Web development and web design are complex subjects that involve experience in coding, graphic design, and can often take weeks to months on an intensive project.
For the laymen who are trying to build a website in an afternoon or weekend, however, that amount of time and experience just isn’t feasible.
Launching a website for your small business, organization, or even sole proprietorship is an important part of marketing and outreach. Customers and members of your audience will need to access your content, possibly make purchases, and find contact information that will hopefully lead to more growth.
If you’re trying to build a website and only have about 5 hours to do so, there are a surprisingly large number of companies willing to help you out with that. With no experience and no background informations, here’s how you get a website open for business in just a few hours:
Before we get into the various services that will help you get a website online, we’ll need to go over a few terms you’ll need to be familiar with so that you choose the right service and don’t run into future problems with the host or program you’ve picked.
There are three major considerations to make when launching a website: owning the domain, hosting the site, and building the site itself.
Building the website is usually the first step. Website owners will either code, or in our case, utilize templates and simple software to get their website working and operating as they please. Think of your website as furniture, books, tables and the other things that fill a house. Once the website has been built, it’ll need a home and an address.
Web hosting acts as the home for the content you’ve created-storing your website on servers and waiting for the customers to ask for access. Web hosts offer a variety of services that help your website run smoothly and stay available for as long as possible.
Finally, the website’s domain is the URL address through which others can access your site. You’ll need to purchase a domain and set it up with your web host so that customers will reach the site once the right domain has been entered into the address bar.
Keeping all of this in mind is going to be quite helpful for the next steps we’ll need to take.
Next, we’ll need to find a website builder that can suit our needs. Many websites online are coded, but others rely on platforms like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and others which power them.
While there’s tremendous value in coding your own website, learning how to do so in 5 hours isn’t exactly feasible. That’s why you need to find the right platform for you. Do some quick research on the requirements you need for your website, and what kind of features you need either now or in the months to come.
Different platforms also have different reputations. Squarespace, for instance, is known to be simplest for newer website owners, while WordPress is known for versatility and functionality. These platforms also range in quality of course, but the other thing to keep in mind (especially in a time crunch) is how quickly these platforms can get your site online.
Many platforms offer a host of services, like website-building, domain purchasing, and web hosting. These platforms will incentivize customers that utilize all three of these tenants of a website and try to keep things simple for the end-user by doing much of the back-end work without requiring much from the customer.
This consolidation does typically come as the cost of customization and features, so if you’re trying to build a site for the long haul, be especially careful about these all-in-one services.
Many web hosts, for example, know people want to use WordPress, so they offer tailored WordPress hosting that’s specifically for WordPress sites. This process may give you more customization and room to grow for just a hair more effort.
Templates & Themes
Now that we have a general idea of what we need to do to get our website up and running, let’s get into the work of making the website itself.
Most website creation platforms have their own “website builders” that feature drag-and-drop style setup. While you could easily spend days going through the customization process, it might be simpler in this case to go with a template or theme.
Templates and themes are a fundamental aspect of a website builder. These are ready-made websites that only need a few tweaks with your content to go live. Think of them as modular homes for your site’s content. Simply purchase or use the template, fill in your information, and move onto web hosting and domain purchasing.
One of the most important things to look out for in a template is compatibility with mobile devices. With so many people accessing websites on their phones, building a site that reads just as easily on a desktop as it does a smart device is crucial.
While there is a loss of customization with this approach, building a mobile responsive website from a template is far easier than going it alone-especially without much experience in this field.
Once everything’s been locked down, it’s time to configure your website and get it online. You may need to pay for a pre-designed theme or for the ability to export your website to a web host, but either way, get to a position where your site is ready to be given a domain and hosted on another site.
Purchasing a domain is perhaps the simplest step in the process. Simply find a reputable place online that sells domains and find one that’s right for your site. Or, purchase one through a web host or website builder.
Finally, get your website and domain information over to the web host, pay for hosting, and show your new website off to the world.