Statistics show that 46 percent of U.S. small businesses don't have a website, according to Entrepreneur. Without an online presence, these businesses place themselves at a serious disadvantage to their competitors. So, if you're a small business owner who's looking to create an online presence, consider the following steps to building your first website.
#1) Define Your Goals
First and foremost, you must define your goals for creating a website. If you run a local retail business, generating walk-in sales might be your primary objective. If you run a nonprofit, maybe you want to tell your organization's story and attract donors. Regardless, you must define your goals for building business's website.
#2) Domain Name
Next comes choosing a domain name for your business's website. As you may already know, this is the visible address of your website. A domain name can include letters, numbers and hyphens. However, it's usually best to stick with all letters while using a .com extension to make your domain more memorable.
#3) Content Management System
After defining your goals and choosing a domain name, you should choose a content management system (CMS) for your business's website. While not required, using a CMS will streamline many processes associated with creating and maintaining a website.
For most small business websites, WordPress will offer the highest versatility and ease of use. According to W3 Techs, 60 percent of all websites with a CMS use WordPress. It's fast, free, SEO friendly, customizable, versatile and loaded with features. For these reasons, WordPress is an excellent CMS choice for small business websites.
#4) Web Hosting
Assuming you choose the self-hosted version of WordPress (recommended), you'll also need a web hosting service. This is the company that will store and distribute your website's files to visitors. When choosing a web hosting service, avoid shared hosting and instead choose a Virtual Private Server (VPS). Shared hosting uses hundreds of websites on a single server, all of which can access the server's resources. A VPS, on the other hand, uses fewer websites per server while allocating virtualized server resources for each customer.
Some web hosts even specialize in WordPress hosting. Choosing a WordPress VPS hosting service will improve your site's performance and speed.
#5) Customize the Design
After your business's site is up and running, you should customize the design. If you chose WordPress for your site's CMS, you may feel inclined to use the default theme or one of the many free themes. The problem in doing so, however, is that countless other sites use the same design. To make your business's site stand out, you must use a custom design.
You don't have to necessarily hire a developer to design a custom theme for your site. Another option is to buy a premium theme, upload a unique header and customize the layout.
Don't underestimate the importance of cybersecurity when building your business's website. According to Search Engine Land, the number of hacked websites in 2016 grew by 32 percent from 2015. As a webmaster and business owner, it's your responsibility to ensure that all sensitive data stored on your site is safe and secure.
If your site uses a CMS, choose a strong username and password combination to protect against brute force attacks. Additionally, don't store the login information for your web host in plain text format. Sensitive data such as this should always be encrypted.
Perhaps the most effective cybersecurity measure is a good web hosting service. As previously mentioned, shared web host servers contain hundreds of websites, making them the least secure hosting option. A VPS or dedicated server is substantially more secure and will protect your site from cyber threats.
Finally, you must publish content on your business's site for it to succeed. Without content, no one will visit your site. And without traffic, you probably won't achieve your goals and objectives.
Building a successful small business website from the ground up isn't easy. Following the six steps outlined here, however, will help you achieve an effective online presence for your business.