How To: Build a Website
by: Lindsey Marino | ChooseWhat.com
Every business needs a website to promote its brand and build a trusted reputation. A website also allows a business to sell products or services online.
A website provides an invaluable marketing channel for your business. In fact, eight out of 10 people search for businesses online and make buying decisions before ever setting foot in a bricks-and-mortar store.
For a small business owner, a great website can mean the difference between being visible to customers and being virtually nonexistent. It will also protect your brand from others who might try to copy it or steal your domain.
Advantages of a Business Website:
- Makes you visible to people who are searching online (i.e. the majority of consumers)
- Allows you to compete with larger, well-known brands
- Gives your business a professional appearance
- Gives you control of your brand messages
- Provides cheap and effective marketing
Before you build a website for your business, you should:
- If you haven't registered a domain name, nearly all website builders offer domain name registration, and several services even include domain registration for free with your service plan.
We highly recommend that business owners use a website builder to create their web presence.
Website builders are inexpensive and include all of the tools you need to create an informational website for your business or an e-commerce website that allows you to sell products online. Anyone, regardless of skill level, is able to have a fully-functional website up and running in just a few hours.
If you'd prefer to hire someone to build your website, scroll down to the bottom of this article for more information.
Decide whether you want to create an informational website or an e-commerce website.
- Informational / Brochure Website
Displays information about your business such as a list of the services you offer, a menu if you are a restaurant, seasonal specials or discounts, your location, and contact information accompanied by images, videos or PDF files. See an example informational website.
- E-Commerce Website
Allows you to sell products or services online using tools such as a Product Catalog, Shopping Cart and Payment Processing. See an example e-commerce website.
If you need to build an e-commerce website, we highly recommend checking out Volusion Online Store Builder. It's an all-in-one e-commerce solution that offers lots of functionality.
Select a website builder.
Use our Website Builder Comparison page to choose the website builder that best fits your needs. Check prices and features included as well as technical support available. Technical support can be important, especially if you don’t have a lot of prior experience creating a website with an online builder.
Build your website.
Assemble all of the elements needed to build your website:
- Your company logo
- Custom images or headers
- Branding messages or value proposition
- Description of the company ("About Us")
- Page content: text, images, videos, other multimedia
- Product or service descriptions (if you want to sell products online)
- Contact information
Note: You may want to hire a freelance graphic designer to create your logo or custom images and/or a copywriter/editor to proofread your website copy.
Once you’ve chosen your website builder service, simply follow the instructions given by your service provider to get started. For more help with building your website, check out our STARTicles:
- Elements of an Effective Website
- 6 Simple Ways to Make Your Business Website More Effective
- Tips to Generate More Leads with Your Website
Promote your website.
After you've built your website, you should promote your site both online and offline.
Hire Someone to Build Your Website
Hiring a web developer may be a good choice for some people who need a complex or highly customized website. Hiring someone to build your site is more expensive than building your own website, so you probably don’t want to choose this option until your business is doing well enough to invest in a website that may require more functionality as your business grows.
If you're interested in hiring a designer to build your site, fill out our short form to get free price quotes for designers in your area.
- Set up business pages on top social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ that link back to your website. For more information on how to set up your social pages, check out our guide on How To Use Social Media to Promote Your Business.
- Link to your website on printed marketing materials. You should promote your business website online as well as offline on your printed marketing materials. To get started with creating marketing materials, read our guide on How to Create Basic Marketing Materials.
- Most website builder services make you pay an annual fee up front. Make sure that the service you select is one that you will be satisfied using for at least a year. Test a website builder by signing up for a free trial (if possible) or take a look at the online galleries of websites created using that service to make sure it will suit your needs.
- To save money, you might decide to create a Facebook page page to promote your business. While we recommend promoting your business through social pages, we do not recommend using a social page in place of business website. Social pages are geared towards specific communities and tend to exclude potential customers who don’t use or aren’t familiar with social sites. In contrast, a business website is meant to simplify the process of finding information while offering functionality for users. A website can also scale easily with your business.