Creating a business website in 2017 is not only something that is nice to have, but has become a necessity if you want to be taken seriously in your industry. What is the first thing you do when you want to know more about a business? You Google their website. And if your website isn’t listed in the search engines for your prospective customers to find, it can cost you clients and take up your valuable time – answering questions for customers or clients on the phone that can easily be disseminated through your website.
So if you are ready to share your products or services with the world, we want to offer you 6 simple steps to starting your business website.
Choose A Domain Name
The very first step you need to take when creating your website is to pick out a domain name. Your domain name is the virtual address that people will go to when accessing your website, and, as such, you’ll want to make sure that you keep it short, simple, and reflective of what your site is promoting. You can get a domain name from many different companies nowadays, and while most of these are solid options, there are three that truly stand out from the crowd:
Google Domains — Google is one of the largest companies in the entire planet, and seeing as how it runs the most popular search engine on the internet, it makes sense as to why you may consider getting your domain name here. With domains starting out at just $12/year and an easy setup with multiple website creation platforms included as well, this is a great place to start if you’re new to the whole website-making game.
GoDaddy — GoDaddy is another ultra-popular domain name marketplace, and it sells “.com” domain names for $11.99.On top of this competitive pricing, GoDaddy also provides its customers with a getting started guide, 24/7 customer support, and status alerts whenever there’s need to know info about your domain.
NameCheap — NameCheap is the best place to buy domains that you haven’t heard of. You can snag a “.com” domain from NameCheap for as little as $0.48 per year, and if you need a place to host your site, NameCheap will do that too for just $9.88/year. Combine this with flexible plans for individuals, businesses, resellers, and more, NameCheap is quickly turning into one of our favorite domain-registers ever.
Pick a Hosting Plan
Once you have your domain name, you’re going to need to host it somewhere. Some people choose to host their domain name on their own, and while this does give you ultimate control over your site, it requires a constantly active server, which needs a great deal of time and money to be run successfully.
Because of this, most people turn to a third-party company to host their domain name for them. Similar to domain name sellers, you have quite a few options to choose from here as well. However, among all of the companies that offer hosting services, HostGator and Bluehost are undeniably our top two picks.
HostGator features 4 main plans that make it easy to understand exactly what you’re buying, and prices for these plans start out at a mere $4.95/month. HostGator advertises a 99.9% uptime guarantee so you never have to worry about your site being down for some unknown reason, and the 24/7/365 technical support makes solving any problems you run into extremely easy.
As if that wasn’t good enough as is, HostGator also offers a $100 credit for Google AdWords, a $100 credit for Yahoo!/Bing, and a 45-day money back guarantee if, for some reason, you’re not entirely satisfied with your purchase. Bluehost is a great alternative to HostGator, and it’s also a bit cheaper with plans that start at only $3.95/month. Choosing to host your site through Bluehost will allow you to get a free domain name, free access to site builders, 24/7 customer support, and a 1-click WordPress install system! You only get $150 worth of offers as opposed to the $200 that come with HostGator, but what you lose here you make up for in your month-to-month savings.
Choose a Platform
Assuming that you’ve got your domain name and hosting service all figured out, your next step is going to be to choose a website platform. Also sometimes referred to as content management systems (CMS), website platforms are where you’ll actually create the website that your audience will visit.
We’ll dive a bit deeper into some of the creation process a little later on, but before we do that, we need to first decide which platform is going to be right for you. WordPress, Squarespace, and Weebly are the top 3 go-to options for website platforms, and they each come with their own unique set of pros and cons that set them distinctly apart from one another:
- Extremely rich and thorough blog editor
- Apps for iOS and Android
- Ability to publish podcasts and make them available on iTunes
- Lots of themes
- Gets confusing very quickly
- Interface tries to be too many things at once
- Drag-and-drop content builder
- Tons of features to play around with
- Themes are very modern and simple
- Extremely easy to use (even for beginners)
- Many themes are photo-heavy, which means you’ll need a lot of high-quality photos in order for your site to look really, really good
- Drag-and-drop site building
- Built-in blogging setup
- Tight integration with social media
- High quality Android and iOS apps
- 100+ themes
- Free version only lets you add up to 5 pages and 10 on the Starter plan
- Not all of these are quite as modern as Squarespace’s
Connect Your Hosting to Your Preferred Platform
Now that you’ve chosen the companies you’ll be using to host your domain and for creating your website, you’ll need to link the two together. Linking your web host will allow it to talk to the website platform you’ve chosen, and this is what will allow users to visit the beautiful site you’ve made when they type in your site’s domain name in their computer or smartphone.
The actual process for how you go about doing this varies from company to company, and while it’s usually a fairly simple thing to accomplish, all of the businesses mentioned on this guide will be able to help you out along the way should you run into any problems or have any questions.
Pick a Theme
As you move through the whole website creation process, something you’ll need to eventually do is pick a theme for your site. The theme you choose needs to perfectly represent your company and what it stands for, but at the same time, it also needs to be visually appealing and something that your site’s visitors will be pleased to look at.
The website platform that you choose will more than likely come with their own set of themes, but if you don’t find any that you like right out of the gate, you still have some other options to look at.
StudioPress is a website theme company that focuses on selling themes to people using WordPress to run their site, and it was recently named the “Fastest WordPress Hosting” company of 2017. Over 200,000 people use StudioPress for finding sleek and elegant themes to make their site look as good as possible, and while prices are a bit on the high-end of things, the quality of the themes makes these prices more than worth it.
Elegant Themes is another theme-selling company, as it’s attracted an even larger customer base of 401,632. Elegant Themes offers a wide array of different WordPress themes to choose from, but Divi is by far the most popular theme that the site has to offer. Divi is the most widely-used premium WordPress theme ever, and in addition to being downright gorgeous to look at, Divi also comes with heaps of customization features to tweak it exactly the way you want it to look. Lastly,
OptimizePress is another WordPress-centric theme marketplace that’s been picking up quite a lot of steam recently. OptimizePress is its own website creation platform, and while there are only 30 themes to choose from, they have some of the prettiest and most customizable ones we’ve ever seen. The attention-to-detail here is second to none, and while you will pay a bit of a premium here, it’s more than worth it in our opinion.
On your phone, you install apps to add further functionality to your phone than what it comes with out of the box. Plugins for websites are pretty much what apps are to phones, and they can oftentimes completely change the way that people use and interact with your site. Some of the best and most popular plugins that you should start out with include:
YOAST SEO Plugin – SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) is essentially to make sure your website is as visible to as many people as possible. YOAST SEO helps make creating and updating your site’s SEO easier than ever before, and with a little time and patience with this plugin, you’ll notice considerably more visitors than you would have without it.
Backup Buddy Plugin – Although we don’t like to admit it, sometimes things go wrong. Sites crash, data is lost, and it creates for one massive headache that you likely have no intention of putting up with. Backup Buddy quickly and easily creates backups of your website so that all of your data and files are safe and secure should something ever go haywire, and it’s absolutely one of the most essential plugins to have no matter who you are.
Akismet Spam Filter – Getting lots of comments for meaningful discussions on your website is great, but with every legit comment you get, there’s a chance you’re going to get two that are spammy/malicious. Akismet Spam Filter helps prevent these unwanted comments from ever reaching your site, and it creates for a much better user experience in the long-run.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – Promoting other related content on your website for people to check out helps to keep visitors on your site for longer periods of time, and Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) helps you do just that. This plugin is extremely simple to use, and you have a solid amount of control for deciding which content you want to promote and what you’d rather not have show up. Creating a website might seem like a daunting task at first, but as you can see, the process is actually quite simple when you break everything down into easy-to-follow steps. Stay level-headed, keep your wits about you, and you’ll have a beautiful new website in no time at all!