Whether you’re providing a product, service, portfolio for your work or launching an ecommerce storefront, your website not only should reflect you and/or your brand, it also needs to be the central location for your business. There’s simply no other way around it. All of your marketing efforts lead back to your website. Which is why it’s of the utmost importance to set up your website correctly.

Michael Muchmore is PC Magazine's lead analyst for software and web applications. A native New Yorker, he has at various times headed up PC Magazine's coverage of Web development, enterprise software, and display technologies. Michael cowrote one of the first overviews of web services for a general audience. Before that he worked on PC Magazine's S... See Full Bio


Squarespace — There are a suite of beautiful apps: Commerce lets you manage your store. Blog lets you compose blog posts and manage your blog. Metrics gives you website analytics. Portfolio lets you manage photos and galleries— but it's iOS only. Having a suite of apps is great— rather than stuff everything into one app, they're able to make a beautiful interface for each use case.
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In general, as far as I know, all commercial web hosts let you install SSL certificates for your site. The price varies, though, from company to company. Some give you a certificate for free. Others will install a free certificate for a one time charge. Some require you to buy a commercial certificate (which has a recurring charge). And there are those that not only require you to buy a certificate, but also impose a monthly fee for using it on your website (on top of the recurring charge for that certificate). A discussion on how to get SSL certificates (including the free ones) can be found in that article mentioned earlier.
Even if you outsource some parts of your business, you still have to keep a watchful eye on the business structure. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean that it’s run any different than a traditional business. In short, be prepared to spend a lot of time improving and adjusting your site. I would personally make a list of everything you should do and start checking off this list as they are completed.
Templates provide a framework for your website — a coherent, attractive canvas for you to paint the content of your site onto. They’re how you can have a site that looks good without having to hire a designer. Templates dictate color scheme, what your homepage header and menu bar look like, and the content width on your site, so it’s essential to pick the right one.
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