The best practices and purchasing steps for building a professional-grade web site
If you’re here, then you’re looking for help with your web site. But rather than push a bunch of products in your face, let me share my experience with you and provide a “shopping list” for a robust online presence.
» A Domain Name: This is the first decision you need to make – what is going to be the address of your web site? Here’s some best practices:
- Get a “.com”: While there are plenty of other options, nearly everyone (in the USA) expects that a web site will be a “.com”. So make it easy for customers to remember by getting a .com.
- Get your business name in it: The sky’s the limit when it comes to web site names, but don’t get distracted with fancy alternatives. It’s important that your web address have your business name in it. If you find that your business name has already been taken, try getting it with your state at the end (eg. GreatBusinessNY.com).
- If possible, avoid hyphens: This goes back to online expectations. Most popular web sites don’t feature a dash or “-” in them, so if at all possible, get a domain that doesn’t feature a hyphen.
You can find and buy a domain from our wholesale storefront, and get 24/7 live person customer support – just click here.
» A Content Management System (CMS): Unless you plan on hand-coding your web site or using a custom bundoing program like Adobe’s Dreamweaver, you’re gonna need a platform that does the coding for you. Fortunately, there are plenty of robust and functional options available that do the heavy lifting of making things look pretty, leaving you to just write and organize the content.
The most popular CMS is WordPress – it’s easy to use, updated regularly (read: more secure), supported by numerous developers, and best of all, it’s free. Even better, there are solutions that bundle WordPress and web hosting into a single solution (called “Managed Hosting Solutions) that provide certain premium features – such as automatic CMS installation and site backups – without having to deal with things like FTP servers and CMS configuration.
Here is a link to several Managed WordPress hosting solutions that you can get directly from our wholesale storefront, and if you get it from us, you get our 24/7 live customer support with it.
» A Hosting Server: If you decide not to go with a managed hosting solution, you’ll need to get a hosting server (PS – if you did choose a managed solution, you can skip the rest of this!). A hosting server is a server that you put your web site’s files on for the public to access. Hosting servers come in a variety of flavors, typically denoted by the software that they use for accessing them. The most popular for common use is called “cPanel”. cPanel hosting solutions provide lots of functionality, such as sub-domain management, built-in email solutions, and various other customization options.
If you’re looking to “DIY” your web site hosting, here is a link to our wholesale cPanel hosting solutions.
» A Development Framework (or Theme): If the CMS is the engine of your web site, the development framework/theme is the framework that holds the engine. Your framework options depends on the CMS that you choose. For the WordPress CMS, there’s more options than you can imagine. The popularity and flexibility of WordPress makes finding a good looking theme easy – but looks aren’t everything. Free options abound but don’t necessarily address the best practices of web design, SEO, mobile responsiveness, or bandwidth load-bearing.
You may be saying “yeah, that all sounds important, but I just need a web site to get by.” Then think of this: more than half of all internet traffic is on a mobile device. Those mobile devices use different networks to deliver data – optimized for small devices with variable data speeds. Do you want your web site to work properly for more than half of the online world? If the answer is yes, then do the right thing and pay for your theme.
In my years of experience, and those with much more, the best theme currently available for WordPress is Genesis. It is built with precessional best practices in mind first – such as SEO, mobile responsiveness, and bandwidth efficiency – and then allows you to customize it to your online business needs with “Child themes” (more on that next).
If you’ve decided to go with WordPress as your CMS, and want to go with a theme built with best practices as a priority, click here to buy Genesis from Studiopress.
» A “Child” Theme: By now, you may be thinking that hiring a web developer may be a better option for you (and if so, you can always contact us for reasonably priced custom deployments). But if you’re still looking to DIY, then good for you! The next piece of a pro-developed web site is a Child theme. Child themes are the “skin” of your web site. To conline the car analogy from before, the child theme is the “body” of the car, how it looks to the public from the outside.
Child themes also determine where specific things will be located, such as navigation (across the top or on the side?) the layout of content, sidebars, defaults for color themes, font and text types, and all other visual aspects of the sites design. Most importantly, a proper child theme will integrate best practices for the industry that you’re building the site for. For example, restaurant web sites have different best practices than real estate web sites, which have different best practices than retail storefronts. Each places critical online information in a position that makes the most sense based on the task that a visitor is looking to accomplish when they go to a site for a business in that specific industry.
You can find lots of free child themes, with varying degrees of efficiency in accomplishing the task at hand. But if you’re looking for a well designed child theme that confirms to current best practices, it’s hard not to recommend Studio Press’s Genesis child themes. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because we recommended Genesis as the development theme for WordPress. It’s no accident or coincidence that Genesis also offers professional-grade child themes that adhere to best practices for the targeted industries.
Here is a link to Studio Press’s child themes – it’s worth noting that these themes require Genesis if you are going to use them, but they are well worth the expense in their scripting, coding, and usability.