Websites have become an essential component of any successful business. For small businesses, though, knowing where to start when building a website can be challenging. In order to bypass the stress and avoid missing an important design step while building your website, use these guidelines to ensure you check all the boxes before you publish your site.
Purpose of website
A business needs a website, but the purpose of said website varies depending upon the industry and niche of the business. Consider what you want to achieve by having a website. Is your business looking for more customers or trying to generate sales through the site? Is your aim to become a thought leader in the industry and develop a strong subscriber base? Before you do anything, make sure this objective is clear. Once the primary intention is identified, you can move into building a site that feeds into your overarching goals.
The ideal scenario for determining your domain name is that it would mirror your business’s name. However, with millions of new domains being claimed daily, the likelihood of an exact match being available is slim.
In order to create a domain name that works for your business, consider these three items:
- Does it match your brand?
- Is it easy to spell?
- Is it memorable?
Get creative and come up with a domain name that communicates your business’s objective without being too abstract. If you’re feeling stuck, don’t fret! You can always rebrand and rename your domain in the future. The most important part is to ensure the domain name fits your current business.
Choose content management system and hosting provider
When building a website, you’ll need two things; a content management system (or website builder) and a hosting provider where that content will live. Our website builder offers a combination of these two functions, so you can access all of your website details conveniently in one place.
Once you have selected a service provider, you can register your domain name and have the site point to it.
Select template and plugins
Your design template is another part of a successful website. Many website builder services offer hundreds of options, and are often cataloged by industry. When choosing the right template, consider your brand identity. Do you have a logo or branded colors? If so, integrate them into the template.
If you are launching an e-commerce site, ensure the template supports shopping tools and payment widgets.
Photo galleries and carousel images are also something to consider. If you are promoting products or services, visual representations are great ways to reinforce your business’s credibility and quality.
Play around within the builder, and pick and choose the templates and plugins that best serve your business and your website’s objective. Tweak the colors, fonts, and layouts until everything aligns with your brand guidelines or desired aesthetic.
Organize site content and pages
Now that the skeleton of your website is built, it’s time to outline your content and page hierarchy. Plan out which specific pages you need, such as Home Page, About Us, Services, Contact, and then fill in the appropriate content.
Websites are trending toward a cleaner design with minimal text. So be mindful of how much information you plan to include on each page.
Based on your site outline, determine the images and text necessary to make each page useful to its audience. Keep in mind what the site is out to accomplish, and veer from any unnecessary pages or text that may make the website seem clunky or disorganized.
Every page from your outline does not need to be ready before you hit publish. Instead, hide the pages that are not essential to your site’s launch, and develop that content separately. Once you are satisfied with the page’s layout and information, you can easily unhide it and it will seamlessly integrate into your website’s architecture. Having placeholder pages that are unavailable to the public help with organization and prioritization of content generation. If you have two blank pages in your infrastructure, they are clear indicators of where the content gaps are in your site.
Content is an ongoing piece of a website, so continually review, edit, and upload new information to remain relevant to your audience. Your content work is never finished when you’re running a business.
Beyond these six steps are three additional considerations for building a professional website:
Only use high-quality images
Nothing looks worse than a grainy image or a cut off picture on a website. Guarantee you deliver the best quality and resolution images on your website by utilizing any of the following image services. While most require payment, the cost is worth the value it brings to your website. Images and graphics are not a place to skimp on your website.
500px.com (Free & Paid)
Ensure it is mobile friendly
People are using mobile devices more frequently, so having a website that is only desktop optimized means the majority of your audience will see a less than stellar version of your website. Construct your site so it is mobile ready. Not sure where to begin? Our website builder automatically configures your site to be adaptable to smartphones and tablets.
Incorporate search engine optimization (SEO)
Including alt tags and descriptions in your images and including keywords on your site pages will bump up your SEO ranking with minimal effort. Go back to your primary objective and determine the keywords you want to be associated with your business. Weave them into your website text, across any relevant pages so that queries begin to recognize your business as an industry authority.
Once you have completed these steps, your website is ready to publish. As mentioned before, Vistaprint Digital’s website builder is an easy-to-use tool for small businesses and you can be up and running an hour or two. With its vast offerings of templates, design, and images, making a professional website has never been easier. Check out our digital offerings and see how they can streamline your website creation process.