Whether you intend to have someone develop a website for you or do it yourself, there are some important decisions you need to make. What will your site address be? Where will it live? How will you manage it?
Choosing a Good Domain
Your domain name is your URL – it’s what you’ll tell people when they ask “What’s your website address?” It’s a decision you’ll likely have to live with for a long time, so it pays to put some thought into it and not buy the first one that comes to mind.
Finding an available domain name can be a frustrating task that often leads new website owners to choose less-than-ideal URLs. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by following a few established “rules”:
- Always choose .com – You might be tempted to use .net or .org if your preferred domain is taken, but resist the temptation. People often assume all domain names end in .com and you will lose traffic to the holder of the .com address.
- Avoid ambiguous spelling, repeated letters, and numbers – Using transcription4u.com might seem fun, but having to explain how it’s spelled every time you tell someone what your domain name is will get old fast.
- Avoid hyphens – For the same reason as stated above. Imagine yourself on a podcast and having to say “www dot quality dash transcription dash services dot com.” It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.
Always say the name of your potential domain out loud – and then ask a few friends to look at it. You might just be surprised at what they’ll see that you didn’t expect.
Choose a Good Hosting Provider
In order to have the most flexibility with your new site, it’s important that your hosting provider:
- Has cPanel access – While not critical, it is much easier to find someone to help you with any technical problems you might have if your host uses this familiar format.
- Has a great reputation – Two of the best are Hostgator and Bluehost. They’re inexpensive and well-known, and both offer excellent customer service.
- Is NOT free – Blogger, Weebly, and other free sites might be attractive from a monetary standpoint, but they won’t convey the professional image you want. (There is usually some advertising associated with free sites.)
Choosing Your Website Platform
Finally, before you can build your site, you’ll need to decide what platform to use. You have a lot of choices here, from HTML you build yourself (using Dreamweaver or a similar program) to proprietary software offered by your hosting account. All have their good and bad points, but for most new website owners, the absolute best choice is WordPress.
It’s easy to install, simple to use, offers nearly endless customization options, and with a huge community of users and developers available, it’s super easy to get help if you need it. You can customize your WordPress site with one of thousands of themes (or “skins”) so it looks exactly the way you want it to look, and you’ll never have to dig into the code to make changes – unless you want to, that is.
A site built with WordPress is fairly easy to find someone to work on it down the road too. So often these days, sites are built with software that is no longer being supported. But WordPress is growing in popularity, so you can count on it being around for a good long while.