by Sabrina Stein

If you want to sell a great product or service these days - or simply share your creative project or thoughts with the world, there's one thing you can't get around: your own website. Whether it's business, volunteer or private - in most cases you can reach more potential customers, users, readers or fans via the Internet than via other means, such as print advertising.

But a website, blog or online store should in no case be created and published in a rash and hasty manner - because this requires a certain strategic and content planning! Even before your own website can be launched, there are some considerations and fundamental decisions to be made.

In a few steps to your own website - part 1/3

Which elements do I basically need to build my own page and where do I find them? How do I proceed with the page creation? Which contents are absolutely necessary? How can I impress potential users?

This three-part blog article will provide information about these points. The first part will be a first introduction to the topic and will serve as a guide for you if you already know what you want to show the world about yourself, but so far don't have a clue how to use elements like WordPress, domains, web hosting and co. to publish your site - or maybe even just asked yourself: "Word-what?". In the second part, we will go into more detail about the content design of the site, the strategic thinking behind it, and some legal aspects. The third part will give you step-by-step instructions using a practical example, so you can easily get started afterwards.

What components are necessary for a functional website?

To get a website up and running, you basically need four crucial elements:

  1. the website itself - i.e. initially an appropriate basic framework and then, of course, the content that is to appear on the page or blog. The page is created with the help of a certain program (e.g. a content management system) and filled with various contents (texts, images, videos, etc.).
  2. a domain - i.e. the Internet or website address with which the page can be accessed
  3. a web hosting plan, which secures space on a server and at the same time provides access to the website
  4. for the transfer of the basic system and content, in addition, software for data transfer (e.g. FileZilla) by means of transfer protocol (e.g. FTP) is often useful or partly necessary.

Below, as well as in the next articles, we will explain these elements in detail, as well as the decisions to be made for each component.

Blog, website or forum? Or better yet, an online store?

Before you can even create a website, you first need to know what form of website makes sense and is promising for you and your project.

A typical website makes sense whenever you want to publish yourself and your services as well as the most important information about your company/organization - but do not regularly add new content and articles.

If you want to regularly publish new articles on one or more specific topics in which you want to convey your opinion or in-depth knowledge on a topic - and a chronological arrangement makes sense here, then a blog is the right choice for you! The individual articles are then assigned to different categories, so that you as a user can also display only the amounts of a certain category if required.

Of course, you can also combine website and blog and thus benefit from the advantages of both variants at the same time. With a blog as part of the website, for example, you can position yourself as an expert in the industry and regularly publish interesting articles. This in turn brings the advantage that the search engine Google recognizes that one offers a lot of content (i.e. content) on the website and that it is therefore also regularly updated - a plus point for the ranking in the search engine!

A website in the form of a forum always makes sense if its main purpose is to allow users to exchange information with each other on a certain topic, but the visual impression is rather subordinate.

If you have your own products that you would like to sell to customers, an online store makes sense for reasons of clarity alone - especially if there are a large number of products that can be presented well visually. An online store also enables a comprehensible and ideally user-friendly handling of the ordering process.

Use content management system or program it yourself?

Creating your own website has become very easy nowadays thanks to so-called content management systems (CMS) such as Wordpress and Co.

A content management system is used to enter and manage the content of one's own website. It provides a user-friendly interface that makes it possible to arrange website elements without having to have in-depth programming knowledge. In these programs, for example, it is possible to select how the website content is displayed. The editor of the site - i.e. you or your employees - then enter the texts in the CMS and do not have to insert them in the HTML source code at the appropriate place with the appropriate commands. The CMS is usually located on a server - together with the data of your website. But more about that later!

With a CMS, however, you are limited in the design in a certain way - that is, you can only design the page within the framework of the elements and designs available for the CMS. However, this can be quite a lot. Thanks to numerous "themes" - for example in Wordpress - there are usually hardly any limits to creativity here.

In addition to WordPress, there are still relatively many other CMS programs. Which system you should choose depends, among other things, on the type or form of the website you have chosen. Although there are systems with which you can basically create all the mentioned "formats" - but of course all CMS have their own special advantages.

If you want to choose an appropriate program, you must also be able to assess your own skills and requirements well in advance - because not every CMS offers the same possibilities. Some may be more user-friendly, but offer less flexibility in design and vice versa. Careful research in this regard is therefore absolutely sensible.

For example, there are crucial differences between the well-known CMS Typo3 and WordPress. Here, one should always select according to one's own competencies or those to be covered by others and also not disregard security aspects! WordPress, for example, is relatively easy to use - but if you have no programming skills, it can only be adapted to your own needs to a limited extent. With TYPO3 it looks different. Here you need deeper technical knowledge, but you also have much more creative freedom. Other well-known CMS are Contenido, Drupal, Joomla and openCMS. Here, too, we recommend that you compare extensively in advance!

If you want to publish an online store, you should rather use so-called store systems like Shopware, Oxid or Magento. Also for internet forums there are special systems like phpBB. As you can see - there is already a suitable solution for many things!

One aspect that should also be taken into account when choosing is whether or not it is open source software and how extensive and professional the support for the system used is - because in case of doubt, you will be dependent on it.

Open source offers the advantage that a large community is familiar with the program and the user is therefore not only dependent on a particular company, which knows about the exact functioning of the program. Thus, one can quickly find help in various forums.

If you want to be completely free with the design, you have to do the work of programming the website yourself or have this done by a corresponding professional - this is significantly more elaborate, but also promises more individual results.

The suitable domain

A good domain (the address that the user enters in the browser) is memorable and fits perfectly with the theme of your website. In addition, it should not be unnecessarily long - because this would negatively affect the memorability. You should also avoid subdomains if possible.

To explain: Many free hosting variants or domains, which you receive free of charge from your Internet provider, have a decisive disadvantage: You do not receive a completely own domain name - your own name is only a part of the complete domain. Your URL would therefore have the following structure: yourname.providername.com.

This brings a few disadvantages with it: On the one hand, such internet addresses are not particularly easy to remember - on the other hand, it simply doesn't make a good impression if you don't have an independent URL with your own company. Also for SEO reasons (if you want to be as high as possible on Google) an independent domain makes absolute sense. Such a domain often costs less than 1 € per month - so it is an expense which is at least bearable for companies.

Often you will find on the websites of hosting providers the possibility to test whether your desired domain would be available and how much you would pay for it. Just have a look around in this regard - for example here: https://www.keyweb.de/de/produkte/domain/

The server - the "home" of your website

Of course, your website must also be stored in a fixed location so that it can be accessed at any time via the named domain. This is linked to a fixed IP address, which is thus "dialed" by the user.

Therefore, a server with such a fixed IP address and a very good and secure Internet connection around the clock is necessary as a storage location - because the user must be able to access the page at any time and load it quickly and does not want to find any error messages instead of the page.

All these reasons speak in favor of looking for a hosting company and renting a web space in their data center, where your website can reside safely. You do this by booking a "web hosting tariff". This often already includes the aforementioned domain, access to transfer your website data (FTP), sufficient storage space and supports various content management systems. When choosing a web space and server tariff, it is always a good idea to check to what extent it supports or is suitable for CMS and store hosting. In case of doubt, a conversation with the corresponding customer support is informative.

To transfer the contents of the website to the server, you often need an FTP program. You will receive the access data for this from the hosting company where the corresponding server is located. You will usually receive them at the beginning of your hosting contract with all the relevant information.

There are server administration tools which simplify the time-consuming process of uploading website content to the server for the user - so this can be done with a mouse click within the administration program. How this can look exemplary, you will learn in the third blog article of this series.

If a relatively large number of users are expected to access the website at the same time - as can happen relatively quickly with a store system, for example - it is worth considering using a dedicated server for your own site. This is a physically independent server, which not only offers more access and management options, but also provides significantly more guaranteed computing power.

So, now you have first of all the most important basic information necessary to make the relevant preliminary considerations.

In the second part, we will go into more detail about what you should consider regarding the content creation of the website. Also, a few legal aspects will be explained in more detail here - as well as the need for SSL certificates.


If you would like us to include specific issues in the next parts, please feel free to let us know via our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/keywebag/ or by email kommunikation@keyweb.de.

We hope the article was helpful for you and you got one step closer to your own website through this.

Kind regards

The Keyweb AG


Notice:

Please note that the article has been formulated for the German-speaking area or for the country Germany. Legal regulations and other aspects may differ accordingly from those in your country.