Setting up a Cheap (But Professional-Looking) Website

by admin on December 18, 2008

In my wanderings about the web, I have noticed a lot of websites run by offset printers and other print professionals that look as if they haven't been updated in about five years, maybe more.  Now, probably what happened, is that five years ago setting up a website was so damn expensive and complicated that nobody ever wanted to do it again.

Well, things have changed a lot over five years, and the cost of hosting a website has gone waaaay down and making a professional website has gotten waaaay easier. I recently advised one client was paying $50 a month for website hosting to switch to a provider who would charge $10 a month.

Now the most important thing to get your hands on when creating or upgrading your company website is the registration information of the domain. Usually the owner of the company has it stashed away somewhere in his email archives. When you access the registration account, it will have a number of settings, the most important is the information regarding the domain servers, which will either be a IP number or a domain name server URL.

If you don't a have URL for your company, you can use 1&1 internet services to register your domain name (for .com, .info, .net) or if you're Canadian, use netfirms.ca to register your .ca extension. This will cost you anywhere from 8 to 15 bucks.

Okay, now you need a webhosting. There are jillions of webhosting companies. The two biggest are Godaddy and Hostgator down in the USA. Up here in Canada, my favorite is Canadian Web Hosting based here in Vancouver. Whatever web host you pick, make sure your account has cpanel and fantastico services (more on that later). You should pay no more than $10-12 buck a month for a shared hosting account. If your company is big (and I mean thousands of web hits a  day), you might want to buy VPS control panel account for $40 a month. But hey, that's overkill for most.

Your hosting company will give you instructions on how to map your domain name to your hosting company. The instructions can be slightly different per company, but are usually dead-easy. Once you've done that, when you point your browser to the web site, you should see a default web page saying there is nothing there. Okay, here's where you start to set up your website.

You need to access your cpanel via a web browser and log in with your account and username. You should get a screen that looks like this:

Again, your hosting provider will have sent you an email on how to do. If you are prepress workflow guy, all this stuff is WAAYYY simpler than working in Preps or even Prinergy, so don't stress on it.

Once you are in cpanel, click on the fantastico icon:

Okay, you want to run the WordPress script. Follow the instructions and within 30 seconds, take down the log-in information. Okay, now when you go to your web site, you should see a default wordpress installation with a very bland design. On the bottom right, you will see a bunch of link, one of which will allow you to log in as administrator.

The WordPress user interface is very simple to use if you just want to add pages or posts, which is what you want to do. Click on the writing link, and write something. If it's a post that you write, it will end up on the front page. If you want to add a page, the link to what you have written will appear at the top.

One of the many great things about WordPress is the sheer number of free designs (called themes). If you google "free wordpress themes" or even click on the design button in the wordpress user admin control panel, you have access to 100s of free wordpress themes. If you like one, just download it to your desktop and then ftp it to your hosting account, and copy it into a folder called wp-contents/themes.

And there you go. With the appropriate theme and some content added, you'll have a website that looks better than 75% of the stuff out there. And at a much lower price then if contracted out the job to a website designer.

Any questions, just email me or hit me up on the comments section.

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