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I no longer offer design services for hire.

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How to Make Your First Website

It takes less than 15 minutes to buy your domain name and web hosting service. But hang on! Your adventure is just beginning!

Get Hosting!

First, let's talk about how you "get a place" on the Internet. The process is similar to physically renting a mailbox plus some office space, and there are just three basic steps:

  1. Choose a domain name (example of domain name: "davidseah.com") and register it at a domain name registrar so the Internet knows you exist. It'll cost you around $15/year.
  2. Choose a web hosting provider and sign up for the simplest web hosting package. This is "rented space" on a special computer that's connected to the Internet 24 hours a day. It will cost around $5/month.
  3. Point the domain name to the web host. The domain name you registered is "pointed" to the web hosting space you rented, using instructions you will receive.

The entire process takes less than 15 minutes to do yourself; you just need a credit card. It helps to know which companies are reputable, so ask around.

But What About the Website?

So, you've just rented an empty space on the Internet that's ready to be filled with your own stuff. That means building a website, which is a complex collection of interconnected computer files you need to assemble.

To build that website, you have two options:

  • Do it yourself - Very doable, but takes a lot of time to learn...
  • Hire professionals - Also doable, but may take a lot of money...

Building a professional website requires three different disciplines: content management, technical know-how, and graphic design. That's why hiring a web development company to build your website will cost you $1500 and up; the company needs three experts working for least a week, covering salary, office overhead, and employee benefits. Payroll is expensive!

Another option is to find a solo designer that can do it for less, but finding the desired management, technical, and design skill in one professional is hit-or-miss. First, you may want to try the "instant website" feature that your web hosting company may have; it may be enough for your needs if you are not picky about how it looks. If you ARE picky but have a limited budget, you could use one of those "project marketplace" sites to outsource the website to an overseas development team—just be prepared to spend a lot of time negotiating the terms and managing the process to make sure you get what you want.

Or you could work with me. I'm working out ways to lower the cost and delivery the quality.

Cover the Basics with Style!

The blank template (top) is customized with text and image (bottom) As I mentioned on the home page, I'm in the business of getting people started, and starting up often means that budgets are slim. If this is your case as well, I'm offering pre-built websites for $250. I can customize them with colors, text and imagery that follows guidelines I provide. Click the image on the left to see an example template.

The big advantage: You can see what the website will look like before plunking your money down. And since I've already built the framework, I don't have to bill you $1500 for the development time. It's win-win!

To give you an idea of what you need to provide, a simple website usually provides four common pieces of information:

  • Welcome page, which clearly shows and describes who you are and what you offer, in as few words as possible.
  • Products and service listings, with appropriate pictures and good details.
  • Who you are and why people would want to know you.
  • Contact information, so people can reach you by phone, email, or in-person.

That's all you need to get started. Sure, there's lots and lots of things you could do to optimize your marketing copy, improve the graphics, and so forth, but let me tell you: getting those four things finished will be hard enough. Get that done first before you worry about the rest. Then, we can add photography and customize the colors to get results like this:

This website uses Template A customized for a piano teacher This website uses Template A customized for a piano teacher This website uses Template A customized for a workshop This website uses Template A customized for a workshop This website uses Template A customized for a licensed massage therapist This website uses Template A customized for a licensed massage therapist

PLEASE NOTE: While color customization is part of the template package, photography is NOT included for the base price. You can, however, purchase The $500 Photo+Website Package to get results similar to the above.

What's Included?

My goal is to make you as independent as possible. You'll get what you need to own and control your own website, plus hands-on instruction to help you understand how it all works. This includes:

  • A website based on a pre-designed website template I have available.
  • A set of files customized with your own words and images, ready for you to upload to your web hosting service.
  • All the source materials used to create and customize your website. That way, you will have everything you need to make modifications yourself or use another designer, assuming you have the same design software I use.
  • Assistance registering your domain name with a reputable registrar, and picking a reputable web host.
  • Access to my growing library of articles, with guides such as, "how to write content for your website".
  • Hands-on instruction in finding the easiest way for you to maintain your website completely by yourself.
  • I'll also explain the basics of search engine optimization and set up visitor tracking on request.

PLEASE NOTE: Photography, logo design, and copywriting is not included in the price. I might be able to help you out; read how I approach making words and images to see if I'm a good fit for you.

How to Get Started

Drop me a line and tell me your story, and I'll break the process down for your specific situation. If you already know exactly what you want to say and show, great! We can get up and running in a few days!

If you're looking for some help figuring out how you want to portray yourself, I can point you to the resources that have helped me. Or, if you prefer to have partner-in-crime, hire me to help you come up with some starting pieces. It'll take additional time and money, but I personally think it's worth the effort; read about my design and clarity building services and see if it's a good match for you.