Becoming a skilled webmasterWhen it comes to setting up a website, there is a learning curve, as with everything.  The dream of becoming a webmaster may come crashing down when we find out what is involved.  If you are already a programmer then this article may not be for you.  Programmers already have the skills to run their own sites.  They can  learn any programming method needed and provide that to their clients.  But if you are determined to set up your own site and don’t have any programming skills, we are offering a few tips to get started.

Many of our clients start off trying to set up their site for “free.”  Clients search the web and find beautiful examples of websites claiming it is easy to do your own site.  They may find free options online and use those in the beginning.  Later on they become disappointed when they realize the result is not what they expected.  The average consumer has no knowledge of site design and programming.  Because of this, unless their support team is available to them, they are blocked from moving forward.  This is when they usually contact someone like us.

Creating a free blog:

The quickest and easiest thing to do is to set up a free blog at WordPress.com.  The down side for this is that most blogs don’t allow any type of advertising.  This is fine if your business is not selling products or services. For example if you are setting up a travel blog you can create articles to your heart’s content and easily manage your blog as your own webmaster.

The advantage to starting with a free blog site is as follows:

  • It allows you to develop your webmaster skills
  • It can be set up with no investment
  • You can learn the ins and outs of WordPress editing

Disadvantages of a free site:

A free blog site gives you no opportunity to advertise online, or little opportunity to change the look and feel of the site.  It will also look very generic and look like thousands of other sites. We find that even professional bloggers ask us to create a more professional looking site. Further, they normally hire a webmaster to maintain the site.  As more bells and whistles are available, the webmaster can add those to the site. These additions will improve the site functionality, making it more unique.  For some, the main goal is to stand out in the crowd. For these folks, having a more professional presentation will work to give them the results they expect.

Web design and programmingThings you need to know to be your own webmaster:

Becoming your own webmaster will require some basic HTML (Hyper-Text-Markup Language).  In the back end of your website (your control panel) you will find a toggle switch for HTML format (coding).  If you don’t understand HTML commands you can quickly look it up online and learn as you go.

Typing Skills and FTP Knowledge:

All website owners should have good typing skills and understand the term FTP (File Transfer Protocol).   We use the FTP process to move website files from their hard drive to the web.  This is how we make changes such as uploading files, downloading, deleting, renaming files and obtaining info from file servers.

Learning all about the control panel:

Every website has a control panel which is provided by the website host. This panel is there to allow the webmaster to manage all parts of the keyboard, users information, network settings, desktop, background, hardware and software parts of the website.  The webmaster can add or delete programs and change the appearance of the site by using options inside the control panel.  He can adjust and change the look and feel of the site and control what is seen online.

Some website servers offer a “chat” service available from the control panel and you can get additional help with processes you may not understand.  You can also call the hosting company directly if you run into a problem while developing your site.  Most of the basic and most important functionality are already built into your website.  If your software provider has a “forum” you are in good hands.  You can get help immediately when you run into a snag.  We also urge our clients to use Google and ask questions.  They can also search for online forums or contact their support team.

Promoting your site so you will be found online:

We know that most of you understand you can’t just set up a website and watch the business roll in.  The site must be promoted so Google and top search engines.  Otherwise, these search engines do not know you exist. We recommend that you add new content three to four times per month to stay in front of today’s current web environment.  Promote education as it relates to your expertise.  You can also go directly to Google.com and promote your site using their advertising tools.

Caution:  If you are choosing to use a “free” blog it should work great for you as long as you are not looking to make money online.  However, if you are looking for an e-commerce website, we suggest you hire a professional. By doing this you will stand a better chance of seeing the result you expect, and the site will function as it was designed to do.  As you choose an e-commerce platform, be careful to review pricing if you are on a budget.  Look for hidden costs that you could incur later.  Read all information carefully and look before you leap.

Mobile-Friendly WebsiteUse a responsive website theme and own your domain:

Make sure the platform you choose is responsive and mobile-friendly.  If the site is not responsive you could receive a penalty from Google and your site will fall in rank.  Also be sure you will own your domain name.  Some website builders do not permit ownership.  You may later on want to move your site to another server and you could be stopped from doing this if you don’t own your own domain name.

Thanks for stopping by and hurry back for part two later in the month.

Jean Holland-Rose
Chief Creative Officer & SEO Professional