Every business needs a website. A company may have been able to operate without one in the past, but in 2014, having a website is a necessity. The average consumer uses the internet to research products and services before making a purchasing decision, and if your business isn’t on the internet, you’re missing on potential revenue. Word-of-mouth marketing (by itself) isn’t good enough anymore. Once a consumer learns of a company’s existence, he or she wants to be able to look up the company on the internet and find a professional-looking, informative and interactive website that expresses the company’s mission, vision, products and services (with descriptions and pictures), and contact information. Unfortunately, young entrepreneurs or startups may not have the finances to contract a professional web designer or hire a web design firm to create a custom website, which can vary in cost from $2000-$10,000. Luckily, hiring professional help isn’t the only option; young entrepreneurs and startups can take a DIY (do-it-yourself) approach and create their own business website for under $100.
Creating a business website isn’t as hard as it may sound. Due to contact management systems like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, creating a website isn’t difficult at all – even for a novice. All it takes is a little due diligence – research, exploration, learning, and creativity.
The Anatomy of a Website
Before we talk about how to create a website, let’s discuss the components of one. Every website requires a domain name, a web host, and a content management system (CMS). A domain name (according to Wikipedia) is the unique name that identifies a website. For example, the domain name for Google’s website is google.com. The “.com” part of the domain name is the actual domain. “.com” is for companies, “.org” is for organizations, “.net” is for networks, and so on and so forth. Then there’s the web host. A web host is the server that hosts the website. Servers deliver web content that can be accessed through the internet. Think of it like this – if a website is a house, then the server is the land on which the house was built. Lastly, a content management system is a computer application that allows users to create, edit, modify, and publish content to the website, as well as alter the appearance of the site.
There are many companies that offer domain name and web hosting services (HostGator, BlueHost, etc.), but I recommend GoDaddy—you know, that company that Danica Patrick endorses…GoDaddy offers domain names for only $15 per year and web hosting services for only $60 per year. Using GoDaddy, you would only spend only about $75-$80 to build your website, which is considerably less expensive than having your website built by a professional. GoDaddy even has their own CMS, which allows users to easily design the website and add content to it.
How to Create a Website
Now let’s discuss the steps that you need to take in order to build a website for your business.
Buy a Domain Name
Visit the GoDaddy website and purchase a domain name. The domain name should be the name of your business. For example, if your run a for-profit business called Peter’s Pizzeria, then your domain name should be peterspizzeria.com. Make sure you’re 100 percent satisfied with the name you choose because once you purchase a domain name you can’t change it.
Buy a Web Hosting Service
Once you purchase the domain name, go ahead and purchase the GoDaddy web hosting service. I recommend purchasing a one year contract (rather than the two or three year contracts). This way, if you ever want to switch to another web hosting company (like BlueHost) or if you realize that the CEO/business owner life isn’t for you, you’re only in the hole for one year.
Pick a Content Management System
After purchasing the domain name and web hosting service, you need a CMS to help design and add content to the site. I recommend using WordPress. WordPress is a powerful and FREE CMS that will allow you to create a professional-looking website and add as much content as you want. It also comes with hundreds of pre-made templates that make it easier to design the site. WordPress gives you the ability to change the homepage, add and delete webpages, create and publish content (any kind of content), and add plugins and widgets to the site like social media sharing buttons and email capturing software.
Install the Content Management System onto the Website
After you choose which CMS you want to use, you have to install it on the website. This is actually one of the easiest parts. Web hosting companies like GoDaddy created simple CMS installation procedures for the most popular CMSs (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.). Sometimes, installing the CMS on a website is as simple as clicking an “install” button next to the CMS you want to use.
Learn the Content Management System
Another reason I recommended GoDaddy for your web hosting services is because if you’re a newbie when it comes to building websites, the GoDaddy website specialists will send you an email full of tips and instructions on how to get started with whatever CMS you choose to use. However, if for some reason you don’t receive this email, there are plenty of resources to help you master any CMS. For example, if you’re using WordPress, WPBeginner is a great resource. WPBeginner is a site dedicated to helping inexperienced webmasters learn how to use WordPress. WPBeginner’s articles cover everything – customizing templates, installing plugins and widgets, optimizing your website for search engines, adding content to your site, creating additional webpages, and many more topics that are valuable to WordPress users.
Pick a Website Template
A website template is pretty much a default, un-customized website design. Templates are great for newbie webmasters because they’re easy to alter require few alterations. Once the webmaster changes the default name of the site and a couple of default picture on the site, it’s pretty much ready to go public. Like I said earlier, WordPress offers hundreds of free templates (called themes) for any and every kind of site – whether you’re running an e-commerce site, consulting company, or non-profit organization, WordPress has a theme tailored for every specific type of business.
Create a Website Banner
Just like every business needs a logo, every website needs a banner (the picture that runs across the top of a website that displays the businesses’ name and logo). For the average website, the banner is usually right above the website’s main menu bar. The banner size is different for every template; however the banner is usually the shape of a rectangle. Once you find out the specifications –size requirements – for your template’s banner, use applications like Adobe Photoshop or FREE website apps like Pixlr to create the actual banner; then save it to your computer and upload it to your website’s CMS. If you’re not artistically gifted, that’s okay, go to Fiverr.com and search for graphic designers who are willing to create a logo and/or website banner for you – it should only cost $5.
Creating a website for your business may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s really not. It’s actually pretty simple (I’ve done it plenty of times), and most importantly, it’s cost-effective – it costs less than $100. Your website may not have the “bells and whistles” of other sites (like Yahoo), but look at the bright side – you now have a professional-looking, fully functional website that is search engine friendly, interactive, and informative, and you created it yourself; Great Job!
-Mike, creator of EntrepreLoser
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