How to make a website for business
Many people today are looking to take their business online. So, I’ve put together enough information to help you understand the main choices available to help you building a website from scratch.
- How to create a website from scratch.
- Get some assistance to build a business website, that doesn’t cost the earth.
- If you are a business entrepreneur and understand the value of great websites, you may be looking for the best professional web designer to assist you in creating an excellent site.
So let’s look at each of these scenarios and help you decide which is for you.
1. Create a website from scratch
If you’re not afraid to dig into some technical areas this might be an option for you. There are some cut-down solutions available today. My experience is that many of these solutions claim that it is extremely easy to make a website from scratch. And for some people with design sense and not afraid to dig into some technical areas, this is true. However, a large number of people, start these solutions and get stuck at one point or another. Maybe the design doesn’t look professional because that is not their area. Or maybe they need a functionality that is not offered out of the box and they don’t know how to proceed. But if you don’t mind persisting and looking for solutions, then maybe doing it yourself is a viable proposition. Still, you will need a good deal of time for the learning curve to achieve a professional site. You won’t need to know code to create a website; however, it is always helpful to understand coding HTML or CSS and SEO.
Your next decision will depend on how much time you have to learn about website platforms. If your desired website is a static type and not an eCommerce website (shop), the options are more straightforward. Here are three choices, advantages and disadvantages and steps to put it in place.
a. Website Page Builders
Page Builder platforms offer an interface to drag and drop items around the page and visually see what you create. You would have seen them advertised. Sites like Squarespace and Wix. Usually, they are set up with templates to get you started. A Page Builder will allow you to customise each page in a relatively simple way. 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 but will include advertising. 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 element of the site. A Website Builder generally looks after the server hosting in your subscription. Usually, you can buy a website name (Domain) with the subscription and get started straight away. Some of the most popular Builders out there are:
- Wix (free and paid option with lots of designer templates),
- Webflow (21 free templates, free & paid $12-36/ mo),
- Squarespace (easy to use with great templates),
- Weebly (free & paid options),
- GoDaddy (free & paid starting from $14.95/mo),
- Site123 (free and premium plans),
- Shopify (Shopping $29 per month),
- WordPress.com (Blogging and Publishing free)
Advantages of a Page Builder
- Simplified system
- Predesigned templates
- Payment gateways can be easier to initiate
- No external hosting
- Low learning curve
Disadvantages of a Page Builder
- Monthly Fee.
- Limited plugins to extend functionality.
- Assistance from a web developer could be expensive.
- Not complete control over the site.
- May need to register and pay for a domain name separately.
11 Steps using a website builder
- Choose the website builder that suits your needs and budget.
- Research a unique domain name.
- Choose a design template from those available.
- 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:
- Joomla (Advanced CMS platform, popular among programmers)
- Drupal (Advanced CMS, popular among programmers)
- WordPress.org (Highly customisable platform with plugins and themes)
With this kind of website or content management system, you can create, edit and manage the content without knowing code (Although that would help). The platform is free to download and start, but you will find other costs, such as a Domain name and Hosting and maybe Plugins and a theme. A Domain name is the name and address (URL) of your website. 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. Some plugins are free to use or have a free plan, but others may require a subscription. Most CMS’s 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 CMS’s available today, by far the most popular is WordPress. 42% of all websites on the World Wide Web are WordPress sites. It started as a blogging platform called WordPress.com – a hosted platform but has evolved to accommodate all websites on the self-hosted CMS WordPress.org.
Joomla has about 2-5% share of the worldwide market and Drupal with 2-3%. 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 lesser up taken systems.
Advantages of a Content Management System
- Most are open source, free systems to use
- Ability to edit your own content without knowing code
- Easy updates of functionality with a huge range of free and paid plugins
- Easy add further pages as required
Disadvantages of a Content Management System
- Necessary to manage updates regularly
- Register a Domain name (Start around $13yr)
- Need a Hosting Provider (Start around $6 mo-$50mo)
- Assistance from a web developer could be expensive.
- Medium to high learning curve
c. WordPress Page Builder
WordPress now has additional tools to change the look and feel of the site to suit a greater variety of businesses by using a Page Builder. A Page Builder can be added to WordPress to change themes (look and feel) quickly. They provide a drag and drop interface to customise the content, usually in a more visual way. Page Builders can simplify some aspects of the content management system, but not all. You will still find a learning curve to understand the structure behind the CMS.
A few of the page builders that work 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 you could buy the builder for lifetime use. (Not all that expensive as you might think).
Advantages of a WordPress CMS Page Builder
- Speeds up design.
- Live preview the front-end while you are designing.
- Flexibility with cool features.
- Ability to scale with your business.
- Many hosting companies are already set up with WordPress and Page Builders.
Disadvantages of a WordPress CMS Page Builder
- Cannot add another page builder to extend designs
- Once a Page Builder is an active theme, you cannot easily switch it off.
- Some builders may slow down your site.
- Possibly a steep Learning curve for beginners
Steps to get started with WordPress CMS
- Firstly, find a hosting company that offers good support, security and speed and sign up.
- Then you will need to choose a Domain name and register it on the Hosting company site or Domain site.
- Next, set up WordPress through the web Hosting company, if not already set up.
- Choose a Theme (design) from WordPress or install a Page Builder plugin (such as Divi or Elementor) and choose a template. (Some hosts such as SiteGround or GoDaddy have their own builder).
- 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.
- If not using a Page Builder, it’s best to plan your design and site structure, including how it will affect the users’ experience (UX).
- If using a page builder, 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. Here 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 interested 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 desired, 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 easy online courses here.
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 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 needs.
- Discuss the type of design and functionality you want. Show them examples.
- 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.
- Agree on a payment structure.
- Meet at set intervals (digitally 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.
As you can see there are a lot of details involved in web development. But of course, each website design is largely dependant on the type of business you have. Are you selling goods or will the site just be needed to show customers? 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 win more attention and leads? How much time do you have to spend on learning and developing the site? 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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