August 2, 2017
There’s a lot to think about when you’re starting a new business. Who is your ideal customer? How much will you charge for your services or products? Do you need to hire employees? Where do you need to get a business license from? How much will taxes, insurance and other fees cost you?
The one thing you shouldn’t have to worry about though? Creating a digital face for your company.
According to one survey, approximately half of all businesses don’t have a website. While some argue that a website isn’t necessary in their industry, many chalk it up to not having the time, money, or skills to create one. However, a website provides business owners like yourself with a number of benefits:
- Online visibility.
- Control of your business’s identity no matter where people find you—in person or on the Internet.
- Access to a larger audience.
- Access to an audience that prefers to do their shopping strictly online.
- More opportunities to show off what your products or services can do (think of product descriptions, 360-videos, customer testimonials, etc.)
While it’s easy to tout these benefits and to say that every business owner absolutely must have a website in this day and age, it’s another thing to leave you to build it yourself because, let’s face it, paying a developer or agency thousands of dollars doesn’t sound like the best use of your money. Luckily, though, there are so many comprehensive and affordable website building solutions that you really don’t need to hire a professional coder or designer to do it for you.
Set aside one hour, follow the 10 steps outlined below, and you can have a professional-looking and high performance website up and running for your business in no time.
Step 1: Set up Hosting
If you’re launching a small- to medium-sized business, chances are good you’re not going to own or store a huge data server on your company’s premises. Without the infrastructure to host a website yourself, which is really something you don’t want to deal with anyway, find a Web hosting company where you can rent space on their servers and store your website there. This shouldn’t cost you more than $10 a month (at least to start).
Step 2: Pick a Domain
Once you know your company’s name, your website domain (the URL) should be easy enough to determine. Most Web hosting companies have domain registration services, too, so go ahead and secure your domain at the same time you purchase your hosting.
Step 3: Get a SSL Certificate
A SSL certificate is a form of encryption that gets laid onto your site. That’s why you’ll see some websites are located at an “http” Web address while others are at an “https”. It’s the “s” in the latter that stands for “secure” and is what lets your visitors as well as the search engines know that your site is safe to communicate with.
This is another add-on you can pick up from your Web host. If you don’t want to pay for it, then just use Let’s Encrypt.
Step 4: Install WordPress
Technically, you don’t need to use WordPress to build your website. You could go with a simpler solution like Wix or Weebly, but it won’t be as reliable and won’t afford you the amount of flexibility, control, or security you’d get by using a content management system like WordPress. Plus, WordPress has so much extensibility that it’s really the best tool for when any business owner who plans on scaling their website in the future.
Your web hosting account should have WordPress available for quick installation, so you can download it straight from the control panel tool.
Step 5: Pick a Theme
If you go with the WordPress option, you’ll have a variety of choices in terms of how you want to design your site. While you could hire a professional web designer to create a custom design for you, you might just be better off finding a premium theme from WordPress instead. They’re cheaper and just as well-built.
As a bonus, many WordPress themes come built-in with different design options, so if you change your mind down the road, it won’t be that big of a deal (and won’t cost you anything) to switch up your site’s look. Just use a site like ThemeForest and do a search for responsive, multi-purpose themes.
Step 6: Customize with Branding
If your company’s branding is all set and ready to go, use WordPress (under the Appearance / Customize tab) to upload your logo, set brand colors, and update your website with your business’ name, tagline and description. These aren’t all necessary, but you should at least have a logo and business name ready at the time of launch.
Step 7: Add Content
Again, assuming you’ve already written some content for your business (which you can always “borrow” from marketing collateral and other company communications), you’ll want to plug that content into your WordPress site.
To create this content, go to the Pages tab on the WordPress sidebar and Add New pages. The text editor tool is intuitive (basically, if you know how to use Microsoft Word, you’ll know how to use this), so just copy your text from the source and paste it into the editor. Then save your changes and Publish the page when it’s ready. Ideally, you should have a Home page, Services (or Products) page, and a Contact page set up.
Step 8: Choose Images
Images aren’t necessary for websites, but they definitely help people focus better on content. If you don’t have high-resolution photos of your business, then you can use a stock photography site (there are both free and paid ones out there) to snag up some cool photos that are representative of your business.
Adding them into your pages is easy. Just find the button toward the top of each Page in WordPress that says ‘Add Media’ and you can upload your photos right there.
Step 9: Set up Contact Forms
It doesn’t matter if you’re starting a blog, opening an eCommerce store, or selling professional services to the city of Austin. Every website needs at least one contact form. This ensures that people know how to reach you if they’re not comfortable picking up the phone, if they run into a problem trying to place an order, or if they simply want to talk more about your business offering.
Just remember to link your forms up to an actively monitored e-mail address (see more on that below).
Step 10: Get Some Plugins
Plugins are really the best part about working in WordPress. They are the tools that enable people—from those that are brand-new to building websites all the way up through the expert Web developer—to do some awesome things with websites. And perhaps the best part? You don’t have to pay to use most of them.
Here are the ones you’ll absolutely need to set up before you launch your new site:
- Jetpack: This is the best starter plugin. Hands down. It tackles security, SEO, social media, and more.
- Contact Form 7: For easier creation of contact forms.
- Wordfence Security: Even if you’ve purchased security from your Web host and you’ve got a SSL certificate in place, you can never have enough security for your business.
- Yoast SEO: Because every site needs to be optimized for the search engines and this tool will let you know when you’ve done it right.
- Google Analytics: So you can spy on the people visiting your site.
- WP Super Cache: Images, videos, animations, and even other plugins can weigh down your site and cause pages to delay when loading. Your visitors may not be patient enough to wait, so this plugin will keep things running super-fast and smoothly no matter what.
Ready, Set, Launch!
According to the National Women’s Business Council, there are roughly 10 million businesses owned by women in the U.S. alone. If you’re one of the five million who doesn’t currently have a website, there’s no time like the present to get started. In roughly an hour’s time and with 10 simple steps, you can have a website that looks great, performs well, and offers your prospective and current customers an awesome on-site experience.
Nathan Oulman writes around the web on design and hosting topics. When he is not fishing for compliments he writes about Google Web hosting reviews.