To build a house you need several things.
Address = Domain Name
Property = Hosting
Materials and Foundation = WordPress
Designs = Template
If you can understand these simple equations, you will have no problem getting a custom site up and running in no time.
The Address (Domain Name) Cost: $10 a year
Just like people find your house with your home address, the web address or domain name is how people find you via the web. Unlike inheriting an address when you move into a house, with websites you get to choose your address in the form of your domain name. You can search for names at Hover.com, Bluehost.com, Mediatemple.net or Rackspace.com. Now there is one disclaimer when it comes to selecting a domain name: There are people who I like to call E-Squatters that buy domain names, and sit on them waiting for people to purchase them for a heavy upcharge. Due to these vultures, there is very little you can do to get the name you want if it is being held. You can choose a different name, or purchase it at the inflated price. You can also try using a different web extension such as .co, .net or .tv.
Domain names are pretty cheap so you can buy several if you want. They are also really easy to register. Now with great privileges, comes great responsibility. When you select a domain name, it is one of your first forms of branding so pick your name carefully. Verify that there are no competitors with a similar name.
The Property (Hosting) Cost: $60 – $1000+ a year
There is a lot more to hosting than what it looks like on the surface, but I will keep to the basics. Hosting is where you are going to place your website. There are several factors that should be considered before you choose your hosting plan. Continuing with the home building metaphor, some additional factors that you consider when building a home on an empty lot are:
Size (How much digital space will you need to hold all your digital files)
Traffic (How easy is it to get to the house)
Neighbors (Shared Server vs. Dedicated Server)
Maintenance (Who sets up the land for you, who can fix a problem if something goes wrong on your land)
After considering all these factors you can easily purchase your hosting from (Bluehost.com, Mediatemple.net or Rackspace.com). Next it’s time to link your domain name and hosting account, which is very easy to do with each of the respected providers.
The Design: (WordPress Template) Cost: $30-$60
Just like the design of your house is important, so is the design of your website. It represents you. It is your first impression on the world. Think of it like an actual storefront or gallery. What would you like people to say when they get to the front of your building? What will they see when they peek inside? Make sure your design/branding is consistent throughout all things whether it is social media, your logo, brand name, website name, or business card design. You are here because you are creating a site for people to see; make sure they see what you want them to. Leave them with a lasting impression.
When it comes to your design, you can hire someone to build a custom house; or search the market for a house that suits your needs and style. Then simply modify it to fit within your brand. This is where buying a template comes in.
When it comes to WordPress templates, we highly recommended themeforest.net.
At themeforest.net you are able to find many templates and styles. Just make sure when you search you filter your search only to WordPress templates. Just like anything you purchase, make sure you check the reviews and comments and feedback scores on the template before you purchase it. Another tip that has saved me a significant amount of time when building a site is to find a template that has dummy data you can load. That way after you install the template onto your site, you get a working version that is very similar to the demo you viewed on themeforest.
Materials and Foundation: (WordPress) Cost: Free
Now we move on to the bones of your site. A WordPress site is like the foundation and framing of your house. This would include the plumbing, electrical, brick, and basement of the home. It is the framework in which your website is built. Since you used this framework, you are able to quickly build your home without having to calculate where pipes go, or how many feet of wire you need. It does it for you keeping things simple so you don’t have to worry.
House Upgrades: (Plugins) Cost: Free – $100+
There will be many things that you may want to add to your site. Understandably, you may have no clue how you are going to add them. WordPress is amazing with its support of free plugins.
They cover almost everything you may need in order to make additions. Warning: Be careful what you add to your site because not everything available will work for it. I recommend backing up your site frequently, and having someone help you with any significant changes.
Calling the Handyman:
If there is something you want added, removed, tweaked, or fixed that is over your head, I would recommend using either ODesk, or Tweaky. Consider them your special handymen or contractors when it comes to making modifications or fixing things. Tweaky is extremely quick and their rate per task is only $39.
I hope this guide has helped you understand a little more of what goes into building a website. It requires a lot of hard work and planning. But with all things, putting forth your best effort will get your intended end result.
Enjoy your new website.