Want to create a business website? WordPress is a platform that will help you get started without having to learn how to code. You can also hire a professional, in which case follow our tips to get an accurate estimate.
Do it yourself or hire a professional?
||A do it yourself approach is probably the right choice for you.|
||Hiring a professional will likely save you some headaches.|
Do it yourself
Step 1. Choose a name
For a business website, you want a name that ends with .com. Follow these simple rules to pick a name:
- A shorter name is better than a longer one.
- Always include the name of your company.
- Do not include suffixes like LLC, LTD, etc.
- Do not include dashes, like awesome-company.com. If you were to tell the name of your website to a client, would you want to say “dash”? I don’t think so.
- It’s OK to include the location of your business, like awesomecompanyrichmond.com (city) or awesomecompanyva.com (state abbreviation).
- It’s OK to include the nature of your business, like awesomecompanydesign.com or awesomecompanyfinancials.com.
You can use this form to check whether a name is available:
Step 2. Choose a hosting provider
A hosting provider is a company that keeps your website available on the internet 24/7. Usually the more you pay, the faster the website. Start with a cheaper plan and upgrade to a more expensive plan later on. Go with Bluehost. They offer a good service and price.
Once you have chosen a hosting provider, go ahead and register with them. Choose the cheapest package when signing up. You can always upgrade later.
Step 3. Install WordPress
WordPress is a system that allows you to manage content (text, pictures, videos, etc.) on a website. It can be used to build all kinds of websites, including business, portfolio and e-commerce.
Log-in into your hosting provider’s control panel and find the button to begin a WordPress installation.
Follow the instructions on the screen. Once the installation is completed, check that everything works by visiting the home page of your website. You should be greeted with a “Hello World” message.
Step 4. Log-in into the back-end
To access the back-end, type a new URL:
Replace www.awesomecompany.com with the name of your website. From there, type the username and password that you chose during the installation process on Step 3.
Step 5. Familiarize with the back-end
Get a feel for what can be done in the back-end by looking around. Use this guide as a reference if you get lost. Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of things you can do. You will not need to deal with most of them, but knowing where everything is will make it easier for you to do things.
Try to do some simple tasks like:
- Create a page
- Add an image
- Place a link
- Modify the menu entries
Use Google to help you clarify anything that you don’t understand or to find answers to common questions such as “how can I change the home page in WordPress?”
Step 6. Change the look of your site
There are tons of free templates you can use to enhance the look of your website. Just look for a theme (under the menu Appearance — Themes) that fits your needs and install it. You can try as many themes as you want, so try different ones until you find one that you like.
Try to use a theme that has a “responsive layout”. A responsive layout guarantees that a website will look good on different screen resolutions, especially smartphones. When you search for a theme, turn on the filter to show only themes that have a responsive layout.
Step 7. Add a logo
Make sure that it blends well with the rest of the website. You can add a logo via the Appearance — Header menu.
Step 8. Choose a tag line
A tag line is a quick sentence that gives the user an idea of what your website is about. It is placed near the logo at the top of your website. You can configure your tag line via the Settings — General menu. Good tag lines should be memorable and straight to the point. For your case they should answer the question “what does your business do?”
Step 9. Write the content
Always think from the perspective of the users that will be visiting your website. Who are they? What’s their age group? What are they looking for? Imagine having a conversation with a visitor of your website. It might go as follow:
- Visitor: “Where’s the contact information?”
- You: “Right here on the top right corner.”
- Visitor: “What do you sell here?”
- You: “Here’s the link to browse my products and services.”
Anticipate what you think your visitors will want to know, and place the answers to their questions within easy reach. Put important keywords in bold and start your pages with a heading. If you are writing a lot of text, split the content into sub-headings so that people can easily scan through your content.
Think of a web page more like a billboard while driving on the highway. You only have an instant to redirect the attention of your visitors toward the most important parts.
Step 10. Test
Ask your friends or family what they think your website has to offer. Let them interact with it and ask if they can easily find information about your business. Take note of what they couldn’t find easily and make adjustments.
Step 11. Plan Your Social Media Strategy
Create accounts and pages for your business at least on:
Make sure you upload your logo and prepare a cover image for your profiles. Share updates about your business at least once a week (possibly multiple times a week) and engage with your community. Entire books have been written about planning a social media strategy, but in general as long as you are actively trying to engage with your customers, showing that you care and that you are listening to feedback, you will do fine.
Web Design and Business Marketing Tips
For the do it yourself approach, we also recommend following these important tips:
- Each page should have a “call to action”
- Limit the number of nested pages (the number of clicks it takes to go to the deepest pages) to 3
- Limit your primary color palette to 3 colors
- Utilize video content, when possible and if applicable
- Have somebody proofread your website text
- Give priority to your user’s needs and intentions (don’t just guess, ask them for feedback)
- To increase contact form submissions, keep the number of form fields to 4 or lower
- Provide a phone number in your contact page
- Check http://www.google.com/trends for ideas on blog posts and content
- The title of your web pages is one of the most important parts for search engine optimization
- Engage your audience by asking them to partecipate in comments, discussions, to share information via social media, provide contests and giveaways to promote your business
- If you have social media strategy planned, plan to post at least 2/3 times a day for maximum engagement
- Setup alerts for your brand
- Don’t forget to add your website to Google Places
- Think about giving something to your visitors as you build your pages, don’t think sales. Nobody likes to be sold to, but we all like to receive something valuable
Hire a Professional
The cost of a website
The cost of a website can range from $1600 to $15,000+ depending on the number of pages, features and design decisions. The best way to find out how much your website is going to cost is to contact different professionals and ask them for an estimate. In order for them to give you a reasonably accurate range, make sure to include:
- A short description for each page that you think your website will need. For example, you might want a list of products and services page, a contact page and a home page.
- Details about images, product lists, logos or other content that will be added to the website. Will you be providing the content or will it need to be created?
- A description of how visitors are going to use the site. Can they register and post content on the site? Can they buy your products online? Try to be specific and think of every possible scenario.
- What features your website will need. Does it need to display real time news? Will it have an option for people to share your content on social media?
Sometimes you will need to provide more information, but these points cover the basics.
Be wary of companies that make you pay extra for services like SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Good SEO practices are a basic requirement for a website, not an extra to be included at a premium.
Also be wary of companies that charge you extra for adding mobile support (making sure that your website looks nice on smartphones and tablets). Since the majority of users nowadays browse from mobile devices, mobile support is a basic requirement, not an extra.
Reduce the cost
If your estimates come back and you find out that they don’t meet your budget requirements, here’s a list of things you can do:
- Reduce the number of pages or features.
- Try to get estimates from professionals that live in rural areas. There can be a big price difference between companies that operate in large cities and those that work in smaller towns.
- Offer to provide the content for the pages. You might need to familiarize with the system that the site uses and find time to curate the content.
- Offer to take care of the hosting. Often companies will charge clients for “hosting fees” which pay for the service of keeping your website available on the internet. If you or one of your friends know how to do it, you could save money by asking the company to just send you the files of the finished website. Then, you can choose a hosting provider of your own and put the website there. You will need to be comfortable dealing with possible issues with the website.
Length of the project
Number of features, pages, quality of the design, content and skill level of the people creating the website are all factors that decide how long it’s going to take. A simple website could take as little as a week, while a more complex one could take months. The best way to get an idea is to ask for a time estimate.