Small business owners often see the need for a web presence, but figuring out the best way to make a website isn’t always easy. You may have a bit of technical knowledge or none at all. Fortunately, there are options for any skill level to help you get things up and running fast. Hosting companies understand small business owners may not want to spend untold hours designing a page.
The pandemic forced people to stay home and shop online. Even as things start to open back up, some consumers find they prefer making most of their purchases digitally. In a recent survey, researchers found 28% of small businesses still don’t have a website. If you don’t have an online presence, you may miss out on sales.
If you’re one of those without a site, you might wonder where even to start. For those on a tight budget, you probably can’t afford a costly designer. Some of the cookie-cutter approaches may not work for you. Here is a list of easy steps for the best way to make a website. You can add to these or take them away as makes the most sense for your needs.
1. Choose a Domain Name
Your domain name may be one of the top challenges of getting your small business online. You need something memorable but suitable for your brand. Unfortunately, someone may have already taken the domain name you want. There are billions of names already registered, making it a challenge to find the one you want.
Should you use a dot com extension, or will one of the vanity extensions work best? Only you can answer these questions based on your customer base. For example, you may find it’s much easier to go with .pizza, but your customers may have difficulty remembering the address.
There also isn’t a rule you must stick to a single domain name. Instead, you can point additional choices to your main website. The best way to make a website domain name is to brainstorm ideas and then see what’s available. Some registrars make suggestions based on your input and what’s still available.
2. Be Authentic
About 86% of people say authenticity matters in their decision to support a brand. Know who you are as a company and what tone you plan to take on your website. If you have a fun, youthful vibe in your brick-and-mortar stores, you need the same for your website.
The best way to make a website starts long before you put a single element on your page. It begins with a style guide and understanding your target audience.
3. Select Hosting
Your next step in the best way to make a website is choosing the platform you’ll use. You have two options. You can go with a hosted, third-party site, such as Wix, WordPress.com or Squarespace. Your other option is to purchase domain hosting through any number of providers.
Of the two, purchasing independent hosting is the most flexible. However, you also need to have some tech skills or invest in a managed package. There isn’t a right or wrong way to go about it. Third-party providers tend to cost more as you begin adding elements to your site.
4. Find Your CMS
The best way to make a website factors in how you’ll add and organize content moving forward. The content management system (CMS) you choose can make the process simple or complex.
WordPress is the most popular CMS out there, powering 41.2% of all websites. The plethora of plugins and troubleshooting tutorials help you make the most of the platform. There are certainly others, but WordPress comes out as a clear winner.
Many hosting companies now offer WordPress hosting with built-in support. So you can get your site started with zero knowledge of WP. Other options include Joomla, Drupal and Rainmaker.
5. Find a Theme
The best way to make a website fast is by choosing a packaged theme. You can always tweak it a bit to personalize it to your brand. Change the colors to match your brand palette, for example.
You can find a theme to match almost any style you’d like. Most are on a grid framework, which is probably the best option for a newbie to making websites. Everything goes in a structured box without any asymmetrical components.
You can find free themes, pay for a design you like or invest in a custom-made one. Learning to take a basic one and change it through CSS includes is pretty simple. You only need a tiny bit of coding knowledge to figure it out.
6. Add Content
Adding content might seem like an obvious step, but the information on your site can make or break its effectiveness. The best way to make a website with captivating content is by listing out your customers’ pain points.
Answer each problem with a solution, and your content will perfectly match your users’ needs. Building up a library of helpful facts takes time and dedication. The hardest part of your job in maintaining a site will be continued additions.
Enlist the help of freelance writers, your customers and employees to keep things fresh and exciting. Consider how you might share what you post via social media and your newsletter.
7. Promote Your Website
Once you’ve built your pages, it’s time to get the word out about them. Combine efforts in your store with online marketing tools. Add your website address to printed material. Encourage your customers to follow you on social media and tell others about your new website. Take out paid ads and point people to landing pages on your site.
Ideally, your site works with other promotions to create an omnichannel experience for your users. For example, it’s okay to have online only and physical only deals, but list what they are so people can take advantage in both places.
What Is the Best Way to Make a Website?
Your best bet is to jump in and get started. If you don’t like the finished result, you can always try another platform or method. Until you’re online, you can’t drive traffic and sales, though. So get something in place and refine it over time.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dog, Bear.