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How to Start a Website

Getting a website can often seem like a daunting task. What do I need? Where do I start? How in the world do I get from wanting a website to actually having one online? We understand that the process can seem like a mystery and most people don't know where to start. Luckily, you've got an ally in us. Clever specializes in helping real people like you from "Where do I start?" to "Boy, that was easy!" in no time flat.

We can take you through the entire process step by step in terms you understand or you can have us do all the work for you so you can focus on what you do best while we get our hands dirty with the technical stuff.

What do I need to get started?

The first thing you'll need is a domain name and web hosting. You can purchase these yourself or you can ask us to help you set these up which we do free for all of our clients.

Domain names are basically the name of your website and the address people will type into their web browser to view it. An example of a domain name is "www.google.com" or just "google.com". Domain names are very affordable and you can get them from a company called a registrar. We use and recommend Namecheap.com or Google's Domain service for purchasing domains. The average price of a domain is about $10.

Web hosting is a service that you can purchase alongside your domain name that gives you a place to "put" your website. Your registrar will let you own a domain name and your web host is responsible for making sure your domain name is connected to an actual website. A good web host will cost around $20 monthly and we can help you choose and set up a web hosting account, a service we offer free for our clients.

How to set up a website

This step can be the most confusing because there's no right way to do it. There are a lot of options for getting a site online but here we'll go over just the ones that are best suited to anyone reading this article. Generally speaking, you can either choose to get a custom website designed and built just for your business or you can opt for a ready-made one using a template.

Custom websites are designed and built from scratch to suit your exact needs. If you decide you want a custom website then there's no limit to what sort of design or functionality it can have. The sites we build are based on Wordpress which means you'll be able to log in and update the content, add or remove pages, and a lot more without any technical knowledge.

Custom websites are best for when you want to stand out from your competitors and ensure that your site design is one that no one else is using. The price is a bit higher than template based sites but you'll also have no restrictions on what you can do with them. You should choose a custom website if:

  • Having a one-of-a-kind design is important to you
  • You require your site to have functionality that's specific to your business
  • You plan to use your website to generate leads or sales regardless of whether your business is online or has a physical location

Template based websites are pre-made websites that require you to fill in your own information in certain places to make it your own. Both template-based and custom websites allow you to edit your own site without any technical knowledge but a templated website may require you to format your content in a certain way for it to look the way it does in the preview that's often given. These types of sites usually have a spot for you to add a logo, two to three different page styles, and a handful of other options to let you replace the template data with your own.

Template based sites are best for when you want a website but don't plan to use for much more than listing your contact information and a few other basics about your business. If you're budget is constrained then you may also want to choose a template based site.

What is a fair price for a website?

If you hire a designer to create a custom site for you the price should never be less than $1,000. That may seem like a lot of money but there's a lot of skill, talent, and training that goes into creating a website. If this is out of your price range then you should consider a template-based website instead. One thing we know and many of our clients have had to learn the hard way is that anyone who charges less than $1,000 for a custom website is someone you should run from. The cost of fixing their work ends up being more than what you may have paid for a professional to do the job right the first time.

If you choose a template based website instead then you can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $50 monthly. Companies like Clever will often host a template based website for you for a nominal fee ($5 - $20 monthly). If you'd like someone to set up your template based site for you a fair fee is between $50 to $90 per hour. At Clever we charge a flat fee starting at $300 for website setups based on the complexity and size of your site and the template you choose.

What information or pages should I have on my site?

The first thing you need to do is decide what it is you want to say. Obviously you want your site to be about your business and of course it has to look beautiful and professional but what is your main message to your customers?

Deciding on a message can be surprisingly simple. Imagine a customer calls your office or walks into your store and asks "What do you sell and how can it help me"? The answer to that question is your message. For example, if you were a mechanic running an auto repair shop you would want to explain to the customer that you were a full service auto repair and maintenance shop specializing in foreign cars. You might also go on to let the customer know about any certifications your employees have and any awards you've received or organizations you're a part of. That simple one or two sentence explanation lets the customer know what you do and why they should shop with you while setting the tone for the rest of the conversation.

Pro tip: Too often business owners try to appeal to everyone and end up attracting no one when deciding on the message for their website. Your website will be far more successful if you're specific with your message and create content for your target audience instead of trying to appeal to everyone.

Once you've set the tone for your site the rest is a matter of putting yourself in your target customer's shoes and choosing the topics and information they want to know. Part of our job here at Clever is to help you through this process. Based on some questions we'll determine what content you'll need to start with and even write professional copy for you.

Next steps

Hopefully you have a better understanding of where to start when you've decided its time to start a new website. If you're reading this page then it's likely you probably want some help through this process. The next thing you should do is pick up the phone and call us or contact us by email and we'll help you get started on your website right away.