Step 4: Create a Website
Editor’s note: This is the fourth of eight installments for SUCCESS’s 3rd annual Start Small Win Big entrepreneur challenge. Check out last week’s installment.
You know you need a website for your business—but the idea of creating one might seem intimidating. Really, building a website is simpler than it’s ever been.
This week’s homework is to brainstorm ideas for your site. Here are some steps to guide you:
• Decide what you need your website to do. Many small businesses can get by with a website of just a few pages—a homepage that explains what you do and includes your business address, hours and contact information; an “about” page; and maybe a form visitors can fill out for more information.
An e-commerce business needs a more sophisticated website, but there are still plenty of ways to keep it simple. You can set up a store on an e-commerce platform like Amazon or Yahoo Stores, or use a site-builder like Shopify or Volusion to build an independent store.
• Decide how you want your website to look. Your website’s look and feel should be consistent with your brand. Use the same logo, fonts, colors and tagline online as you do offline. Today, simple websites are popular—not only for design reasons, but also for practical purposes. More people visit websites on tablets or smartphones, so the cleaner your website design, the easier it is for users to view it and click links and buttons on their mobile devices.
• Keep it customer-focused. Think of your website as a sales and customer service tool. Help customers learn more about your business by providing product or service descriptions, price lists, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), customer comment forms, links to your business’s social media accounts and anything else that will convince customers to buy from you. Each page should include a call-to-action, whether that’s “Call Now,” “Request a Quote” or “View Menu.”
• Buy your domain name (or URL). Visit domain registration sites such as register.com to research and buy available domain names. It only costs about $10 a year to register your dot-com name. Ideally, you’ll want your business name as your URL, but if it’s already taken, choose a variation (short and simple is best).
• Choose a Web hosting company. The host essentially provides the “home” for your site online, which costs a few dollars a month. Ask about guaranteed uptime (the percentage of time your site is guaranteed to be up, not “down” or not functioning), customer support and how frequently the company backs up your site data.
To keep things simple, choose an all-in-one package. Companies such as GoDaddy.com, Web.com or Wix.com offer a range of options, including templates you can use to build your own site, assistance building the site, or full service, having the company do everything for you. Make sure the company you select uses responsive design—this ensures your site displays well on any type of device, from a desktop computer to a smartphone, which is essential to success online.
Share in the comments below: Check out popular websites and take notes of what you like and don’t like. Look at your competitors’ sites, too. You can also search online for website design templates to get inspired.