When setting up a website for the first time, there are many components to manage. With a workable checklist, you should be able to handle every activity with ease. If you already have a website, compare your site with the checklist below. Are you missing anything? Does the list give you any new ideas for enhancing your website?
1. ____ Domain Name (Web Address)
If you’re going to have a website designed for you, you’ll need to provide a “website address” (or domain name) where people can come visit you online! Don’t settle for anything less than your own domain name. For example, http://Yahoo.com/your website won’t cut it! For just a minimal fee of $9.97 per year, you can secure your own “website address” (or domain name).
1.1 ____ Register a clever domain name (website address) where you can easily direct traffic. Where do you CURRENTLY register your domain names? Doing so there, is fine. Keep all your domains under one single domain name registration company. Don’t spread them around.
1.2 ____ Remember where you registered your domain name, so you can keep track of the annual expiration date. Many people neglect to renew their domain names and can lose them overnight. If you are notified that your domain name will expire, pay the annual fee immediately.
2. ____ Hosting Service Company
You will need to host your new domain name (i.e., website address) with a website hosting company. Be sure you DO NOT register or transfer your domain name to the website hosting company. No. You just want to host it there. They have that option. KEEP your domain name at your current domain name registration company. (i.e., GoDaddy.com, ReallyCheapNames.com, etc.)
The company I recommend to my clients to host their websites is called BlueHost.com. With 24 hour telephone support and cPanel dashboard to install WordPress, setup eMails, etc., they’ve earned my confidence and have served my clients well.
2.1 ____ Order web hosting services at a company like BlueHost.com to host your website on the Internet.
2.2 ____ When you get your signup eMail from BlueHost.com, keep it in a safe place. Remember where you host your website, so you can make changes in the event your revolving door of webmasters run for the hills because in time, many often do. Sad, but true.
3.0 ____ Cpanel (Web Hosting Setup, Admin & Configuration)
Once your hosting account is set up, verify that you have a cPanel administrative area sponsored by your hosting account. Every domain name / website hosting account should have a cPanel. cPanel, by the way, is short for “control panel.”
The control panel is where you’ll create eMail accounts using your domain name. You can also perform the following functions within your cPanel. You’ll want to know how to do these things:
3.1 ____ eMail Accounts — cPanel is where you’ll create any number of eMail accounts, which you can use Outlook to check your eMail.
3.2 ____ eMail Forwards (or Alias Accounts) — An eMail “alias” or “forward” is simply an eMail you create for the sole purpose of redirecting other eMails sent to you from another person.
For example, you might create any number of eMail aliases and forward the accounts possibly to your personal account versus creating separate eMail accounts via other eMail software programs such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Mozilla’s Thunderbird, etc. This can become cumbersome to manage.
eMail alias accounts (a.k.a., forwarded eMail accounts) such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com that redirect eMail sent to those eMail addresses to your primary eMail account for easy review/management. This is simple to check because you’re dealing with one primary eMail account.
3.3 ____ eMail Filters — If choose to block certain spam eMails from coming into your account, you can create any number of spam filters. The server will watch for certain emails you identify and delete them before they reach you. This is a real benefit. If some of your client(s) have Gmail as their eMail provider, Gmail does a superb job at sorting through valid eMail and bogus spam eMail. This step, however, is optional.
3.4 ____ Checking eMail via “Web Mail” — Some clients like this option so they can check their eMail via a “web mail” platform. CPanel provides this option, too.
3.5 ____ eMail Autoresponders — cPanel also provides for this option even though most eMail providers such as GMail provide what’s called a “Vacation/Away” type of autoresponder. With cPanel, any email you can create you can also attach an autoreponder to it. If your client is going on vacation and they want to notify people when they’ll return, set up this type of autoresponder. You can do that by creating an autroreponsder associated with any specific eMail which was created within Cpanel. Remove the autoresponder when they return back to the office.
3.6 ____ Create Subdomains — Subdomains look like www.AffiliateProgram.MyTrainingCenter.com. See the “AffiliateProgram.” in the domain name? That’s the “subdomain” part of the website. These subdomains are specifically designed to forward (or redirect) traffic to any website or web page you like! They’re very easy to create and very convenient to have.
3.7 ____ AddOn Domains — If you are on a basic/shared hosting account, and you see this feature within your CPanel, you can save money by adding your additional domain names or create more websites for them using the same hosting account. This is beneficial because you don’t have to purchase extra hosting or pay extra fees to host more websites. Just point the name servers for each domain to the hosting company, add the domain, and start building. You’ll find a folder for each additional domain within the root directory of your main website.
4. ____ eMail Accounts
Whenever you set up your website, it’s always a good idea to setup the following eMails to help support your site and provide a number of ways visitors, clients and affiliates can communicate with you. Now, many of these are just suggested eMails for you to create. Create what you like and/or create ones might not be selected.
4.1 ____ Personal eMail Accounts [For Example — Bob@YourSite.com or BobSmith@YourSite.com]: The first eMail you should create should be yours! You definitely want to start showing off your domain name and what you do. So? Create an eMail address with your name in it and start using it! For example: Bob@YourSite.com or BobSmith@YourSite.com.
4.2 ____ Help/Support eMail [For Example: Help@YourSite.com or Support@YourSite.com] — You might create an eMail where customers and clients can send you help and support questions. This eMail account can either forward to your personal account, if you handle the support issues yourself, or you could have it forward to someone else in your office if that’s their role.
4.3 ____ Affiliate eMail [For Example — Affiliate@YourSite.com or Affiliates@YourSite.com]: You might create an eMail where affiliates can send you questions about the affiliate program, commissions, marketing advice, etc. Many affiliate tracking systems will ask you for an eMail address, enter this one: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can either have this email forward to your personal account if you’re personally managing this area of your business, or have it forwarded to another person in your office.
4.4 ____ Billing eMail [For Example — Help@YourSite.com or Billing@YourSite.com] … You might create a specific eMail just to handle billing issues. When you sign up for ANYTHING (i.e., web hosting, domain names, etc.) and a credit card is used, why not have all those issues be separated from all your other eMails by using a specific eMail just created for “billing issues.” Create an eMail account called: Billing@YourSite.com. Unless you have an office manager or an accountant that works with you, you’re better off forwarding these eMails to you.
4.5 ____ Feedback eMail [For Example — Comments@YourSite.com or Feedback@YourSite.com] You might create an eMail where people can send you feedback and suggestions about your site, what you do, about the products you sell, etc. This can either be a separate eMail account you check individually, or an eMail alias (or forward) which redirects eMail to you or someone in your office assigned to handle these eMails.
4.6 ____ Contact eMail [For Example — Contact@YourSite.com or Contact-Inquiry@YourSite.com] … You might create an eMail where people can contact you, either via eMail or through an online contact form on your website’s Contact Us page. When you get these eMails, you know they’re simple a casual inquiry from your website, for the most part.
5. ____ Website
Assuming you’ve built your website using WordPress, which I recommend, or you are about to design it, here are a number of items (and specific pages) to keep consider when building the perfect website.
5.1 ____ Link Navigation — Decide how you will line up the navigation links on your site, horizontally or vertically (along the side). It’s best to align them along the top (under or over) the header in a horizontal fashion. Look at some of your favorites sites for good examples.
5.2 ____ Home Page — Typically, the home page “writes itself.” How? The home page serves should have a “table of contents” for your site and include links to several “hot topics” that are available within your website, but can be linked from the home page.
5.3 ____ About Us Page — Visitors to your website might be interested in who designed the site or who owns it. The About Us page should identify this information. Always include a photograph of yourself (and/or your team), which makes the site more relatable, a description of what you do, how the site works, your business plan and how people can reach you. This link can often be placed at the bottom of the page, leaving room at the top for more “action-oriented” or “money-related” links such as “Products”, “Services”, etc.
5.4 ____ Press Room Page — Every website should have a press room, especially if you are selling product/service, interacting with the public as a speaker, etc. The press room keeps visitors (and people who work in the media) up to date on your activities and any announcements. Did you release a new product, form a new alliance, or start using a new service to enhance your product/service? Press rooms also provide ready information about you that can be copied, photos of you/your team (web size, 72 dpi and print size 300 dpi), plus press releases, quick links to social networking sites, and more.
5.5 ____ Calendar Page — Are you a speaker? Do you conduct seminars, workshops and speak regularly? List your events on a calendar on your website so people can follow you.
5.6 ____ Services Page — This is where you’ll list all the services you provide to your clients/customers/prospects.
5.7 ____ eStore / Product Catalog Page — Here’s where you’ll list all the products you have for sale on your website. If you don’t have a shopping cart yet (to sell products from your website) or you’re not satisfied with the one you currently have, check out my Shopping Cart Checklist (Choosing The Right Shopping Cart).
5.8 ____ Product Catalog “Thank You” Page — Once customers buy from you/your website, it’s important to redirect them to a thank you page while checking out. This page might offer helpful information such as when they can expect delivery of an order, who to contact with billing questions, etc. Customers need to be reassured they made a wise purchase and your thank you page helps to confirm that.
5.9 ____ Opt-In Box (Capture Names & eMails of Visitors) — One of your goals for your website should be to grow your contact list of prospects, clients and affiliates. To do this, you’ll want to offer a FREE product/service in exchange for getting names and eMail addresses. With an opt-in box on your home page (in the top right corner), this will help to build your lists.
5.10 ____ Opt-In “Thank You” Page — After your visitors or prospects opt-in and enter their names and eMail addresses, you should direct them to your thank you page. On this page, you might suggest they check their eMail a gift you’re sending to them and offer some quick links to other relevant sections on your website.
5.11 ____ Shopping Cart: Do you have a shopping cart to sell products (even services) from your website? If not, check out my Shopping Cart Checklist (Choosing The Right Shopping Cart).
5.12 ____ Recommended Links/Resources (Page) — You definitely want to have a resource page on your website for several reasons. (a) You could list all the recommended resources that you have an affiliate relationship with. (b) When you speak to people on the phone or communicate via eMail them, refer them to a list of services that might benefit them. (c) If they sign up for services you recommend, you’ll earn a commission because you are an affiliate for that program. Now, your site’s almost paying for itself.
5.13 ____ Affiliate Program — Do you sell products? Seminars? Services? Then, consider having an affiliate program on your site so others can help you make more money online. You’ll need affiliate tracking software, which you can find at MyMarketingCart.com. Make sure you have pages that describe (a) your affiliate program details and how to sign up, (b) affiliate marketing and training materials and (c) your affiliate terms and conditions.
5.15 ____ Contact Us (Page) — Every site should include a contact page that lists your company name, business/mailing address, telephone numbers, fax number, eMail address (optional) and a web-based contact form, which people can complete in order to contact you online. Make sure your address and telephone numbers are located at the top of the contact page and easy to find. Don’t make them struggle to find that information.
5.16 ____ Contact Us “Thank You” Page — After people contact you online, through a web-based contact form, you might want to provide an automatic thank you for contacting you. A specially designed thank you page will confirm receipt of their message and reassurance that a representative will contact them within 24 hours (or some reasonable time). These assurances communicate customer care, expressed interest in the customer’s question/concern, timeliness and prompt action for resolution.
5.17 ____ Site Map — Search engines love site maps and so do visitors to your site that can’t find what they’re looking for. A site page simply lists every possible link within your website. It’s efficient and highly effective for viewers.
5.18 ____ Blog — If you blog, attach the link to your blog on your website so customers/prospects are kept current with your activities such as the new book you authored or the speaking engagement scheduled for next month and more. You can quickly install a blog if you have the kind of hosting account that provides access to a cPanel administrative area.
5.19 ____ Social Media — Don’t forget to add your social media links and share icons to your website so visitors can share your website content with their peers, fans and followers.
5.20 ____ What else? — What else would you like to see on your website? I strongly encourage you to look at other websites for ideas and test how easy they are to navigate!