Are you an entrepreneur, small-business owner, or a home-based business owner, or medium to large-sized business owner? Regardless of the type of business, if you are selling products or services, a website is definitely required to promote and create awareness. Irrespective of your marketing methods, enabling potential customers to either find you through a Google search or learn more about you after reading your marketing material is key to finding new customers.
The excuse of websites being too complicated or too expensive to create is no longer valid. Thanks to the advancements in software technology and CMS platforms, creating a website for your business is easier than you think.
You can do it yourself if you are so inclined or need to keep costs down, you can get a friend to help, or you can hire a Web developer to do it for you at a modest cost. Irrespective of the path you choose, it is important to understand the steps to create your business website.
Follow these 7 simple steps to have your business website up and running:
1. Decide the Objective of your website
What do you want the website to do for your business? Will it be a static website that will provide information about your products or services to web visitors? Or would you like to provide useful information about your industry by writing articles and posting them on your blog? Or would you like to sell your products online? Or would you like to book appointments online through your website?
Think carefully about the overall purpose of the website and then move to the next step, as it will guide you on how to design and build your website. Of course, you can always update your website later on and make it a multi-purpose website.
2. Choose your website’s Domain Name
Domain name is what your potential customers will use to find your website, i.e. www.mybusiness.com. Check and see if your business name is available by going to https://ca.godaddy.com/ and searching for it.
If the .COM or .CA version of your business name is available, then that’s perfect, since most people use .COM / .CA and it is easier to remember than .NET or .INFO. If it is not available, then look for an alternative that resonates with your type of business.
Here are some suggestions to find an awesome domain:
- Match your business name as closely as possible
- Avoid using hyphens or acronyms.
- Should be available on all major social media sites
- It should be brandable
- It should be easy to remember
- It should be catchy
- It should be unique
- Try to get top-level domain extensions (.com, .net, .org)
- Keep it short
- Be careful of copyright infringement
3. Get a Hosting account
Once you’ve chosen a domain, the next step is to decide where to host your website. A host is the service that actually stores your website on an online server and displays it to visitors. You can get a hosting account from GoDaddy, BlueHost, Hostgator, or others.
You can start off with a less expensive and less powerful shared hosting services and can step up to faster and more powerful dedicated hosting later on, if required.
Please make sure that the hosting account includes web hosting and email addresses. To make your business look more professional and established, you’ll need a custom business email address, instead of using a generic gmail or yahoo email address.
4. Install a Web Content Management System
Once you have a hosting account, a Content Management System (CMS) needs to be installed with 1-click through the control panel provided by your hosting provider. Most popular CMS platform is WordPress. I would also recommend WordPress due to the following reasons:
- Huge developer network
WordPress is a user-friendly website builder. It has pre-built templates that you can choose based on your business type and the functionality you are interested in. It comes pre-built with blog. You can also get many plugins for WordPress that add different functionalities. That includes e-commerce, social media, picture galleries, memberships, appointment scheduling, podcasts, videos, newsletters, and much more.
5. Write your website content
Now it’s time to decide what your website is going to say. Figuring out what to say on your website can be challenging, and one of the main reasons business owners put off creating one.
It needs to be compelling to visitors and convey the right kind of information at the right level, so visitors actually read it instead of moving on to the next website. When you write content, think about it from a marketing and sales perspective.
Think about the objective you decided on 1st step and see what kind of content will support that objective. It doesn’t need to be filled with a lot of text and content. Just make sure that there is a clear Call-To-Action (CTA) on every page, which could be “contact us” form, or phone no. or email address. Here are the basic pages you should have on your website:
- Homepage: On the homepage, you should include the name of your business, where you’re located, and a simplified pitch – a few lines about what makes you unique and/or why customers should choose your business, over your competitors. It should also have icons/images of products/services, linked to their respective web pages and call-to-action and contact info at the bottom.
- Products / Services: A page with details about the products / services you offer. You have the option to provide all details on this page, or only have brief information here, with links to web pages dedicated for each product / service.
- About Us: Provide some history and background information about your business, as well as about yourself (business owner). Also, mention your business mission, vision, and core values. Images of yourself and employees on this page will be very helpful in improving the credibility of your business.
- Contact Us: Your basic contact information like physical address, email, phone number, along with hours of operation should be mentioned here with a Google map of your location embedded on it. Also, links to your social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn should appear on this page.
In addition to text, you also need images. Since you should have chosen a template with visual elements or background images that match your particular business, other images and graphics are generally used to supplement the text content or sometimes even replace it.
6. Get a Logo
The colors, font, and style of your logo will affect the design of your website. This is because you want a consistent theme between your logo and web pages.
If you already have a logo that you are using in the offline world, then perfect. Find the digital file, or create a high resolution scan to use on your website. If you do not already have a logo, or want to upgrade from your existing design, there are three key ways to create one:
- Design it yourself on Microsoft Paint or Adobe Photoshop.
- Get a professional graphic designer to design it for you.
- User fiverr.com / 99designs.com to get a logo designed for a low price.
7. Design your website
Now that you have all the pieces for your small business website ready, it’s time to put them all together into a nice looking website. There are thousands of pre-built templates in WordPress to choose from. Pick the one that meets your website objectives and has the functionalities you are looking to build in your website. Some templates are fairly generic while others are either themed to a particular type of product or service (with background graphics and other visual elements that reflect the product or service) or have built-in features that you may find attractive. For eg., if you are a yoga instructor, you would look for a template geared towards fitness and health, and also allows you to display your yoga sessions schedule with an ability for visitor to register.
On average, it takes a visitor less than 3 seconds to decide whether to stay or leave once they hit your website, so it is imperative that you make a good first impression. Here are a few tips to ensure your website is keeping people engaged:
- Have clear navigation – You want people who visit your site to instantly know what your business is about and where to go to learn about your products or services, find pricing, and contact a representative. If your site is not clear, people will get frustrated and exit out. So plan your sitemap carefully, thinking about your top pages and sub-pages, with a clear menu bar on the top for easy navigation.
- Use Call-To-Action (CTA) buttons – Implementing buttons with clear actions will lead your visitor in taking the desired action, thus converting a prospect into a paying customer.
- Make sure your site is loading quickly – People are impatient, and if your site takes even a fraction of a second too long to load, people will give up and look elsewhere. Make sure your web host provider has fast load times.
- Keep it minimal – Don’t overdo it with the design and definitely don’t feel like you need to cover every square inch with information or a design. Use large, concise headline to grab the attention and use plenty of white space, so it does not look over-crowded. Look at your website from a customer’s perspective and design it accordingly.
It is critical to invest some time on your small business website to ensure that it has all basic elements of a great website. It does not have to be perfect from Day 1. As your business grows, you can update your website and add more features and content to it.
If you simply don’t have time to create a website, or if you want a unique design, hire the services of an expert. Feel free to check out our website design process and portfolio, and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (416)278-0734 to discuss your requirements.