Today, it’s nearly impossible to be successful in business without some sort of web presence. It’s pretty easy to set up a social media profile on LinkedIn or Facebook. But what about getting your website set up? Many people are brilliant at their fields of expertise, but that brilliance doesn’t necessarily transfer across disciplines. Don’t feel bad about this. Instead, follow these simple steps to get your sustainable design website up and running in about an hour.
Why is LEED Important?
If you’re reading this website, then you probably already know the answer to this question. LEED results in projects that are better for humanity. Some people will see benefits to the reduction of our carbon footprint. Other people will see benefits to cost savings derived from reduced energy use. Whatever a person’s political views, they can benefit from LEED. You need to convey that message on your website. But first, let’s get the technical stuff out of the way.
Buy a Domain Name
Before you can launch your website, you need to pick a name. Try to find one that relates to your company name or business services. It can take a long time to pick a good domain name, so be patient. You can register your domain with many places. I like GoDaddy for domain names. But keep in mind, that you do not need to use them for hosting. There are other choices that might suit your needs better.
Set Up a Website Hosting Account
Think of your web server as a computer sitting in a datacenter somewhere around the world. This computer holds the software that runs your website, and the domain name you chose will point to this computer. The good news is that you’re just starting out, so you don’t need an expensive hosting account that costs hundreds of dollars per month. You can get started for around $5-6 per month. There are many choices for shared hosting and VPS hosting. I like the VPS hosting plan offered by InterServer.net. Not only will you get access to a server for your files, but they offer one-click installations for WordPress to make building your website a snap. Plus, you can expand your plan as your needs grow.
Change Your Nameservers For Your Domain Name
Now that you’ve got a hosting account, you need to point your domain name at it. You do this by changing your nameservers. Assuming that you bought your domain name at Godaddy, and picked a hosting plan with InterServer, you have a couple of options. You could change your nameservers on Godaddy to point to InterServer, and save yourself a step, or you can set up a free DNS account with a company like Cloudflare. I highly recommend Cloudflare. Once you have your nameservers set up with them, it’s very easy to make updates. You might need to move your website at some point in the future and this facilitates the process.
They also offer some basic CDN functionality. This means that they will cache your website pages, images, and other files on their servers around the world. Then, when people visit your webpage, they’ll download many of the files from servers closer to their own locations. This makes your website run much faster, and saves you some bandwidth. Once you set up your Cloudflare account, it will download information from Godaddy. You’ll need to change these values after you set up the account. InterServer’s support staff can help you to set the right values here. Then, on Godaddy, you’ll need to update your DNS entries to point to Cloudflare. I know, it’s a little confusing, but it’s worth taking this extra step.
Install WordPress On Your Sustainable Design Website
Okay, you’ve got a domain name pointed to your hosting account. Great! If you’re using InterServer, then installing WordPress is a snap. Log into your account and click through to your control panel. You’ll see a button to install WordPress. Click it, fill in a few fields, and you’re done! You now have a WordPress website, so let’s pick a design.
Pick a WordPress Theme for Your Website
If WordPress is the engine, then the WordPress theme is the paint job that goes on the outside of your car. Log into WordPress, and on the left-navigation column, you’ll see a link, “Appearance.” Hover over it, then click “Themes.” From there, click to add a new theme and search the free database. Alternatively, you can select a professional theme to make your website look less generic. You can get a good WordPress theme for around $50 from a website like ThemeForest.
Install Some WordPress Plugins
Think of plugins like accessories for your car. Maybe you want new rims for your wheels, or some new electronics to improve your fuel efficiency. Plugins can do similar things for your website. Log in to WordPress, hover over “Plugins” and click “Add New.” Then, just pick out a few things to start. For example, you can search for “Yoast” and install their SEO plugin. This will add some fields to each of your posts (described in the next section) so that Google finds your pages more easily.
Start Creating Posts for Your Blog
Great, you’ve got a WordPress website installed! Now, you need to populate it with some content. Start out by adding a few “Posts.” These are just blog articles that are listed chronologically as you write and publish them. I won’t get into all of the details here, as this is just a beginner’s tutorial to get you up and running. But, to create these posts, hover over “Posts” when you’re logged into WordPress, and then click “Add New.” From there, it’s pretty easy to write and publish an article.
Create Your Main Pages
I won’t get into too much detail here, but generally, posts are for everyday articles, while pages are the main navigation of your website. To create a page, you’ll hover over “Pages” in WordPress, and then click “Add New.” Here are a few pages you should create:
- Home – create a page with the content you want to appear at the top of your website. I’ll show you how to set that in the next section
- Blog – create this page, but leave it blank. It’s just a placeholder for your articles, and I’ll explain in the next section
- About Us – Make a page that describes your company in more detail
- Contact Us – Make a page with contact information like your email address and physical address on it. Additionally, search plugins for “contact” and install a plugin to create a simple contact form. Also be sure to include links to your social media profiles.
- Services – You can change this later, but to get started, make a webpage where you list all of your services.
Configure Your Homepage to be Static
You’re a business, so you should highlight your business on your homepage, rather than listing your latest articles. In WordPress, hover over “Settings” then click “Reading.” Click to set static pages for home and blog, and select the pages you just created. Save, and you’ll see your homepage set to the “Home” page that you created, above.
That’s it! You’ve now got a website for your business. There’s tons of information available for free online to help you configure your WordPress website. The first step however, is to look at your competition. Get a feel for what they’re doing with their websites and take notes on what you like and dislike. Then, expand your website, and start marketing it. Good luck!