Photo by Kindred & Co Weddings
You want to build a website? Great! Well like most people, you may not be entirely sure how to go about it. Sure, buying a web domain doesn't seem so tricky-- but what about after that? Some say you need to hire a developer to do it all or risk getting frustrated at every turn. The truth is-- you can do most (if not all) of it by yourself. So whether you're a bride wanting to set up a site for your wedding (perhaps blogging your adventures as a newly engaged woman), a vendor wanting to collect leads, or a store looking to sell products through an e-commerce site, these are the basic steps you'll need to get started!
#1. PURCHASE YOUR DOMAIN
Once you know what kind of site you want to make, whether it's wedding photography, planning, rentals, cakes, jewelry, or even for your own wedding-- you'll need to purchase your domain from somewhere like Domain.com. Depending on the name, it can be fairly inexpensive. The site fee renews annually, like rent that allows you to maintain ownership.
This is literally staking your claim on a website name. Once you buy it, it's your land to build on.
Note that it takes up to 48 hours for your website to propagate, meaning how long it takes for internet providers to update their records that your site name exists. In that time, you can still do the next step.
#2. FIND A HOST
When creating a wedding website, make sure to select a host that can handle your traffic. So what is a host?
You know those air traffic control workers on the tarmac at the airport that direct where planes should go? Think of a host as the partner you have who manages all of your traffic. A website can't do that on its own. It needs resources, something to manage all of the people who come through.
While a slight bit more of a stretch, you could also think of it like the utility company for your home. Thanks to their services, everyone coming in the door should be able to have a good, pleasant experience. A host's job is to keep your site up and running and handle as many visitors as possible without issue.
Why is picking a good host important? Well, you know that phrase "breaking the internet"? When too many visitors come to your site, it might overwhelm your host and suck up too many resources-- causing your site to "crash". That's why finding a host that has little to no 'downtime' is perfect.
Finding the right host is important. Don't pick one just because it's cheap. As with all things, cheap doesn't always mean good-- in fact it can unfortunately result a lot of frustration in this process. Having a great host, however, can help make everything MUCH smoother right from the get-go.
So what should you do? Select a host with great uptime and speed!
Zion Brides uses SiteGround to manage all of its traffic and is our recommended host. While certainly not the cheapest, their features and reliable uptime/speed (as well as customer service) is worth it. Also they usually have a fantastic start-up package for first-timers!
Some inexpensive hosts focus on getting as many sign ups as possible and stretching their bandwidth to the max, meaning 'bottlenecking' that can cause frequent downtime. Make sure your host's customer service and uptime are highly rated prior to any sign ups.
#3. PICK A TEMPLATE YOU LOVE
After your site is propagated and ready to build, you'll need tools. Think of this like the getting ready to make a cake. You may have just the basics and can probably build an okay cake, but had you used professional tools, it could have turned out much better. Feeling overwhelmed yet with decisions to make? Don't worry, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
As far as website building tools go, the most common type we see (and what Zion Brides is built on) is WordPress.
It's flexible, highly customizable, and has almost limitless support when it comes to the learning curve.
Expect that building your site will be time consuming. It takes anywhere from hours to days to build out a beautiful site depending on everything you're planning to put into it. If you're just planning on doing a basic photo site with a contact form and simple blog, you may be able to do it in a day or two.
However for an e-commerce site where you'll be selling items or collecting payments, expect it to take longer. It's not a bad idea to start with a template that you can build off of (like a jump start to your project).
This may feel like a much less overwhelming alternative than building it from scratch yourself. We even have a basic website template that's easy to customize and saves a few hours of setup time! Best of all, we'll have one of our trusted web designers install it for you at no extra cost!
It's worth noting that you DO have the option to even build it yourself. If that seems too scary (which we understand), you can also have someone build it for you through places like Fiverr for an affordable rate.
Ensure your site is modern and fits your brand to attract your ideal client.
#4. CUSTOMIZE IT YOUR WAY
Once you have a template or starting point to build off, add your own content, change the font, personalize it all to your business. Have your site feel easy to navigate.
Make sure it's clean, easy to follow, and (just as important) mobile-friendly (meaning people on cell phones won't be greeted by a messy site). Need some help customizing your site on WordPress?
#5. TEST AND PUBLISH YOUR SITE
After testing your site all the way through (including contact forms to make sure they're sending to the right email-- or sending at all), make sure it looks good on your mobile device. Prepare to go live and showcase your work to customers.
Trouble with WordPress? The nice part is that builders like WordPress, you have countless amounts of support from easy resources like YouTube that can answer virtually any question-- even lead you through the whole process. Literally you can google videos of building a site from scratch.
Once you're done and you've added all your photos and gotten the pages to the point you're happy with, hit Publish and you have a live website ready to go!
Websites can be very time consuming, but luckily in this area you have unlimited resources available (both free and others at an affordable premium)! For brides, vendors, small business shops, or even those just wanting to start their own blog or influencer site, the steps above can at least get you rolling on your new adventure. We wish you the best of luck in bringing your website to the masses!
Questions? Leave them in the comments!
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