It may seem shocking, but even in 2015 there are still some small businesses that don’t have a website. Maybe they just started out, or maybe they think they’re too small or too local. Or maybe they’re just afraid to admit they don’t know where to start. There are many other businesses who have websites that are essentially unusable—or just unused.
You probably know that if you’re in business, you need a good website. Even if you don’t sell your product or service online, people will want to be able to find you, and the way they do that is by looking online. Creating a website doesn’t have to be daunting, and there’s plenty of help available to you.
Here’s a step-by-step plan for creating a website for your small business.
- Decide what you want your website to do. This first step is key. You may want a website that just lets people know where your business is located and what you sell. If that’s the case, you can have a pretty simple website. But, if you want to sell your products online you’ll need an e-commerce site. People need to be able to shop and purchase on your site, and then pick up items at your store or have them shipped.
- Consider Consulting a Designer. This step is actually contingent upon how tech savvy you are. With sites like SquareSpace and Wix, it can be pretty easy and cheap to create a website yourself. If you’re not that comfortable with web design, you may want to hire someone to do the initial design and then make small edits later. Choose someone who is knowledgeable – and ask for examples of previous websites that they’ve done. Make sure you also add social media icons so that you can easily manage your online reputation.
- Decide on a Content Management System. The type of site you decide on will help to determine what software you use to design the site. Many software programs, often referred to as Content Management Systems or CMS, are free, at least for the basic version. An e-commerce site requires e-commerce software, like Joomla! or OpenCart. If you don’t need e-commerce capability, consider WordPress, which has become the de facto standard for websites and blogs. Whatever software you decide on, make sure that you or whoever is managing is trained before they start.
- Choose a host. Your website will need to be hosted, which means that it will need to ‘live’ somewhere so people can access it. Hosting companies like GoDaddy have lots of digital storage space so they don’t mind letting your website live with them—for a fee, of course.
- Pick a domain name. This is your website address, or URL. Pick something that will be unique to your company but doesn’t limit you. If you are a cosmetologist, for example, www.LizasHair.com may seem like a great name now, but if you expand into nails and eyebrows in the future, it may not seem like such a good idea at that time. Just make sure to renew it when your registration is up so another company, or even a competitor, can’t buy it out from under you. Research your domain name leveraging SEO best practices.
Keep in mind that the same steps apply if you’re replacing your existing website. If it’s more than a few years old, you’re probably better off starting from scratch than trying to revamp your current site.
Once your new website is up and running, keep it current with new content. Visitors should find something new every time they come to your site. New articles, videos and information will keep your prospects and customers coming back.