Building a Website

Websites 101

Have you noticed that there are a lot of blogs and videos that claim to be a “Basic” or “Beginners” guide to understanding a particular topic. Yet a minute or 2 into their info, you realize that they’ve assumed you know a lot more than you actually do. They use terms or acronyms that obviously make sense to them, but they seem to have forgotten the whole premise of a “Beginner’s” guide.

In this blog we’ll look at the basic (really basic) understanding of websites. How they’re built, what they can do, and how to get one.

Website: A Concise Definition

noun: website; plural noun: websites; noun: web-site; plural noun: web-sites

  1. a set of related web pages located under a single unique domain name.”for more information, please visit our website”

Ok, lets breakdown this definition. “a set of related web pages”. Most of us have either seen or heard people on tv or radio say “for more information, please visit our website at WWW.mystuffs.com”. The WWW stands for world wide web. This is a data network or web that connects the entire world. And a website is a related group (or domain) of pages on the web. Basically if you use Safari, Chrome, Firefox, or Explorer your are a accessing the world wide web. And when you go to check the weather conditions at www.myneighborhoodweather.com, you are looking at a set of related pages (their website) in side of www.myneighborhoodweather.com.

“under a single unique domain name” Domain names are the unique location name at which a website (or a set of related web pages) can be found. A domain name usually serves 2 purposes, what you want to be called (your business name or blog name) and where you can be found on the web. For example the website you’re on right now is www.coblepartners.org. Its the name of this business, and its also my location (where to find me) on the world wide web.
Domain names must be unique so that your don’t get confused as to who’s site you’re on. That also means domain names must be registered, monitored, and purchased. And depending on the domain names it can be expensive. For example, you’re a dentist who specializes in fixing the gap between people’s front teeth, and you want a website. Naturally one of your first choices for a domain names might be GAP.com. Well I don’t think the fine folks at The Gap would part with their domain name for $15 a year. In the early years of the www before businesses started incorporating websites, enterprising individuals would buy as many popular domain names as possible, making businesses who wanted them pay a premium to get he name they need for their sites.

Luckily for us most domain names will cost somewhere around $15 a year. But you’ll have to check and see if the name you want is available. You can get a domain name from a web hosting businesses. And they tell you if your name is available. And if its not, they’ll usually give you options to similar available names. You might also find the name you want by changing the suffix on your domain name. You can choose from .com .org .net, and .biz. There’s actually a lot more, but again your web host will give you all the available choices.

How websites are built

Why is it important to understand how there are built? It becomes important when you as a consumer want to own a website. If you understand how they are built helps you understanding the value of websites and how much you should pay for a website. 

HTML and CSS: In the early days websites were built using coding languages like html. You don’t need to know what html stand for, but you did have to go to school or take classed to understand html. So the cost to build a site was expensive. It was highly specialized and time consuming. And changes we to a site had to be recoded. A simple site was in the thousands and site for big business was 10s of thousands. And html and css (another type of coding) are still being used by many businesses today. If the needs of a business required special functions or some type of customizations you might need for coding for that.

CMS: Content Management Systems. Many of the small to medium based companies and bloggers with websites are using CMS for their websites. CMS allows the focus to be on content of a site rather than coding of the site. Think of this as the difference between building a software application (html), versus using the application (CMS). CMS lowers the academic as well as the financial bar of who can own and operate a website. These sites require no coding, but can also incorporate coding if needed. They are template driven, so you may note be able to do everything you want but I’m pretty sure you can get real close. 

One the most popular CMS’s is WordPress. There are others like Joomla, and Drupal but I prefer WordPress. But all of these are similar in that they don’t require any coding, there are template based, and if you need more functionality than they offer, you can install 3rd party plugins that increase your sites capabilities. 

What Websites Do

Maybe its better to ask the question, “What do you want your website to do?”. A website at its core is content. It can be written, images, video, animated or illustrated content. That content can be used to sell products or just relay information. But as far as what they do, well, they don’t do anything. They sit and wait to be found by people. And they will find your site by one of three ways. 

#1 You tell them where your site is. Either by email, social media, a mailer, a telephone or even a post-it left on a co-workers desk. But you tell them where your site is and they type in your domain name and go to your site. This is knows as Direct Marketing. 

#2 People search for what you have in Google or Yahoo and they find your website’s content. This is called an organic search in marketing. And this is closely tied in with with SEO (search engine optimization). This is informational structure built into your site that helps search engines find you.

#3 You pay to have you site found. You pat to have your site show up on other popular sites and or at the top of search engines like Google and Yahoo. This is known as SEM or search engine marketing.

How to Make a Website

  1. Think of your domain name. Actually think of several because chances are your first choice wont be available.
  2. Choose a web hosting service. You can read my blog on Free vs Paid web hosting to figure out what you need for your site. For a traditional website you’ll have to pay a yearly fee (around $15) for your domain name, and a monthly fee (around $20 to $30) for web hosting (the server or computer that will actually hold the data that makes up your website).

Also if you want to use a CMS like WordPress make sure the web hosting plan you choose allows for WordPress or some other CMS web builder.

  1. One you get your domain name and your web hosting. Your almost there. But the next step requires you to create content for your site. Possible suggestions for content are, a home page, services, blogs, a contact us page… I think you get the picture.

Now that you have an idea of what a website is, how they’re made, and what it does, you can decide if you want to do it yourself or if you want to have someone like me walk you though it.

Let me know if you have any questions or if you want a free consultation. — CP

Partnering with you, for your small business digital marketing needs.