There are certainly some impressive websites out there, and they look like they have been made by a multinational corporation, though chances are a small business is running them just like you. This guide will look at what is required to build your 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 various 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 may provide 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 this site’s domain name. Once you have secured a name, you can 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. 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 site for your small business provides information about your business and lets potential clients or customers know how they can get in touch with you.
- Blog – This is an online journal or informational pages that is 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, it would help if you looked 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 pull together a professional-looking site. E.g. Crazy domains or Go Daddy.
The next step is creating the site’s content and look and feel. Remember, the site will be available 24 hours a day to anyone worldwide 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 perhaps you are very serious. They say pictures tell a thousand words, and again this is critical. Pick images that relate to what you do and the messages you want to get across. The most important part of your site is ultimately the words and how you describe your business, products, and services. Including keywords related to your 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, and it won’t be found organically (without help) as nobody knows your new domain name yet. We cover SEO Search Engine Optimisation and SEM Search Engine Marketing in a separate guide. Put simply. These are ways to make your business found more easily on the web and tactics you can use to promote your business online.
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 encryption 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 those of others but ensure you have permission if you use someone else’s. 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 may see it differently. 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, and this ensures your customers can easily navigate around it and, if you have an e-commerce store, successfully buy your products or services.
A website is not something that should be built and 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. Setting up a site with a template is relatively simple and inexpensive. If you are not confident in building your website, many companies can assist you in producing one. Always test your website and always keep it up to date to ensure the best customer experience.