Although having a business website is not a must to start an online business, a website can bring in so many opportunities for your online business. Also, if you are planning to sell online, having your own e-commerce website can help you to take your business to the next level.
Creating a business website can help your potential customers to learn about your brand and engage with your business.
Average Reading time: 10 minutes
In this guide of how to create your business website, we will talk about basically everything you must consider, before creating your business website.
Here you will learn,
- How websites work
- How to buy a domain name
- Where to host your website
- Essential pages for your site
- Essential website elements and accessibility
This is 2019, and today, creating a website is not a hard or a complicated task at all. It is really cheap and easy to make an excellent website to match your business goals.
And, the most fantastic thing is, even without a coding knowledge, now you can create your own business website too.
Of course, if you can afford, by all means, you should hire a good web developer to create your business website. But, since we are trying to teach you an “affordable” way of starting an online business, we will teach you how to do everything by yourself.
Even if you hired a web developer, having basic knowledge in this area would be beneficial for you.
Nowadays, websites can do amazing things.
- It can help your customers to learn about your business. (Learn about your products/ services, location, watch videos, read reviews and testimonials etc.)
- It can help you to create an engagement with your customers. (Using Chat-bots and live-chat features).
- You can sell products/ services online. (Using an ecommerce section for online purchases, online bookings, handle order fulfilment and tracking orders etc.)
All these mean, having a website can help you to attract and engage with your customers.
So, let us learn how to create your business website.
How does a website work
Don’t worry, we are not going to go deep and teach you about web-developing. But, there are a few basics, which can be useful for you to understand the whole process.
By the way, if you feel like this is getting too technical, feel free to skip to the next subtopic, where we discuss how to select a domain name for your website.
If you continue to read this section, I must say, you choose wisely! 😉
Every website is made with chunks of content. There are codes, images, videos, files and many more. So, we need someplace to store this content. We use “webservers” to store or “host” these chunks of website pieces.
A web server is again a computer, located somewhere in the word. So, all the 2 billion websites on the internet are hosted on different servers.
To host our website on a server, we need to pay the price. This is more like a rental for your shop. Usually, hosting fees are calculated monthly and billed annually.
A web server is something like your brick and motor shop.
Now, how do people usually identify a shop? Yes, by the name and address of the shop. In the same way, our hosted website needs an address and a name. This is called a web-address or a domain name.
This is the address you type in your web browser to go to any website. For example, you need to go to http://www.facebook.com to go to Facebook, or http://www.ecommercebuff.com to access the best guide about how to start an online business. 😉
“ecommercebuff”, which is in between the “www.” and “.com” is our domain name. So, if you have a business name like “Kim’s Fashion”, you can try “kimsfashion” as your domain name.
Actually, there are a few things to consider before purchasing a domain name. We will discuss that little later.
So, when one of your potential buyers go and search for “kimsfashion” on a search engine like Google, it searches for the domain names related to kimsfashion and shows that on the search results.
When someone clicks on your domain name, their web browser calls the web server, which is hosting your website pieces, and gets these pieces.
Then, it will assemble these pieces in the correct layout and show your beautiful website to your potential buyer.
WOW! That is the end of the technical stuff! Phew… 😐
How to select a domain name for your business website
This is one of the most crucial steps of creating your website. There are so many things to consider!
Your web address is a unique address. For example, since we have bought the ecommercebuff.com, now you cannot buy the same address again.
Sometimes this can be problematic.
For example, if you have a generic business name like “coffee bar” or something, you won’t be able to buy coffeebar.com for sure. As we told, there are 2 billion websites, and I bet coffeebar.com should be one of them.
So, how can you know that for sure? You can search for the available domain names using any of those domain name registrars.
We are not promoting any particular business, but just for your convenience, try GoDaddy domain name search to do an initial domain name search. You can later decide where to buy a domain name for your business website.
If you do not already have a business name, and if your domain name is going to be your business name, there are a few things to consider before jumping in and purchasing a domain name for your business website.
- Pick a name that is short, meaningful and easy to remember.
- Pick a relevant name, which is related to your business.
- If possible, try to have a keyword related to your niche in the domain name (i.e. winterfellcoffee.com, if you are selling coffee) this will be important when you work on SEO.
- Avoid under_storkes and da-shes in your domain name.
- You can choose different domain name endings (like .com, .co.uk, .org, .accountants etc.).
If your domain name is already taken, you can try the same domain name with a different domain name ending.
For example, if winterfellcoffee.com is taken, you can have winterfellcoffee.cafe. But, do this as a last resort. Always pick something unique as your domain name.
Here you can find a whole list of domain name endings.
Well done! Now you have picked a name for your business website.
Where to host your business website?
There are two basic methods to host a website. Simply speaking, you can either,
Buy an all-in-one hosted platform (like WordPress, Blogger, Wix etc.), which provides a DIY software platform (or CMS – Content Management System) to create your business website and storage space to host your site.
Or else, you can go for self-hosted service. Then your web-developer will code and create a business website using software of their choosing and separately hire a hosting company to host the site.
The biggest advantage of using an all-in-one platform is that anyone can create a website on these hosted platforms. With basic computer and internet skills, you can do that too. But, hosted platforms have so many customization and functionality restrictions.
On the other hand, if you go for a self-hosted solution, you can have great flexibility to customize your site. Also, if you are unhappy with the hosting service, you can transfer the site to another host. But, on the negative side, self-hosting has a maintenance burden. You have to think about software updates and everything.
So, which is better?
It depends on your requirements. If you need a simple business website with a few pages, a simple ecommerce platform or maybe with a blog, you can pick an all-in-one hosting service.
If you have a webmaster, who can handle the technical aspects of your site, and if you are planning to add complex web applications to your site, you must have to go for a self-hosted platform.
Was it too technical? Yeah, but it is better to know the basics. 😐
Remember, you can either hire a web developer to create your business website, or you can do it by yourself without any coding knowledge.
If you are going to hire a web developer,
you can either select a local web developing service or you can hire an online freelancer to create your business website.
But, first, remember to have a good discussion with your developer about your requirements. And, check their portfolios (past work) to select a designer who can work on both functionalities and beauty of your site.
Also, remember to go for a realistic budget, so you don’t have to spend twice, for the same thing.
If you are going to do it by yourself,
there are plenty of great tutorials out there. Pick a popular platform to work on. Then, it will be easy for you to find a lot of tutorials and sources.
Whatever the method you select, it is essential to understand how a proper design can help you to gain a better customer attraction and engagement for your website.
Essential pages for your business website
First things first, let us start with your homepage.
The homepage is the first page people see when they visit your site. So, it is basically like your shop window.
You know, the first impression really matters. Think about yourself. If the homepage of a website looks ugly, would you care to check the rest of the pages? No, you don’t.
So, how can you turn this around?
Your homepage should,
- Invite people to check the rest of the page.
- Help people to explain the purpose of your website.
- Provide easy navigation to the other parts of your website.
Now, do not try to spend days brainstorming your homepage design. Remember, your business is not creating websites. You have other things to do.
Just Google for a good looking competitor’s website and get inspired.
Copying is bad, getting inspired is OK
For example, susiecakes is a cake website with a good site authority.
Their site looks really awesome, and most importantly their homepage is self-explanatory. Likewise, search and find some good sites in the same niche as your online business, and see how they are crushing it.
We’ll talk about the site elements and how to organise them little later. For now, just try to understand the purpose of a homepage.
Are you are good with the homepage? Great!
Add more pages
Now, let us create another two pages for your business website. Well, you can readily add “Contact Us” and “About Us” pages.
The contact page is super important to any business website. Your contact page may have your phone number, email address, the physical address of your store and even a map to help everyone to find you.
Your contacts page should not be hard to find at all. Most of the businesses usually add contact information on to the homepage too.
The About page should explain your business. You can also add photos and videos to showcase your past work in your “About” page. After all, it is all about you.
Add an ecommerce section to your business website
If you want to sell products online, you can add an ecommerce section to your website.
Ecommerce section is basically the shop shelves of your business website. It can help you to display your products, display the prices and display the stock levels for your products.
Adding an ecommerce section is fairly easy. If you are on WordPress, there is Woo-commerce plugin to handle that.
Also, you can create your website on a platform that is dedicated to ecommerce, like Shopify.
Anyway, we have a complete guide related to starting an online business with ecommerce towards to end of our complete guide. We’ll discuss this in detail later.
Now let’s move onto the essential website elements, shall we?
The essential website elements and accessibility
Talking about the elements on the website, orbitmedia has done some research and has published this data about the popularity of the webpage elements.
There is no hard and fast rule about these elements. But, the “proper” use of these elements can help you to attract and engage more customers.
Before we jump in and start learning about these essential and awesome website elements, there is one thing that you must understand.
If you are using an all-in-one hosting platform like WordPress, blogger or Wix, sometimes you may not be able to customise your site as you want. There are a lot of design restrictions with such platforms, and it is a bummer.
So, all you can do is pick a good site template/theme to match your business segment and your desires. Then, you can tweak this theme to make it looks closer to what you want. You may be able to make it looks closer, but not exactly what you need.
Let’s get back to our topic about essential elements.
We are going to use these elements for enhancing your site’s usability. That means you have to make it easy for your website visitors to find what they want on your website.
Are you ready? Let’s start.
The site navigation
The site navigation does not only mean that top menu you have on every website.
Site navigation means organizing the elements of your nifty website, more sensibly.
This can be achieved by using proper placements, menus, grouping, separators, font sizes and search boxes etc.
For example, if the sole purpose of your business website is to show your contact details, make it damn easy.
People do not scroll far down on any webpage (unless they are reading an article or something). So, remember to keep everything that is important above the fold.
This means keep your Call-for-action element visible at the initial view.
This neatly brings us to the next element.
When someone lands on your website, you must show them what to do next. This is called as Call-for-Action.
You can use the Call-for-Action in many different ways.
You can add a “Call Now” button, or you can tell them to “Buy Now”.
If you just want your visitors to help to find your store, show them “Where to Buy”.
Also, remember to check your website on different screens to make sure that everything is in the right place.
There is a neat little trick you can do on web browsers to view your website in different screen sizes.
- Go to your website on Google Chrome or Firefox, and press Ctrl+Shift+I to open developer tools.
- Then, hit Ctrl+Shif+M to open the responsive design layout.
There you can change and see how your website looks on different devices. See how well your layout elements responsive to different screen sizes. Do they stack one on top of the other properly?
Grouping your site content can also help to achieve better navigation.
For example, if you sell lamps (like IKEA); you can sensibly group your products. Like, you can have floor lamps on one section and table lamps on another.
These simple arrangements will make it easy for your visitors to navigate through your website and find what they want quickly.
Follow the standards and conventions
Also, try to follow the conventions and standards. With a business website, you are not creating the next Google. If you try to break the standards and be innovative, sometimes your visitors may find it is hard to learn how to use your website.
We’ll give you an example. We all know that if you click on the logo of a website, it redirects you to the homepage. There is no such rule to do that. But, if you try to change such things, users will get annoyed.
Keeping consistency is another best practice in website design. Make your site colors, fonts, menus, logos consistent across different pages. When you use graphics or images, remember to maintain the style across your website.
Do you know that for every single second delay in your website loading time, your conversion rate drops up to 20%?
This is true. If any webpage takes more than 5 seconds, I will hit go back for sure. So, page speed is an essential element in your website design.
By the way, how do find your website loading speed? Try testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com
The above tool shows how well your page works on a mobile. Always think mobile first! Nowadays, almost everyone uses their mobile devices to access the internet.
The solutions for page loading time can depend on many variables.
It can be the technology that you have used to develop your site. Or, it can be the hosting server. Keeping such technical stuff aside, still, there are a few fixes you can try to improve your page loading speed.
Usually, the images are responsible for a huge portion of your site loading time. So, avoid using huge image files, and try to resize or compress images to make them much smaller. There are tons of free online tools for image processing.
Also, never forget that the secret behind the success of Google is “going minimal to increase the speed”. So, remove all unnecessary clutter from your website. Ditch all the stupid widgets and see the magic.
Additional Reading: Two Things that Matter Most in Ecommerce success
Let us wrap up
Having a website is not essential to run an online business. But, if you have a business website, it can offer you so many opportunities to attract and engage with your potential and existing customers.
In this guide, we have learnt the basic technical stuff, like how does a website works, how to select a domain and how to host your website.
Also, we have discussed the pros and cons of creating a website on your own and hiring a web developer.
Finally, we have discussed the essential pages and elements, which you must include on your business website.
Next, we will learn how to improve Google search rankings.