So you want to build a website for your small business so you can find new customers on the internet? Good For You!!
Below is a basic step-by-step guide on what you need to Do It Yourself!
What Kind Of Site Are You Building?
There are websites of all shapes and sizes and you need to select one to suit your needs. From a basic single page that says who you are to a fully fledged e-commerce site you should know from the start what you want, at least in outline. For the sake of this article let's assume that you are building a simple site for your business with say 1-10 pages.
Whatever your purpose there a re a few simple things that you will need to consider
- The website looks clean, crisp and easy to read when it first opens - you have only a few seconds to impress your future customer. First Impressions REALLY count
- The site needs to open quickly - If it takes to long people will NOT wait. They will just hit the backbutton and head elsewhere.
- The site needs to convey three things easily. These are your NAME, ADDRESS and PHONE NUMBER. They are the three most important things that visitors want to know, first up, when they arrive on your home page.
- You will need some basic content for your site. Description of your product or service, images other relevant information. So make a few notes of how you think you would like it to look. Search similar businesses on the web and find sites in your, or similar, industries you like the look of that could act as a demonstration of what you might want your site to look like. Now you are ready to move on.
Domain Name and Hosting
This is a very important part of your website. If you imagine youself opening what we refer to as a "Bricks and Mortar" business in your town, the first thing you need is a name for that business. The DOMAIN NAME is the online equivalent.
If possible it should be as close as you can get to your business name and reasonably short while staying clear of abbreviations, acronyms and numbers.
You also need to decide on your TLD (Top-Level Domain). These are the letters after the dot at the end of your Domain Name. For example I am sure many of you are familiar with amazon.com and facebook.com. There are quite a few that are available but unless it is impossible you need to stick to the Number 1 TLD in your country.
If you are in the USA then .com is for you; In the United Kingdom .co.uk is the one and in Australia .com.au is what you are aiming for. If you are not certain what is best for you check out this list of all TLD's worldwide.
In the same way that the DOMAIN NAME is the name of your business, the WEB HOSTING provides the equivalent of a regular business's street address. Your physical location if you like.
There are dozens of web hosting companies around but I would like to offer you three that I feel will be most suitable to you. The first is for all around the world, the second is for Aussies because we are like that and the third is for a real DIY run at the problem. Obviously I would recommend getting someone to do this for you because honestly, there are so many hiccups and pitfalls it is really a good idea to save time and probably money and let the professionals take care of it...and it is not as expensive a youus might think.
Before I do however I should tell you that I have affiliate accounts with each of these companies which means that if you follow one of these links and buy from them, I will get a small commission, so thank you in advance.
FOR HOSTING WITHIN AUSTRALIA
If you live in Australia and would prefer to use and Aussie company I can highly recommend Netorigin. The reason is I use them myself and their service and support has always been fantastic.
FOR HOSTING OUTSIDE AUSTRALIA
Wherever I travel around the web one name is used as being the best for hosting. bluehost. Check their great prices and support and I am certain you will be happy with them
IF YOU WANT A TRUE DIY OPTION
Then WIX is highly advertised and easy to use but you should always remember that if you run with WIX and want to leave them you cannot take your site with you.
WEBSITE BUILDING PLATFORMS
Their are literally hundreds of website building platforms and site builders around. There some you may have heard of like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Wix... the list goes on. You could of course start from scratch and build it from scratch using basic code, but unless you know what you are doing this will be a slow and painful option.
I could give you all kinds of statistics about the fact that there are 3.95 Billion internet users in the world as of June 2018 (thanks to a website caled Hosting Facts for these figures) and total numbers of users and so on.
For me there are only two highly relevant statistics. According to a recent survey by W3Techs 32% of all websites are built on WordPress. (That is WordPress.org...not WordPress.com). This figure is 10 times more than any other similar platform.
The second statistic is that well over double that number of internet marketing people use WordPress. One of the main reasons for this is that wordpress is FREE!. Sure there are paid additions to it, but you can use it absolutely free and it will work perfectly and look great.
All in all, WordPress is already the biggest and best in exactly the area you want to be. Unless you want to try Wix, or similar programs like Squarespace and Shopify, all of which come at a much higher cost and much lower versatility, WordPress is the place for you to stop hunting.
There are a couple of ways to do this but lets take the easist path.
- Log Into Your Hosting Account
- Go to your control panel
- Select "WordPress" Icon (see image)
- Select The Install Button
- Fill In The Required Details
- Click "Install Now" and 'VOILA!' All Done
There are upwards of 2000 different themes available for WordPress sites and each of these can have almost unlimited variations. You will find some themes come with pre-built demo sites which you can install to give a pretty long running start on your website, just find one you like the look of and install it. Otherwise you are starting from scratch and even a fairly straightforward system like WordPress makes that a steep learning curve for the beginner.
Sites like WIX and some of the others we have mentioned above that have their own sitebuilders built in to their membership system can obviously make this process easier for you but each one of those companies come with a completely different cost structure where you will be paying them on a monthly basis into the distant future rather than paying just for a site to be built. I guess there really is no such thing as a free lunch, as the saying goes. Especially if you can find someone to build you a site for almost the same cost as an annual Shopify site will cost you, right?
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Each theme developer will have instructions on how to use their themes to a greater or lesser degree. So at this stage we have got you a site up and now it is up to you to make it look pretty.
We can certainly give you some great ideas on how to do that but thats for another post or several. Good Luck and happy websiting.