You can now go from an idea to a fully operational website within just a couple of hours. It’s pretty unbelievable how fast efficient a lot of today’s website builders are and so there’s really no longer an excuse not to have a website with your own hosted domain. Maybe some people will disagree with me, but I really don’t believe that an Instagram or Facebook page is enough for business, I really believe that you need a proper website.
Allan Dib explains in The 1-page Marketing Plan that the goal of a website is to first attract prospects so to say people who were otherwise not aware of your products to your site. You want to build up their trust over time to then convert those prospects into leads. At this point, they actually know you and they are interested in your products. Your goal is then to convert those leads into customers and get as many sales as you can. In that context, your website is really a reflection of your business, so it needs to look professional and show a bit of your business’ personality.
Thankfully, you no longer need to understand how to code or the minutiae of HTML language to make a fully functional website.
This post is not just in the abstract, everything mentioned here is what I actually use, and is actually being used for this site. Having played around with a couple different of setups, I’m rather satisfied with my current one, so hopefully you’ll be able to benefit from it as well. Briefly, and I will go over each of these in greater depth: I host my website using Hostpapa; I register my domains using Namecheap; my website is built on the WordPress.org platform; I use the Divi builder and Divi theme for the site itself; and my business email is hosted through Zoho Mail.
Domain registration – Namecheap or Hostpapa
Domain registration is the process of a registering a domain name which is the set of characters after the prefix “www” or “https://”. To use the example of this site, the registered domain name is “bankrolled.ca”. You can only register a domain that is available and unfortunately, most of the good ones have already been taken. In particular, most “.com” domains that are based on simple words have already been taken. That’s one of the reasons why you may want to use a “.ca” domain as whatever domain you are looking for may actually be available.
I suggest trying to keep your domain as easy to spell as possible because you will likely use the same domain for your email accounts, to save yourself the hassle of constantly having to explain to people how to spell your email, which is rather unfortunate. Better to choose a bit of a longer domain which can be spelled easily then a short one which is not a real word. Try to avoid having dashes in your domain name as that looks less polished. Following that same idea if you have the option of registering a domain with the “inc” or without, (for example, “sharpened.ca” instead of “sharpenedinc.ca”), register the shortest domain name possible.
Domain registration costs roughly $15 per year. One domain registration is included in a Hostpapa hosting subscription plan, so if all you are planning to do is have one domain, you don’t have to register it separately. That being said, if you are planning to register more than one domain or if you initially registered a domain and then want to use another one, you will need to buy your domains from a domain registrar. I personally buy my domains on Namecheap since it’s cheaper than GoDaddy and includes free domain privacy. If you use Honey (a free coupon service), you should also get around 10-20% off your Namecheap order). Domain privacy hides your registration information such as your address from being publicly accessible on the internet. Domain privacy is included with “.ca” domain registrations, but is not normally included with .com registrations (unless if you purchase your domain through Namecheap in which case it is). This also means that if you want to register a .com domain, you may want to register it through Namecheap even though Hostpapa offers to register it for you for free (since this free registration does not include domain privacy).
Website Hosting – Hostpapa
Website hosting is the process to have your website files being stored on a server which is connected to the Internet. There are many different types of hosting, so make sure that your choice matches the hosting platform which you will be using to build your site. I use WordPress.org as the platform to build all of my sites, so I use “Optimized WordPress Hosting”. There is no need to have “Managed WordPress Hosting” as “Optimized WordPress” is more than sufficient.
For most websites, the basic hosting option (called “Start” at Hostpapa) is more than sufficient. Basic WordPress hosting is rather inexpensive. Hostpapa only charges $4.95 per month if you sign up for a one-year plan or $2.95 per month if you sign up for a three-year period. Hostpapa is also based in Canada, which means that its’ servers are much closer to your Canadian clients, leading to much faster load times for your website. Personally, I use the “Pro” plan which is a drop more expensive, but provides the flexibility to host additional websites for no additional cost. For example, prior to switching to Hostpapa, I used another hosting provider called BGOCloud. Putting aside the not infrequent times the website went down due to hosting problems, the site was also much slower to load. Sharpened.ca took roughly 3 seconds to load the homepage using BGOCloud which went down to half a second with Hostpapa for a Montreal, Quebec, Canada visitor.
As people are impatient, it is essential that your website load quickly, ideally with in one and a half seconds or less, so you really can’t afford having a website hosted far away in another country.
Hostpapa’s support is also pretty great which is a big help to get everything up and running smoothly.
Website design platform
There are many website building platforms, but the most popular is the WordPress.org. Be careful, WordPress.org is not the same as WordPress.com. WordPress.org powers something like 22% of all websites on the Internet and roughly 60% of all blogs. Similar to Apple’s competitive advantage, WordPress.org has the advantage of an extensive plug-in marketplace and tons of integrations. The great majority of these plug-ins are free and are extremely helpful. Due to its use and popularity, there are also many tutorials and videos about how to do every aspect of a WordPress built site.
It should be mentioned that WordPress.org is free and much more versatile than its competitors platforms such as Wix or Squarespace. To get WordPress.org, you simply install it through your website hosting service, a.k.a. Hostpapa.
Website builder and theme
The theme is a template design for your website. It provides a rough outline of how your website will be styled including the layout of different pages, fonts used, and other functionalities. Most themes are free, although there are many premium one which generally offer a bit more.
That being said, I personally use the Divi theme and the Divi builder from Elegant Themes to make all of my sites. The Divi builder has the advantage of coming with roughly 320 different website templates. Each of those websites templates has between five and eight pages which have already been completely styled and laid out. This means that instead of starting from scratch as you would with the ordinary theme or even a paid theme, with Divi, you can basically have a professional looking website right away which is simply waiting for you to populate it with your information.
The Divi templates are simply fantastic and if you are lucky enough to have a business in the area one of the templates, you basically have a fully premade site ready for you with images and all. Otherwise, you will have to populate the website a little bit more with your images and your text.
The Divi Builder also simplifies the process of adding content to your website by giving you access to a live editor, meaning that you immediately see the visual effect of your changes instead of having to wait and hit preview to their impact. The Divi Builder and layouts are also automatically optimized for mobile and tablet viewing, which is a great perk.
It also greatly simplifies making certain design changes with a much more intuitive user interface. Divi is not free, it costs $89 USD per year (or $249 for a lifetime subscription). However, both options can be used on an unlimited number of websites. Although this cost is not insignificant, it will pay for itself basically immediately by saving you likely between five and 20 hours of playing with your website to make it look like you want it to look, if you are even able to get an ordinary WordPress site to look like a professional Divi layouts. The reality is that you will be spending a fair amount on your business and this additional hundred dollars is well worth it and it will greatly increase the professional look of your site.
Your Elegant Themes subscription will provide you with the Divi Theme file to upload to WordPress.org site as a “theme” as well as the Divi Builder file which should also be uploaded to your WordPress.org site as a “plugin”.
Business email account
One of the benefits of registering and hosting your domain is that you can now have custom email accounts branded to your business. It always amazes me to see a branded truck with a Gmail email account. To me, this shows a lack of sophistication and that the business owner is not up to date with the times. Your Hostpapa subscription comes with a certain number of email accounts which you can easily create from your cPanel access panel (the hosting interface to your website). These are the basic level of email accounts which is not as good as business-grade email.
I personally use Zoho Mail as I prefer the user interface and at $12 annual cost per email account, this doesn’t break the bank. It also has the added benefit of greatly reducing the chance that your emails will not end up in a spam folder, which was one of the issues that I have when I hosted my email accounts through BGOCloud.
I hope that this post clarifies the steps to create a website quickly and I will be writing more on this subject in the future. If after reading all of this, you want to hand setting up your site, feel free to reach out or to drop me a line, and we’ll figure something out to get you up and running in no time.