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The Key Website Building Tools
Getting online will require you to have access to certain key website building tools. Building your own website from scratch, whether for business or pleasure, represents an investment of time and money.
While there are a many options available to you, it’s important to decide how much you can afford to invest in creating a good looking website that will keep your visitors coming back for more. Without getting into the nitty gritty, below are the basic website building tools you need to create your own website and get on the Internet.
This magic tool box will provide you with the key website building tools you need to create your own website and get online today.
1) Domain Name (Universal Resource Locator – “URL”)Your domain name is your identity online. Needless to say you should spend a lot of time carefully thinking of what you want your identity to be. People will know you and talk about you with your domain name. The domain name will be the address of your website.
For example, www.yourwebsite.com is a domain name (also referred to as the URL or address of the website). Domain names can be purchased from registered domain sellers. You can pay for domain names annually or may decide to prepay for a few years in advance
Since everyone and their puppy is now getting online, more and more domain names are being bought out and you will experience some difficulty in getting the domain name you want, unless you have a very specialized and unique one in mind.
Something so common like www.books.com or www.flowers.com are probably taken and paid for for the next 10 decades. (IF NOT THEN GRAB IT!) You can use a domain analyzer (below), which is a tool that will help you find available domains based on criteria you set that you can purchase.
One last thing on domains – please pass on the free offers. You will see many websites offering you to create your website for free claiming that you will have your own URL and your own webpage. Never ever agree to such offers. Read more to learn why
Read more on domain names here.
2) Website Hosting Service ProviderThink about a hosting server as a dock where you can park your boat. A host server is where you can park your website on the Internet for people to come and view it. Well maybe a dock is a bad analogy since a boat is parked at it while your website is in action even when you are fast asleep. But you get my point.
Without a host, only you will be able to access your website as you will have no way of making it largely visible beyond your own personal computer. You may decide to purchase your own server or pay someone else with a server for a small space dedicated to your website on that server.
Many companies today are specifically in business to provided hosting services to website owners like you. You can pay for these services either monthly or annually (annual pre payments are usually discounted). Learn the importance of choosing the right host provider. You need to be very careful in selecting the hosting service most suitable for your website and your goals for it.
Just like selecting a domain name, hosting is a critical core decision that you need to make before you get rolling. The good news is that hosting is flexible as such that you can move your website from one server to another when the needs and demands of your website change with time.
Read on for a complete 411 on hosting here.
3) Software for creating a websiteWebsite design software is not mandatory to purchase. There are a few good free website design software programs like CoffeeCup that you can use on a trial basis to create a free website. However, do understand that if your goal is creating a popular website with a broad range of functions that will involve quite a bit of complexity, it would be best to go with a paid provider or to create the website yourself.
Website Tonight from GoDaddy is a good low cost option if you want something more turnkey. If you want something powerful yet easy to use (no need to know HTML programming), I recommend Adobe’s Dream Weaver. Dreamweaver is my personal favorite. It’s very powerful program with endless capabilities. It is extremely user friendly and intuitive when using. It is simply the best website design software. It is also the best ecommerce website software solution out there.
If you instead decide to code your website yourself by learning HTML (the basic web development programming language), search for HTML tutorials on Google. There are a ton of free resources. HTML is relatively easy to learn and there are many resources available online to guide you through the coding process. You simply write your web-pages in the programming language which translate into your website. You then save the file as an “.html” file and upload it to the Internet through your hosting provider. This process is slightly more challenging than using the one of the options mentioned above.
Depending on the service provider you select for your site’s hosting, you may be provided with free website building tools that will save you the extra step of looking for an external program. Keep this in mind when researching for a hosting service provider.
4) Ecommerce Website ToolsYou don’t need special ecommerce website software for creating a small business website. You can use any one of the options discussed throughout this website. If your website’s purpose is selling products or services online however, you will need the necessary secured payment collection tools. The easiest option to conduct monetary transactions online is through the use of Paypal.
Paypal is an online business merchant that will accept payment on your behalf in exchange for a small fee for each transaction. Paypal is a turn key program that is very easy to use. It allows credit card usage, direct transfers from bank accounts and a few other means to conduct financial transactions. It even offers a money market sweep account which allows you to earn interest on your account balance.
(Just as a side note, Paypal usually offers a good interest rate on your money if you leave it sitting in their money market sweep account. This is usually a relatively high interest rate that many banks do not offer. This is precisely why more and more people are leaving higher balances in their Paypal accounts overtime.)
All options are free to enroll in. All you have to do is sign-up and you will be able to conduct transactions within minutes. You will be provided with a HTML code that you can copy and paste into your website. The code will automatically create a payment and checkout system on your webpage for your customers to use.
Independent merchant account providers
Paypal is most commonly used within the eBay community. I’d recommend Paypal for beginners only and those who are experimenting with their business concept. I say this because you can usually negotiate a lower commission rate with independent online business merchant account providers. You will also pay much less in per transaction costs.
There are other costs to consider however with independent Merchant Account providers such as monthly statement fees and batch processing fees. It only makes sense to pay these fees if you are saving enough on the costs per transaction. This is only possible when you start generating heavy sales volumes. So in essence Paypal is the best way to go in the beginning. However, as your business flourishes and you continue to grow, I’d recommend looking into an independent online business merchant account provider.
Merchant Account providers are very much like Paypal in the sense that they will handle your monetary transactions for you. These companies provide you with a code similar to Paypal that you can integrate with your website’s code to create a payment gateway system. Merchant accounts provide a more scaleable fee structure and hence the reason why I am recommending this solution for businesses that are generating a high volume of transactions.
Read on for a more detailed discussion on the pros and cons of using Paypal vs. other merchant accounts here.
5) Secured Sockets Layer (“SSL”)SSL is an encryption technology tool that most websites implement to protect user information such as name, address, credit card information, etc. SLL allows user input to be converted to a code that cannot be read by humans. The code is recognized by the computer and the many systems that it is integrated with. SSL is mandatory for ecommerce businesses. The last thing you want is to breach your customer’s personal and financial information.
Many hosting service providers offer an SSL program with their services. Keep this in mind when researching a hosting provider. If they don’t provide it, you can always go to a seller like GoDaddy and buy your own for a small cost. The investment is well worth the security and peace of mind and can mean the different when a potential customer is contemplating a purchase on your website.
Do you recollect seeing a small key lock symbol on the bottom right of your web browser? If you are using Internet Explorer this lock will appear by the URL on the top of the web browser. In addition, you will notice that the URL of the website will change from “http” to “https”. This is how you know that you are on a website that is secure. Never give out your information and conduct a transaction on a website that does not show this symbol. Here is what it looks like. Notice the padlock on the lower right?
6) EmailA personalized Email account is not necessarily one of your website building tolls. However, it is necessary if you plan on establishing your brand online and communicating with your visitors and customers on a regular basis. An email that ends in @yoursite.com is much more credible than a free email account that ends in @hotmail.com or @gmail.com. Many hosting providers offer free basic email accounts. Keep this mind as well when researching hosting providers.
Determine your email needs because sometimes the free email accounts will not allow you to accomplish your objectives. For example, you may be restricted to sending out 100 emails per day. So what if you have a user base of 3,000? If the free email account’s features don’t seem enough or suitable for your objectives, you can search out of the box for a better email account provider. I personally use and recommend Aweber. I attribute most my success to this single best tool. Read my full review of it here.
A good email program like Aweber will allow you to manage your customer database better and communicate more efficiently. You definitely need a good provider if you decide to get involved with newsletters and email marketing down the road. Spend a good amount of time before deciding who to go with.
Read a comprehensive discussion on email service providers here.
7) Interactive SitesIf your plans for your website go beyond simple ecommerce functions and involved interactivity, you may need to get a “script” to integrate within your website’s code. Think about a script as a sentence that when added to your writing’s body will make a complete paragraph. It is a small file of code that instructs the web browser how to act and react in certain situations and circumstances.
For example, if you want more of an interactive site with user generated content, or simply a forum or message board where users can leave comments, you will need additional programming done to your code. The good news is that most of these scripts are available online for free. There are also message boards and forums dedicated to discussing the different scripts available and provide guidance on implementing them.
This may sound very technical but it really isn’t. The Internet is becoming easier and easier to figure out by the day and there are many simple ways to get things done that most of us can do on our own for free. Most hosting providers are open to assisting you implement these scripts for free. In fact, some even provide these scripts to their customers. You can ask if they do in advance prior to signing up with a website host provider.
If, after reading this, you are still a bit intimidated by having to integrate a code file within your existing site, you can always choose to outsource this function of your website. RentACoder allows you to advertise the projects you want done and have several programmers bid on the projects. It is up to you to decide who you want to hire for the job.
Programmers on this sites are usually screened either initially or through the feedback they have received (be sure to check their feedback and credibility through performance on previous projects). Activity through these sites is also safe as you don’t have to pay until the job is done.
You can hire someone to do pretty much anything, from building your website to managing it to enhancing it on an ongoing basis. All you really need to do on your own is get a domain and sign up for hosting. Heck, even that is actually “outsourceable” to the person you hire if you choose to do so.
In summary, the website building tools discussed in this section should be all you need to get going on the Internet. It is important to have a plan for your website and conduct thorough research before purchasing these tools, whether individually or collectively. You don’t want to put in all that time and hard work and later find out that you are restricted from doing certain things that you want to.
Again, read up and learn as much as you can about what you want and are about to do. Once you are comfortable with the information you have gathered, consider the credible and time tested resources that are included on this website for your needs or search the web if you don’t like any of the recommendations here. There is no need for you to go elsewhere. You have ALL the information to create a website, optimize it and market it to make it successful online on this website.
Keeping that in mind, there is no one size fits all solution here. You just need to go with the tools that provide you with the best and most flexible options for your website’s purpose. Read about my personal recommendation to get all the website building tools you need at one effective stop.
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