These days anyone can build a website, it’s surprisingly easy even if your technical knowledge is a little sketchy. Whilst there are plenty of options for each of the core elements for building a website, and many of them are great, we’ve rounded up our favourites here – any nope we are not getting any commission for these recommendations they are simply our genuine opinion!
So let’s get started…
On the assumption you have decided on a business name then the first step is to check that a relevant domain is available. The domain name is your digital address and how people access your website. To check on domain availability we use 123reg.
You simply head to their site and type in the domain you’re looking to see is available in their domain search. The site will then show you a range of options for the domain you’ve typed in. Where possible we would always recommend you choose .com but if it’s unavailable or budgets won’t allow then we’d suggest choosing the domain to fit with your base – i.e. if you’re in the UK .co.uk or if you’re in Australia .au.
Once you’ve secured your domain it’s time to consider where your site will live – it’s ‘hosting’. The type of hosting you choose will depend on the number of visitors you expect to have on your site. However, you can always start at the lower end and upgrade your hosting package as you go.
The main types of hosting include: shared, VPS and dedicated. Shared means you will be sharing the server your site is on with other businesses. VPS is still a shared option, but you have more real estate on that server for your business. And finally dedicated is where you are the only website on that server. When you’re starting out, shared hosting should be perfectly adequate.
Our preferred hosting provider is Siteground they make managing your hosting simple and they are trusted.
You’ve got your domain, you’ve got your hosting, now you need to consider what site builder you will use – there are plenty of user friendly builders out there which make it easy to create a site that works for you including some of the most common: Wix, WordPress, Squarespace and Weebly. Our preference is WordPress as it is one of the most flexible builders.
Once you’ve chosen which site builder to use you can then purchase a template – a pre-made site with design, which will make the creation of your site far far easier. There are free themes available on WordPress, but we would recommend heading to ThemeForest and choosing a theme that has already been built in the way you need – you can also filter by site builder, i.e. WordPress themes. It’s a far simpler way of getting what you want.
Remember when browsing through the themes, all the images, colours, layouts, etc can be adapted to suit your business and site, you’re simply looking at the core functionality and design of the sites, to make sure they are what you want. Having said that, the closer the theme to what you’re looking for, the easier it is.
When your site is built you need to be able to see how it is performing and collect data from the site to see how many visitors, what pages are doing well, where traffic is coming from, etc. Without data and insights on visitor behaviour you won’t know what to build on, how to adapt/change and grow your website.
Google Analytics gives you all this information and is a free tool you can setup on your site and it’s easy. WordPress and the other site builders offer free tutorials on how to incorporate Google Analytics into your website.
For any website to look professional and be engaging you need images – the likelihood when you are starting out that you have a bank of your own images is slim to none so you need to find images elsewhere.
Whilst you can use stock photography sites such as Getty images and Istock, these can be quite expensive if you need a lot of imagery. But have no fear, there are plenty of free image sites out there that we love – two of our favourites include: Unsplash and Pixabay.
Once you have a professional and cool looking website you don’t want to kill it by having anything but a credible email address – no firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com – this screams you’re not serious and will put people off.
So, get an email address with your website domain. There are plenty of ways to do this, such as GSuite or when you purchase your domain at 123reg, but we’d recommend using Siteground if you have used them for hosting, because it’s neat and tidy for management of your site to have all of these elements in the same control panel.
These tools will help you build a simple, but effective website to get you started. They will also provide you with a great basis to grow your business from and adapt for the future. All of the mainstream website builders these days offer advanced functionality too through plugins or upgrades so they can grow with your business.
If you need any more help getting your business site off the ground, we suggest considering our micro-course ‘Get your idea off the ground’ as we go into more detail about ‘building your website’.