How To Set Up A Website For Your Small Business
Andy Fleming writing on setting up a website…
Your independent income, either from a farmers-market stall or a new freelance career, will be more successful with your own website…and it’s easier to set one up than you might think.
Designing and building a website used to cost a lot of time and money. These days you can easily and cheaply hire freelancers to assist in every aspect of website development.
And you’ll find plenty of resources online to help you learn the process if you want to save some money by doing it yourself.
Let’s look at some of the more critical steps in the process of website design:
1. Choose a domain name
It might seem like an afterthought, but you can’t underestimate the value of a good domain name. Imagine if you were trying to promote your honey-making business and you owned “www.honey.com”? No one’s going to forget such a simple website address, even if they neglect to write it down.
On the other hand, if you resort to a long, awkward domain name like “www.john-and-anns-honey-business-in-oklahoma.com”, inevitably someone’s going to forget it and you’ll lose business. Long domain names are harder to write on business cards and won’t show up as quickly on a google search.
If your desired domain is already taken, consider amending it slightly before switching to an alternate extension like .net or .info. People tend to default to using .com and you’re likely to lose some traffic from those who forget and enter the .com extension.
Domain names effect search results so it’s a good idea if they contain the name of your business, the type of business it is, and the location. Using all three might make the domain too long, but you can always add one of these details if you’re scrambling to find something that hasn’t been taken.
For example, let’s say the “Smith” family is running a small farm in New York and finds that “www.SmithsFarm.com” is taken. Before switching to SmithsFarm.net, they should check to see if “www.SmithsFarmNY.com” or “www.SmithsProduceFarm.com” is available. People often include locations in google searches, so this can help promote site traffic.
Once you’ve found an available domain, you can purchase it from a registrar site like NameCheap or bluehost. Registering a domain costs about $12 per year, or you can pay around $3 a month to have the site also host your webpage and provide you a business email address.
2. Design A Logo
While this step isn’t completely necessary, it’s a good idea to have a logo ready to go before you begin to design your site. This will give you something to work from when it comes to color choice and the overall look of the site.
The cheapest option here is to draw a logo yourself and scan it into your computer. If you have family or friends with an artistic slant, consider approaching them to design a logo for your business. You can also use a website like GraphicSprings, which offers some simple design options for free.
If you need a little design help, you can hire a freelance designer for just $5 through Fiverr. It will take a few weeks to receive your logo, although you can pay around $20 to reduce the turnaround time. If you’re looking for something truly professional, 99designs will allow you to run your own design contest. Multiple artists will compete to design the best logo for your site. You don’t have to pay unless you use one, but they do cost upwards of $299.
3. Design Your Site
Once you’re ready to get your site up and running, you should shop around to see which website builder looks best to you. SquareSpace has become one of the most popular options. They offer lots of attractive, pre-made themes that you can customize to fit your needs. Other top-tier selections include Weebly, known for their excellent customer support, and Wix, which is slightly more complex but offers you better control if you have the know-how to use it.
When designing a website, it’s best to keep things simple. Business websites should feature minimal text and have only a few pages. It’s generally best to have a brief homepage with a simple pitch and the name and location of your business, a products page where customers can make purchases, an “about us” page with more personal info, and a contact page where customers can get in touch. Each page should be clear-cut and relatively brief. A few sentences and/or pictures are all you need to get your point across.
If designing a website from a template still seems a bit too complex, you can use a site like UpWork to hire a freelance designer for $10-$20 per hour. This is much cheaper than approaching a company that specializes in website design, but you should still see quality results. If your designer uses a template site like the ones listed above, you can easily log in and make changes yourself later.
Around 80% of customers attempt to purchase goods online before heading to a brick-and-mortar store. No matter what you’re trying to sell, giving people the option to purchase online puts you at a distinct advantage. Despite this high percentage, only about 54% of all businesses have a website.
Be part of this group and get the edge you need to succeed.
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