Simple steps to create a small website

Simple steps to create a small website

Everyone needs a website, but many indivduals or small businesses still do not have one because they find it too complicated or expensive. Creating a small business website does not need to be expensive or complicated. Below is a guide on how to create a basic website that will allow customers to locate your business, find your contact details, and learn about the products or services that your company offers. If you set up a good basic website from the start, then you can add on additional features in the future.

Once you have read the below article we recommend building your website with Weebly. Weebly is a do-it-yourself website builder that anyone can use to build a professional looking website in around 1 hour. To try Weebly for free click here.
Step 1: Choose and Register Your Small Business Website’s Domain Name

Here are the 4 primary things to keep in mind when choosing a domain name for your small business website:

  1. Whenever possible your domain should contain your company name. For more on choosing a great name for your company, see our guide on the topic here.
  2. Domain names are important for search engines, like Google. When possible they should include words that people are likely to use when searching for your business and/or the products and services you sell.
  3. Domain names should be easy to pronounce and remember. Keep your name as short as possible and avoid punctuation like dashes.
  4. Domain names should be unique. You want to minimize the chance of someone trying to reach your business ending up at a different site.

You always want to choose the .COM version of a domain.

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Use the domain name tool at GoDaddy.com to search for available domain names. Start with the name of your business. If someone has the “.com” version of your name, try the name of your business in combination with your geographic location of your business or what you do (if its not obvious from your name). For example, if your company is called Smith Plumbers and based in Albany, NY, you would first try www.smithplumbers.com. If that wasn’t available, you might try www.smithplumbersalbany.com or www.salvatoreplumbersny.com. Once you have found the domain name you want you can register the name at Godaddy for around $13 a year. If you want more tips on choosing a domain name, see our top 25 tips from the pros.

Step 2: Outline the content and pages that you want on your site.

You should have your content outlined before you start designing your small business website. Design is secondary to content and should facilitate client’s easily finding the content they are looking for. Every website should have 5 pages to start:

Homepage: On the homepage, you should include the name of your business, where you’re located or area you serve, plus give one or 2 reasons to do business with your company.
Products and Services: a page with details about the products you sell or services your provide. On the page which you detail products or services, spend one to five sentences describing each type you offer and give the pricing.
Testimonials: Lend credibility, trustworthiness, and show your experience.
About Us: Provide your background, include testimonials, and list organization memberships like being part of the Better Business Bureau.
Contact Us: Your address, email, phone number, the hours you are open for business, and links to any social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook. You should also Embed a google map of your location and include different ways of getting there (ie subway, train, car etc) if applicable.

In addition to a contact page your phone and address (if applicable) information along with any social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter, should be prominently featured on every page of your site. For search engine purposes make sure that your phone number and address are text and not part of an image.

Step 3: Decide on a Logo

The colors and type of logo that you have will determine the colors and other design elements of your entire site, so start the design process with your logo. If you already have a logo that you are using in the offline world, then you want to be consistent and use a digital copy of this for your small business website as well. If you do not already have a logo then there are 3 different ways you can create one:

Do it yourself
There are a number of logo wizards out there that will allow you to create your own logo. However, many of those advertised as being “free” are really not free because you have to pay to download the logo you created with the “free tool” One that does not charge you for most of the logos they allow you to create is Graphic Springs.

Use Fiverr.com:
Fiverr.com is a site that matches you with all kinds of service providers who are willing to do projects, including logos, for just $5. If you use the $5 option you will have to wait a couple of weeks to get your logo. If you are willing to pay around $20 you can generally get it that same week. Make sure you only choose designers who have a portfolio you like and lots of positive reviews.

Use 99Designs.com: 99Designs.com runs contests where multiple designers compete for your logo and other design business. This is a great option because you get to see many different designs but only pay for the one that you choose. The price ranges from $299 to $799 depending on how many designers you want competing and the quality of those designers. For more on how to get the most out of 99Designs read this post from Steve Hopkins over at The Squiggly Line.

Work with 1 Designer: If you decide to work with a designer on your small business website (see step 4 below) then most will create your logo as part of the site design.

Step 4: Design Your Small Business Website Site

There are a variety of ways we outline below to have your site designed. Regardless of which option you choose you want to make sure that you keep the following in mind:

1. Use a Website builder/Wordpress

In the last year or two, website builders have really made some leaps and bounds. Now, it is possible to create a business website with little-to-no coding experience, just using a drag-and-drop interface. We recommend Weebly. You can read why in our website builder buyer’s guide, or go ahead and build a website with Weebly now.

WordPress is also a good option. WordPress, although not technically a website builder, is a contact management system. This basically means you can use it for the backend of your website. There are many, many reasons why you should use WordPress, not the least of which is that it makes it so you can update your site yourself instead of having to contact a designer every time you want to change some text. If you need more convincing read Marty Dickinson’s article the 35 reasons you should use WordPress.

2. Avoid Flash:

Flash is what allows you to have an opening page with movement, you can see an example here. In addition to being bad from a user experience standpoint, search engines cannot read flash so this will make it much less likely that your site will show up in Google.

3. Mobile Site:

Having a mobile site is a must in today’s smartphone world. If you host your site with Godaddy, they will not only walk you through the entire process but they also give you a free mobile version of your site when you choose their deluxe hosting plan. That will run you around $8 a month.

Here are your options:

Do it Yourself

The great thing about the technology available today is that even the layperson can build their own website and host it on one platform. Using a website builder like Weebly, you can easily create a professional looking website in less than an hour, complete with links to social media, an online store, and a blog. Also, most website builders will allow you to purchase a custom domain name through their service or point a domain name you already own to their site. Don’t know how to point a domain name? No worries, each website builder has a tutorial that tells you how to do it. Here’s Weebly’s tutorial.

If you go with WordPress, Bluehost has fantastic customer service agents which can get you setup with a basic hosting plan and help you install WordPress. There are many themes (basically templates) available for wordpress, some free and some paid, that you can install and modify with the click of a mouse. To learn more about this option and get a wealth of other info for WordPress beginners visit WPBeginner.com.

Use a Freelancer

If you don’t see a theme you like or want something more custom then you can use freelancers on elance.com or freelancer.com to help you build your site. Two things to keep in mind 1. make sure they use wordpress 2. make sure they are highly rated, have a portfolio of sites that you like, and have done more than a few thousand dollars worth of work. If you have a theme that you like but want some modifications this is also a cost efficient option.

99Designs

Just as you can get a logo designed by 99Designs.com you can also have your full website designed. The concept is the same, you submit a brief on what you are looking for and get back anywhere from 20 to 60 designs. Again here you only pay for the design you choose. The price ranges from $599 to $1599 depending on which package you go with. If you go this route keep in mind that you will still need to have the site created in HTML which will cost you an additional $1000 or so.

Want to create a pro business website in less than 60 minutes? Click Here to get our FREE Website Builder guide and find out how.

Work with 1 Designer

If you want a more personal level of interaction, like perhaps sitting down with a designer in person, then this may be the route for you. You can expect to pay several thousand dollars for a good individual designer, and again here you want to make sure they have a portfolio you like, have done work for a lot of clients, and can communicate effectively.

Once you have set up your new website, there are a few things that everyone should do to make sure you get off on the right foot, which is the topic of our next article. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you and respond to all comments personally.
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