No matter what industry you are in or what your profession is, a page for yourself in cyberspace is your portal to the entire world. Whether you’re a budding freelance filmmaker or a flower shop planning to take your business to new heights, building a business website is not just an advantage nowadays—it’s a must.
With many consumers turning to the internet for everything from your location and business hours to the details and reviews of your products or services, it’s the best way to reach your audience where they are.
With a simple but intuitive web design that can be understood and navigated by anyone, a website can easily and cheaply give your business an edge and even scale it in ways you never thought possible.
Now, where do you start? Read on for a step-by-step guide on how you can build a great website.
Before You Begin
Much like with anything in business, you have to know what your reason or purpose is for building a website. There are generally two routes for a business website:
1. General Information which is usually simple as it just tells more about your company
2. E-Commerce Site which is a little more complex as its goal is to be the place where your customers will shop for your products or services
Whenever you are working on your website, keep your customers in mind. Imagine what their experience will be as they navigate through your website. Make sure that whatever your website’s focus or function is, users should be able to easily do it.
Once you’ve got this part covered, don’t forget to outline a clear and consistent brand strategy as this will guide you with the tone of voice of your content as well as its visual philosophy.
You can then proceed with your journey.
1. Give Your Website A Name
A domain name, to be exact. This is your website’s unique address and it’s often what your customers will first take note of. First impressions last so when it comes to domain names, it’s best to make it count. Not only that, a good website name is great for search engine optimization (SEO) too.
When coming up with your domain name, keep it short, sweet, and easy to type so that it can remain in your customer’s memory for quite some time. Once you’ve listed a good few, make sure that a similar website doesn’t already exist in cyberspace.
Lastly, check if the price is right because good domain names are typically taken. See if you purchase it at a price that wouldn’t burn a hole in your pocket.
2. Choose The Host
You can’t have a properly functioning website without a website hosting provider. The name might sound too intimidating, but it really isn’t. A website host is a company that has all the available technology and services that a website needs so that it can be viewed on the internet.
A secure and scalable website hosting provider can cost you anywhere from $2 to upwards of $100 per month. The price will depend on the kind of technology and service that you need.
Whenever you’re in the market for a web hosting service, it’s important to take note of the following:
- Customer Service. Websites will always encounter issues no matter how well-planned they are. It’s in their nature to do so. Always check if the provider you’re about to get is available to support you.
- Site Speed. In this day and age, people will close a website if it takes too long to load. Keep in mind that Google also tends to rank faster sites higher.
- Uptime. This is how often your website is up and running and it is extremely important because people won’t be able to access your site if it’s down.
- Security. Check the server security of the provider you are considering. Take a look at how daily backups are managed, their security maintenance, and published security protocol.
Popular web hosting companies include InMotion, Bluehost, GoDaddy, and
3. Select a Good CMS
To create and manage all the content found on your website, you will need a good content management system (CMS). It’s one of those things that sound overly technical, but a CMS can actually help maintain your website without requiring you to have the technical knowledge to operate it.
There’s a certain CMS for every type of need as there exist different systems used for different purposes. This can depend on what your budget is or if you want your website to be completely user-friendly.
Some of the most popular options are:
- Good Points: numerous plugins, active community support, free and easy to install, extensible, flexible
- Not-So-Good Points: security
- Good Points: ease of use, flexibility, active community support, more secure than WordPress
- Not-So-Good Points: not many plugin or theme options
- Good Points: easy drag and drop interface, great design templates, 24/7 support, software maintenance
- Not-So-Good Points: limited extensibility options
- Good Points: large library of plugins, better SEO
- Not-So-Good Points: security risks
4. Utilize A Good E-Commerce Platform
This step may not apply to all businesses, but if you’re planning to sell your products or services via your site, it’s important to have the right platform so your customers will experience a smooth transaction with you.
There are web hosts that easily integrate with e-commerce platforms or offer an in-house shopping cart solution. For small businesses, some of the most in-demand e-commerce platforms today are:
- WooCommerce has numerous plugins and comes with pre-built free and premium themes. It’s also easy to use and flexible as it can be attached to WordPress and other CMSs.
- Shopify lets you create and customize your very own online store and even manage the products, inventory, shipping, and payments. The platform is very user-friendly as you don’t need a developer to set up a store.
- Business Squarespace has a free domain, SEO, SSL security, discounts, real-time carrier shipping, and more useful features. However, it is not as user-friendly as Shopify.
5. Double Down On User Interface
What makes users stay on a website and even come back to it several times after their first visit is its interface. Your website’s interface will make a lasting impression on your audience. To drive results, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Be consistent with your branding throughout your website design
- Keep fonts easy-to-read and use graphics that are beautiful but not too distracting
- Keep graphics compressed and optimized for faster load times
- Ensure contact information are easily accessed
- Add obvious CTAs or call-to-actions
6. Add Content
Content is the lifeblood of your business website. You will need the following:
- Homepage. This is what your customers will most likely see first. Offer a good impression by giving them a short overview of your products or services. Include clear navigation of the other sections of your website.
- Products or Services Page. Here you will showcase your work and the information that your customers need to know about them.
- About Page. This is where you will tell more about yourself, your team, or the business itself.
- Contact Page. While adding your contact details on one page or at the footer of every page is great, it’s also a good idea to have a contact form so your customers can easily reach you.
- Blog. With content marketing being a valuable tool for both awareness and conversion, having a page solely for blogs or industry news and updates is a must.
7. Invest in Search Engine Optimization
When you want to market online, one thing you’ll have to decide on is to choose if you want to focus on SEO or PPC, or both. If you have content already available, you can start with SEO. It’s a strategy of refining your content so that it will rank higher on SERPs (search engine result pages).
The best way to ensure this is to use appropriate keywords in all your posts and pages, optimize your website for speed, include external and internal links, and use a responsive design so that your website can be viewed on all devices.
8. Publish and Market Your Website
Remember to test your website before it goes live. Click through every page and feature on all major browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge and if everything displays properly on all devices. Check if all images show up and if the links are correct. Make sure that everything is accurate and readable.
Once you’ve done all of this, hit publish! Alert your customers about your website on your social media channels. Whenever you have an update, say a new product line or your latest blog, post about it on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and wherever necessary.
Your website will grow your business. And for it to run like a well-oiled machine, it’s important for you to maintain it and keep it secured. Website maintenance doesn’t have to be at all overwhelming. Just keep it up-to-date so that you can keep your audience informed and engaged.
If it’s your very first time building a website, have patience. It’s a long journey, but it is one worth taking especially when your customers keep coming back to support your business.