If you have a brick-and-mortar shop, it’s no longer feasible to run your business without a web presence. Consumers of all ages turn to the internet to research products, read reviews and check out store hours and locations. If your business is not visible online, potential customers won’t be able to consider your products and services as an option.
Fortunately, website software has evolved over the years and is much easier to work with. You can build your own site using a website builder like Wix or Squarespace, or you can hire a web developer like Magna Technology to do the work for you. There are benefits to each, which you can read more about here.
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to create a website for your small business.
Determine the Purpose of Your Website
The first thing to decide is what you want your website to do. Most websites share general information about the business, such as what the company does and the products and services they offer. Do not make visitors search for this information. The most important info should be above the fold on your homepage.
Also think about your user experience and what you want people to do when they visit your site. Whatever the fundamental goal of your website is, users should be able to accomplish it in as few clicks as possible.
Choose Your Domain Name
Your domain name is one of the most important aspects of your site. This is the URL you’ll be sharing with people and printing on your marketing materials. You want it to be descriptive and easy to remember and type in. Avoid abbreviations, acronyms and numbers because these make domains more difficult to remember.
Once you choose your domain name, make sure it’s available. Check the copyrights to avoid infringing on someone else’s name. Plus, having similar names can confuse visitors. If someone does have your domain name, you can contact them and see if you can buy it from them.
Select a Web Host
Your website’s data will be stored on a server, so you need to choose a web host that you can rely on for speed and security. A shared hosting plan is the least expensive option, though you’ll have to share the server space with other sites. Dedicated hosting costs a lot more but you get your own server. However, dedicated hosting is only necessary for large websites.
When choosing a web hosting provider, be sure to ask questions about uptime, reliability, security, server locations and more. And as your business grows, you may have to upgrade your hosting plan or provider. Signs that your hosting plan no longer works for you are slow load times, decreased storage and a lack of security.
Build Your Web Pages
With a framework in place, you can start building web pages that are dedicated to the different aspects of your business. The pages we recommend for most websites are:
- Homepage. Give a short explanation of what you do, the products and services you offer and how you can help customers.
- About us. Share some background information on your business. How did you start? Why are you different from the competition?
- Services/products. List the products and services you sell. Make sure to include extensive descriptions and high quality images.
- FAQ page. Cover the most commonly asked questions. This makes it easier on the customer and your sales team.
- Testimonials/reviews. Establish trust and authority by sharing genuine reviews and testimonials from your customers. Include a name and picture if possible.
- Contact us. Show the different ways that customers can get in touch with you, including email, phone, text, contact forms, etc.
- Blog. Your company blog is the best way to communicate with customers and keep them up to date on the latest news from your business.
Test and Publish Your Site
Before publishing your site, make sure it works on all major browsers – Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, etc. The purpose of this is to make sure that all links, images and formats show up correctly. We also recommend sticking with responsive web designs that look clean and beautiful on tablets, phones and computers.
Once everything checks out, your site can be published. But – don’t forget the importance of web monitoring. Magna Technology provides this service as well. We can tell which pages are most successful based on your analytics. You are welcome to use whatever analytics program you like, though most clients prefer Google Analytics.
Market Your Website on Social Media
Once your website is live, you can share it to your social media channels, monthly newsletter, etc. It’s also important to submit your website to the major search engines to improve SEO.
During the building phase of your website, a good content writer will include relevant keywords that will help you rank correctly for the products and services you’re trying to promote. To continue attracting relevant traffic to your site, it’s important to add fresh, optimized content to your blog.
Maintain Your Website
Your website is not a static tool. It’s something that needs to be updated with changing trends, new products and offers, industry news, etc. Not only will this keep people coming back, but also it shows Google that your site is up to date and relevant. Google rewards these sites with higher rankings.
There are also a number of software updates that need to be made on a regular basis. Hiring a web management company like Magna Technology is the best way to ensure your site is always running the latest software. This will improve its performance and security. Any software that is not up to date is vulnerable to hackers.
Whether you choose to build your own website or hire a company like Magna Technology, the important thing is that you have a digital web presence. This is where people will be looking for your products and services, so it’s crucial that you’re available to help them. For a customized quote on a new website for your small business, contact us today.