Choose your domain
Your domain is the address at which internet users will be able to find your site.
In most cases, you will probably want to register something as close as possible to your trading name, but there might be reasons to choose something else.
Decide the purpose of your business website
Once you’ve registered your domain, you need to decide exactly what you need your business website for. For example, are you using it just to display contact details, along with some information about your business? Do you want to host a blog? Do you need a customer support function? Or, along with all these things, are you also looking to sell items online or take payment?
Choose a hosting provider
Next, you need to choose the hosting company that will store your data, and make it available on your domain.
Your choice of hosting provider will depend on a range of factors including storage limits, bandwidth, and cost. However, you should also consider the software options that the hosting company provides.
Choose your software
Given that you’ve decided to build your website yourself, you’ll probably want to find a solution that gives you the best possible site for the least possible effort, and with the lowest level of existing knowledge. Luckily, there is a range of software options that help you build a business website quickly and easily, with great results.
To begin with, you should understand the difference between options that are available through your hosting provider, and third party alternatives.
Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, and similar solutions can be installed through your hosting company’s back end services. These work on a template basis: you can install one of thousands of templates available through the platforms, and then tweak them to your taste. While you don’t need much coding ability to do this, you should note that you will need to learn how the systems work in order to tweak those existing templates and get the most out of them.
Alternatively, you might also choose to use a third party option. These include platforms like Wix and Squarespace. While these also run on templates, they tend to be easier to tweak and are often built with businesses in mind as opposed to blogs or consumer sites. Squarespace, for example, gives you the option to drag and drop items onto individual pages, and you can quickly build a great looking site with absolutely no coding ability.
Bear in mind that using solutions like Wix and Squarespace, which are becoming increasingly popular, will incur an extra cost on top of your hosting and domain bills.
However, if you want to build an e-commerce website, you may find these options significantly easier than Wordpress and its competitors, as you won’t need to fiddle around with plugins to build shopping carts and take payments. Instead, everything is there from the outset.
Build a site plan
You need to think carefully about what you want to include in your site. The simplest way to do this is with pen and paper. For example, a basic site might include:
- Home page
- Details of services offered
- Contact form
Of course, your website might be more complex than this, especially if you’re including an e-commerce function. Don’t worry about the content of the pages at this point. Instead, just think about which basic pages or page templates you will need, and how they will link together.
Ensure Your Website Is Mobile Optimized
It’s vital that you think about how your site will look on mobile, as an increasing proportion of consumers now use their phone or a tablet as the first port of call for browsing. Sadly, many websites aren’t optimised for mobile viewing as standard.
Populate your business website
Once you’ve chosen a provider and template, and have added the pages according to your site plan, you need to start adding content. This might include your contact details, information about the services your business offers, and a list of products and prices.
Throughout this process, you should think carefully about SEO. This is the process by which you optimise your site to ensure it ranks highly in search engines when users search for relevant terms.
Promote your business website
As well as good SEO practices, you should consider promoting your website through pay-per-click advertising. This refers to the ad results that you see at the top of, for example, Google search results, or on social media platforms.
With even a small budget, this can be a great way to increase the visibility of your site.