Congratulations, you have a killer idea! Now it’s time to share it with the rest of the world by bringing it online. These days, you don’t need to know how to code or use complex design software. You can make your own website in as little as a couple of hours if you follow our five easy steps.
How to Create a Website:
- Pick a Platform
- Name Your Site
- Choose a Hosting Plan
- Customize Your Website
- Publish and Promote Your Site
Step One: Pick a Platform
There’s no shortage of website builders vying to help you create a website. However, not all are worthy of the task and some can be frustratingly counter-intuitive. Plus, who’s got time to test various platforms when you’ve got a business to run?
We’ve done your homework for you and compared a few popular platforms to help you decide which is best for your site.
One of the oldest and most widely used platforms, WordPress is mobile responsive, as are our other contenders, WIX and Mighty Networks. Being mobile responsive means that the design of your website adapts to accommodate those browsing with a mobile device. WordPress has a lot of drag and drop capability, and is somewhat user-friendly, but there is a learning curve, which is where the cons come in.
WordPress has great support if you enjoy paying for it. Other than that, there’s no official email or number to call, just volumes of support pages and forums to dig through. Also, although it touts free websites, to create one that is both beautiful and smart will require add-ons, which add up. Unfortunately, the more you add, the more code that’s required and the slower your site operates.
A few other issues to consider when choosing WordPress is that it’s an open source platform, so it gets targeted by hackers — a lot. In order to combat this, WordPress is constantly updating, but as sometimes these updates create more issues than they solve, which brings us back to the support issue.
If you aren’t a developer or IT guru, you’ll need to have one on hand to manage updates and ensure your site is up and operating without issue. In fact, there’s an entire cottage industry of companies that manage updates and customize WordPress sites because these aren’t tasks the average person is able to handle without expert help.
Our website builder is super easy, as in, if you can create your own Facebook or Instagram account, you can create your own website with Mighty Networks. Our Launch Checklist is a great quick-start guide for first-time builders that will have you ready to publish in under an hour.
Another advantage of using Mighty Networks is its focus on content. When you log on to other website platforms, their top priority is helping you make a pretty site, which is nice, but at some point, beauty has to have brains. Mighty Networks focuses on features that support the reason you’re building a site in the first place – to connect to others in meaningful ways.
Mighty Networks sites offer great customer service via a dedicated Help section with individual support for hosts and their members. There’s also a robust Resource Center with everything you need to launch your website in a step-by-step process. Other helpful items in the Resource Center include a collection of how-to articles that equip you with practical advice and actions you can take to increase traffic to your site and engage with customers.
Wix has a variety of design templates to choose from that are mobile responsive. They also offer the ability to drag and drop design elements like pictures and text boxes.
Just about every element on each template is customizable, which some may see as a great opportunity to exercise creative freedom, but can also create choice paralysis. What’s worse, too much tinkering and you may accidentally abandon the principles of good design and create a monster.
Unfortunately, Wix makes you stay married to the template you choose, so if you want another template, you’ll have to scrap your hard work and start over.
Step Two: Name That Site
When you make your own website, thinking of a great name is a lot like naming a baby–you want it to be one people respect and remember, rather than making them snicker and wonder which parent lost a bet. A good name should capture the essence of the values and distinguishing characteristics of your business idea. Ideally, you want something relatively short and not too complex to type or spell because people will have to do both in order to visit your site.
A few approaches include:
Brainstorm: Think about what makes your idea special and write down as many adjectives as you can. Next, look up synonyms for the words on your list and see if anything resonates.
Be Creative: Most single word domains are taken, but sometimes you can do a variation on a theme or combine parts of words to create a new one. Some examples of companies with combo names are Pinterest and Insperity. Houzz is an example of creative spelling that is still easy to type. Numbers and initials can also help create a short and memorable name (i.e. OneColorado, 7Eleven — which carries the added bonus of a subtle rhyme, and rhymes are great mnemonic devices). Other mnemonic devices that might help you land on a great name include alliteration (i.e. Silver Surf Shop), anagrams (Elvis = Lives), or acronyms (British Petroleum = BP).
Think Original: Resist the urge to copy the popularity of an established brand by using a part of their name to create yours. For example, when YouTube first became popular there were a lot of people that tried to name their business You(FillInTheBlank), but once people are familiar with an original everything else looks like a poor substitute.
Go International: Sometimes words and names sound infinitely cooler in another language, so think about using Google translate to discover alternate versions of words. For example, sea in English is meri in Estonian and ulwandle in Zulu.
Check It: As you gather names you love, be sure to check their availability on a domain registration site like HostGator. If the name is taken, check to see if it has a functioning website because a lot of domains that are taken are actually for sale or rent.
Ask Around: Once you have a shortlist of top contending names, do a little audience testing and ask trusted friends and family what they think about your top picks.
Get Help: If you need inspiration, we have a fun niche name generator that will make a ton of great suggestions.
Step 3: Choose a Hosting Plan
If you find a domain name that you love and it’s available, you have a few options. First, you can register it with a domain provider like iPage or Bluehost, and then choose one of their hosting plans. Typical hosting costs for a new website are around $120 a year for basic service and storage, but sometimes if you pay for multiple years in advance you can get discounts depending on the provider.
If you go beyond basic, and choose add-ons like domain protection and privacy-lock, which keep spammers from hounding you and domain pirates from stealing your domain, then you’re looking at hosting costs of up to $240 per year.
However, if you choose a platform like Mighty Networks, you won’t need to buy a hosting package because it’s provided for you. Three types of plans are offered on a monthly subscription basis and they range from Free ($0) to Brand ($16) to Business ($57). Prices at Mighty Networks are not introductory, which means you won’t run into sudden upcharges when the new year begins.
Almost all other platforms will feature an enticing introductory rate and then shift to a regular higher cost ever after. For example, a new site at Wix is around $11 to $29 a month, but increases to $20 to $35 after the first year, unless you opt to pay for two or three years in advance and then they increase after that. Wix also charges an annual domain name fee of $14.95 after the initial free first year.
Although WordPress also includes hosting in its packages, it also recommends you host your site elsewhere if you want “ultimate control over your website.” WordPress offers four monthly subscription plans: Free ($0), Personal ($5), Premium ($8), and Business ($25), but don’t forget to include an additional $10 to $20 a month for a separate hosting service.
Step 4: Customize Your Website
Now comes the fun part: dressing up your site to establish your brand’s image. Most platforms give you the ability to customize themes with your brand’s colors, logo, and images.
When you choose a Mighty Networks website, you can shape it to align with your brand’s look and voice, and engage visitors by adding a variety of embedded and interactive content, including audio files, videos, polls, and forms. We actually walk through the 52 ways to customize your Mighty Network in this video.
Easy to set up and organize, you can set the navigation links on your Mighty Network; map your domain; create a featured section to highlight important posts; and organize all content by topic so that users can quickly search, find, and follow their favorites.
When you add blogs, articles, events, or course lessons to your Mighty Networks site, you can format the text, add photos, embed videos hosted on YouTube, Vimeo, or Facebook, add Soundcloud audio embeds, include file attachments, and much more.
As mentioned in Step One, the Launch Checklist is an essential tool for creating a thoughtfully organized site. If you find that you are overflowing with great ideas for your new site, this checklist helps you tackle priorities one at a time, provides clarity in what you should and shouldn’t include, and helps keep you focused on your customer’s experience of your site.
Step 5: Publish and Promote Your Site
Once you’ve managed to tick all the boxes on the Mighty Networks Launch Checklist, and you’ve added your images and videos, it’s time to publish your site. Naturally, you will want to invite everyone to see your beautiful new business, but before you do, ask a couple of friends, one literary and one stylish, to proof your site to make sure there aren’t typos or oddly cropped images that need to be corrected before inviting a ton of folks to see for themselves.
When your proofers give you an all clear, it’s time to promote the web-wonder that is your new site. If your budget is small, start with your own social network. You’ll want to announce your new site on any network you’re currently a member of that makes sense for the audience you are trying to reach. Examples of networks where you can promote your new site to current followers for free include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Nextdoor, YouTube, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Snapchat, etc.
In addition to creating a general post or video about your new site, you should also consider using group messaging options within social networks (Facebook Messenger, Nextdoor, etc.) to send a personal invitation with a link to your new site. Mighty Networks offers the ability to invite people to your site directly via email.
Finally, if you have a budget and want to target potential customers to visit your site, Google AdWords Express can help you create web ads and target potential customers based on geographic locations, demographics, etc. Although you pay per click-through to your site, Google allows you to set a monthly maximum budget.
Create A Website Today
Mighty Networks exist to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams. We hope this article gave you the information, insights, and confidence you need to bring your brilliant idea to life on the web. Click here to create your own Mighty Networks website today.
Creating a site for your business? Learn how to create a business website.