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What do I need to get started on a website?

Number 1A domain name (example: this domain name is You can get a domain name through a registrar. Search for a domain name to see if the one you want is available.


Number 2Hosting. In order for people to see your site, it needs to be on a web server - these are computers set up to store your site and allow others to view it.


Number 3A plan: Look online to find sites that you like and write down what appeals to you and what you don't like.

  • Create an outline of what you want on your site. This is helpful in determining which navigation links (your main menu) you want:

Website Outline

  • Get all of your information together such as text for your pages (send it as a Word document or text file) and any images you want (if you are a reseller, you may be able to use your distributor's images, but you'll need permission to avoid any copyright infringement).

Deciding which type of website you want

There are several categories of websites:

  • Brochure-style Websites
    • Brochure-style sites are informational sites. Use these to tell people about you or your company.
  • Interactive Websites
    • Interactive sites can range anywhere from adding a few forms for customers to fill out and contact you to creating scripts (code) that calculates things for people to interactive flash. More about Flash...
    • Content-management programs, such as Joomla! allow you and your visitors to add news stories, web links, encyclopedias, download links, surveys, forums, etc.
    • Web logs (a.k.a. Blogs) - an online journal.
  • E-Commerce Websites
    • E-commerce sites have online shopping. These sites require several things depending on the method you choose for customer payments and how many products you have.
      More information about e-commerce sites
  • Content Management Systems
    • Content Management Systems (CMS) are great for adding and editing your own content.
      More information about Content Management Systems

Promoting your website

Unfortunately, you can have the nicest website in the world and no one will know you're there. This is where promoting your site comes in. There are many ways to do this ranging from meta tags (invisible to regular viewing - it's just code on your pages), keywords on your pages, search engine submissions, pay-per-click programs...

What do I need to start an online store?

Online shopping setups depend on several factors:

  • Number of different products you are selling.
  • If you have the ability to charge credit cards or if you need a payment gateway (example: PayPal).
  • Who your hosting company is. Some hosting companies don't allow server-side scripting (like php), so shopping carts like osCommerce will not work. Depending on your hosting company, you can also end up stuck with not enough space on the server to store all your images and files.

Certain things you may need are often provided by your hosting company:

  • A unique IP address
  • SSL (secure socket layer)
  • Secure site certificate - this depends on whether you use a shopping cart on your site or not (see below).
  • Merchant account
  • Payment gateway (unless you have the ability to charge credit cards yourself). PayPal is a payment gateway - if you use their service, you can use their shopping cart and payment pages, and you won't need to purchase a site certificate. Some other payment gateways don't have this option and you need to find someone who can code your pages to connect with them or implement a shopping cart.
  • Shopping cart (optional - see above): osCommerce is an open source program (users can customize it themselves, depending on their knowledge of php programming). Very easy for anyone regarding product inputting, etc.

If you don't have a lot of products, often simple PayPal buttons will work perfectly to allow people to place orders with you. If this is the case, you won't need a secure site certificate because visitors are directed to PayPal's site.

More information about e-commerce sites


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