Building your business' website from the ground up
Not sure how to create a website for your business? We'll show you how
The business world has changed dramatically in the last 20 years. In today's business world it's almost impossible to make any sales without a business website.
But how do you build a website from the ground up? In this multi-part series we'll guide you through the complete end-to-end process of building a successful website for your business, from writing up an action plan to securing your very first customer.
This is part 1 of our ultimate guide to building a website series. To navigate to any of the other chapters refer to the table of contents below:
Now let's jump right right in.
Planning your website build
This is the point most business owners screw up. They jump right into website design mockups without formulating an action plan first.
To ensure the entire project runs smoothly, you need to start with at least a basic plan.
All of the elements of website construction are covered by answering the following 3 questions:
1. What will the website say?
What type of questions will your visitors want answered?
What is your value proposition?
2. How will the website look?
What type of graphics or videos do you need?
What will your color scheme be?
3. How will your website get customers?
Will you be paying for traffic (search engine marketing), or getting free traffic (search engine optimisation) or both?
You should start by answering these questions as simply as possible to get your ideas out of your mind and onto paper. Not only will this help you estimate the timeframe of the project, but it'll also uncover any difficult tasks you should outsource to others.
Setting up your building blocks
There are 3 essential building blocks you'll need in place to make the creation of your website possible. Let's go over each of them.
1. Domain name
This is your web address. For example, "www.tesla.com." You can see if your domain name is available by searching for it in a free online tool.
If you want to secure your ideal domain name before anyone else does, name.com is a great choice. Name.com gives you the option of purchasing the domain name alone.
If you know which platform you'll be using, you can use their dedicated domain name search tool and purchase your domain when you sign up to their platform.
For example, if you plan to build your website on Squarespace, you can search for your prospective domain name from their dedicated search tool and then purchase it when you subscribe to their service:
If you're confused about all the different platform options, don't worry. We'll discuss them in detail shortly.
With your domain name purchased, the next step is to add it to a hosting plan.
2. Website hosting
A website host provides the technology and storage required to make your website visible on the internet. Any images and content you upload onto your website will be stored with your host and not on your computer.
There are several hosting options available. As mentioned, some of them also offer domain name registration as well as website builder tools in their hosting packages:
3. Choose a website platform
With your domain name and hosting purchased, the next step is to choose a platform to build your site on.
If you purchase a domain before choosing a platform, you can transfer it to your chosen platform in just a few steps. Every web platform provides unique instructions for doing this.
Your choice of platform depends on how complex your business website needs to be, and also your web development capabilities.
If you have little to no web development experience, Squarespace and Wix are the simplest site builders to use, and because they also offer web hosting, you could have a website built and running online in minutes.
These web platforms allow you to create a website with a drag-and-drop builder.
Wix drag-and-drop builder in action - Source: gonewmommy.com
If you don't have the time to build a website from a blank canvas, you can choose a template and customize it to your liking
Squarespace template library - Source: squarespace.com
If you're really short on time, Wix offers Artificial Design Intelligence, or Wix ADI, which will autonomously build a custom website for you based on your answers to a few questions.
Because these builders allow you to publish a fully functioning website in a short amount of time, they're a great option for quickly launching a basic ecommerce store before an upcoming sales season.
The caveat of these drag and drop builders is that they're not designed for complex websites. So if your business website requirements are beyond just the static display of information, you're better off using a more scalable platform like WordPress.
Have a look at the video below for a step-by-step tutorial on how to build a website with Wix:
If you want to build an ecommerce website with Wix, follow this tutorial:
Here's a step-by-step tutorial on how to build a website with Squarespace:
Here's a tutorial for building an ecommerce website on Squarespace:
Building a website with WordPress
If you have complex website feature requirements, you should build it with WordPress.
Wordpress is an incredibly popular platform choice. In fact, about 26% of websites on the internet are built on WordPress.
Because of this popularity, some hosting providers offer specific Wordpress hosting plans that are run on dedicated WordPress servers for optimum performance.
These hosting plans come with WordPress pre-installed, so you can instantly start using the platform right after signing up.
Godaddy offers a dedicated WordPress hosting plan:
If you purchase web hosting separately, you'll need to install Wordpress manually (don't worry it's free).
The great thing about WordPress is that it's adaptable to a broad range of skill sets, so the platform can be used by both novice website builders and seasoned developers.
The tutorial below shows how to transform WordPress into a drag-and-drop website builder for those who don't know how to code.
Beginners can also build an ecommerce store with WordPress:
But if WordPress needs to be actively customized into a drag-and-drop builder, why would you choose it over dedicated drag-and-drop builders like Wix and Squarespace?
By building your website on WordPress, you'll always have the option of scaling the complexity of your website in the future.
Because WordPress is open source, its coding structure can be completely modified. So if you ever want to implement a particularly complex feature, simply hire a web developer and they'll personalize your WordPress website accordingly.
Which bring us to our next point: How do you decide when you need to hire a web developer?
The best way of answering this is with some examples.
The websites examples below are WordPress websites created by web developers. If any of the functions or visuals mirror what you have in mind for your website, you'll need to hire a web developer to create it for you.
Click on the images to explore each website in a new tab:
Invictus Games 2018
Keep in mind that you don't need to only outsource complex projects to web developers. If you just don't have the time to build your website, even with a drag-and-drop builder, you could completely outsource it to a web developer and focus on other, more important tasks.
Alternative to WordPress
Some business owners don't need a fancy website, just one that can publish blogs. If you find yourself in this category, the blogging platform Ghost is perfect for you.
Ghost was developed for those who don't need the extra bells and whistles of a complete content management system like Wordpress, but just a simple blog publishing platform.
Because Ghost is solely focused on blogging, the menu is built around blog creation. There's no clutter. Just a clean, easy-to-navigate interface.
Ghost's markdown editor streamlines blog editing. Editing options become visible as you select different sections of the blog, so there's no need to continuously navigate to the main menu.
The Duckduckgo blog was created with ghost. Click on the image below to see how it works.
Ghost is open source, and the coding is customizable, but there are limitations, so advanced websites are best created with Wordpress.
But in saying that, if you need a complex website but like Ghost's blogging interface, you could install Ghost on a subdomain. That way, your bloggers can log into Ghost to publish their blogs, leaving all main website logins to managerial staff, which actually minimizes the chances of a security breach.
Mozilla does this. As you can see, their main website domain is Mozilla.org:
But their blog created with Ghost is installed on a subdomain blog.mozvr.com
With all your building blocks now in place, the next step is to create a wireframe design for your website.
In part 2 of our guide, we'll show you how to put your website structure together with wireframing.
No time to build your website? Hire one of our web developers to build it for you! Click here to get started today.