There are certainly some impressive websites out there and they look like they have been made by a multinational corporation, though chances are they are being run by a small business just like you. This guide will look at what is required to build your own website.
A website is a collection of publicly accessible, interlinked Web pages that share a single domain name. Websites can be created and maintained by an individual, group, business or organisation to serve a variety of purposes. Together, all publicly accessible websites constitute the World Wide Web.
WHY should I have a website?
A website will give you a place to explain your brand and offer your products and services to customers. It may be just an information site or alternatively may offer a digital storefront for goods 24 hours a day to a global audience.
This is a place you can promote your business and engage with customers more efficiently.
WHAT do you need to do before you build a website?
Read our essential guide on web domain and email. This will show you how to register a domain name which is your website name. for example, SBanswers.com is the domain name of this site. Once you have secured a name you can now decide what to do with it.
Your next step is to come up with a digital strategy. This strategy will include what technologies you want to use like a website, social media, e-commerce, video, or email, and what outcome you hope to get as a result. A good idea is to have some sort of roadmap (plan) and who is responsible for the outcomes.
Website type is your next decision
- Corporate – Don’t be confused by the name. This is a site for your small business to provide information about your business, and to let potential clients or customers know how they can get in touch with you.
- Blog – This is an online journal or informational pages that are regularly updated. Gadgetguy.com.au our sister site is an example of this with technology news and reviews updated most days.
- E-commerce – An online store to transact a sale including accepting money and shipping goods. Our essential guide on e-commerce covers this in detail.
HOW do I build a website?
You can build one from the ground up which is expensive or as a small business, we expect you will use a readymade template. The site will need to be hosted and although you could do it yourself we do not recommend it. Instead, you should look to the domain/hosting companies that not only host your site but also will provide you templates and web builders that do not require any special expertise to be able to pull together a professional-looking site. E.g Crazy domains or Go Daddy.
The next step is to create the content and the look and feel for the site. Remember the site will be available 24 hours a day to anyone in the world and for many will be the first impression a customer will have of your business. So choose designs and fonts that represent you, maybe you are creative or maybe you are very serious. They say pictures tell a thousand words and again this is critical. Pick pictures that relate to what you do and the messages you want to get across. The most important part of your site however is ultimately the words and how you describe your business, products, and services. Including keywords that relate to what you offer will increase your chances of being found on the internet (SEO).
Your website is now built and published on the internet but do not expect people will swamp it on its first day. It will take some time before search engines like Google find it. It won’t be found organically (without help) as nobody knows your new domain name yet. In a separate guide we cover SEO Search Engine Optimisation and SEM Search Engine Marketing. Put simply these are ways to make your business found more easily on the web and tactics you can use to promote your business on the internet.
In evaluating the different hosting providers look for the following things:
- Cost – How much per month
- Webspace or storage – The size of the website they will host for that plan.
- Bandwidth – If there is any limit on the amount of traffic the site hosts.
- Websites – Some plans allow you to have several sites in the same plan.
- Email – The number of included mailboxes.
- Templates & Tools – to help you build and maintain your website.
- Stock images – x number of stock images will be included in your subscription.
- Speed – some plans offer faster loading speeds. Customers are more likely to stay on your site if pages load fast.
- Backup – whether a backup is kept of your site in case of failure.
- DDoS protection – protects against Distributed Denial of Service attacks which can cause outages.
- SSL certificate – This is encryption which is needed to keep online sales secure.
- Uptime Guarantees – represented as a percentage of time they guarantee your website will be available to be viewed.
- Monitoring – allows you to see statistics on your site and view any issues that arise.
- Tech support – Hours of service they are there to help resolve issues.
- UI – the simplicity of the interface to administer your website.
When sourcing photos for your site use your own or use those of others but make sure if you use someone else’s you have permission. You may be provided with some “stock” photos free to use but other photos can be utilised for a small license fee. If you use someone’s photo without permission, they may come looking for payment in the form of a letter from a lawyer.
Remember when writing content (text) be aware of how you see your business and how a customer sees it may be very different. For example, your widget with doubled mirrored redundancy might mean something to you but to the customer they may not know what you are talking about. Always think about what the benefit to the customer is and explain it to them in their language.
It’s important to test your website before you go live. This ensures your customers can easily navigate around it and if you have an e-commerce store successfully buy your products or services.
A web site is not something that should be built then forgotten. Always look to update and improve it to remain relevant and attract customers.
SUMMARY– Quality website experience
A website will boost your brand and help you sell. It is relatively simple and inexpensive to set up a site with a template. If you are not confident to build your own website many companies can assist you to produce one. Always test your website and always keep it up to date to ensure the best customer experience.