Creating Your Own Business Website
Whether a small, medium, or large business, it’s essential to have an online presence, even if you are not conducting online sales. Research shows that a high percentage of consumers visit the websites of businesses to check for hours or location(s), browse their offerings, or to get to know a bit about the company before doing business there. While a website is a necessity for ecommerce stores, there are other business types that should seriously consider having a website. They include:
- Brick and mortar stores
- Pop-up stores
- Professional services
- Personal services
- Independent sales
- Artists and photographers
- Professional crafters
- Food trucks and other mobile businesses
It used to be that businesses would have to pay a web designer and/or web programmer to create their website. The cost of these services often made it prohibitive for many businesses to have a website. But website builders have changed all that and have become a welcoming alternative to professionally designed website services. They allow businesses to quickly and easily create their own websites on a website building platform that automatically does the required coding. Many website builders also offer inexpensive custom designed packages for businesses that don’t have the time for do-it-yourself website building or require a more complex website.
Important Elements to a Business Website
Before deciding on what to put on your website, businesses need to think about these three very important elements:
- Domain Name – This is the name you assign to your website. It’s where your business website will be found on the Internet. Quite simply, it’s the URL or http://www address that you will put on your business cards. There is a fee to register a domain name so no other business can create another website using this name. Each year, you pay a fee to renew your business domain name.
TIP: With website builders, a free sub-domain name is included with its free services. This means your domain name will also include the website builder’s domain name. However, all website builders have premium services that give you the option of registering your own domain name through them, or linking an existing domain name to the website you created using a website builder.
- Hosting – This is the company that will put your website on the Internet and make sure it is up and running at all times so customers can visit your site.
TIP: Website builders typically include free web hosting with their services, so businesses can realize considerable savings here instead of paying for a separate hosting company.
- Shopping Cart and/or Merchant Services – These items are necessary if you plan on making sales through your website. A shopping cart is where consumers place the items they want to buy. Merchant services are the means in which a business receives the money from these purchases into their business bank account. Many businesses link their shopping cart to an online payment company, such as PayPal. Businesses that use merchant services companies in their brick and mortar store can also accept and process credit cards on their website.
TIP: Various website builders offer a shopping cart linked to an online payment company as an add-on to their service plans. The monthly price for these services are much cheaper than going through shopping cart and merchant services companies independently.
Steps to Building a Business Website
Once you have the back-end processes of your business website established, it’s time to create the physical look of your website. It’s best to start out by determining how many web pages your site will need based on the different sections you want to feature. Some common sections are: the Home Page; Products, Services, or Portfolio page(s); About Us; and Contact Us. Once you have a general idea of your site structure, it’s time to build your own business website using a website builder.
Step 1: Choose a design template. Website builders offer hundreds of design layouts, often categorized by type of business. Simply click on the design or layout template of your choice and it will appear, complete with CSS and HTML coding already incorporated, on your computer screen and linked to your account. When choosing a design, pay close attention to color theme, font or type style, layout configuration, and style of navigation bar and buttons.
TIP: Choose a style that best reflects your business tone. For example, if your business is more forward-thinking, you wouldn’t want to use a conservative style template. Or, if your business is creative and eclectic, you wouldn’t want a design template that’s standard and professional. If you don’t see a design template that fits your business style, you always have the option with a website builder to use a blank template.
Step 2: Add your content: The design template you selected will already have text and business appropriate images in recommended places throughout the layout. All you need to do is replace these existing components with content about your business and, if you prefer, photos of your business. If you selected a blank template, you will need to add and place these components in separately using the website builder’s user-friendly tools. Content encompasses many different forms, and with a website builder, you can add any type of content to your website without needing any technical skills or HTML knowledge. Important types of content that attract attention on a business website include:
- Images, like pictures, logos, graphics, or clip art
- Interactive components, such as videos, music, slideshows, maps, picture galleries, RSS feeds and forms.
- Social media widgets like blogs and links to your business’s Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn pages. Having links to your social media pages helps your website get a higher ranking in search engine results.
TIP: Consider replacing the header in the design template you selected with your business logo. This really makes your website more specific to your business.
Step 3: Going Live on the Web: It’s one thing to have a business website on the Internet; it’s a whole other thing to have it found by search engines. Website builders have an internal SEO system built in, but good website builders also provide you with search engine optimization (SEO) tools, such as site title, description and keywords, so you can add SEO information specific to your business. All you need to do is enter the words or phrases contained in your site’s text that best explains your business and the website builder will code them so your website will be ranked by search engines.
TIP: For a nominal fee, website builders also offer other valuable SEO services, such as site submission to search engines.
Step 4: See How Your Site Is Doing: Now that your business website is live on the Web for all to find, you’ll want to frequently keep track of it to see how well your site is attracting visitors. Website builders typically include Google analytics as part of their service. With this tool, you can see how many visitors are coming to your site and which pages they are viewing.
TIP: Once you see how visitors are using your site, you can gear your business advertising and marketing methods to them or even track the effectiveness of your business promotions.
Step 5: Updating Content: Search engines like it when you change your content frequently and reward you with higher rankings. Unlike web design companies where you have to submit content changes and pay for them to be made to your site, with a website builder, you can make as many changes to your website as you like, and as often as you like, for no additional cost. Consider changing your home page seasonally to reflect the time of year, or update your products or services.
TIP: Some good ways to change or add new content to your website are a blog, a video, a calendar of events, or monthly things to do that pertain to your type of business. All of these items are provided for free by website builders.
Things to Consider
- Editing Tools: Take advantage of the many basic and advanced editing tools provided by website builders as part of their website building platforms. Get to know all the tools available and their functions because they will enable you to do creative things with your content. Although you are using a pre-made design template, these editing tools will allow you to make your website design distinctly yours.
- Browser Compatibility: Browser compatibility is essential for your website to properly load and look great on all browsers and mobile devices. Only use website builders whose site building platform has been proven compatible with all browser types, such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc., regardless of the operating system. You also want a website builder that will automatically optimize your website for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
- Support: An important aspect to any website is support. You want to be sure help is readily available for when you are building your own business website and when there are problems after it has gone live online. Support offered by website builders vary, but exceptional ones have email and live support along with extensive online support, like a user’s guide, how-to tutorials, FAQs and a community forum.
When it comes to creating your own business website, there’s a reason why thousands of businesses choose IM-Creator. With our all-in-one domain, free web hosting, diverse selection of design templates, notable website builder with easy drag and drop editor, and email and ecommerce solutions, we are focused on the success of your business. Our website builder platform incorporates tools and features that will set your website apart from others in your industry. And our quality programming and coding ensures your website looks and works right each and every time, no matter what browser, computer, or mobile device your visitors are using. Just like you value your customers, we value ours with support that includes live assistance, email support and online resources. From start to finish, IM-Creator offer a seamless process for creating your own business website, from choosing a domain and a design template to adding content and publishing it on the Web. Rely on us to create your own business website that gets noticed.