How to Build a WebsiteGetting a website on-line requires four things: a domain name, a website hosting account, webpages or a web template and getting the site listed in search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! The steps below outline how to setup either a personal or business website for any type of product or service. If this is your first website, Allwebco provides everything you need in one step. Browse our template selection, find a design you like, place your order and select to order with a hosting account. You can choose your domain name and hosting options during the ordering process.
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- What is a domain name?
- What is web hosting?
- How do I create the webpages?
- Web builders and web templates.
- Mobile user considerations.
- Search engines and getting listed.
- Dynamic features and shopping carts in websites.
Before You StartFor your project, consider whether you want to use a website builder, or you want to setup your site in a more traditional way using HTML webpages or a stand alone website template. In general, a website builder is best for smaller more simple websites. Standard HTML webpages, or a web template is best if you plan to build a large intricate website, with more exacting or targeted features and want to have more control over every aspect of the site.
See section below: Web Builder or Stand Alone?
Choosing a Domain Name
Your domain name choice is an important consideration. It is the address people will use to locate your website (yourwebsite.com). You may want to include your product or company name as part of the domain. In some cases using a keyword in the domain name is a good idea for better search engine ranking, however you may also want to keep you domain name short so your clients can more easily remember and type it.
Domains are a yearly fee. Do a domain name search to see what's available, or read more about domain names below. Once you have found an available domain name you are satisfied with, you can register it from the above link.
Web hosting is the space on a remote computer server that's connected to the Internet where you will place your webpages. Different hosting companies offer different features: amount of server space, web builders, dynamic scripts like calendars, contact forms, news feeds, and more. For an example you can see what is included with our Allwebco Hosting Packages by checking out the Softaculous website. These scripts are all included in your hosting control panel. Allwebco uses cPanel hosting which is a popular application offered by many other companies as well.
Web hosting is a monthly fee. Most companies offer large amounts of free hard disk space and "bandwidth" (the amount of downloads from visitors on your website including webpages, images, videos, etc). Since you will optimize your images in the webpages for web use, most websites take up very little space. As an example, our largest template is under 10 megs in size and even the smallest hosting packages include 4000 megs of disk space. You will probably never use all the space included unless you have hundreds of audio or video files uploaded. More hosting details.
Webpages are used to make your website viewable on the Internet. They are plain text files that are rendered by browser software included on all computers and mobile devices. They are easily edited with either a wysiwyg HTML editor, or you can use one of the text editors included with your computer like Notepad on Windows or TextEdit on Mac.
Stand Alone Web Templates are one option for larger more complicated sites, or if you want more control over your webpages. Another option is to use a "web builder" program. Some hosting companies include a proprietary web builder program with their hosting packages. These builders can be more limiting as far as how you can configure your website. They're good for some websites, but may not be for everyone. See Web Builder vs Stand Alone vs HTML Software below on this page.
Another option is to learn HTML and CSS coding, and/or purchase web editing software, and create your own webpages from scratch.
Optionally, if you see a web template on our site that you like, you can have it setup by a professional web developer. All of our designs are basic HTML, include step by step instructions, and can be edited using any type of software. They work with any hosting company. See template F.A.Q. for more details.
Search Engine Promotion & Optimization
Once your website is setup and ready for public viewing, you'll want to submit it to search engines, mainly by using a "sitemap.xml" file, although you can use just basic submission too. Search engine submission is a pretty straightforward process. You will want to setup accounts with Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools (Bing tools will also submit to Yahoo!). Once you have your site submitted, you'll want to integrate Google Analytics into your website for more comprehensive insights of your website performance in Google searches.
Website optimization, or SEO is the next step and is really an ongoing process. It includes editing your meta tags, adding heading tags (these are article titles used in the page copy of each webpage), and adding "alt" tags to all your images. The best SEO you can do is to have good, helpful content, related to your business, on your webpages. Search engine algorithms are very advanced and can read websites for content. Do not try to stuff a bunch of keywords on your webpages, it's better to have user friendly articles and information on your website to get the best search engine rankings.
- Optimizing Your Website (SEO)
- Submitting Your Website
- Analytics Support
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Bing & Yahoo! Webmaster Tools
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is like a street address for your website. It's a unique name you can choose that users will type into a web browser address bar to locate your website (yourwebdomain.com). You can use it on business cards and letterheads, and it can be included in Google map search results as part of the company details. If you don't have a domain name, then your website can only be found using the IP (Internet Protocol) server address, for example: "http://188.8.131.52".
A domain name can be your company name or you can use words related to your business or industry. Using a keyword related to your product or service in your domain name can sometimes help you rank a little better in search engine results. It can be up to 67 characters in length, and can only contain alpha-numeric characters. Characters such as the "&" or "<" symbols are not allowed.
Domain names include a suffix to indicate which top level domain it belongs to. A limited number of suffixes are available. Prominent domains are .com, .info, .net, .edu, and .org. Some less commonly used and specialized domain suffixes might be .cafe, .restaurant and .wedding. Other countries will use a country code top-level domain suffix like .ca (Canada), or .th (Thailand).
- Search available domain names
- Wikipedia - domain name
- List of top-level domains
- Getting started with web hosting
What is Web Hosting?
Web hosting is like the building you rent where your business is located and your office equipment is stored. Hosting companies have computer servers that are continuously connected to the Internet that offer hard disk space for users to upload their webpages to. This is referred to as "server space". Bandwidth, another feature that hosting companies offer, is the amount of downloads in megabytes or gigabytes from your website by visitors viewing your webpages and images. It's usually a monthly allotment that you can use up. In most cases, with a new website, you will not be in any danger of using up either the server space or bandwidth allotment. Hosting companies may offer amounts of disk space around 4 gigs and bandwidth of 200 gigs and up. This will allow for many hundreds of webpages and images and many thousands of visitors to your website. You can always upgrade your hosting package if your site becomes popular.
Another consideration is what types of scripts and applications are included with the hosting package in the control panel. A control panel, or cPanel, is an application you access through a web browser to control your website. You can setup and redirect your email, upload files, password protect areas, install scripts and more.
- Softaculous website applications (included in the control panel)
- cPanel hosting platform
- Allwebco hosting
- Getting started with web hosting
What are Web Templates?An HTML web template is a pre-built website that may include multiple webpages pre-formatted for common web use. It may include pages like: home, about, services, slideshows or an image gallery, videos and more. If it is a stand alone type, you will download the site to your computer hard drive, plug-in your text and images into the pre-defined design, and then upload to your hosting server space for display on the Internet. Stand alone templates are typically used by professional developers.
Another type of web template is referred to as a "web builder". Web builders are programs that you access through your web browser, using the vendor's proprietary webpage editing user interface. They allow you to edit your on-line webpages. This is a more limiting way to build a website and you do not have as much control over all design aspects of your site with a builder application.
See also section below "Web Builder vs Stand Alone vs HTML Software".
- Website builder vs stand alone web templates
- What are website templates?
- What are stand alone templates?
How HTML Works, What is HTML?HTML stands for "HyperText Markup Language". It's a computer language that allows plain text files to be rendered in web browser software, as webpages, using a standardized system of "tag" identifiers or "elements" in the markup code. This allows for the display of formatted text, as well as images, audio and video, web forms, dynamic scripts and animation, and other elements on a website. HTML is the language used by web browsers to interpret and dynamically render website pages. It is maintained by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the international community responsible for developing and maintaining web standards.
The page you are reading now is built using HTML code. HTML is edited as plain text and is not a compiled program. It's used on all websites to display custom typefaces, photos, .jpg .png and .gif images, hyperlinks to other website documents, interactive forms, and embedded dynamic elements.
More About HTML:
CSS For StylesCSS (cascading style sheets) are used to define website colors, font face and sizes, widths, heights and margins in the HTML webpages. The css file is usually a separate plain text file so it can be used to globally edit the webpage styles. Optionally css can be used directly in the HTML code (in-line css). A website or website template may use multiple css style sheets, one for the main page area, one just for the menu, one for jQuery animation, etc. For mobile compliance, Media Queries code is added to the css files to alter the webpage layout to accommodate for smaller viewing screens. (See next section.)
CSS is independent of HTML. This makes it easier to maintain a website by sharing the style sheets across pages.
More About CSS:
- HTML & CSS
- Cascading Style Sheets - Wikipedia
- CSS Introduction - w3schools
- Template file types
- Google Fonts for websites
Optimizing for Mobile
Users on mobile devices will comprise half or more of your website visitors. Websites can be specifically tailored to alter the layout, width and image sizes when viewed on a smartphones or tablets through the use of Media Queries code. This is referred to as "responsive web design" or RWD. Media Queries uses css styles to dynamically change the website layout by detecting the device screen resolution and then altering the sizes of webpage elements, including text sizes, image widths and more. It can be used to also hide non-mobile compliant webpage elements on any device.
- Choosing Responsive or a Full Site With a Mobile Version
- Media Queries Support
- CSS3 @media Rule
- Google Mobile Friendly Test
- Responsive Web Templates
- Mobile Sub-Sites
Web Builder vs Stand Alone vs HTML Software
What does this mean? Basically there are four ways to create a website. There is the traditional method, using an HTML editor and creating your webpages from scratch, or you can use a stand alone template (a downloaded pre-built website), or you can use what's called a "web builder" and update your website though the builder's proprietary browser interface program. The fourth option is to create a WordPress site, which is similar to a web builder. Each option has its pros and cons. (See also section below "Web Templates - Simplicity & Security".)
- Website builder vs stand alone web templates
- Wikipedia - website builder
- Building for small business with WordPress
- HTML editing software
Website Scripts & Dynamic Features
Dynamic "client side" applications may include image animation and slideshows, drag and drop applications, a dynamic on-click "reveal", drop down and mega menus, spinning globes, animated banners and even basic hover animation or color changes.
For more complex applications and user interaction, calendars, user forums, uploading functions, chat or live help, websites will use CGI, PHP and ASP scripts. These types of scripts are hosting executable. The executable program that creates this type of interaction must be located on the hosting server, separate from the HTML pages, or you can use a 3rd party vendor and run the script on your website through the vendor's web server.
Shopping Carts and Merchant SetupThere are many options if you want to sell goods on-line. You may want to speak to a representative from a local bank you use to see what website merchant solutions they offer.
- Paypal is without question the most popular shopping cart used on websites. It's free and easy to setup your products through their user interface. It allows for users to pay either through a Paypal account they setup, or purchases can also be made using any credit or debit card or echeck.
- 2CO is another popular and easy to use merchant solution. They offer their own shopping cart system, and additionally, their payment gateway works with carts from a large selection of vendors including osCommerce, Shopify, Zen Cart, 3Dcart, CoffeeCup, HostBill, Magento and others. They also support payments through Paypal.
Web Templates - Simplicity & Security
Stand Alone Templates: With Allwebco HTML web templates you're getting a developer grade downloaded stand alone website. Our websites are a one time fee. You can edit all colors in the global css files and add any types of applications or widgets from 3rd party vendors. Although not necessary to use our templates for your website setup, you can optionally spend some time learning HTML and CSS, and can then freely alter every aspect of the design. Allwebco sites include step by step instructions, plus comprehensive support, and the best support site in the industry. Our templates are used by both professional and novice webmasters and include a full money back guarantee.
Builders: Although web builder programs are very popular right now, they are limited as far as what types of applications you can add and how much control you have over the design. You should also consider that, with a web builder program, you will be working with a proprietary user interface and can not download a copy of your website. Another factor to consider is that, although builder programs like Wix, web.com, Weebly, Squarespace, Wordpress.com, Godaddy and others claim how easy it is to setup a website, in reality most time creating a website is spent writing your page copy and articles, and gathering and editing images. Your time may be better spent learning some of the basics of HTML and CSS code structure, rather than learning how to use a proprietary builder program and deciding later that you want to change companies requiring learning a whole new interface.
Using a Professional DeveloperIf you plan to use a developer for your website setup, it's best to search out a local company so you can meet with them in person and better outline your project requirements. To save on costs, you can have them start with a pre-built website template. Most developers will not work with web builders. For the Chicago area and suburbs go to Suburban Web Design.
Because Allwebco web templates are stand alone downloadable websites, built in basic HTML, they are flexible enough for any website setup project and are used by professional developers worldwide. They are mobile optimized and include plain text global header, footers, menus and css style sheets for colors and fonts. Our websites can be edited on PC and Mac computers and can be setup using any web hosting company.
For more help see getting started at Allwebco hosting