Before launching Casebolt Creative, I worked at an architecture firm. I learned a lot about building science and structural design, and recently realized that building a house is very similar to designing a website. In the same way that a house is more than just a pile of wood, bricks, plumbing and wiring, a website is more than just a set of pages — it requires a lot of coordinating pieces to work effectively.
Purchasing hosting services is like buying an acre of land. In the same way that you need a place to put your house, you also need a place for your website to exist. The internet is a big place, and your blog needs to take up a small corner of the giant infrastructure.
My site is hosted at GreenGeeks.com (affiliate link). I’ve used other companies, but have found that GG has great customer service and their servers are incredibly secure. Plus, their facilities are powered by solar panels, so I feel a bit better about the amount of electricity my site is using. (Because I’m a big hippy.)
Domain: Mailing Address
Your domain is your mailing address. Sure, you could use the latitude and longitude points to tell people where you live, but isn’t it easier to have a street name?
Technically, the location of my website is a 12-digit number (184.108.40.206) called my “IP address” that is assigned by my hosting service. But my domain is “caseboltcreative.com,” which points to that 12-digit number, so that you don’t have to remember my IP address and type it into your browser.
I also used to buy my domains through GoDaddy (there’s a reason it’s the most popular domain service!), but GreenGeeks includes domain registration for your primary site bundled with hosting service, so I’ve transferred all my domains over to GG to make my renewals easier.
This is your house’s basement (or if you’re from a different climate and basements aren’t a thing where you live, it’s your concrete foundation).
All of the sites I build are on WordPress, but there are other options (Squarespace & Blogger come to mind). The platform allows you to make changes easily, without needing to learn complicated code and use an FTP file transfer system to upload pages.
In addition to building on WordPress, I also use the Genesis framework for all my own sites, as well as all my clients’ sites. It’s fast, mobile-responsive, easy to learn, and has lots of customizable features.
Finally! We’re starting to build!
Designing a website requires the same artful design as a house. Just as you may not want the bedroom next to the kitchen in case cooking gets noisy, website design require many thoughtful decisions. Do you want your menu next to your logo or below it? Which pages need to be on the top level of your navigation? Should secondary pages be in a sidebar or a drop down menu? Do you want an opt-in that requires a sign-up function? What information needs to be collected on your contact page? It’s important to figure out lots of these details before the site goes into production.
Branding: Interior design
What do you want your house to feel like when you enter it? Do you want it to be calming or vibrant? Classic or contemporary? Vintage or modern?
In the same way that an interior designer helps everything make sense together, a consistent brand will help your page make more sense to your readers. The branding is what makes the “homepage” really feel like home.
There are tons of additional ways to extend this metaphor — your content is your furniture, your plug-ins provide security, etc. — but I think you get my point … and hopefully you have a better understanding of all the items you need before you can jump into website design!