How to Build a Website from Scratch for your Small Business

In today’s world, having a website is no longer a luxury for your small business; it’s an essential extension of your business. Websites allow you to connect with your customers by setting a tone for how your product is perceived in the marketplace. The trouble is, few small business owners have any experience setting up websites. Recently, a wave of new website builders have made it easy for small business owners to create and customize websites for their businesses that they can tailor to their specific needs.

Many of the popular website builder products such as Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace.com all offer you the option to host the site as well as register domain names, but usually comes at a cost. These sites also allow the basic website novice to build a beautiful site without much design experience. You can always use a site like GoDaddy or Register.com to host your site, but because of the ease that many of the website builders provide, it’s much easier and more convenient to go through whichever builder you end up choosing.

DO: understand the difference between hosting sites, domain names, and website builders. Check to see if your preferred website builder also offers hosting abilities and domain registration. You can usually import a domain and hosting duties with the popular website builders, but make sure that’s all taken care of before you move on to the next step.

DON’T: choose a host before determining your website builder. While it might be cheaper to have a separate host and builder, a lot of times it’s more confusing and can lead to issues down the road.

Today, website builders make it easy for novice computer users without any coding skills to build attractive websites that offer a range of services that fall in line with just about any small business’ needs. Of course, if you want a truly customized site, there will be a learning curve and some coding involved. If your end goal is to have a user-friendly site for things like e-commerce, attracting more customers to your physical location, or even something as simple as giving your business an online presence, there are simple solutions that can get you off and running in just a few hours.

Once you’ve chosen your website builder and have set up hosting duties and registered your domain, you’re ready to create your website. You might want to start with a template that has already been created to get started. While builders allow you to start from scratch, a lot of the difficult legwork has already been taken care of and you just need to add text and pictures.

E-commerce sites that offer point of sale (POS) systems and allow you to take payments often can be found on the same website builders, but there are specific templates you’ll need to use. A lot of times the costs are higher with these templates, but there are useful and convenient apps that will help you get off and running without much trouble.

DO: look through the most popular website builders to determine which one best fits the needs of your small business. If you don’t want to pay a third party to help with coding, make sure to choose a site allows novice users to launch.

DON’T: forget to do your research. Sometimes the most popular sites offer the most customization features for websites, but can be difficult to understand. Know what you want from your site and make sure you match your website builder with the site that aligns best with your small business’ needs.

Most website builders and hosting sites offer unique business emails that go along with the name of your site for an additional cost so you don’t have to use a personal email once your website is set up. Many other features can be accessed through your website builders, like the ability to make newsletters, blogs, monitor traffic, upload social buttons, and manage comments.

The final thing to remember is that you can design a site and see what it would look like before you ever have to pay a dime. Make sure you try a few sites to see what each has to offer, then choose the one that’s right for your small business.

DO: start building. You can basically build a site to the point that it’s ready to launch before you pay, so the best thing you can do is to play with some templates and find what is right for you.

DON’T: choose a plan before you recognize what features you’re paying for and what all comes with a certain plan. Templates are usually free, but there are costs associated with registering domain names and monthly hosting fees. There can also be costs with upgraded features that you need, so recognize what you’re getting and only get what you need; you can always upgrade if there is something else you need.

Building a website to fit your specific needs is no longer as daunting as it once was. Today’s new tools remove much of the complexity so that you can be up and running quickly—and making your presence known.