Savvy modern business owners know that they can’t compete without an online presence. If you are starting with a relatively small budget, this will leave you trying to figure out how to create your own website. The good news is that you are not alone. There are many tools and resources for those with little or no web design experience to get started.
Naturally, it is always best to get professional help if you can afford it. There are many things you can do on your own. However, some aspects of web design and site development require a vast amount of knowledge and experience. They have a steep learning curve. Here are a few basics you need to know if you want to create your own website.
Purchase a Domain Name
The place to begin is by selecting and purchasing your domain name. Generally speaking, your best bet is to use your company name as your domain name. You will have to register your domain through a site like Google Domains, GoDaddy, Namecheap, Sedo, or one of many other companies that sells domain names. Maintaining registration of your domain requires an annual fee.
What if your name is already taken, though? There is always the possibility that your top choice is already used by a company of the same name. Also, a squatter may buy it. A squatter is someone who purchases a domain name and jacks up the price for resale. In such cases, you can try to find other variations of your business name, you can seek a .net or .biz address instead of a more popular .com, or you can pay more for the domain name you want if it is already registered but not in use.
Some sites offer both registration and hosting. You will have to consider what you want. Then do some comparison shopping for both domain and hosting providers before you buy.
Find a Web Host
Once you have registered your domain, you need a web host. If you have decided to build a website on your own, there are few better platforms available than WordPress. This software allows you to build your website for free. It provides access to tools, templates, tutorials, and user community to help you out. It is also extremely user-friendly.
WordPress can also provide a domain name and hosting services for a low monthly fee. It is important to understand that the WordPress software for creating your website is open source. Therefore it is free, but the WordPress web hosting service is not. It only costs as little as a few dollars a month.
There are other options to explore, as well. Even if you use WordPress to create your website, you can always choose a different web host. You could also use different software. If you hire a professional web designer, they can likely make recommendations on both scores.
How to Create Your Own Website Branding
Now that you have your technical ducks in a row, it is time to get down to the nuts and bolts of how to create your own website. Before you start penning content for your home page or selecting images, colors, and themes, you should ask yourself a few key questions.
- Who is your target audience?
- What impression do you want to make or what message do you want to convey?
- Do you have a company mission statement?
- Do you have a brand ideology? Do you have a comprehensive brand strategy?
- How do you want to improve on or differentiate yourself from competitive brands?
Answering these questions can give you some measure of direction when it comes to planning the elements that make up your finished website. Without this crucial input, you will find yourself flying blind and haphazardly throwing disparate elements together.
Create Written Materials
The written content for your web pages need be informative, concise, and emulate your company ideals and your brand image. Some companies are serious while others are fun-loving. Some are technical while others are more free-form.
It is necessary that written content you provide on your website represent your company and reflect existing branding materials. Additionally, it will engage your audience, answer any questions they might have and help them find and purchase the goods or services they are seeking.
Design Graphic Elements
The internet is a visual medium, and the last thing viewers find attractive is boring, bulky blocks of text. For this reason, the graphic elements of your website are extremely important. Graphics include items such as your logo, product images, buttons and bars, etc.
Additionally, you may include motion graphics or video content. You do not necessarily want to create a page that is too busy or cluttered, though. Take care in selecting the graphic elements to make sure they match your overall brand aesthetic and appeal to your customers.
How you arrange your website is almost as important as the textual and graphic content you include. This is where an experienced web designer really comes in handy. Web design software can help you immensely thanks to templates that include basic layouts. However, a reputable web designer has the background to ensure the most important information gets seen first, and that your website is attractive enough to hold viewer attention.
For many businesses, a basic website is not enough. Consider adding extras like an on-site blog and a shopping cart once you have completed your home page, about page, contact page, and relevant product/service pages.
A blog provides you with opportunities to market and promote fresh content. Your shopping cart serves to increase convenience for existing customers. In addition, it opens doors attracting new customers outside your local area.
Before your site goes live it is a good idea to test everything. Make sure that features like links and mobile optimization are working. It is also important to verify loading times and responsive layouts are working properly. Additionally, run some focus tests ensuring your website is garnering the desired enthusiasm from visitors.
Marketing and SEO
Finally, you need to make sure your website is found. This requires you to engage in online marketing and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts. This is where professional help saves you time and money while delivering results.
A lot goes into building an online presence. Learning how to create your own website is just the beginning. If you’re trying to save money, you can do a lot on your own. However, to save time and ensure greater immediate impact, hiring professionals for web design, marketing, and SEO can really pay off.