This blog post was originally published on April 25, 2019. It was updated on December 22, 2021.
When you decide to go at it alone and make your own website, this brave new frontier takes a bit of planning and perseverance. Where do you start? Where do you end?
The truth is that everyone’s website is always going to be a work in progress. There will always be technology advances and industry trends that drive us to update and improve what we’ve got. With that in mind, it’s important to think about your future business and the website it should have before you even start to design it in the first place.
In this post we’re going to look at the pros and cons around different website development methods and then walk you through how to make and design your own website! Get your notebook handy to jot down ideas for your site as you read through. Here’s what you’ll find in this post:
Use the following information to start outlining your business and to develop an early brainstorming map. This will give you a high-level overview of what you need.
A website’s homepage should clearly explain what the purpose is or what the business does and it should get that message across immediately. There should also be additional pages for each product or service explaining them in depth. Demonstrate your passions and professional strengths throughout the website. And definitely show off any proof-points and value-adds as much as possible, like customer testimonials, number of years in business, even customer perks like free parking etc.
Aside from these basics, there are a number of things a website could include that depend on your business, what it does and what your customers need. When you’re making your own website you also have to think of who will be accessing the content. Food bloggers who focus on dining reviews may be looking to use images from your website, while a couple may be looking to make reservations online. You have to know which content to include on your website to support all types of users.
Let’s develop this brainstorm a bit more:
1. Use copy and imagery that shows off your personality
Think about the target audience for your website and what type of high-quality content will impress visitors. Let visitors feel like they're getting to know you by writing website content from a first-person point-of-view. Focus on messaging that shows how you can help those who visit your website. Be genuine with your messaging, but have an editor take a look at it to ensure you're not publishing spelling or grammatical errors on your site (or rambling too much). You could also feature a short video where you're talking directly to your website viewers.
The more thoughtful the content on your business website is, the more likely it is to engage website visitors and give them a good user experience. A company blog, a testimonials page, case study descriptions, or even a list of awards and achievements allows your business to give those who find you online plenty to be intrigued by. Plus, a website filled with rich content will naturally do better in the search results.
2. Use relevant long-tail keywords
You'll increase the chances of people finding your website if you use relevant and specific long-tail keywords. Consider your target audience, and think about what they're searching for (besides your business name). Use a keyword tool like SEMrush to gauge which popular terms related to your brand are being searched and where there are opportunities to stand out.
For example, if you want to promote yourself as a yoga expert in hopes of getting hired for more corporate gigs outside your studio, think about yoga-related words and how to include keywords related to your location when writing descriptions and pages for your website. Adding a blog to your website can help to integrate less brand related keywords into your site that are searched more often.
3. Demonstrate accomplishments and goals
When it comes to proof points, we gave a couple examples above like testimonials or talking about how long ago your company started to show experience and reliability. There are many things you could include to help convince potential customers to choose you.
Here’s the complete list:
4. Include contact information everywhere
Once you've piqued the interest of people who have read about you on your site, make sure they can get in touch with you to learn more. Make it easy for people who come to your website to forge a deeper connection with you by explicitly displaying contact information. This could be a phone number, email address or a form.
If your business is on social media, you should include those channels on your contact page as well. The easier it is for people to reach you through your website, the more likely you'll accomplish your goals.
You’ve already selected your website builder and has your template down pat. You’ve already started on your logo (or not—that can come in later) and have drafted the text content of your website. What’s next in building your website?
1. Add your images
With most of the copy written, add all your visual elements like your logo and images on different pages. With most of these pages already laid out you’ll have a good idea of how to position them and you’ll adjust everything next.
Make sure all images look professional. They should be high resolution (meaning they aren’t blurry) and use proper lighting. If you’re displaying photos of your own products, consider hiring a photographer to capture them so they have a clean and professional look. If you don’t have products to showcase you can likely get by with stock photography. Some builders have a selection of free images built in.
The best images make people experience feelings, so choose images that give you those same feelings of excitement, awe, or inspiration that you’re trying to invoke in others.
2. Adjust on-page elements
Even though you used a template, you should still be able to customize many on page elements of your website like font size or colour scheme for example.
3. Publish but don’t promote
Once you’ve given it all you’ve got, it’s time for feedback. You don’t necessarily want to give everyone you need feedback from access to your website, so that means you’ll have to publish it! But don’t worry, people won’t be clicking on it until you really start promoting it. So go live with it and then share it with key stakeholders or even just friends and family to get some feedback.
Publish your website under a domain name of your choice. In general, people choose www.yourbusinessname.com for businesses, www.yournonprofit.org for a nonprofit, or www.yourtechcompany.net for a technology site.
The organization in charge of domain names, ICANN, also allows other substitutions for .com, org, or .net. For example, if you run a pizza restaurant, you can choose www.yourrestaurantname.pizza, or for real estate, you could choose www.yourname.realtor.
Your domain name should match your business name as closely as possible, or should be something distinctive that’s easy for customers to remember. In addition to having your domain name in your web address (URL), you’ll also use it in your email addresses, so make sure your domain name is in line with your brand’s image.
Typically the purchasing of a domain and hosting of a website is part of the website builder experience. Once you’re live, get all that good feedback and make any necessary changes until you’re happy with the final product.
4. Connect it with the world
Once you have a live website you love you can start connecting it to your other marketing materials. Include it on your business cards, on your social media pages, on your local business listings and any advertisements you have. You’ll be getting site visitors before you know it!
5. Focus on user experience
You may have a great idea for a website, but if it isn’t easy for a user to use or for a potential customer to get to a lead form or purchase, it’s just not going to work. As a successful small business owner, you need to create a website that is simple for future customers to use and navigate. Think clean, organized designs and navigation. This will ensure that you make a website your customers stay on and have no problem coming back to again and again.
6. Test your website on mobile
With 46% of all Google searches being for local services and 60% of those searches being made on smartphones, a mobile-friendly website has become more important than ever for online success. Consumers expect to find information quickly, and the majority of them find local businesses through mobile searches. Test to make sure your live website is responsive to mobile formats! In addition, the mobile version of your site should load information quickly.
7. If you make it, you should measure it
Once your website is live, it’s helpful to know how well it’s performing. Having access to website statistics can help you understand what’s working on your website and what’s not. Some website builders have built in scorecards while others rely on users installing Google Analytics.
You can also include things like a tracked toll-free phone number that redirect calls to an existing company phone number. That way you can see exactly how many people are calling you from your website! Measuring and monitoring your website is the only way you’ll be able to make strategic improvements to it in the future.
All the tools needed to make an amazing website are available to you. Though some elements might need a learning curve, they are easy to work on and performance data is readily available. For everything else that you think is beyond your league, Web.com has a team of web design experts that can work on your website to take it to your dream level. For everything website, Web.com will always have your back.