Help me create a web site!
or, how to create a web site
or, build your own web site today

There may come a time in your life when you decide that you want to create a Web site of your own. But how do you get one started?

That depends on the type of site that you are creating. The big categories are:

Most people, when they are thinking about their first web sites, are going to be thinking about the first four. Either you want to publish some sort of content, or you want to sell something.

Let's get the retail sites out of the way quickly. If you want to set up an online store, and if you have never done it before, I would recommend that you go to a place like Yahoo Small Business and use their toolset to create an online store quickly and easily. You will pay $50 to $100 per month for their tools, and it makes your life easy. You can focus more on selling and less on "technology".

If you know that you want to create a pretty straightforward blog, then I would go to a place like Blogger or LiveJournal and create a blog using their free tools. It only takes five minutes to get everything set up, and then you simply start writing. It is quick, painless, free and easy - what more could you ask for?

That leaves us with content. Let's say that you know you would like to create a content Web site, or a business brochure site, but the free/easy Blog structure does not work? For example, let's say that you want to start your own site like HowStuffWorks, or you are a dentist and you want to publish a brochure site to advertise your dental practice?

In that case, what you need to do is create a "normal web site". You need to sign up with a company that hosts web sites, create a URL for your site and start building your site. This is not quite as easy as creating a blog -- it might take you two to four hours instead of five minutes to get things set up. However, you have a lot more freedom and control with this approach. You can build almost anything you can imagine. You can add forums, create multiple email accounts, post images, let visitors look at video, etc. It does take a little more work to get going, but you can do a lot more down the road.

So go to a place like EZ-WEB-HOSTING.COM (where we host Helpation.com) and sign up for a new Web site. It will cost you anywhere from $5 a month to $30, depending on what you need and how long a contract you are willing to sign.

There are two things that you are going to need at the very minimum to get started:

In general you should try to think of a word or phrase that describes your business or Web site. Obviously, if the name of your business is available as a domain name, it is a good candidate. But many common domain names have already been taken by someone else. Go to this page and use the domain name finder in the bottom right hand corner of the page to see if the domain name you want to use is available or not.

The second thing you need is some sort of site template, or "look", for your web site. You have three options here:

Does the "look" of your site matter? Yes and no. If you are creating a content web site, we can all take some solace in DrudgeReport.com. It is an incredibly popular web site but it looks like crap. As you can see, you can get away with very simple, very plain web site designs and they will not necessarily hurt your site's success if you have compelling content.

On the other hand, if you are creating a business brochure site, I would say that a bad design can hurt you. Customers will come to your web site, and if it looks shoddy they will think less highly of your business or your content idea. If you are going to do it yourself, or if you are going to have "your spouse's 16-year-old nephew" do your web site, the one thing that I would ask you to understand is that a bad web site design can hurt you to some extent.

Let me demonstrate this to you. I sat here and I tried to think, "what is the most generic, mundane sort of business web site that I can think of???" What I came up with are dentists. In your community there are dozens of dentists, and they all have web sites. They are all advertising approximately the same services. So I went out and looked at a bunch of dental web sites and I divided them into two groups.

Now I am not saying that either of these groups of web sites are "better" or "worse" than the other. However, I think you will find yourself feeling differently about the two groups of web sites. Compare the first batch to second batch. Imagine what a new patient will feel like arriving at these different web sites:

Group 1:

Group 2: The appearance of a web site does make a difference to visitors and/or customers. The web site's design reflects in some way on your professionalism and attention to detail. Keep that in mind as you are creating your own web site.

If you have no idea what sort of look to create for your site, I would go into Google and try to find similar and/or related sites. Find one with a look that you like and use it for inspiration in creating your own site.

Want to discuss Web sites?

Go to the Helpation Web site Forum!