help you produce the optimal blog-style content.
Once you’re happy with the look and feel of your site, you should ask your Internet Service Provider about how to go about connecting it to your mybiz.co.za domain name
Congratulations, entrepreneur! Your very first website is now up and running.
For the majority of first-time site builders, a service such as WordPress will be a great starting point.
MANAGING YOUR SITE
You can check to see if a domain name is available.
Use the built-in WordPress tools to measure four things:
- Pageviews: Total number of web pages on your site viewed by visitors
- Unique browsers: Number of individual visitors your site has had
- Bounce rate: Percentage of visitors who arrive at your site and leave immediately.
- Sessions: Every time a user visits your website and clicks around, that’s a session.