Every business operating today needs to have a website. Your website will serve as your digital storefront; it will be the first thing that many people looking for your business will come across, and it will go a long way in forming their initial impressions of you. If you can create a good first impression with your website, it will make it much easier to capture and retain visitors as loyal customers.
However, not every entrepreneur will have experience in building a website. In fact, it is safe to assume that the majority of those who start their own businesses are lacking in formal web design training. But having a well-designed and properly-functioning website is essential for any business. A business without a website is a business without one of its most important assets.
Fortunately, once you have made the decision to build a website for your business, it has never been easier to make that goal a reality. Whether you build your website in-house using existing staff, or you hire an outside party to handle the development for you, the skills and tools needed to build a high-quality website have never been more affordable or accessible.
Define Your Primary Function
Before you can progress too far into the development of your website, you first need to work out exactly what you want it to do. For some businesses, their website will account for the majority of the sales that they make. In other cases, it will exist primarily to provide customers with information that enables them to then spend money with the business through other channels.
The purpose of your website will dictate just about every aspect of its design. If your website is going to contain an e-commerce component, then your user interface has to be absolutely top-notch. On the other hand, if your website is there mostly as an information point, then it needs to be easily navigable and ideally supported by a chatbot or similar advanced search feature.
Sketch Out the Basic Structure
With so many digital tools surrounding you in web design, it might seem a little bit old fashioned to be doing things with pen and paper. However, it is much easier for most people to sketch out a rough plan for the structure of their website. This doesn’t have to be anything too detailed; it just needs to show what the main pages of your websites are, what they will contain, and indicate any additional apps or features that still need to be coded.
There are a couple of reasons why producing such a sketch is useful. For one thing, it helps you to visualise your website in a way that can be difficult when you’re staring at a web editor. It is also just a good way of getting your brain to think about how you are going to lay your website out in a way that you otherwise might not have. The act of sketching something out on paper will engage a different part of your brain than typing at your computer will, for example. Because of this, you might find that ideas come to you when you are using this part of your brain that you would not have otherwise.
Decide on a Domain Name
Just as the brand names that businesses choose will play a significant role in the success of the product that bears them, the domain name of a website can also affect its fortunes. For most businesses, if the name of your business makes a perfectly acceptable URL, then this is normally the best thing to choose.
However, if you cannot use the name of your business as your domain name for any reason, then you need to get creative. Something that is memorable and easy to spell is best. Try to think about how your domain name will sound when said aloud as well as how it is spelt, as both will affect how easy it is for other people to share.
Find a Suitable Web Host
Your website hosts will be responsible for storing your website and serving it up to people who want to access it. Needless to say, the quality of your hosting provider will have a considerable impact on the experience that your users have when using your website.
A host who is unreliable, leading to constant outages and downtime, or one who cannot offer you decent speeds, is going to drag your entire website down. It doesn’t matter how well designed your website is or how good the content is; if visitors to your website have to wait for ages for pages to load or simply find them inaccessible, they will move on to one of your competitors.
Take your time choosing a web host and look online at the reviews other users have left for them. Don’t settle for an unreliable host or one that has a poor online history. You should be looking at 99% uptime at a minimum.
Decide How You’re Going to Get This Thing Built
Of course, at some point, you are actually going to have to build the website that you are planning for. Building a website has never been easier, or more affordable, for any business. There is a wide range of options for web design software, ranging from drag and drop interfaces that are geared towards those who have absolutely no prior training or experience, up to advanced WYSIWYG (pronounced ‘wizz-ee-wig’, it stands for What You See Is What You Get) editors that offer virtually unlimited scope for skilled web designers.
If you’ve never built your own website before, then it can be a challenge the first couple of times. Many people who are approaching this for the first time will find that starting out with a more basic and easier-to-use editor will enable them to hone their fundamental skills before they move on to more advanced techniques.
Whatever level you are at, there is now a wide selection of web design courses that you can enrol in. Decide which skills are most important, and ensure that the course you choose will meet your needs. Depending on your previous experience level, you might find it most helpful to find a course that takes you through every step of the process.
Building your first website is often a much bigger undertaking than most web developers are prepared for. There are a number of aspects to good web design that outsiders often overlook. For example, a good website, especially one that is representing a business, needs to not only be intuitive and enjoyable to use, but it also needs to be built on a solid and well-coded foundation. If either the look and feel of the website, or the underlying source code aren’t up to scratch, the whole thing will fall like a house of cards.
By sticking to the advice above, you should find it much easier to design and develop a website that easily sells your business to new users.