Starting a business and wondering if you need a website?
Starting a business and not sure if you want to have a website? Not only are there many benefits to having a website, but these days most people expect you to have one so that they can quickly get a sense of what your company does, hours of operation, contact information and so forth. There are many options available and it can be relatively low cost to get one started either by creating one yourself or using a professional services organization. It is no longer a complicated and tedious process to get one started.
Why Should You Create a Website?
Increases your reach. It’s important to be found online because this is where most people start their search for a business. Whether you are selling a product and/or service, don’t underestimate the power of the internet and getting your business seen worldwide.
Adds business credibility. The first thing people do when they hear about a business is look it up online. They want to know more details about the business such as experience, team members, testimonials, etc. If your business is not online, they may think that you are not serious about your business or that you are hiding from something and not legitimate. Creating a presence does not mean you have to create a complex website, you can simply create one page to keep it low maintenance if you prefer, but it is important to have a presence.
Potential increased sales. If you sell products, why not sell them on your website. You now have the opportunity to sell your products 24 X 7 worldwide without time limits and geographic limitations.
Builds rapport with your customers. Showcase your work. If you are an artist, designer, photographer, writer, etc, people can see your work quickly and easily.
Improved customer experience. Including a contact form or chat and allowing potential customers to reach you in different ways improves the overall customer experience.
Steps to Getting Started!
(Disclosure – We have included affiliate links which means that we get paid commission if you decide to sign up. Thanks for your support.”)
1. Decide if you will build it or hire someone to build it.
This would be the first step as many hosting providers frequently include domain names as part of their signup package. Separately, if you are hiring a services professional, they have recommendations based on their experiences and therefore will be able to guide you on best practices.
I would recommend you work with 2 or 3 service providers to get an estimate for how much it might cost to build it. Ask them to highlight what that would include: # of pages, photography included, contact pages, e-commerce, maintenance required, support, etc. This will help you in the decision process. If the cost is relatively low, you may decide to have someone create it for you so that you can focus on your business. If you are unsure, seek advice. At uVisualize, we can also provide guidance on which path to take depending on your preferences, budget, features, etc.
2. Determine which website builder or tools you will use.
In general, if you have limited IT knowledge and willing to sacrifice on price, flexibility and features, then some of the following hosted websites may be sufficient for you: Squarespace.com, Wix.com, WordPress.com. These companies typically charge you a monthly fee for access to the design environment which you will leverage to build your pages (content, pictures, logos) while they maintain the environment and take backups for you on a regular basis. You can also hire someone to design your website using these tools if you prefer.
WordPress.org is typically the preferred option as it has the most flexibility and features, however it is a self-hosted environment which means, you are responsible for selecting the hosting provider and setting up WordPress in addition to the design. This platform can also grow as your business grows as many of the plugins and tools are free.
I will be talking about website builders (hosted and self-hosted) and tools in more detail in a subsequent thread, so stay tuned.
3. Select a domain name.
A domain name is the official name of your website and also referred to as the URL. eg. uvisualize.com. First you will need to search for available names. Once you find a name that is available, you will want to buy it as quickly as possible so you have it and no one else can use it. There are many companies that provide the ability to search and buy a domain name. These include: Namecheap.com, InMotion Hosting , Domain.com, etc.
Note: You don’t need to buy it from the same company that hosts your site, however, if you sign up for a plan or hosting provider, they may provide 1 or more domain names as part of their plan, so be careful not to pay for something twice.
4. Create your brand identity.
Your brand identity includes things like colors, font types, logos, photography, icons, etc. If you have hired a company to create your website, they may have input to assist with decision points, eg. which colors are best, etc. There are various best practices on use of colors and fonts for websites. If you are building it yourself, you may want to read up on these before selecting your colors and fonts. Make sure your brand stands out among competitors, makes a visual impact and is cohesive across your website, print, etc.
5. Create your content.
At a high level, you will want to have at least 3 pages or sections on your website: Details about your company or services, an about page that highlights the team or owner(s) and a contact page where people can find out how to contact you. Optionally if you have merchandise or products to sell, include a product page or section. Take the time to design your site carefully and don’t be afraid to get input from your friends and family. A well designed site should be easy to navigate, intuitive, informative and mobile friendly!
6. Test and launch it!
Before you launch your website for all to see, make sure that you test it fully. This is also when you could ask your friends and family to review and provide comments. Make sure to test it using multiple browsers: Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome and devices: desktops, iphones, ipads, android, etc. Take a look at how the pictures look, formatting of paragraphs, links are correct, etc. As a final step, you will want to setup Google Analytics so that you can see how many people visit your site, what pages they visit, what marketing campaigns work, etc.
Once this is complete, you are ready for launch. Publish your website! This is when search engines like Google, Bing, etc. index your page so that when people are searching, your website can be found.
8. Market your website on social media/other platforms.
Don’t wait for people to find you, leverage social media to let everyone know what you do and how to reach you. Some suggestions include:
- Create a Facebook page that links back to your site,
- Tweet to your followers that you created a site,
- Update your Linkedin profile to include a link back to your website,
- Create or update your google place with your new address.
- Send out emails to your contact list informing them of your new website.
There are endless possibilities for letting people know your site is available. It is important to remember that new activity should happen on a regular basis. eg. new blog, tweet, facebook post, etc.
There may be regular maintenance tasks that you need to complete to keep your site fresh and up to date. You will also want to make sure that monthly backups of your site are taken in case there are issues and you need to restore your site. From a content perspective, make sure you are keeping it up to date with team members, contact information, products, etc.