Setting up a business website is something you need to prioritise early in the life of your company. Even if most of your customers come from local word-of-mouth recommendations, you would be leaving cash on the table if you ignored people further afield who need your help.
However, setting up a web presence can be a complicated, multi-step process that many of us get wrong the first time.
How to build your website
The first decision to make is whether to use WordPress or a similar platform to build your website, or whether to use a free site-builder.
Site builders and WordPress both have advantages:
- Site builders are fast (think hours rather than weeks with WordPress) and there are many DIY design options. Against that there are limitations; you have to go with the default web hosting, and you will have to change platforms one your business grows past a certain point.
- WordPress gives you unlimited design options, and plugins provide any feature you care to think of. However, it takes time to find a suitable WordPress theme, and the best themes and plugins come at a cost. Designing a site in WordPress can take longer than you expect.
1. Making a site with a site builder app
A site builder is the only way to get your site live today unless you are fully cognizant of WordPress and know how to modify themes.
All site builders have a monthly charge if you want a .com domain, but that includes hosting.
2. Building your site with WordPress
WordPress is free, but you have to pay to find a theme (design) that has expert support. You also need to pay a company to hold your website data on their computers; this is called web hosting.
Installing and setting up WordPress is a breeze, but you do need to check every day for security and other updates to the platform, themes, and plugins. Some plugins will interfere with others or cause your website to crash. A good host will help you with any crashes, but special WordPress hosting will include better support and will make your life easier.
How to find good web hosting
Finding good hosting on your own by pulling company names out of a hat is unlikely to be a pleasant experience. The big-name companies are big because they spend a fortune on advertising, rather than because are the best.
Sites that offer independent web hosting reviews will make it simple to choose a great host first-time.
HostAdvice illustrates some of the ways you can filter results to reduce the number of possible companies to a minimum. Look for hundreds of user reviews rather than less than twenty: More reviews mean the reviews are more likely to be genuine.
What content will your site need?
You will need at least a couple of thousand words of content for your web pages. If you are tempted to write this yourself, please don’t.
You may be able to type or write words on a page, but that doesn’t make you an expert. Everyone can put paint on a blank canvas, but that doesn’t make them writers.
Writing persuasive copy is a high-level skill, and copywriters are in high demand, so you aren’t going to find an expert on Fiverr or Upwork.
Find a copywriter who specialises in your niche using Google, check that writer’s portfolio and pay that person to write one page as a test. You will need to fill in the copywriter regarding your business, target profile, and products.
If the writing reads well and is persuasive, then pay him or her to complete the rest of the site.
Forget using stock photography and take your own. Marketing Experiments designed a test using photos of employees with their names rather than photoshopped stock images of models. The company found that ‘real people’ photos increased conversions by 34.7%. Paying a photographer to come in and take a few shots makes sense.
Using your own pictures also means they are yours, full-stop. You will never have any licensing issues because you own them outright. Make sure your photos are for your brand as well and not just generic photos. For example, if you are a food and drinks company, you will need food or drinks photography.
Long story short
Setting up a business website is not a linear process, and a project management approach will help you succeed without hitting problems. Start looking for a copywriter first, because having no copy will hold up the site design. The second step is to decide between using a site builder or WordPress, and the third step is to decide on hosting using third-party reviews to guide you.