Five Steps to Effectively Launch a Website
Have you ever wondered what it takes to launch a website? We’ve created a 5-step guide to help you better understand the process, and possibly get started setting up your own site.

Choose and Register a Domain Name.
The first step to launch a website is to choose a domain name. Be sure your domain name is short, easy to type, and intuitive based on the name of your organization. In the nonprofit sector, .org domains are commonly used, however, you may also be interested in a .com domain to allow users to find your site using either. You don’t need to build two sites to use both domains, you can simply forward several domains to the same site. Domain registrations are typically an annual fee, however, you can also opt to purchase the domain for a number of years up-front. If you’re confident you’ll be using the domain for several years, it’s also a good idea to turn on auto-renewals to ensure you don’t have any interruption of service when it’s time to renew.

Select a Host. 
The next step to launch a website is to find a host for your site. The job of a website host is to provide a physical location to store the files that comprise your website. While web hosts generally provide the same type of service across the board, they can vary greatly in their responsiveness and quality of service. Before selecting a host, be sure to check out these key factors to determine how well your potential host stacks up against the competition. 

Point Your Domain to Your Hosting Account. 
Once you’ve registered your domain and purchased a hosting account, the next step will be to point that domain to your hosting account. This is what allows users to see your website when they type in your domain. Generally speaking, the simplest way to do this is to enter the nameservers of your host into the “Nameservers” fields provided by your registrar. Many hosts also provide domain registrations, and they can typically help you with this process if you purchase both the domain and the hosting account from the same provider.

Select and Install a Content Management System.
Once you’ve purchased a domain name and pointed it to your hosting account, your next step will be to select and install a content management system on your hosting account. Many hosts provide step-by-step tutorials of how to do this using their platform. Two of the most popular open source content management systems are WordPress and Joomla. Because these are open source, many developers around the world are continuously developing new components and plugins that you can install on these types of sites. While the out-of-the-box functionality will provide most of what you need to get started, you can always add additional features using extensions.

Design Your Site.
Depending on the scope of your website, your design process may vary. However, it’s a good idea to outline a basic site map to get started. If you’d like to learn more about the ins and outs of designing a website, check out our series on the three steps to building a quality nonprofit website.

Need Help? Fill out our contact form if you’re looking for help in any of these steps. ServanTek offers a variety of services including website training to help you learn how to build and manage your nonprofit website.