You’ve decided to create a website to market your products or services. More and more people start their information searches online, so having a website is the logical next step. But without web development skills or knowledge, how do you build and market a website?
To help you bring your business online, we’ve laid out these steps for you: The website concept
The online presence
1. The website concept
Choose and register a domain name
Your domain name should represent your business and be easy to spell and remember. Your company name is the obvious choice, but if the name is long, you may want to use a shortened version of it.
The domain name extension is the part that comes after the main part of the name and the dot. Dot com (.com) names are the most popular for businesses. If your business is specific to a country outside the US, a country-specific extension helps show this. Country-specific domain extensions have rules relevant to the country they represent, such as that you’re a resident of that country or have a registered business in that country.
To find out if a domain name is available, go to Whois Source (http://www.whois. sc/) or the domain name registrar of your choice. Whois Source has a name spinner tool, which suggests variations of a name if the one you want is taken.
Once you choose a domain name, register it as soon as possible with a low price domains (http//www.lowpricedomains.com) provider. It might not be available the next day. Be sure to renew it before it expires — your company identity will become linked with this name.
Write a site outline
What content do you want at your website? These pages are standard for most business websites:
If you offer just a few products or services, one page for each product or service will work fine. On the other hand, if your company provides a range of products or services, your site will be easier to navigate if you group the products or services into a separate directory for each group.
Good website content not only helps site visitors decide on your products or services, but it also helps increase traffic to your website. If you’re selling purple widgets, for example, a page on how to use purple widgets will bring your site more hits via search engines. It will also provide content that webmasters of other sites as well as posters in forums might link to.
With the site outline ready, you’re ready for the next step. Get a website template
Pre-made website templates (http://www.templatetour.com) vary in quality, but they can be customized, and they save you time. If you plan to buy a pre-made website template, consider these features when choosing a template:
If you prefer to have an original website template but you don’t have web design skills, we recommend that you hire a professional web designer (http://design. websitesource.com). To choose a web designer, look at several web designers’ portfolios to see whose web designs meet the above criteria and suit your personal tastes.
2. The website
Write your website content
Web readers are different from print readers. Web readers want to know right away if a page has the information they’re looking for. If it doesn’t, they may use the Back button to go to another site.
You can hire a copywriter to write your website content, or your web designer may work with a web writer. Or, you can write your website content yourself.
Tips on writing for the Web:
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a major part of web writing. Use keywords (words that people will enter in search engines to find information) throughout your content and in your title and headings in particular. The use of keywords also helps people find the information they’re looking for. Make your website user friendly
Once site visitors come to your website, you want them to feel comfortable and to spend time reading the content. If your site is difficult to read or to navigate, you’ll lose visitors. Make sure that your website has the following:
Put together an e-commerce system
If you sell products or services at your website, you need:
For low-volume sales, PayPal may be more economical than a merchant account, and it doesn’t require a payment gateway or an SSL certificate.
Shopping carts range from basic to those with more advanced options. Some merchant account providers include a payment gateway with their merchant accounts, which simplifies setting up an online store.
3. The online presence
Choose a web host
Choosing a good web host is essential to your online presence. If your site is constantly down, or if you can’t get customer support when you need it, your website won’t be able to work as well for you.
Don’t look at price alone when choosing a web host. Consider also these factors:
In addition, look for specific features that your website may require, such as website templates or support for specific e-commerce solutions. Website Source’s Hosting (http://www.websitesource.com) includes these features and more:
Once you have a web hosting account, you’re ready to go online. Set up your website
You have your domain name, your website template, your content, your e-commerce system, and your web host. Now what?
Put it all together.
To add the nameservers to your domain name record, log in to your domain name account at your domain name registrar and look for the two fields marked “nameservers, ” “DNS” (domain name servers), or just “Primary” and “Secondary. ” Enter the nameserver names that your web host gave you, and click on Update. (The exact steps may vary depending on your domain name registrar. )
While it used to take 24 hours or more for domain names to point to a website, this process often happens within an hour or so now.
When you think your website is ready for the public, check it, check it, and check it:
Market your website
If you build it, they will come — but only if they know about it.
Help people find your site online:
Share your site domain name offline too:
Keep your website content current, continue adding new content, and give your domain name as much exposure as possible. And watch your business grow.
About the author: Technical Executive Writer for Website Source, Inc. with established writing skills coupled with experience in the website hosting industry have provided internet professionals with marketing, product and service ideas for many years.