Key Steps To Building Your First Business Website

A website is a necessity for entrepreneurs, small businesses, home-based businesses, and anybody selling products or services.

Regardless of your other marketing methods, enabling potential customers to either find you through a Google search or learn more about you after they’ve seen your other marketing material is key to creating and developing new customers. If you’re selling online services or products, having a website is obvious.

But even if you don’t sell anything directly online, the website can serve as an extension of your business card, with information about you, your business, and services offered. Most important, your website should detail your background, experience, and other credentials to give you credibility and give potential customers more confidence when deciding whether or not to deal with you.

Creating a website for your small business can be easier than you think. You can do it yourself if you are so inclined or need to keep costs down, you can get a friend to help, or you can hire a Web developer to do it for you at a modest cost if you use available content management software instead of having a website custom developed for you. Whether you do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you, it will be easier if you understand these steps, which are an important part of the process to create your small business website.

1. Decide the Purpose for Your Website

The first step is to decide what your website is going to do for you. It may be fairly static (i.e., no new content added periodically) and simply provide more information to potential clients about your services and credentials if they want to check you out online. Or, you may want to use it for information about your company and provide articles or information you’ve written to provide useful information to clients and potential clients. You may even choose to start a blog to interest and engage potential customers as part of your overall social media strategy. Of course, you might also want to sell products and services directly online.
Knowing what you plan on doing with your website is an important first step because it will guide you on how to develop it going forward. Keep in mind, it’s not a static thing and even if you start off without online sales, for instance, it can be relatively easy to add that at a later date. Whether you write a blog initially or not, you should consider how you will eventually use your website. At some point you may decide that a blog will be a good way to generate interest and attract visits who will then see your company’s services or product. It’s also a great tie-in to other social media techniques you use.

2. Choose Your Web Content Management Software

If your primary purpose is e-commerce, particularly for products, you should select software which is specifically designed for e-commerce.
We recommend you Joomla
Joomla! is the best content management software that gives you a great deal of flexibility.

3. Choose a Web Host

Once you decided on your software, you need to choose a Web host, the remote location where your website and related software will be held and made available to visitors. Your choice of website host will depend in part on the software you choose but also on the speed and number of visits you expect to receive. With some companies, you can start off with less expensive but less powerful shared hosting services and, if required, you can step up to faster and more powerful dedicated hosting. This option is something you should consider when choosing a host, even if you start with the least expensive option.
Another consideration, particularly if you are setting up your website yourself, is whether your host provides for automatic installation of your chosen content management software. Most of the popular hosting services will enable you to do this with the click of a button. And in most cases you can use the same host from more than one website. If you are doing it yourself, the host’s support services should be an important consideration. While few, if any, will support the software, the hosting application and related issues can be complicated.

4. Organize Your Website

At this stage, you need to start thinking about what your website will look like and how it will be used. This includes your logo and other visuals, the menu selections you want to make available, and the kind of information you want to put on each of those pages. With most e-commerce sites, you’ll have choices within the software itself to set up your storefront with different formats and styles. If you choose to use Joomla, you’ll also need to decide what to display on each page.
Templates for Joomla content management system use a structured approach that enables you to add traditional content and also add-ons with specific information and content that you can position on the page, based on the structure of your your particular template. In many cases, you can even change the visual appearance of the different information so you can highlight certain things.
The starting point is certainly your menu. There is always a home selection, but you get to choose what the main menu selections are and chose submenus off each of those main menu selections. It’s important to think carefully about how you want to organize and structure the information on your website to give you the maximum flexibility. Even if you only end up with three main menu selections initially, it’s important to consider what you might add at a later date so that your initial design can accommodate it.

5. Develop Your Website Content

Content can sometimes be the hardest part of your website. It needs to be compelling to visitors and convey the right kind of information at the right level so visitors actually read it instead of moving on to the next website. When you write text, think about it from an advertising perspective.
In addition to text, you also need images. Since you should have chosen a template with visual elements or background images that match your particular business, other images and graphics are generally used to supplement the text content or sometimes even replace it. Making the pages professional looking is particularly important as visual impact and appeal are a key part of any website. This is an area where you should not use clipart, and unless you are very good at creating visuals, you might want to hire someone to help you. Visuals can include stock art graphics, images of your products, headshots of yourself and other staff members, or other graphics that might illustrate your process or approach to delivering the service you’re selling.

6. Populate and Maintain Your Website

Most text and graphics are added using a built-in WYSIWYG (which stands for “what you see is what you get”) web page editor that is easy to use and does not require you to know anything about web programming. The WYSIWYG editor allows you to cut and paste your text from a Word document and upload images from your computer. It also give you full control over text size, color, font, and other features as well as the sizing and placement of images. You can preview the material before you actually make it available to Web visitors and easily edit it again at a later date. Since it’s so easy to edit content, maintaining your website is easy. If you’re simply updating existing information, it won’t take very much effort. If you’re constantly adding content, including new pages, additional menu choices, new modules, additional add-ons, or blog entries, it’s almost as easy. Each of the software packages provide a control panel which gives you access to all of your material and content, including the Web editor and control over other features of your website.

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