Designing and creating your own website may seem daunting to the average business person, (and for those businesses with complex e-commerce requirements, it is advisable to bring in expert web designers) but it is possible, even surprisingly simple, to build your own effective website. Webnode, Weebly, Wix, Wordpress etc. all offer free D.I.Y website builders.
- Choose Your Web Host and Domain Name
The domain name is the name and location of your website. Most Web hosts offer domain name registration and WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) web site building tools as part of the package, or even free of charge. However, to have your own, Google-friendly domain name, it's often better to pay for this service.
- Plan your Web Pages
The simplest way to do this is to get a flip chart and to brainstorm what should be in the website:
- What is the purpose of your website? Why do you want visitors to your site and what do you want them to do? (Find information on company and products / marketing and lead generation / selling / showcase abilities) Everything on the website needs to feed into the purpose for having the site.
- Google your competition’s websites. What do you like/dislike; are they easy to navigate; do they serve the purpose; are they quick to load? Ensure the positives are incorporated into your planning stage.
- Plan the basic pages e.g. Home, About Us, Services & Products, Contact us, Reviews
- Get Started
Be prepared to play a bit. It is possible to set up dummy sites on a variety of web creator pages so that you can see what works best for you. The tools are generally very intuitive and easy to use and nothing is public unless you press “publish”.
Things to Consider:
- SEO (search engine optimisation) is extremely important if you want to be found on the web. There are numerous articles on SEO (please do read up!) but it is important to do some basic homework on Google Trends and Google Adwords which provide invaluable insight as to which keywords to use in your content. You may need to pay for Google Ads in order to increase your site’s visibility.
- Your site should be attractive but functionality is more important. Too many graphics make the site slow to load and may interfere with the goal. (The rule of thumb, is that 3 clicks should get the visitor what they want.) Choose a colour palette and stick to it, always remembering to keep it simple and fresh.
- Is your site easy to navigate and is there a clear call-to-action? Test it on friends and family. If your site provides relevant information on the company, the products & services and how to contact you or make a purchase, then this is a great starting point. As long as this information is literally under the visitor’s nose, the bells and whistles can be added later. A website should always be a work in progress to keep it renewed and appealing.
- Is information easy to access and is your content written in a professional and easy-to-read manner? If writing is not your strong suit, it is advisable to hire the services of a copywriter.
When you are ready to go live:
- Test your website on the major browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. It is even more important to test on various cell phones.
- Consider which social media platforms are you going to use in conjunction with your website? Ensure that the links work and the content is regularly updated. Plan how to launch and promote your website to your target market.
- Submit your website to search engines like Google and Bing using their link submission pages.
Once you have your website up and running, it is essential to consistently add to it and occasionally give it a new look and feel. Google loves new content and so do visitors to the site. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase your business, so take the time to do it right.