Guide to starting a website for your small business

Erin Scott
4/16/2020
8
min read
Business Growth

I want to start by saying congratulations on starting your own business! If you made it to this blog, that means you are considering growing your business online by building a website. Starting a business can be intimidating and daunting, but you are off to a great start if you are considering building a website. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more imperative to have a website for your business to stay relevant and build your online presence quickly during this tough time. With non-essential businesses closing down and people being forced to work from home, small businesses and brands need a website more than ever to adapt to our new normal. 

Clearly, you understand that most customers are searching for products and services online, over 25 million people to be exact. Even though you understand the value of having a website, you may not understand how to build a website or the steps involved to get started. It can be easy to get overwhelmed and lost when trying to build a website, especially if you don’t have a clear list of steps to take. Don’t worry, we have you covered.

To help, this blog will guide you through the steps you need to take to not only build a website but to also make sure you can get your business online successfully and quickly. 


1. Set a Goal

The first question that I always ask my clients is “What is your goal for the website?”.  Knowing the goal of your website is essential to not only deciding on the type of design and build of your website but also in measuring its success. 

Your website should clearly communicate to your target audience the services and products you offer, and why they should buy from your business. At this point, you are still in the strategizing phase which is the perfect time to understand the purpose of your website and the story you want it to tell. Being able to articulate the goal of your website to a web designer or developer, can save you both time as well as money. A business website can be your greatest marketing tool, so use it wisely.

If you are interested in learning ways you can leverage your website to grow your business, check out our blog, “5 Tips on how to leverage your website to grow your business”

2. Domain Registration

I know you are wondering, “what the heck is a domain?”. Simply put, the domain is the URL or web address of your website. For some, coming up with a business name is the hardest part of making a business. Naturally, coming up with a domain name can be just as difficult in the creative process, especially if your ideal domain name is already taken.

I recommend registering a domain name ASAP, to secure the domain that is most fitting for your business. Even if you haven’t started building a website, it is best to buy a domain name and keep it until you are ready.

Your domain doesn’t have to match your business name, but it is helpful for brand identification. So make sure your domain matches your business name as much as possible. For instance, when I decided to name my business “UpNext Designs LLC”, I immediately registered my domain (www.upnextdesigns.com) to prevent someone else from buying it. 

Domains have to be original and unique to your business. You can search for available domains by using a domain registrar such as GoDaddy or Google. Once you find the domain that best fits your business, buy it right away. Typically, domains are under $20 and have to be renewed annually. The domain registration process is very easy and affordable.

3. Web Hosting

Web hosting is a service that allows you to publish a website or webpage online. A web hosting provider, such as Webflow, is a business that provides the technologies and services needed to keep your website or webpage on the internet. Your website will be stored on computers called servers which allow your website to be viewable on the internet when someone searches your domain name. 

Now that we have the technical talk out of the way, let’s talk about how to find the best web hosting provider and the associated costs. A good web host provider will offer a lot more than just web hosting services. For example, Webflow hosting gives customers reliable speed, security (SSL), scalability, domain setup, and customer service support. You want to look for a provider that ensures a hassle-free experience for users and offers all the services you need on one platform. 

Web hosting costs depend on the size of your website and the type of website you have. For example, an E-commerce website with a high-volume of business may cost $1000 or more per year. Alternatively, a simple website for a personal blog may cost less than $200 per year. 

If you are just starting your business, I recommend buying a standard hosting package and upgrading when your business starts to grow or demand more (i.e., sales increase from $20K to $50K).

4. Web Design

In the words of Milton Glasser, “There are three responses to a piece of design- yes, no and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” Which response do you want your website to evoke? Typically, websites are designed and developed by professionals to ensure that websites always get the “WOW” response and accomplish the goals the business sets for the website. 

Your website gives you the option to ensure your brand and business are being viewed the way you want your customers to perceive it. I say all of this to say that good design does matter, however, you do a few options (listed below) on how you can build and design your website.

"38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout are unattractive."

Option 1: Do it yourself (DIY)

With all of the online courses and material available, you can learn how to design and develop websites from scratch. Unfortunately, this option won’t be easy and it can take years to acquire the skills needed for web design and development. This option also requires you to take time away from working on your business, which is the opposite of what you want. 

Option 2: Use a website builder

A low-cost alternative would be to use website builders such as Wix, Wordpress, or Squarespace. You can use their pre-built templates to create your own website. Unfortunately, these platforms aren’t as simple to use as they claim to be. 

Even with the drag and drop functionality, there is a huge learning curve that requires a lot of time and effort. If you are running a small business, you may not have enough time to learn these platforms. Lack of time, skill, and effort usually results in bad design.

Most customers don’t recognize or understand that when they build their website using a template, they are missing key elements they need for brand recognition, good user experience, and search engine optimization (SEO), just to name a few. Not to mention the fact that others may be using the same template, preventing your website from standing out from the competition.

Majority of my customers have hired me to redesign their website after they wasted money and countless months building a website that wasn't attractive and didn't help grow their business. Don't let that be you!

Option 3: Invest in hiring a professional

If you want something professionally done, hire a professional. First impressions are everything, especially in business. When it comes to websites, you have less than 10 seconds to make a good impression on a user before they decide to leave. If you want your customers to have that “WOW!” response, you need to invest in good web design. 

If you want your website to be profitable and use it as a marketing tool to grow your business, you need to hire a web designer. Websites are the best return on investment than any other form of advertisement, including social media profiles. A well-designed website can give you a competitive edge, increase sales, cultivate your brand, and so much more. 

"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

5. Content

Similar to web design, the words and visuals that you put on your website take a lot of effort and thought to craft together. Having the right content on your website is very important for SEO ranking and converting users to customers. 

Providing content that users need in a clear and concise way can increase the time users stay on your website, which can lead to more sales and interests in your services. If you don’t consider yourself a good writer and don’t want to take the time to learn, you should strongly consider hiring a content writer, website copywriter, or SEO expert.

Are you ready to build your website?

Building a website can be challenge, but if you follow these steps you can create a plan of action to move forward. With more users being online, especially during this pandemic, you are actually losing out on both money and customers without having a website. In fact, a lot of consumers prefer to shop right from their mobile devices instead of shopping in-store. 

UpNext Designs is here to support you and get your business online quickly. Let us help you build your website and grow your business online by contacting us today for a free consultation! 

Are you UpNext? Check out how we have helped other businesses like yours on our website: www.upnextdesigns.com

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