How To Build A Website
Setting up and managing a small business is both daunting and challenging. To the point, we may give up at the first hurdle we face. There is also the stigma of not wanting to ask a favour or a perception it could cost us an arm and a leg. However, setting up your online digital presence is not as complicated as you think. Here are some tips to help you create and maintain your business website.
My name is Coleen Myers founder of CM Creative Minds a digital marketing consultancy. I’ve been in the game of marketing for over 15 years and still love it.
Before kicking off with your website plan, set yourself time to create your website. Be realistic if this is your only project give yourself a goal of completing it in 2-3 weeks. if you’re working a 9-5 and only have time in the evenings and on weekends then 4-6 weeks should be enough.
Also have a little cash ideally £50-80 set aside to purchase your domain, pay for your hosting and any additional features you may want to include.
1. GET READY – NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL
Before getting started try to consider the main goal of your website. Don’t overcomplicate it as this can set you back. Just write down what information you need to communicate to the visitors and customers who visit the website. What actions do you want them to take after they’ve viewed your site? For example request a quote, purchase a product, sign up for a newsletter, or promote your services and products. Other items to consider include, Do you need to showcase your bio, customer quotes or previous work?
If you haven’t thought of it already. What is your domain name? This is your website address. It should align with your business name.
Tip: Make it easy to spell, and keep it short. If you need assistance visit domainwheel.com.
Trusted providers I use to purchase domains include IONOS by 1&1, GoDaddy and 123-Reg all user friendly. When creating a website, you’ll need to connect your website to a hosting provider which will allow your website to be accessible online and store all your files. If you are using Wix, Squarespace or Shopify this is included within your monthly or annual package. If you want to build your website using WordPress or another third party, you can purchase the hosting from your domain provider. Once you’ve purchased your domain, it’s also worth purchasing an email address for your business, keeping it all professional as opposed to using an email ending @gmail @aol or @yahoo
2. MAKE IT PROFESSIONAL
Now you’ve given it some thought and you know your website goal. It’s time to spend some time doing your research. Pull together all the elements you’ve seen and liked from other websites and online stores. Don’t just look at your competitors or similar businesses, go outside the box to get inspiration on elements you like to have on yours. Just because your competitor does not use moving icons it does not mean your can’t. You want your website to represent your brand and business. Your phone is a great tool, but It’s worth collating all these together in a word or PowerPoint document as well as creating a folder on your laptop or tablet housing all your files, images and screenshots.
Consider looking and researching similar businesses to yours and looking at the content, look at the big players and the ones leading the way not just your immediate competitor. It’s also useful to gain inspiration by looking at companies in other countries as styling could be hugely different but one, you’d like to adopt. Remember it’s not only the colours and images you are looking at but also get inspiration from the copy text, headlines and style of writing are they writing in the first-person or third person. In a notepad write down the phase and sentence you like to help when writing the content.
Keep it simple, if you're new, try to not go crazy with different design elements. Be consistent and stick to a maximum of 3-4 colours and 3 fonts maximum. Tip: Keep the font dark if you’re using a white/light background and white if you’re using a dark background other colours can be used for buttons, to break up a section or when you want me to make a big statement piece. It’s a fact! If your website contains too much information, styles and looks unbalanced then visitors will be unable to retain the information and you could run the risk of losing them. Use a good balance of text, images and iconography to keep the page clean.
When compiling your research think about what page you’d like the content to feature on. What navigation will your need, what fields do you need on your contact form, what interactivity would you like to include i.e how your page transitions from one page to another or what happens to a button when I hover over it with my mouse. In the same document list the pages or sections, this will allow you to understand the size of the site, page style/template variation and how much content you’ll need to write. Tip: Think about the future of the company as opposed to the business in its current state. As you are building the website you are in control of creating the content at a later stage. Not all pages need to go live on launch day but it’s worth considering at the beginning
3. SELECTING A THEME/TEMPLATE
Doing the initial groundwork will allow you to pick the right provider to build your website. My personal favourite is Wix and this is not because I’m an approved Wix Partner but because it’s easy to understand with hundreds of templates and allows you quite quickly to scale up or down your website no matter your requirements.
Now you know what you need and want... Wix and Squarespace website builders offer loads of templates that you can customise to make your own for your brand. With all your research and ideas head over to both platforms to look through the template offers. It’s best to do this before as you can become overwhelmed with the number of templates and not pick the right or easiest one for your requirements. When viewing the templates don’t just view the one they highlight for your sector as this is where it's important to look back at your notes and research for requirements. Also, look at all the template pages don’t just preview the homepage. Then when you find your template, create your account and you're ready to start editing right away. The great thing about website builders is that you can create a professional-looking website without any coding or technical skills. You will come across some restrictions on some templates and features limitations, however, it’s still the cheapest, quickest and easiest way for anyone to build their own website on a budget whilst still looking professional.
I get asked all the time what’s better between Wix and Squarespace
Wix is a good all-rounder so there is something for everyone
Squarespace give you absolute control of your design, but you’ll need to have some understanding of code to unlock these features
Shopify is for you if you want to build an eCommerce empire with a vast range of features to support sales growth
WordPress is great if you are a little more tech-savvy and comfortable with code. You have great flexibility here but require more maintenance than other all-in-one solutions.
4. A CUT ABOVE THE REST – DELIVER ON CONTENT
You don’t have to be a copywriter to write content for your website, just put yourself in your visitor's shoes and think about language, tone and style. Remember to visit some of the sites you liked in the research stage and use them to help frame the content on your website. It does not need to be lengthy and in essay form.
First, create a sitemap for your website which will show a hierarchy of the site page. This can be done in a simple format and will include your homepage, about us and contact as a basic model. You may want to include a blog that will assist with keeping your website up to date. If you need to talk about your products and service, you may want to add a page for each service or group them together on a page with links to another level down to learn more about that product or service.
With visibility of seeing what pages, you require for content from text to images and icons. State your purpose clearly and quickly. Who are you? What do you do, sell or deliver? Where do you showcase your products? How can your business assist and benefit others? Include throughout your content call to action buttons and text links. When writing consider the images that will work with this section. It’s important to take some time to look for high-quality images. If you're Selfridges kinda brand, wanting your visitors to pay Selfridge’s kinda money, then why are you displaying Primark affordable images.
Tip: The homepage is the first thing visitors are going to see, visitors should be able to understand what you do fairly quickly. Include your business name in the copy as opposed to I/WE/SEE, don’t make it sound like it’s all about one individual but an entity. Also include keywords people will use to search your business in the copy. If the content does not serve a purpose – remove it. Don’t attempt to shoehorn it in, consider who’s ready for the website and if that piece of information would be useful. Headlines are where you need to pay extra attention as this will decide the difference between continuing further to browse the rest or a visitor leaving your site.
5. OPTIMISE YOUR WEBSITE FOR GOOGLE
Make sure your site is mobile-friendly
Check URLs names
Page description – what do you want Google to tell everyone about this page/website
Connect your socials
Check forms are working and you have Google Captcha in place
Publish, monitor and aim to update the site on a monthly basis