Bringing your business online is more important than ever. Luckily, it’s also easier than ever – even if you can’t code or make a professional design.
But whether you’re a small service provider or a big-scale e-commerce online store, there are good and bad approaches to building your website that will likely determine your success.
In this detailed guide, you’ll learn the answer to the question “How to create a website for my business?” and you will be able to create a stunning website from scratch – entirely on your own.
Determine the purpose and goals of your website
Before making any decisions with a lasting impact, you should assess your goals. Depending on your plans, your structural and creative decisions will vary. This is important for budgeting, and it’s healthy to plan ahead so you choose the right infrastructural elements, such as the website builder, domain, hosting, and more.
7 questions to ask yourself before building a website
Here are some fundamental questions you should be able to answer before kickstarting your website-building journey.
1. Are you selling products or services?
Depending on what you offer, your website will look very different. Not only will the website’s functionalities differ, but you might want to take an alternative route with your choice of CMS or website-building tools (more on those later).
2. Is the website an extension of your existing business, or are you fully online?
If you already have a physical store or office, you will need to think about the unison between it and your website. For example, you will have to set up an inventory synchronization system or approach it manually.
3. Do you operate in a single country or globally?
It’s important to assess your scale and geographical reach even if you offer digital services, as not all website platforms offer localization options.
4. Do you expect a high influx of visitors right off the bat?
Having the right expectations regarding website traffic is key to choosing the right hosting provider, as well as other technical elements related to your website. Too much traffic on an unprepared website can cause site speed issues, which are detrimental to your site’s performance overall.
5. What’s your budget?
Your budget is a core aspect of your approach. It will affect your choice of website-building platform, plugins and your ability to hire external experts to optimize your site’s design, copy, or SEO.
6. What’s your target audience?
In other words, who you’re trying to reach. It’s always better to have a specific persona in mind than it is to make your website universally attractive. This will influence many design and rhetoric decisions you make for your pages.
7. What’s the purpose of your website?
Is it to sell more, or does it exist to boost brand awareness? A website can be many things, depending on its role within an organization. Make sure that you understand exactly what its function is so that you can develop it using the fitting tools and techniques.
Set your goals and expectations
Now that you understand the purpose of your business website, it’s important to set the right KPIs and goals. You don’t have to be precise or spend weeks setting quarterly prognoses, yet it’s healthy for a business to plan ahead and think about potential roadblocks.
On the one hand, you might have less traffic than expected, meaning you should invest in better discoverability or user interface. On the other hand, your website could experience an overabundance of visitors – a sign that you should focus on expanding your infrastructure, revisiting your processes, and adjusting for performance.
In any case, expectations don’t always parallel reality. Stay flexible and prepare for most scenarios in order to avoid downtime or website crashes.
Choose a domain name and web hosting provider
So, how do you make a website for your business? It all starts with choosing a hosting provider and a domain name. These two services are essential for building and maintaining business websites and are offered by third-party companies. Let’s look at both, as well as how to choose the right web host and domain provider.
What’s hosting, and how to choose a hosting company?
Hosting is a service that allows you to use a company’s computer servers in order to store your website data. This includes code (like CSS and HTML files) and design elements like images and videos. Essentially, hosting allows your website to operate online.
Choosing the right hosting company relies on a few priorities:
- Pricing: Your choice of plan or company will alter depending on your budget. Some hosting providers offer domains within their service packages, which is a great option for small businesses.
- Scale: If you plan to have hundreds of pages on your website, you will need more storage space. On top of that, your choice of a hosting plan should accommodate an expected high amount of traffic.
- User reviews: Visit Reddit or Quora (or any open community forum) to see real, uncensored, non-sponsored feedback from other users. You can find what solution your peers have chosen and put together a list of pros and cons.
- Dedicated support: Being able to easily find a solution to any potential issues is a massive quality-of-life benefit, especially in dynamic and stressful scenarios. Look for good client care and support.
- Ease of use & easy integration: If you’re making a website on your own, you will most likely use a website builder or content management system (CMS). Implementing your hosting services into your website system of choice is a considerable advantage – so look for web hosting services that offer a smooth and user-friendly experience.
What’s a domain, and how to choose a domain name?
The domain name is essentially your website address. “abcd.com” is a domain name. Many of the rules of choosing a domain provider remain the same. Reserving a domain name is relatively cheap, too.
There are some beneficial practices when choosing a domain name:
- Use keywords: If your website offers fishing goods, adding a fishing-related keyword like “pole,” “fishing,” or “fish” to your domain name can go a long way in making it easier to find.
- Use “.com”: “.com” websites are naturally perceived as more trustworthy. Trust equals clickthrough rates, which leads to more sales.
- Aim for a shorter domain name: Shorter domain names are easier to read and remember. Statistically, they generate more traffic. Opt-in for a domain name between 6 and 14 characters long.
- Minimize non-letter characters: Avoid using numbers, hyphens, and even double letters such as “tt” or “bb.” These elements impair the readability of a domain name.
And, of course, make sure that your domain name of choice is actually available. Buying an owned domain name can be expensive, so if yours is taken, you can make certain alterations or use another extension like .net or .org
Select a website builder or CMS platform
A SaaS solution (such as website builders and CMS platforms) is a great way to create professional-looking websites without the technical know-how. They are a relatively accessible approach to website building in terms of initial investment despite certain technical limitations due to users handling a third-party system.
Nevertheless, almost every small business website is built via website builders. This approach allows you to be self-sufficient and use pre-made templates while having access to all the features that a large or small business site needs.
There are some important factors to keep in mind:
- Consider the nature of your business: E-commerce stores tend to rely on SaaS solutions like NEXT BASKET, and Etsy, while service-based ones may prefer a simple WordPress website. Different web builders provide value for different business formats and niches.
- Integration potential: Integrations are external functionalities that can be added to your website to add new advanced features. Some of these features aren’t just cosmetic or optional – extensions like ERP systems and accounting software can be crucial to a business’s everyday operations. Therefore, picking a highly flexible platform for your business is very valuable.
- Scalability: It’s always safe to be prepared for growth. Pick a website builder that allows you to expand as your audience grows. At the very least, make sure the platform allows for a smooth migration (moving data from one platform to another).
- SEO capabilities: We’ll go over SEO in detail below. However, qualifying a website builder based on its SEO options is important.
- Budget: Most platforms require a monthly fee. Certain templates, media files, plugins, and features are also paid. Calibrate your decision and account for potential expenses.
- Live support: Quality live support can help when you’re stuck and need technical help – best of all, it usually comes with your subscription. This is a very important element, as the support team is your direct communication with your chosen SaaS company.
- Ease of use: This doesn’t only include an intuitive interface. It means being easy to add co-workers, having access to easily readable analytical tools, and more. If you’re not a web developer, avoiding complex solutions is preferable.
Subscribing to a website builder or CMS platform is arguably the most important step since it will house all other aspects of your website. Take your time and study your options. Most website builders even offer a trial period so that you can test the experience.
Choose a website design and layout
Your next step in creating your own website is to develop its aesthetic.
Besides looking good and being consistent with your product theme, your design needs to be coherent and easy on the eyes. High-quality images have a tremendous effect on visitor engagement, so make sure you place relevant photos on your pages.
Other important design aspects are colors, fonts, and your logo. All of these elements can be hand-picked or created by you. However, hiring a web designer who understands what makes a website truly effective is recommended if you have the necessary budget.
A great first step when designing your website is to look at your competition for inspiration.
More often than not, same-niche websites share fundamental qualities and features. Familiarizing yourself with the industry standards makes you trustworthy, as customers will see what they’re used to. This also puts you in a position to experiment, deviating from the standards to create something truly unique.
To kickstart your creative process, you can always rely on the preset templates that most web builders have. With the click of a button, they allow you to build entire web pages while still letting you tweak any particular element to your liking.
Add key pages
Depending on your industry, some web pages are essential for your business. Here are some of the most popular ones.
Since most people will land on this page first, it should be able to tell your visitors who you are, what your business does, and what your unique ability to help your customers is.
The content should be attention-grabbing and professional, while the page itself should be able to load fast. If you have any budget for copywriting or design, prioritize allocating it here.
In reality, the About Page is more of a page expected to be there instead of one many visitors actually click on. The upside to this is that you can be a lot more liberal and creative with how you design it.
To make it actually effective, you have to identify why people would click on it in the first place. Perhaps it’s to find out if your brand is legit. Or to see whether they resonate with your values?
However, if the reason for clicking on the About Page is because they don’t understand what you do – this means that your Homepage is ineffective.
Knowing what your visitors expect allows you to give them what they want in a brand-consistent way. Don’t be afraid to be creative here and show them how you’re different.
If your business offers multiple services, you’ll want to have a services page that outlines each individual service.
Before listing the services, though, it’s recommended to start with a value proposition that defines the general offer, who it’s for, and how it’s uniquely valuable. Touch upon a pain point, explain how your services can alleviate it, and mention the benefits.
This is also a good place to add a lot of testimonials and as much social proof as possible. Add numbers, quotes, success rates, and all statistics that prove you know what you’re doing.
List the actual services and clarify the process so your clients know exactly what to expect. It’s key that you place multiple CTAs (call to action) throughout the page, along with a contact form at the bottom of the page for any potential questions.
Successful product pages are highly dependent on high-quality images. Ensure eye-catching photos, videos and descriptions that clarify use cases, sizes, and pricing for each product.
In the general product page, a solid categorization system is very helpful to ensure a smooth customer experience. Provide sorting by size, color, price, etc.
We recommend having most of these elements in your product pages:
- Product images
- Product details
- An “Add To Cart” button
- Product descriptions
- “Recommended for you” section
Most blog readers will likely come from search engines (as opposed to being website visitors first.) Still, making your business blogs easy to find and sort is important. The actual blogs should have an easily readable font and high-quality images.
Make yourself easy to get in touch with so you provide a clear line for customer service and potential partnerships.
A Contact Us page is usually simple but could be slightly complex, depending on the nature of your business. For example, if you provide services, you might need information regarding your potential prospect.
Create and organize your website content
Organizing your website content is important for ensuring a smooth user flow – for that purpose, creating a site map is really important as it helps you to visualize the user journey. You’ll see if there are any content gaps, and you may find yourself removing pages that are actually irrelevant.
The structure of your website should be intuitive and straightforward. Imagine that a customer is trying to find something specific – how easy can you make it for them?
Dropdown navigation menus are your go-to when it comes to website orientation. Categories are very helpful, especially in e-commerce, so setting up an intuitive hierarchy is key.
Clear organization is also important for blog management. In any business, blogs are beneficial because they affect the website’s SEO performance. Set up blog categories and tags.
Optimize your website for search engines
SEO (search engine optimization) is your website’s ability to rank high in search engine results pages, for example, at the top of a user’s Google search. So many businesses are investing heavily in SEO because it’s one of the best organic traffic sources. Effectively, it’s free marketing, too.
Below are different ways to rank higher in search results:
- Find your keywords: Find keywords primarily associated with your product, service, or general niche. These keywords will be helpful when writing your on-page copy. Keywords and keyphrases may change with the market and the customers’ needs, so you should revisit this research every few months.
- Optimize your website’s speed: Ensure your website runs fast – reduce file sizes, cache your web pages, and reduce redirects. Website speed does affect your SEO.
- Use available SEO tools: Countless SEO plugins and browser tools offer immense value to online entrepreneurs. Even a free version can help you greatly. Ahrefs or SEMrush are some of the most popular options.
- Write effective URLS: Internal and external links should be kept relatively simple. Short URLs rank better in search results.
- Develop categories: Not only does blog and product categorization help with organizing your website, but it also helps your SEO.
- Meta descriptions, meta tags, and alt texts: Despite not being at the center of attention, these are great places to add your central SEO keywords while offering a better user experience.
- Avoid dead links: Non-functioning links or pages hurt search rankings. Once in a while, running “website crawlers” through your site is recommended to check for dead links.
A common mistake many business owners make is to place too high of a priority on SEO at the start.
Having an excellent SEO score is difficult and oftentimes expensive. You’ll likely have better initial success using these funds for PPV ads. Still, establishing a good foundation for your SEO is an important step in building your online presence.
Implement website security measures
It’s your responsibility to not only protect yourself from malicious attacks but your users’ info too.
Some security measures you can introduce to your website are:
- Systemic updates: Update your CMS, plugins, and themes since many vulnerabilities are patched in new updates.
- Make regular backups: Make backup versions of your website and its data so you can return it to previous states if something goes wrong.
- Use SSL encryption: Encrypting data is a safe way to protect your data from being interpreted. Even if a third party acquires your customers’ info, they would still be unable to understand or use it.
- Scan for vulnerabilities: Some online tools allow you to scan your website for security holes. They might only offer a partial picture, but running bimonthly or monthly checks is recommended.
Set up website analytics and tracking
Most CMSs and website builders have in-built analytics tools and dashboards that can help you track your website’s performance. This includes traffic, demographics, page visits, engagement, profits, and inventory tracking.
Alternatively, you can acquire a more detailed view of all these indicators (and more) via a centralized ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. You can implement one, granted that your platform of choice is compatible.
Analytical data is extremely important for improving your website’s performance, so setting up a lasting system, analyzing the data, and implementing changes accordingly is a natural part of an online business’s growth.
Test and launch your website
Before you go through with your website launch, make sure you test it. Examine each page and every possible interaction. Check for small elements like social media integrations, icons, and navigation arrows. Don’t forget to optimize your website for mobile devices. Invite beta testers to share feedback regarding intuitiveness, flow, and cohesiveness.
During your launch, it’s especially important to take note of analytical data and make dynamic changes. Don’t be surprised if your website looks more or less different than your initial design.
Data that could influence your website’s design, UI, and copy are:
- Visitor profiles
- What devices do visitors use
- Most visited pages and products
- User behavior
- Traffic sources
- Website loading speed
- Conversion rates.
To get this information and much more, it’s heavily recommended to set up Google Analytics.
Maintain and update your website over time
Conducting systemic updates and audits is crucial to maintain a high level of security, relevancy, and performance.
Here are some healthy long-term practices:
- Software updates: Update your plugins, themes, and other apps to keep them up-to-date with modern features and guarantee better security.
- Content updates: Update pricing, blogs, and general information to ensure it’s accurate and up-to-date. Outdated information reflects poorly on the website’s authority and professionalism.
- Security checks: Perform periodic security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify weaknesses.
- Monitor performance: Handle your analytical data to make adjustments accordingly to increase performance.
- Consider user feedback: Observe social media reactions and leave an open contact form on your website. User feedback is a first-hand source of insights.
- Check for dead links: Run crawlers to remove any existing broken links.
- Update your SEO: Review your keywords and SEO elements, such as meta tags and other content, to see if you’re still performing as well. If not, you can make alterations as needed.
- Add new features and designs: Experiment and see whether new features improve your website. At a certain point, you might also decide to rebrand or refresh your website’s aesthetic to keep it visually appealing and modern.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need technical skills to build a website?
They help, but you don’t need them. Most website builders are fairly intuitive, and you can learn everything you need to have a professional-looking site from tutorials and experimentation.
How important is mobile-friendliness for a website?
Extremely. A large portion of your visitors, especially in e-commerce, will be mobile users. Mobile-friendliness also affects your SEO.
What are the differences between a website builder and a CMS platform?
A website builder is a user-friendly platform that allows website creation without coding. CMS platforms offer more advanced management capabilities and greater customization options for content (like blogs) but require some technical knowledge.