You don’t need to be a nerdy engineer or a web design master to create a decent website for your business or blog. If you’ve always been too intimidated to build your site yourself, 2015 is the year to face your fears. Crush your new year’s goal and dive head first into creating your first blog, small business site, or online portfolio. Our checklist below is a great way to get started.

Domain Name

The crucial first step to launching any good website is registering a strong domain name. Lucky for you, we’ve got hundreds of new TLDs available, making it easier to find the perfect name and domain extension for your site. Think about why you want to build a website. Is it to start a blog to review your favorite movies? Try .REVIEWS or .BUZZ as an extension of your name. Maybe you’re ready to sell your photographs online. We offer .PHOTOGRAPHY, .PHOTOS, and .PICS as options for your website too. Now, your domain extension can be tailored to the industry or category you want rather than the traditional .COM or .NET you’re familiar with. Keep in mind there’s a possibility people will remember your domain name before they think about your real name. You can’t go wrong with keeping it simple and easy to remember.

Web Hosting and Email

Next it’s time to choose a hosting plan. Picking a plan can be tricky if it’s your first time building your own website. Our deluxe hosting plan gives you the freedom to host your site for a minimum of one year. If you’re new to the web hosting space and you’re a little hesitant to get the ball rolling, we recommend this option so you can test the waters and see how your website pans out. Domain.com also offers Google Apps for Work so you can easily setup custom email for your website and use all the necessary tools to get your site running without a hitch. With Google Apps for Work, you can share, edit, and access all your files from any device using Google Drive. You can also collaborate with team members using Gmail, Hangouts, Calendar and so much more. To learn more about Google Apps for Work, read more here.

Plan, Design, Build a Website

With little to no budget, you can easily create mockups of the site you envision. Creating a game plan to make sure you stay on track is always a good idea. Don’t worry about where your site will be in six months from now or even 12 months from now. Focus on creating a few simple pages with all the content you need to deliver your message. Web tools like Mockingbird let you create mockups for your landing pages in seconds. You can also draw out your landing pages on sheets of paper for reference.

For a bakery owner who just opened up a new shop, you’ll want pages for your menu, delivery service information, contact information, and location. If you want to start taking online orders, you’ll need to setup a storefront. Once you’ve created an outline for the pages you need as well as all the information that you want to include on each page, all you’ll have to do is input the information using our easy-to-use SiteBuilder tool and voila! Your site will come to life.

Marketing and Promotion

If you’ve gotten this far, pat yourself on the back. Creating a website takes a lot of work, but now you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Spread the word to your community. Ask family members, friends, and even your extended network to share the good news about your website launch. Word of mouth is the best way to organically create interest in your website. You can also start promoting your site by creating Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any other relevant social media accounts. If you have products, create some coupons to share with customers that visit your site and your social media pages. This can go a long way in increasing your website traffic and helping people learn more about your site.

Metrics and Analytics

Once you’ve got traffic coming to your site, it’s time to figure out who’s who and how to keep them coming back for more. Start implementing Google Analytics and other tools to track visitor data. This step is all about testing. You are the scientist and your website is your laboratory. You might add more graphics to your site and learn that users are clicking through them at a higher rate than they’re clicking through links. From here, your site will start to evolve. You’ll get better at sending email newsletters, timing your promotions according to holidays, and even recreating the design of your site.

Maintain Your Site

If your business moves to another location or if you add a new food item to your restaurant’s menu, make sure to update that information on your site. Maintain a fresh, clean, updated website and retain customers by researching website best practices. Your website should always be responsive and visually appealing. By adding too many links, text, and pop-up ads, you might scare (or annoy) your customers away. Add new content weekly and periodically check for any errors or bugs.

Can you check off all the elements listed in this post? If the answer is yes, then congratulations! You’re well on your way to a fruitful future with your brand new website.

Let us know if you have any comments to add or questions to ask. Tweet us @domaindotcom or leave a message in the section below.