Don’t start with domain name registration!
Most articles and step-by-step guides out there on how to create a business website advice you to start with registering a domain name. In fact you can save time and money if you first choose your hosting provider and get your domain name through them.
I understand your urge to start with registering a domain name. It is easy and makes you feel like you have made a first step. But only later you discover that many hosting providers like Bluehost or iPage will register for you a domain name for free. And you will save quite some time, as your domain will be already linked and configured to your hosting. For a newbie it may take some time to understand the DNS records and name servers set up.
In fact, you can leave the purchase of your hosting and domain name for a later stage, so that you are not paying for an idling hosting account while you are writing your copy and preparing images.
Start with reflection
It is always great to start with a meditation and then, reflection. First think about the big goal, and then narrow down to specifics.
Here are my 7 steps to building a website.
- Define your goal and the purpose of your website
- Create structure of your website and choose design
- Write texts for all pages and get images (an article on how to make great photos for your website is coming soon – subscribe for updates here)
- Choose web hosting and register a domain name
- Install WordPress, a theme, and plugins
- Upload your texts and images
- Adjust the design and tweak your website
1. Define your goal and purpose of your website
A good reflection at this point will save you a lot of effort later and will keep you from making wrong decisions upfront.
Why you need to create business website?
You need to clearly understand what problems you are trying to solve with the website. It is a business tool, and it needs to solve some problems.
The most common goal obviously will be to attract new clients who search online and to persuade them to:
- buy from you online or over the phone (think of a flower shop, …);
- come to your retail location and buy there (a restaurant, a barber shop, …);
- give them detailed information on what you have to offer (real estate agent, …);
- explain them your cause and what you are doing (charity, community, …);
Another goal could be to serve better your existing customers, offer them additional information and updates, provide access to support materials.
In some instances your business website serves only as a credibility check for your potential customers and prospects. A decent website is often a deciding factor for some clients to engage or not to engage with a business.
When you start building your business website, you should always bear in mind the main goal of your website, and lead your visitors to perform the desired action – to call, to come, to sign-up. Based on this you should understand what you will put on your website.
To have a visitor to make a call, you put your phone number and a call-back widget in most visible places of the website and create a call to action, such as “Call us now!”.
To invite people to your retail location, a restaurant, make sure you have links to your address, location map and directions clearly visible. If your clients need to schedule their visit first, plan to put a form on your website to schedule a visit.
What do you need at your business website
A good idea here would be to visit the websites of your competitors in your area. Look what they have on their websites, what you like and what you don’t like. What you think is missing.
Also visit websites of the business similar to yours in a different area, or even a different country. This will help you in getting fresh ideas.
You may wish to already write down the things that definitely should be on your website, what is “nice to have”, and what you definitely do not want on your website. Download and print a sample form to start with here.
You should not put all “nice to have’s” on your business website right away. You may always add things later. Many business owners decide to have a news section on their website, but they never post there. So, it is much better not to put in online until you really got the news coming regularly.
Focus on your target audience
When you start to create a business website you should also remember who your target audience is, its demographics such as age, sex, education, income and all the rest.
It is important when making some design decisions. For younger audience you can choose a more “daring” design, bright colors and rounded forms for kids, simple “quiet” design and larger fonts for older generation.
This is even more important when deciding what content to put on your business website. What is your audience is looking for? What are their wants, needs and pains? How they normally communicate – by phone, in messengers, in social media? This will also prompt you what channels of communication to offer on your new website.
One of the practical ways to think of your target audience is to create Personas – imagined persons, that describe main parts of your target audience. You may simply choose one of your most typical clients, say, Mary, or Mrs. Doe and try to describe her in most details – how she lives, what she does every day, how she dresses, where she buys her closes, groceries, where travels. And most importantly – how she comes to a decision to use the products or services you offer. Where she looks for them, what influences her decision, etc.
What this means, is that you should consider the goals of your website in the context of your target audience.
Stay tuned for further steps and sign up for my Newsletter for updates.