How to make a website for business
If you are looking to take your business online, this information will help you understand the steps on how to make a website for business and choose from the many platform choices available to build a website from scratch.
- How to create a website from scratch
- Where to get assistance to build a business website
- Why choose a professional web designer to assist you in creating a website
1. Create a website from scratch
You may have heard of website builders, such as Squarespace, Wix or Shopify, that make it easy to build a site from scratch. These platforms have been designed to help you get a website up quickly and easily. The question to ask is, “Can I create a website from scratch?” The skills you will need are a little bit of technical know-how to move around a software platform and some design sense. This might not be you. From experience, I find many people start these solutions and get stuck at one point or another. Maybe the design doesn’t look professional. Or maybe they need a functionality that is not offered out of the box, and they don’t know how to proceed to build their business website. But if you don’t mind persisting and looking for solutions, then maybe doing it yourself is a viable proposition. You won’t need to know code to create a website with one of these top-rated platforms.
Your first decision is to choose either a static/brochure-type website or an eCommerce/ Shop website. Next, you will have a choice of design templates. Sites like Wix tend to have more designs, but Shopify leads the market in eCommerce.
Here are three choices of platform types with their advantages and disadvantages and steps to implement.
- a. Website Builders
- b. Content Management Systems
- c. WordPress Visual Editor Plugins (also called Page Builders)
a. Website Builders
Website Builder platforms offer ready-made designs or templates, including an interface to drag and drop items around the page to see as you create visually. Squarespace, Wix and Shopify tend to be the most popular. However, there are many more in the marketplace.
A Website Builder will allow you to customise each page relatively simply. However, if you don’t have a design sense and an understanding of image sizing, you may still struggle to achieve the look and feel you’re after.
Most builders generally cost a monthly subscription, although some have a free plan that will include the company branding. The good thing about subscribing to a Website Builder is that they manage many aspects behind the scenes. The downside is you will not have complete control over every site element. A Website Builder generally looks after hosting on a server within the subscription cost. Most will also allow you to buy a website name (Domain) with the subscription or use your domain name to get started immediately. Here’s a list of popular Builders:
- Wix — (3rd popular website —2.5% of the world market. Free and paid option with lots of designer templates),
- Shopify— (2nd most popular website engine, but declining usage to 3.8% of world market currently — $29 per month),
- Webflow— (21 free templates, free & paid $12-36/ mo),
- Squarespace— (currently with 2.1% of the world market. Relative ease of use with great templates),
- Weebly— (free & paid options),
- GoDaddy— (free & paid starting from $14.95/mo),
- Site123— (free and premium plans),
- WordPress.com— (Blogging and Publishing free)
Advantages of a Website Builder
- Simplified system
- Some predesigned template designs ( quantity and quality depend on the platform)
- Payment gateways are easier to initiate
- hosting is included
- Low learning curve
Disadvantages of a Website Builder
- Monthly Fee.
- Limited ability to extend functionality.
- Assistance from a web developer could be expensive.
- Limited control over the site.
- You may need to register and pay for a domain name separately (Squarespace does not supply every type of domain name. Some names require external management).
- You may not like the free themes.
11 Steps using a website builder
- Choose the website builder that suits your needs and budget.
- Research an available unique domain name.
- Choose a design template from those available or purchase one.
- Gather your images and size them according to your template.
- Gather your text copy and any other elements required.
- Customise the template to suit your business by adding your content.
- Choose any plugins to extend the website functionality (Free and paid options).
- Preview and test your website.
- Publish your website on the internet and check it on different browsers and devices.
- Keep the content up-to-date and relevant to rank as best as possible in Search.
- Backup site content in case of a disaster.
b. Content Management Systems
A keen group of developers worldwide have created what is known as open-source content management systems (CMS). Open-source allows anyone to use the software freely. Some of these CMSs are:
- WordPress.org (Highly customisable platform with plugins and themes. Not to be confused with WordPress.com, which is a Website Builder for blogging)
- Joomla (Advanced CMS platform, popular among programmers)
- Drupal (Advanced CMS, popular among programmers)
With this kind of website or content management system, you can create, edit and manage the content without knowing the code (Although that would help). A CMS is perhaps a little more complicated than a website builder, but the advantage is the flexibility to do what you want and need for your website. The platform is free to download and start, but you will find other costs, such as a Domain name, Hosting, and maybe Plugins and a Theme. A Domain name is your website’s name and address (URL). Hosting is the place where your website “lives”. You will pay a hosting company to place your site on their Server. Plugins are extensions to the Content Management System to add additional functionality and flexibility, such as a calendar or a booking system. Some plugins are free to use or have a free plan, but others may require a subscription. Most CMSs come with basic themes (the look and feel), but you may need to buy another theme if you don’t like that look.
Of all the CMSs available today, the most popular is WordPress. 43.3% of all websites on the World Wide Web are WordPress sites. It started as a blogging platform called WordPress.com, a hosted platform, but it has evolved to accommodate all website types on the self-hosted CMS WordPress.org.
Joomla has recently decreased to 1.8% share of the worldwide market, and Drupal has less again. Both of these CMSs are great platforms but perhaps have a steeper learning curve again. For me, the key difference is the availability of resources (or lack thereof). WordPress has captured the imagination of website developers in the small-to-medium market. Therefore, you can find more tools and expertise at a reasonable price than with the less up-taken systems.
Advantages of a Content Management System
- Most are open-source, free systems to use
- Many designs or themes are available for free or purchase
- Ability to edit your own content without knowing how to code
- Easy updates of functionality with a huge range of free and paid plugins
- It is easy to add further pages as required
- It is easy to add a visual editor plugin to make designing the site simpler
- Ability to scale with your business
Disadvantages of a Content Management System
- Necessary to manage updates regularly
- Register a Domain name (Start around $13yr)
- Need a Hosting Provider (Starting around $6mo-$50mo)
- You may need to purchase a theme or visual editor, such as Elementor or Divi
- Assistance from a web developer could be expensive.
- Medium learning curve
c. WordPress Visual Editor Plugins (also called Page Builders)
A Visual Editor is not a complete Platform but an addition to a CMS Platform to aid in designing and updating the site. WordPress allows many Visual Editor plugins to integrate seamlessly. A Visual Editor can be added to WordPress to quickly change themes (look and feel). They provide a drag-and-drop interface to customise the site, usually in a more visual way. Visual Editors can supply a complete look, feel, and functionality for specific industries, streamlining the development process.
A few of the Visual Editors that integrate with WordPress include:
- Divi by Elegant Themes (Lifetime payment option)
- Elementor (Free and paid designs)
- Generate Press
- Beaver Builder
- Thrive Architect
- WP Page Builder
- Brizy Website Builder
- GoDaddy Website Builder
Most of these builders have a free plugin to get started, but you may require a premium plan to have the style and functionality you desire. The price can vary greatly. You might pay just $45 for a once-off use or buy the builder for lifetime use. (Not all that expensive as you might think).
Advantages of a WordPress CMS Visual Editor
- Speeds up design.
- Live preview the front-end while you are designing.
- There is no end to Flexibility and cool features, including e-commerce.
- Ability to scale with your business.
- Many hosting companies are already set up with WordPress and Visual Editors.
Disadvantages of a WordPress CMS Visual Editor
- The Visual Editor or Page Builder may not cover all your needs but may clash with other builders when extending your design options.
- Once a Page Builder is an active theme, you cannot easily switch it off.
- Some builders may slow down your site.
- A low to medium learning curve for beginners
Steps to get started with WordPress CMS & Visual Editor
- Firstly, find a hosting company that offers good support, security and speed and sign up.
- Then, you must choose a Domain name and register it on the Hosting company site or Domain site.
- Next, set up WordPress through the web hosting company. Some do this for you.
- Choose a Theme (design) from WordPress or install a Visual Editor/Page Builder plugin (such as Divi or Elementor) and choose a template. (Some hosts, such as SiteGround or GoDaddy, have their own website builder and can set up WordPress Visual Editors).
- If you are building an eCommerce site, you will need a plugin such as WooCommerce. WooCommerce supplies the necessary interface for payment gateways such as PayPal and Stripe. Payment Gateways can be a bit more complicated to set up.
- If not using a Visual Editor or Template, it’s best to plan your design and site structure, including how it will affect the users’ experience (UX).
- If using a Visual Editor, customise the template. Your static site will then be up and running quite quickly.
- Create pages and content.
- Create a navigation menu.
- Check that your site looks right on mobile, then test and publish.
- Add regular new content to improve your SEO.
- Keep backups and regularly update your plugins, themes and WordPress Core.
2. Getting assistance to build a website
If you have already braved starting a site and are looking for someone to improve or progress you in the right direction, you could look in a few places.
- An online marketplace could be an excellent place to start. You can submit a job request and get three quotes (or more) to help you finish the website.
- Meetups are a place to learn and meet with other like-minded people about whatever subject interests you. A WordPress Meetup is happening in most states of Australia. You may find you can ask the questions you need and get the help you desire, but it might not be that simple to fit into the speaker’s program. Some meetups go through the backend interface and explain how to use it. This could be perfect.
- Some organisations teach, with an hourly fee, the steps you need one-on-one.
- Find a great video and follow it step by step.
- Check out our FREE easy online SEO courses
- Call for assistance in completing your website
3. Choosing a professional Web Designer/ Developer
If you understand the advantages of choosing a top professional web designer, you will be prepared to spend some money. A minimal site could start from as low as $650 and go upwards to many thousands for a sizeable eCommerce site.
So what should you expect from a professional that you wouldn’t get doing it yourself?
- Years of experience
- Design sense
- Knowledge of all areas of development
- Ability to create your website optimised for Search Engines from scratch
Steps to get started on a new website with a professional Designer
- Choose the developer that meets your needs and budget and has the ability to listen to your requirements.
- Discuss the type of users you wish to attract to your product or service and the functionality required. Show the developer examples of websites you like.
- Give the developer your chosen Domain name or ask them to assist you with this.
- Choose a host or ask the developer to help with this.
- Give the developer all the content, imagery, logo and answers to their questions. Check out—Why content is important for websites
- Agree on a payment structure.
- Meet at set intervals (online or in-person) to preview the site.
- Test and approve the new website.
- Organise a contract to work on your ongoing search engine optimisation and website maintenance. See our article on Basic SEO steps
As you can see, many details are involved in web development. But of course, each website design is largely dependent on the type of business you have. Are you selling goods online, or will the site just be needed as a brochure? Will you need ongoing page creation, such as a blog? Do you need your site to be number one on the Google Search Engine Results page so you can win more attention and leads? How much time do you have for learning and developing the site? The cost of a website is largely the same whether you choose a Page Builder or a CMS, but sometimes the cost can be greater doing it yourself, because of mistakes made. If you need support, lessons or web design services, check out our services here or contact us for a friendly chat.
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