Small business guide to setting up a website
As an entrepreneur and owner of a micro, small or medium enterprise (MSME) you know that getting a fledgling business on its feet takes immense grit, long hours and lots of sacrifice. But your efforts will not be successful without setting up a website.
If you don’t already have a website, you should consider one, pronto. Starting a website is now easy and affordable, thanks to a multitude of service providers and do it yourself (DIY) builders.
The 5 steps to setting up a website
It doesn’t have to be complex or expensive to get a website. Here’s how to do it.
Decide who will build it.
Pick a good domain name.
Build your website (or have it built).
Test and publish.
Maintain and promote.
Let’s examine in detail the process of setting up a business website.
1. Decide who will build it
One of the first questions you need to answer is if you want to build it yourself or hire a professional with a web development agency.
Your budget, skill level, timeline and desired customisation primarily dictate which option is suitable for you.
DIY template-based site builders
There are many do it yourself site builders to choose from, most available for a monthly or yearly fee. With GoDaddy’s Website Builder, for example, anyone can easily build their site without knowing how to code. You can literally have a website up on the internet in less than an hour.
GoDaddy also gives you the option of making as many edits and updates to the website as you like, with 24/7 customer support to assist with any queries.
The only limitation is that you will have to work with pre-set templates and styles offered by the site builder. But again, there are thousands to choose from. So you will definitely find something that suits your business.
WordPress is a free DIY option to consider for those who want a highly customised website. You will probably have to purchase a hosting plan to support it, however.
Anyone with intermediate skill and time can build a WordPress website for a modest fee.
There are tonnes of plug-ins and widgets available for WordPress, which is why it is one of the most popular site building choices in the world.
Hire a professional
Web designers and developers are available in India across every price-point. There are quite a number who are willing to build websites for a pittance, but more often than not such a website is shoddy and ends up being more of an encumbrance than a boost for your business.
Others end up charging extra for every single customisation. And many developers conveniently forget to mention the domain, hosting and maintenance costs along with their initial quotes. So you need to get this information up-front before choosing your design partner.
Since you are hiring a professional, there is no skill requirement from your end, and you can get extreme levels of customisation done, based on your needs and budget.
You might have to monitor the progress every step of the way if you don’t want to be treated like a drive-thru customer.
Support and updates are usually not included in the design service unless you are opting for a maintenance package.
2. Pick a good domain name
IndiaTimes.com is a domain name. So is Jabong.com. Both companies registered those web addresses and have the exclusive rights to them. In order to have a website, you will need a domain name as well.
You will be sharing your domain name with all present and potential customers; hence, it is important that the domain you choose:
- Reflects your branding and category of business.
- Is easy to understand and remember.
- Avoids acronyms, numbers, dashes or similarity to other business domains.
Read this post for more good advice on choosing the right domain name.
Once you’ve narrowed down on your domain options, check for the availability and purchase the same through a trusted registrar such as GoDaddy. You can purchase your domain in less than two minutes!
See if the name you want is available now
3. Build your website (or have it built)
Before you start building, you’ll need to do some thinking. The purpose of your website largely depends on the type of business you have and the audience(s) you serve.
If you are a small salon or an upcoming café, your website needs to capture the visual attention of the visitor. As a storefront business, you might want to:
- Display your wonderful creations through a play of video and imagery (avoid stock images at all costs).
- List and describe the products or services you offer.
- Invite people to subscribe to your email newsletter by offering discounted coupons as an incentive.
In a case of an eCommerce website, it is imperative to set up a secure payment gateway. Your website will also need to offer an intuitive experience, structured categorisation of products and fast and secure checkout (even on mobile devices).
A B2B website on the other hand is tailored to a very specific audience. Your website needs to do the talking here; hence, it makes sense to stick to a simple design that focuses on answering the potential client’s questions and directing them to an enquiry form.
Refer to these posts for step-by-step instructions on setting up your own website:
- Here is how you can make your own website easily (GoDaddy Website Builder).
- How to make a WordPress website.
4. Test and publish
Before you click Publish and make your new website visible to customers everywhere, ensure that the website runs effortlessly across browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc. You should also:
- Proofread and cross check all information.
- Check all buttons and navigation options.
- See if photos and videos show up right.
You’ll want to be sure the overall the look and feel of the website is smooth before launching.
5. Maintain and promote
Once your website is launched, you’ll need to keep it fresh with product updates, business news, offers and blog posts. Not only does this steady flow of new content give clients a reason to come back, it also makes the website search engine-friendly.
Remember to share your business website address across social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. to generate greater traffic and add legitimacy to your business.
Now’s the time to put your business online
A website can help your business reach a wider audience than traditional marketing approaches alone. Whether you use a DIY tool like GoDaddy Website Builder or engage a local developer to build a website for you, you’ll never look back. Here’s to what’s next!