You’ve been thinking about it a lot… “I need a website.” You recognize that your business is in desperate need of a website (or a redesign). It will solidify your authority in your field, make your business more professional, get your name out there, and, ultimately, increase your sales. But you have no idea what to do next. Don’t worry—we’ve put together a step-by-step guide on what you should do next once you’ve determined you need a website for your business.
Determine the Website’s Purpose
To make the decisions that go into creating an effective website, the most important thing you’ll need to figure out is this: what purpose will the website serve? If you’re a service provider, your website might need to convey information about what you offer and pricing, as well as making it easy for customers to book appointments and keep your calendar filled. Or, if you’re running a product-based business, your goal might be to digitally display your products and make it easy for customers to place an order.
Determine Your Audience
Next you need to figure out who your audience is. Even if you already have an established brick and mortar location, it’s a good idea to reevaluate. You need to determine who your ideal customer is, because it will influence the entire website building process. Are you a boutique trying to sell trendy clothes to women in their mid 30s? Or are you a hardware company selling screws and power tools? The websites for these two companies will be drastically different because of their base customer and their needs.
Pick the Platform
After figuring out who your target audience is, you’re ready to pick a platform. There are hundreds of platforms where you can build your own site fairly easily with little effort or coding skills. So how do you choose which one to use? You’ll want to think about several factors, like budget, business needs and priorities, ease of use, etc. Some of the most popular web builders include: Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress.
Choose a Web Host
Once you’ve decided on a web builder, you’ll need to choose a web host. Every website on the internet is hosted on a server, and web hosting is where space is made on a server to host your website. Hosting makes your images, code, audio, etc. visible on your website. Just like with web builders, there are hundreds of servers to choose from. Some of the factors you should consider when looking for a web host include unlimited bandwidth, quick speed, level 1 PCI compliance, use your own domain, etc.
Depending on the platform you choose, your hosting may be included as part of your monthly subscription fee. Platforms like Shopify and Squarespace are fully hosted, whereas others like WordPress require hosting by a third party. Popular hosting services include GoDaddy, Siteground, and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Create a Cohesive Brand
Since you’ve been thinking, “I need a website,” you probably either have an established business with a brick and mortar store, or you may be in the beginning stages of starting your business.
As an established business, you probably already have a logo, distinct voice and tone, and color and typography palettes. You will want to incorporate these brand guidelines when designing your website for cohesiveness; your business should be recognizable no matter where a customer is interacting with it through the consistencies of your branding.
If you’re just starting your business, you’ll want to learn about brand consistency as you make decisions like what your logo will be, what your color palette is, what your tone is like, etc. These elements come together to create the visual identity that your current and future customers can recognize at a glance.
Design the Layout
After choosing a web builder and host, the next step in creating a website for your business is designing the layout of your website. Most web builders come with free and paid themes, and they each have unique styles and features. You can use the themes as they are, but most web builders allow you to customize the theme as needed. What you’re looking for in a theme depends on what you want your site to do. Think about these questions when looking for a theme: Do you have a large or small catalog of products? Are there certain features that would be beneficial to your customers?
A free or paid theme may be a great choice for business owners looking to get their site up and running as soon as possible, but in some cases, they might require you to compromise on aesthetics or functionality. If you’re looking for something that’s completely tailored to your business’ unique needs and vision, you may want to consider having a custom theme developed for your website.
Add Relevant Pages
As you begin to build your website, it’s important to start with the basics. Every website needs a homepage that shows who your business is and aquaints visitors with your purpose. It may be a good idea to have an About Us page so customers can learn more about you. A Contact Us page is essential for contact information, address, phone number, etc.
For service-based businesses, it’s helpful to consider adding detailed information about your offers and pricing to your website. You may also want to include a booking page allowing prospective clients to easily set appointments in your calendar.
If you’re running an e-commerce business, you’ll also need to build product pages, collection pages, a cart page, and a sequence of pages for your checkout. And one of the most important, but underutilized, pages for e-commerce websites are blogs! Find out why you should add a blog to your website.
Connect a Payment System
If your goal with deciding “I need a website” is to make sales, you’ll need to include a way to process payments from your customers. Many of these systems are added via integrations with a third-party payment processing software. Some platforms, like Shopify, have built-in options for payment processing, allowing you a quick and easy option. All Shopify plans come with Shopify Payments, preventing you from dealing with third-party activations.
Depending on your needs and the complexity of your business, it may be a better choice to opt for a third-party payment processor like Stripe, Square, or Authorize.net.
Test and Publish
Once you’ve perfected the design, added the pages you want, and installed the payment system, your business website is almost ready to publish. But before you launch your site, you’ll want to test everything, from the checkout process to every single button and link on the site. Your website will serve as the first online impression that many customers have with your business, so it’s important to ensure that everything runs smoothly and provides an excellent customer experience. Once you’ve determined everything is working properly, you’re ready to launch your new website!
The Choice: Build It Yourself or Get Professional Help
The process of creating a website has become much easier with the help of easy-to-use website builders, but it can still be a tedious and time consuming process. It’s great to have the option to make your own e-commerce website, especially if your budget doesn’t allow for outside help.
However, if you know that you are already busy with running a business, it may be beneficial to get help creating a business website. Website designers are experts at their craft, and they already have the knowledge that you may not. If you hire someone to build your website, all you have to do is share your vision, needs, and edits through the process. Hiring a website designer frees up your time and mental energy to focus on running your business instead of adding something else to your plate.
After thinking about how you need a website, you’ve come to the decision that you don’t want to build your own. We would be happy to build you a custom website for your business! Reach out to us to start discussing plans for your website!