Tuesday, February 12, 2019

How to Make a Business Website in 5 Simple Steps

It’s easy to create a low-cost website that lets you communicate with customers and sell products or services. Building a great business website involves purchasing a domain name and hosting, creating content, and then using a website builder to customize your design and publish. Business websites are essential to remaining competitive in today’s market.

Step 1: Register Your Website’s Domain Name

A domain name is the name and address of your website, such as www.YourBusiness.com. To check and see if your business’ name is available, enter it into the domain search tool below, powered by Bluehost. If you are taken straight to the registration page, your name is available. If you’re notified the domain isn’t available, adjust the name to find one that isn’t taken.

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If the .com version of your business name is available, consider using it for your website over other common extensions like .net or .org. It’s best to use a .com extension because people tend to search for and trust a .com business site first when looking for information or products online.

After you’ve found your domain name, you can also sign up for hosting. Bluehost typically charges $7.99/month, but Fit Small Business readers pay only $2.95/month for domain registration, website hosting, and a custom small business email. Click here to learn more.

Tips for Choosing Business Website Domains
Here are the best practices for finding an available domain name that fits your brand:

Add Search Keywords – Domain names are important for search engines like Google. Consider including words that people are likely to use when searching for your business. For example, “ProStarLawncare” is probably better than “ProStar.”
Avoid Random Symbols or Punctuation – Domain names should be easy to pronounce and remember. Keep your name as short as possible and avoid punctuation like dashes.
Use Location Keywords – Use location keywords to find a unique URL. If all desired domains are taken, add your city/area name to the domain. For example, a company called Smith Plumbers based in Albany, NY, could try www.smithplumbersalbany.com.
If you still need help choosing a domain name, see our Top 25 Domain Name Tips from the Pros.

Step 2: Choose Your Hosting Provider & Platform

Once you’ve chosen a domain, the next step is to decide where to host your website. A host is the service that actually stores your website and transmits it to online visitors. In our experience, the two best host platforms are Bluehost and Weebly.

Small Business Website: BluehostPrice: $2.95/month
Difficulty: Intermediate
Uses: Serves a huge range of businesses; templates for almost every industry
Visit Bluehostsmall business website: WeeblyPrice: $12.00/month
Difficulty: Easy
Uses: Simple informational websites, light blogging, and ecommerce capabilityVisit Weebly
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Bluehost is the most versatile hosting option and the one that delivers the most value. You can register your domain (as described above), host your website, access a WordPress web builder, and get a business email address for just $2.95/month. Click here to check out Bluehost’s hosting plans.

Weebly is a more user-friendly host and drag-and-drop website builder that offers more personalized customer support. This can make it a better option for less tech-savvy users who only need a simple website and want to build it on a platform other than WordPress. However, the price tag is $5/month, and this doesn’t include a domain or email account. Get started for free.

Now let’s explore each of these options in more detail:

Option 1: Create a WordPress Website Using Bluehost
If you are a little more tech savvy and want access to unlimited features and functionality, WordPress is the way to go. Some web hosting providers, such as Bluehost, offer a free WordPress website when you sign up for their $2.95 web hosting package.

Just bear in mind: WordPress is an intermediate website builder. You won’t need any programming knowledge, but you will need to familiarize yourself with their back-end. Unlike Weebly, which lets you edit the website just by dragging and dropping elements, WordPress has a more complex edit menu.

To help, we’ve written a few guides and recorded some videos (both below) that explain how to create a WordPress website using Bluehost from start to finish. If you follow one of our guides and use our theme, you should get most of the work done in less than an hour.

Check out the following WordPress guides for how to make a website. For each of these, we use Bluehost, which gives you a WordPress website, domain, and business email for just $2.95/month:

You can also get started by reading our guide on How to Make a WordPress Website.

Option 2: Use a Website Builder like Weebly
At $5/month, Weebly is a host and website builder that utilizes drag-and-drop interfaces, templates, and plug-ins or apps that make it easy to design a custom website. For small business owners who are short on time and are less technologically advanced, but are willing to pay a little bit more, we recommend using Weebly.

With Weebly, you start by choosing a template, then customize by adding your own pages, text, and images, and changing colors and fonts.

The editing process in Weebly is very intuitive. If you’ve ever used Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, you’ll easily grasp the tool. Add elements by dragging them from the sidebar, adjust the size by dragging from a corner, and change text by double-clicking within the text box.

It’s also easy to add interactive features to your website. Weebly has click-to-add options for Google Maps, quizzes, YouTube/Vimeo embeds, web forms, polls and surveys, and more. This can make your website more functional, help your customers engage with your business, and share your content on social media.

For more information, check out our article on how to build a website using Weebly.

Additional Option for Ecommerce Websites
If the primary purpose of your website is to sell products, you may want to choose a solution that specializes in creating an online store. BigCommerce is an ecommerce software that helps you to create and manage your online store, sell your products, and market your business. It costs $29.99/month and you can even use their free trial, no credit card required.

Visit BigCommerce

Step 3: Create Your Website Content

Website content is the copy you write for the pages on your website. Business websites work best when they’re simple, clear, and easy to navigate, with straightforward text and a single call to action on each page. Business websites also tend to have five essential pages, including Home, Products (or Services), About Us, Blog, and Contact Us pages.

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To begin, write out the copy and images you want to include on the following:

Homepage – On the homepage, you should include the name of your business, where you’re located, and a simple pitch that includes a few lines about what makes you unique and/or why customers should choose your business.
Products or Services – This page should offer details about the products you sell or services you provide. Spend one to five sentences describing each type of product or service you offer and then list their prices.
About Us – Provide your company background and list organizational memberships like the Better Business Bureau. Also include customer testimonials; these help your company build more trust and credibility.
Blog – Create an editorial calendar to determine the blog content that will help you connect with your customers and community.
Contact Us – Your address, email, phone number, the hours you are open for business, and links to any social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook should appear on this page. You should also embed a Google map, if applicable.
Kelsey McKeon, Content Writer, Clutch - how to make a website“People want websites that make content easily accessible. People say easy navigation is the most useful website feature, so businesses should include intuitive and functional navigation tools on their website. These can include clearly labeled toolbars, a home page button, and a search feature. People become frustrated when it’s too difficult to maneuver between pages, so make sure all elements are functional by testing for quality assurance before the website launches.”

– Kelsey McKeon, Content Writer, Clutch

Ensure Your Website Is Mobile Optimized
A mobile-optimized website adjusts to mobile devices by altering the layout for smaller screens to make it attractive and user-friendly. More than half of customers browse from their smartphones instead of a computer, so it’s imperative as a small business owner that your website is mobile-friendly.

The good news is most of the top web builders, including Weebly and WordPress, automatically create mobile-optimized websites for you. Known as “responsive,” these websites can detect the type of device visitors are using and automatically shift the content to give them an ideal experience.

That said, even if your website is responsive, it’s usually a good idea to make some additional adjustments to your mobile site. Your mobile website should make your call to action a central focus, whether that’s getting users to call your business, fill out a contact form, join a mailing list, or make an online order. Remove any excessive details that might make that more difficult.

Click-to-call buttons are especially helpful if you want mobile visitors to dial your business. This is a button that, when clicked from a mobile phone, automatically populates your business’ phone number into the visitor’s phone dial pad. An embedded Google Maps widget is also key for customers who are browsing on-the-go so they can quickly and effortlessly access navigation to your store.

Mobile Website Essentials - how to make a website
Mobile Website Essentials

Step 4: Design a Logo

The colors, font, and style of your logo will affect the design of your website. This is because you want a consistent theme between your logo and web pages.

If you already have a logo that you are using in the offline world, then perfect. Find the digital file, or create a high-resolution scan to use on your website. If you do not already have a logo, or want to upgrade from your existing design, there are three key ways to create one.

Design a Logo Yourself
There are a few logo design software platforms you can use to design your own logo. Try Tailor Brands if you want an easy way to create an appealing logo. Once you create your logo, you can subscribe and gain access to branding features, including seasonal logos, branded social media posts, branded landing pages, print-based design files, and more. You can try it for free, and if you find a perfect design, you can subscribe starting at $2.99.

Tailor Brands - how to make a website
Begin designing your logo with Tailor Brands

A Tailor Brands logo on multiple products

Hire a Project-Based Designer
Fiverr.com is a site where businesses can hire a freelancer to complete one-off projects. On this platform, logo design starts at $5. If you use the $5 option, you may have to wait a couple of weeks to get your logo. For around $20, you can often get it within a week. Open a Fiverr account, then find a 4.5- to 5-star designer (at least) or a “Top-Rated Seller” with a portfolio you like, then reach out.

Use a Logo Design Agency
Logo design agencies handle all aspects of logo design, from conception through initial designing, editing, and eventual completion. DesignBro, for example, a leading design firm, runs contests among top-rated designers to compete for your logo design. Clients often begin receiving designs within 24 hours.

Prices start at $199 for three suggested designs and run to $479 for 10 top designs to choose from. Work directly with designers and request unlimited revisions until you’re happy. Final designs are sent in print and digital formats (pdf, .jpg, .png) with a legal copyright for the design in your name.

Step 5: Design Your Website

To design a website, envision and plan how your site will be laid out, including the colors, fonts, images, page structures, interactive features, copy, and graphics. It’s been shown that it takes someone less than three seconds to decide whether to stay or leave once they hit your website, so it is imperative that you make a good first impression.

Here are a few tips to ensure your website design is up to par:

Have clear navigation: You want people who visit your site to instantly know what your business is about and where to go to learn about your products or services, find pricing, contact a representative, or make a purchase. If your site is not clear, people will get frustrated and leave.
Use call to action buttons: Implementing buttons with clear actions will immediately attract the user’s eye. This helps you to lead the person to take your desired action.
Make sure your site loads quickly: People are impatient, and if your site takes even a fraction of a second too long to load, people will give up and look elsewhere. Make sure your web host provider, like Bluehost, has fast load times.
Keep it minimal: Don’t overdo it with the design and definitely don’t feel like you need to cover every square inch with information or a design. White space is your friend. By keeping the look minimal, you can focus attention on the things that you want people to really pay attention to.

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