Setting up your first website can be daunting, so here's a quick checklist to help you avoid some common mistakes
Name your website
Choose a domain name that is short, memorable and unique. Use any online domain registration company to check it isn't already in use & think again if it is.
Register your domain yourself. Don't leave this to your website designer or any other 3rd party. It is vital you keep complete control of your own domain name. You'll be glad you did years down the line when you want to change hosting company etc. * Please try to avoid the various "free" website building sites. These often include domain registration which can sound tempting, but are a total nightmare to disentangle further down the line when you realise you need a proper website.
Consider registering both the .co.uk and the .com options if only to avoid others taking them.
Choose a Website Company to work with
Unless you have too much time on your hands or fancy having a go yourself with one of those "free" online website builder sites, you are going to need some professional web design assistance.
Don't be lazy, do a bit of research. Take a look through their work portfolio and see if any of their previous projects appeal to you.
If they publish comments or feedback then scan through that. If nobody has anything nice to say about them, why not?
There are literally thousands of web design companies out there, so narrow your choice down to 2 or 3. Personal recommendations from friends and colleagues are a great way to do this.
Big or small? If you have a large, complex project in mind, does "that guy down the road" have the capacity and experience to cope? Or if your site is small and simple, will the larger design agencies even be interested in talking to you?
Get an idea of their website pricing if possible. Not every company publishes their charges up front, so create a basic project brief. This is a simple outline description of the sort of website you are planning. State what you are hoping to achieve, and list your key pages and sections if you can, and any special requirements such as contact forms, online shopping carts, video etc etc. This will help the design companies you approach give you an accurate quote or estimate for the time and costs involved.
Unless you have a massive budget, you will need to supply the actual website content yourself. The better prepared you are, the quicker and cheaper your project will be, so spend some quality time considering exactly what words and images are going to fill all those website pages you asked for.
Keep the decision chain as short as possible. If you are self-employed you will be able to make quick decisions. If your company is larger, then appoint one key person to take charge and work with your web designer through concept, design, build and launch.
Unless you have previous experience running a website, then plan to invest some time learning how to edit and update your own website. If you have no time or interest in this, then your website company may offer a suitable support package to do this for you.