You know you need a website but really don’t know where to start. We’re here to help you learn more about how to start a website.
In today’s world, everyone starts their search for everything at their favorite search engine, primarily Google. If you don’t have a website, then people won’t find you, or your business. Even if you don’t have a business, but are an artist or creator and want to share your work with a broader audience, you need a website.
If you have a brick and mortar store on a busy street corner, people won’t necessarily find you. They look for where to shop online, and then go to the store. You need a website. It doesn’t need to be fancy, have a bazillion pages, but you need people to be able to find your street address and phone number.
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If your business is making amazing art to sell at craft shows, you need a website. How will people find you after the craft show? They thought about that amazing item they saw, and want to find you again, to buy even more. You need a website.
Have I convinced you? Great!
Building a website can be easy, or you can make it really hard on yourself.
Tips for how to start a website:
- Start small. If you are a small business, you only need a small website.
- Clearly identify the primary reason you are launching the website. Is it so people can find your brick and mortar store? Are you selling your products online? Do you just want to share your creations?
- Before you start, make sure you think about your brand. What is your strategy? Who is your audience, or who do you want your audience to be? What do they like? Do you have any visual brand standards, like colors that communicate your brand? What kind of voice do you want to use to communicate with your audience? Do they want technical talk, or keep it simple? You want to make sure that all of the copy you write and visual images you use on your website align with your brand.
- Whether you are an online business or brick and mortar store, make sure people know how to find or reach you. Make sure you have your street address, phone number and an email. (Do you know how many times I’ve found an amazing business or artist and then can’t find a way to contact them? Way too many times!)
- It’s quick and easy (and FREE) to build a simple site on Blogger. Or use a simple framework like Wix or Squarespace. This gives you a chance to write a few pages, get a web presence and see if this is something that you’d like to spend more time working on as a marketing channel for your business.
- You know you’re committed to a website? And want a custom url? It’s a bit more work, but I’d recommend a WordPress site. It gives you a lot more flexibility than platforms like Squarespace or Wix. With WordPress, you can select from literally millions of templates and customize with your photos and information. There are (again) literally millions of plug-ins that can do anything you might want on your site. If you are a little bit tech savvy, you can do it yourself. If not, ask around your network for recommendations for a developer to work with you.
What not to do when first starting a website:
Want to know what not to do when you are launching your first website? Here are some tips:
- Don’t go hire a development team to build you a custom site, with custom administrative tools and custom front end (what your website audience will see), unless you are a developer yourself and can review the code and site build it yourself. Sure, there are plenty of awesome and wonderful developers out there, but there are also a lot of developers that know the basics of coding, but don’t have a good understanding of technical SEO (Search Engine Optimization – to make your site easier to find) and how to make a site GREAT. This approach will cost you a lot more money than you need to spend, and take a long time.
- Don’t hire a company that requires a monthly maintenance fee and minimum of one-year contract that adds up to be quite a bit of money. I’ve seen way too many people get caught up in contracts that are expensive, and really don’t deliver the results they expect. If you get a basic site built for you, either learn to make the updates, or find someone who is willing to keep the site up-to-date at a reasonable rate.
- If someone is talking to you with phrases and jargon you don’t understand, and you ask questions and still are confused, they are not the right person. Find someone to work with that can explain all of the steps of building the website to you, so you can have a good understanding of the work that will be done, and the associated costs.
Every business, no matter how small, needs an online presence. Everyone starts their search for anything from a search engine, whether on their phone, tablet or computer. You don’t need to spend a lot of money or time for a website; you can start small with either a Blogger or WordPress site.
Have questions? The Create Whimsy team has worked with some of the largest websites in the U.S., launched and grown new websites from scratch and has helped many small businesses get started in the digital world. We’ve managed on-going website updates and provided consultations for site improvements, including SEO audits and recommendations. Contact us at [email protected] if you are interested in help with your website.
Read our other Digital 101 for Makers articles.