Here are some tips for those thinking about starting your first website.

Decide what you want your website to accomplish.
Will you sell a product on your website or just provide information on your product in order to make the phone ring (this is called a brochure website)? Do you like to write or have something to say? Maybe you need a website with a blog.

Establish a budget for your new website.
Websites do not have to be expensive. Features that will increase the price are usually ecommerce abilities (shopping cart), Flash animation, custom programming, back end or admin section, excessive pages, etc… Something to consider when starting is how the website will be maintained after it is up and running. Some people have the tech skills to update their own site and other don’t want to mess with it and have a website developer maintain their site (this is called website maintenance or management).

You can also build your site with a CMS (Content Management System) built in. This means that you can login to the admin section, go to the page you want to edit, and make the changes in a very friendly environment similar to Microsoft Word. You can also add new pages, links, etc…This could add more to the cost of development but it will save you money later on with website maintenance.

Choose a domain name for your new website
A domain name is where your website will live on the internet like example.com. Domains cost about $10  per year or you can save some money if you register them for multiple years at a time.

Find a website developer
Unlike brick and mortar business you do not have to deal with a local website developer to build your new website. Everything can be done with a few phone calls and email. Try to find a developer that will answer the phone, has a nice looking portfolio of past projects, speaks good english (or your language), uses a contract, and has a guarantee on their work. Payment structure is normally 50% upfront and the balance when the site is complete and live on the internet.

Start gathering your product images and content
If you are starting a new business you will probably need a logo. Your website developer can take care of this for you or will recommend some that can. Write your content for each page that will be on your new website and keep it in copy-n-paste format. You can email this to the developer when the time comes.

After Website is done
After the new website has been completed and everything looks good you must start promoting the website. Your website should be on your printed business material like business cards, letterhead, etc… You might also consider an online marketing campaign like Google AdWords to bring in more traffic. Don’t forget social media. A Social Media Marketing campaign is also very important.