Whether you want to make a website or create a blog, being successful and getting things done all depends on using the right set of resources and tools. The below list summarizes some of the most important tools that I use on a daily basis in all my online projects (I advice you to bookmark this page, as I will keep adding useful tools and resources as I discover them myself)
Web Host and Domain Name
Before you start building your website, you need to think about a domain name for your site. The domain name is the web address where people will be able to find your site, like www.nowmakeawebsite.com.
Once you chose your website’s name, you need to register that domain name and get a web host to get started. The Web Host will host all your files on its server, allowing your visitors to view your content.
Actually you can easily combine both, by subscribing for a hosting plan that includes a free domain name.
- SiteGround web hosting: I personally recommend SiteGround to everyone starting with a website, or to existing website owners, since their customer service and technical support is simply fantastic. They offer great packages that always include a free domain name and have regular promotions. If you want to know more, please check out my detailed SiteGround review.
Content Management System
As your website grows, you will create more and more content in the shape of blog posts, web pages, pictures, videos, etc. To manage all this content efficiently, there are great (and often free) Content Management Systems or CMS out there.
A Content Management System also allows you to publish your first content in just a matter of minutes, without having to write a single line of code!
- WordPress: I personally recommend WordPress, definitely if you are just starting to build your first online project. It is free, easy to setup and maintain, and gets you started in no time. I can go on and on about the advantages of WordPress, so I wrote a dedicated post on why I think you should use WordPress.
- Of all websites using CMS technologies, most sites are built with WordPress. That does not mean that there are no other great CMS out there, but it does mean that WordPress is chosen by most developers and is widely supported. Other very popular and widely supported CMS are:
- Drupal: very popular and open source Content Management Software, used to build many of the world’s websites and web applications. Very powerful and scalable CMS, with great standard features and huge flexibility.
- Joomla!: another popular and open source CMS, created and supported by an online community.
- Expression engine
- Radiant CMS
- Cushy CMS
A WordPress theme is basically the layout of your website. When you install a theme, the theme provides and allows you to easily customize the main styling elements of your site: overall layout, specific page layouts, fonts, colors, blog post layouts, and much more style details.
- Free themes: since WordPress is a free, open source and incredibly popular CMS, there are tons of free WordPress themes out there that you can download and use on your website as you want. Check out the WordPress Theme Directory to get some examples of themes and an idea of the amount of free themes that are available.
- Genesis Framework : StudioPress builds WordPress themes based on the Genesis Framework – affordable, high quality WordPress themes that just make your life so much easier (this website is based on the Genesis Framework). If you want to know more, please check out my Genesis Framework review.
- Theme forest, template monster, RocketTheme, WooThemes, ElegantThemes
- Your own personal email address (like firstname.lastname@example.org). This will look much more professional compared to any other standard email address such Hotmail or Gmail. If you have your own domain name and web host, you can setup your own email. If you use SiteGround, then following a few easy steps is all it will take.
- Email broadcasting tools such as AWeber: allow you to easily broadcast emails, a very powerful tool for your email marketing campaigns.
- Email opt-in tools such as Optinskin: these tools allow you to add forms to your webpages, where your visitors have the option to leave their email address and subscribe to your newsletters or other email lists.
WordPress is great and will help you to manage all your online content. As you are building your website, you will also collect and create a lot of offline content, just think about course documents, personal notes, lists of ideas of future posts, etc. To help you manage all these documents, even when you are not in your office all day, there are a few great document management tools available:
- Dropbox: allows you to store all your documents in the cloud, where you can access them from all your devices.
- Box: provides a similar service as dropbox.
- Evernote: great app and website that increases your productivity
- Grammarly: free grammar checker that quickly and easily makes your writing better. Grammarly helps you to eliminate errors, enhance clarity and improve the meaning of your blog posts. It simply helps you to become a better writer!
If you are using a Content Management System that shields you from most of the technical code, but you want to better understand the technologies that power your website, there are tons of free online specialized courses and tutorials available. A few good starting points are: