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Building a website for your business
Establish credibility and reach more customers with a dedicated site.
Having an online presence is not only important, it’s crucial for success. Whether you plan on selling products on your site or just providing details about your business, you’ll need the tools and knowhow to get your site up and running.
What do I need to build a website?
The building blocks for creating a website can be broken down into four key components:
- Domain name
It requires very little effort to create a basic website, but the more value you provide your potential customers or clients, the more engaged they’ll be. Valuable content can translate to anything from writing helpful blog posts to providing a generally fun and easy-to-navigate user experience.
If you plan on building an online store, put in some time to make the product descriptions and images shine. Include plenty of details, sizing information, color variations or whatever applies to your business. Attention to detail can help boost successful conversions.
Whatever content you make, remember that it creates a lasting impression.
If visitors can’t easily navigate your website, they’re likely to leave as quickly as they arrived. Enter: quality design. A few ways to improve the feel and flow of the site you’re creating:
- Consider your font choice. Limit the number of fonts you use to make the page more digestible. If you already have a logo and brand identity, consider using the same or complimentary fonts throughout.
- Pick colors that compliment your brand. But don’t go overboard. Implement a cohesive and appropriate color palette throughout your site.
- Think about goal conversions. Try not to overwhelm your visitor with too many options. Create a clear funnel for people to arrive at your conversion point. That could be ordering something from your online store or quickly finding your contact details for support.
- Optimize for mobile. Smartphone and tablet users account for a huge portion of Internet traffic. Make sure your site caters to both desktop and mobile visitors.
Good design leaves a lasting impression and helps visitors remember your company — bad design gets in the way.
If you think of a website as a building, the hosting is the plot of land it sits on. You pay a website host for a portion of a server — or in some cases, an entire server — that’s connected to the Internet.
There are thousands of web hosts online. And prices vary widely depending on how large your website is, how much traffic or bandwidth you require and if you want specific web hosting suited to a certain types of website.
You want your domain name — also simply called a website address — to be memorable. Play around with what’s available and get creative while also keeping the message simple and clear.
4 ways to make a business website
There are several ways to build a website — but simply put, you can do it yourself or you can hire someone. Here’s a breakdown of the various methods along with benefits and drawbacks:
1. DIY coding
If you go the DIY route, you’ll need to learn coding languages such as HTML and CSS. You’ll then have to create a design from scratch — there are free courses on YouTube and paid sites such as Udemy. It’s possible to download free and open source apps to code with — like Atom and Brackets.io — but Adobe Creative Cloud is the industry package for doing this. Included are apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, a dedicated website-building program called Dreamweaver and several other professional-grade apps.
- Custom. Your site is completely unique to your brand.
- Autonomy. There are fewer limitations placed on your site, so you can basically do whatever you like.
- Quick edits. You can go in and edit the content whenever you wish.
- Steep learning curve. It takes time to learn coding and effectively implement the skill.
- Time consuming. You need to test your site across many different devices and operating systems to ensure it remains consistent for all viewers.
2. Use a template
If coding your own website feels beyond your technical proficiency, let someone else do the hard work and download a template instead.
A website template is a completed design filled with placeholder content. All you need to do is go in and change the text to your liking and upload via FTP to your website host.
- Saves time. Someone else handles the design work and browser testing. You simply enter your own text and photos, then upload to your web host.
- Professional designs. Know how your site will look before it’s completed with placeholder content.
- Customization options. Tweak the colors and fonts to match your brand.
- Not unique. Other companies and sites could be using the same design.
- Possible learning curve. You man still need some HTML/CSS knowledge for customization.
- General limitations. You may not be able to drastically modify the layout, depending on how it was built originally.
3. Use a website or online store builder
If setting up hosting, purchasing domain names and uploading to servers doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you may want to consider a website builder. Some are online services, like WordPress, which is the back end of 37% of the Internet’s websites. Shopify is a dedicated online store builder that lets you create sites from scratch or select one of its hundreds of premade templates. Alternatively, you could use an app like Adobe Spark, which is included as part of Adobe Creative Cloud.
- Fast. Quickly get your business website up and running.
- On-the-fly changes. You can tweak the content and update the site as much as you like.
- No learning curve. Website builders handle the complicate aspects to help you get your site online.
- Advertising components. There might be a promotional link or footnote on your website stating that the site was built by that particular website builder.
- Subscription-based. You’ll likely need to purchase a subscription.
4. Hire a website designer
Sites like Fiverr and DesignCrowd can help you find web designers with a wide range of experience. Digital marketing agencies and design studios can also provide a jumping off point.
One thing that can save you money and hassle in the long run is editing your own website. To do that, you’ll need a content management system (CMS) — WordPress is the most popular. You could have a designer install or create a custom theme for WordPress, then give you access to edit the content and manage the site.
- Expertise. Pro designers bring years of experience and knowledge to the table.
- Frees up your time. Outsourcing the heavy lifting frees up your time to conduct more business and grow your company.
- Tools. Have all the tools to carry out cross-browser testing and making responsive and mobile-friendly websites.
- Expensive. It could cost more than using other methods, especially when considering future redesigns and amendments.
- Less autonomy. There’s less opportunity for experimenting and trying different designs out — unless you’re willing to pay for it.
Does my business need a website?
Every company should at least have a basic website. It provides new and existing customers with ways to contact you and gives you an outlet to keep them up to date with the goings on at your company. And having an online store can boost your sales significantly.
Building a website isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Knowing the many options available to you, and the pros and cons of each, can help you launch a successful site that matches the goals and aesthetic of your business.
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