Some Things to Know About How to Build a Website
Have you ever wondered how to build a website for your business?
Having an online presence—a website—provides a landing place for current and potential customers to learn more about you, reach out to you and buy from you.
In fact, a website is a key component in your marketing foundation ecosystem. Nearly everything you do in your business will revolve around your online presence.
And think about this: 70-80 percent of your customers are going to look at your website before visiting you in person or making an online purchase.
That’s a lot of potential first impressions and you want to make a good one!
To help you do that you need to really understand your customers’ goals and buying behaviors. Once you have that information, you can create individualized online experiences to make your first impression a great one!
Whether you are starting on a website for the very first time, or simply refreshing an old one, there are some things that need to be on your checklist before you get started.
HubSpot has a great “big picture” checklist for you to check out and make sure you’ve got your bases covered. Small Biz Trend has another. The point is, find one one and stick to it.
Start with the Big Picture
“You’re going to make mistakes. The key is to learn from them as fast as possible and make changes as soon as you can. That’s not always easy to do because ego and pride get in the way, but you have to put all that aside and look at the big picture.” –Tiger Woods
The first thing to ask yourself is “What is the the purpose of my website?” What do you want your online presence to do for your visitors? This isn’t some pie-in-the sky exercise! It’s the very first step toward having a website that serves the purpose that you need for your business.
Will you be mainly an ecommerce site and sell products onliner? Will you have an educational site with tons of really great content that people want to read? You’ll need to sketch that out in your mind before you move on.
Nail Down the Details
Now it’s time to start thinking about the framework or how how to build a website.
- Choose and register your domain name. It’s more than likely that your first choice won’t be available, but there can be many great combinations that will work. You’ll need to keep it short and catchy and descriptive of your business. Here are some tips to make your url easily searchable and useful in Google:
- Don’t forget you will have to live with the url for a long time, so make sure you really, really like it!
- If you’ve got multiple ideas and the domains are available, go ahead and purchase different variations. They typically aren’t expensive and you may find that they are unavailable in the future when you want to add services. It’s unfortunate but there are brand poachers out there who buy up domains and try to sell them at exorbitant rates. And occasionally you may run into a competitor or a business with a similar name and you want to be the one to own the variations first.
- Find a solution for web hosting. Why? Your web site needs to be stored on a server somewhere and made available on the internet. Whenever someone types in or clicks on your url through a search, the web host will allow those visitors to see your site. Some of the website builder tools also offer online web hosting, however, we recommend choosing a hosting company that is an expert in hosting and offers 24/7 support.
- What platform is best for your site? You can use a website builder or a content management system (CMS). Weebly, Wix and Squarespace are three that are fairly common. All are great for first time site builders without any development experience. WordPress is also a great platform, with thousands of themes . You can create custom sites “out-of-the-box” without much or any development experience. WordPress is also a platform that grows with you as your business grows. If you’re looking at building an ecommerce site you may consider Shopify. Also, talk to other entrepreneurs who have websites and find out what they like (or don’t like) about their set-up.
Just remember, not all CMS programs are created alike. You may want to make a list of some features that you are going to need. For example, a shopping cart or seamless integration into social media? Super-easy upkeep in exchange for less customization?
And now the fun part…
Now that you’ve gotten the technical stuff nailed down, you can think a little bit more about what you want your site to actually look like!
Choosing a template for your website is a very important step for a new entrepreneur. The look and feel (as well as words and pictures) will create your brand to the world.
Research has shown that your business profits will increase exponentially when you keep your visual and written brand consistent across all of your marketing materials… including your website!
So if your brand is fun, lively and engaging, make sure your website template reflects that same joie de vivre with colorful images and exciting content.
In fact, before you go a lot farther, make sure that you have your images lined up. Stock imagery is pretty common and custom imagery taken by you or a professional (even better) is best. You don’t want to have your website launch be held up while you go and search for images that reflect your business.
And, if you have a company logo, using it prominently on your website is a given.
The Write Stuff
Once you’ve got the look and feel, it’s time to sketch out your site map and determine what type of content will be on the pages.
Most sites use their homepage as an introduction to let the world know what their business does. But after that, you will need to have pages to outline your services, tell people who you are, and how to contact you.
The content that you put on these pages could arguably be the most important element on your web pages. For, it is these words and information that people may be looking for when they use a search engine.
If you have a physical location where a customer might want to visit, make sure you have the address and city as well as phone number for your business. This is also great copy for a “Contact Us” page.
Many businesses use blogging content to highlight a customer’s pain points. Then, they show how their services can solve those problems. Along the way, the customer wants to be educated. They also feel that your website is an authoritative source for that information.
No matter which way you head in terms of adding content to your website, one thing you will need to be very aware of is search engine optimization (SEO) and keyword research. Moz has a great beginner’s guide to help you understand why understanding the use of keywords is so important.
You will need to know what words and phrases your customers are searching for. Then, write about those topics in a way that shows you are a subject matter expert (SME) and entices them to learn more about your company. Hubspot recommends that if you are really stuck when looking for keywords and topics to write about, look and see what your competitors or others in your industry are writing about.
Set a Deadline and Stick To It
Learning how to build a website can seem like a pretty daunting task. But like most things, it’s easier to accomplish a large task by breaking it down into smaller chunks.
Whenever you are executing any of your foundational marketing plans, you want to set reasonable deadlines. Get feedback along the way and reassess your plan each quarter to ensure you are getting the results you want.
Are you interested in finding out how solid your SMB’s marketing foundation really is? Take our quick and free quiz to get instant results in four different core areas, including the strength of your online presence. We’re happy to chat with you after that if you need some more directi
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