There's a lot that goes into building a website for yourself or your business. You may have thought getting that site up was hard, but just use these simple tools and you'll be a website wizard before you know it. A big part of kickstarting America is making sure you have the tools you need to make getting online easier.

GETTING STARTED

Many people begin the process of getting online by deciding the web address they want to use. Coming up with the right name is important. You want to make it easy-to-remember and relevant. This is your identity in the virtual world. Make it something you're proud of.

http://

The hypertext prefix for any address. This calls your site to a browser.

www.

This is the sub domain. www stands for world wide web. other subdomains might be mail or blog.

yourname

Your web address sometimes referred to as your domain name.

.us

The stuff after the dot is called the top level domain. Together with your domain this is your domain name.

Laptop

Why is a name important?

Your name or your company name might be the first choice for your new home on the web. First things first, check that name in a Google search to see if it brings up any competitors or sites that you don’t want to be associated with.

Choosing your name

Here’s details to consider when choosing your web address, or domain name. This video from the Web team at about.com is a great overview of how to chose a name.

Video: How to choose a domain name

Tips for a great name

When a name becomes your web address, it can become even more memorable than your company name. Read this article on branding with your URL to make smart choices and avoid common pitfalls.

Article: Tips for good domain names

A checklist for your new site

From your name, to your plan and marketing ideas — this checklist tallies up all the top line steps to getting started. Easily get a grasp of the big picture — it’s far simpler than you might think.

Checklist: Start a new website

PLAN, DESIGN AND BUILD

You’ve seen the checklist for planning your site, now you can consider the design and build. The options range from learning code and building a new site yourself, to hiring a professional to build it for you. In the middle there are a lot of great free tools to get you up and running. This section will show you where to find useful tools, and the related pros and cons.

Tools

Follow these handy tips to find the right
tools for your new endeavor

Start by considering the time and effort you will be able to contribute in order to keep up with your website.

See what it takes to design and build your website with this comparison chart of a selection of your offerings.

Hire a professional Pros Cons Cost Resource

Get a custom built site

A professional design and development team will create a design to your liking, and custom code it. If you take this avenue, make sure the site can be easily updated by you.

Customized Design

Can be expensive

Varies depending on complexity, but you can find estimates

Article: Hire a designer.
lifehack.org

Article: Hire a designer.
about.com

Article: Hire a designer.
yola.com

D.I.Y Beginner Level Pros Cons Cost Resource

Save some money and learn the ropes

Many registrars offer you a complete site builder kit when you reserve or purchase your domain name. There are plenty of free template sites available.

Easy to use

Less customized, what you see is what you get

Free to minimal monthly fees

Templates:
Intuit.com

Templates:
webs.com

Templates:
wix.com

Templates:
yola.com

Templates:
site builder tool
networksolutions.com

D.I.Y Advanced Level Pros Cons Cost Resource

Takes more time and some templates are not free

Many people think Wordpress is just for blogs, but it's also another great resource for website templates and tools. You can browse the most popular themes and the site does a good job of guiding you through the process.

Advanced.

Professional apperance.

Online help.

Can be more time intensive than easier templates.

Need a basic knowledge of code.

Free to moderate one time template purchase price.

Site themes:
wordpress.com

Wordpress Tutorial:
vimeo.com

10 important tips to consider

From a clear description of ‘who you are’ to easy-to-find contact information, there are a some basics to consider when you are putting your site together. Read Entrepreneur’s ten tips to make your webpage really standout.

Article: Ten Tips to make your Webpage Standout

Creating the right content

Learn how to put the right information on your site to make sure your customers get the whole picture. You’ll discover how to tell your story and make it fresh. Also learn the best way to make content friendly for online viewing.

 

Article: Best Practices for Small Business Sites

Some good website examples

Take a look at what’s out there. This gallery will give you a good overview of some of the best looking and most effective small business websites.

Gallery: Effective small business websites

PUBLISH, MAINTAIN, ENHANCE

Maybe by now you have a domain. Maybe your site is even live on the web. Now how do you take advantage of this great new opportunity to connect with your visitors, customers or even fans?

Advertise

Do you have traffic to your site? Maybe you can offer them additional value by teaming up with some advertisers you know they will be interested in. This is a win-win scenario if your visitors like the ads, and you get paid every time the ads are clicked.

Article: Google Ad Sense works to send people to your site

Measure

Learn if you do have traffic to your site - and what types of traffic you are getting. Outside of contact information and feedback forms, you can create monthly of even daily reports that detail when and where your visitors are coming from.

Tool: Google Analytics for your site