Building your online business website from scratch can seem like a daunting task. And, if you don’t do it right, it could be the end of your business. However, your website is the cornerstone of your business’s success, so you want to make sure it’s appealing to your customers, easy to navigate, and fast-loading.
If you’re going to build your own website but aren’t sure where to start, we have some step-by-step instructions to help.
Step 1: Choose a Website Platform
The first thing you need to build your own website is a platform to build it with.
What’s a Website Platform?
You will need to choose a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. A CMS is a user-friendly platform for website building and managing your website content that makes site building accessible for beginners. Most platforms operate on a drag and drop system that doesn’t require you to know a lot about coding.
The Most Popular Website Platforms
- It’s free to use with no recurring subscription fees.
- It’s user-friendly and very customizable. You use Google Docs to add content, and there are plugins available for you to add subscription forms, contact forms, image galleries, e-commerce stores, and much more.
- It’s mobile-responsive, meaning your site will load well on smartphones and other mobile devices, not just on desktops.
- There is a massive community for support
- A drag and drop interface is suitable for small websites.
- Your site can’t be migrated to another platform after setup
- Fees required for use.
- A monthly cost is required.
- Creates aesthetically pleasing websites that are easy to build for beginners.
- Your site can’t be migrated.
This is a platform popular with people experienced in coding. It’s highly used by web developers but has a steep learning curve if you’re a beginner.
- This platform is similar to WordPress and is a reliable website-building tool.
- Requires some basic understanding of coding to make your site work properly.
Step 2: Choose a Host and a Domain Name
To get a website online, you will need a website host, which is the service that connects your site to the internet, and a domain name, the web address that locates your site. There is a cost associated with hosting and domain name registration, but it’s as low as $3-5 per month with some hosting services.
Your domain name is essential because it’s the ‘address’ of your online business. It should be relevant and unique. Choosing a quality web hosting service will be the difference between your site loading quickly for your visitors or having a site that doesn’t load at all.
How Do I Get a Domain Name and Hosting Service?
Most web hosting services will help you set up your domain name registration when you sign up for a hosting plan. Web hosting services like Bluehost, Dreamhost, or GoDaddy are popular choices. Each offers different features, but they include domain name registration. You can also get a professional email account along with your domain like email@example.com.
If you have a domain name and hosting service already, you can skip to step 3.
Choosing a Domain Name
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your domain name.
- Your domain name should match the name of your business when setting up a business website; yourcompanyname.com
- For personal websites, you can include your own name in the domain.
- Make your domain name brandable.
- It should be memorable. Use common spellings and avoid names that are too long.
- The catchier your domain is, the more likely people will remember it.
Domain names end in several ways, including .com, .net, .org, among others. These are the three best ones to use, as they are familiar extensions for most web users.
Step 3: Set Up Your Website and Begin Designing
For the directions in this step, we’re going to assume you’re using WordPress as the platform to build your website. Of course, other platforms be similar, but the exact steps can differ.
Install Your WordPress Site
If you’re using WordPress, you can install the platform with a single click with most web hosts. This installation is available in your account setup. If you chose Bluehost and WordPress, for example, this is your step by step process:
- Visit bluehost.com
- Choose a hosting plan
- Choose or enter your existing domain name
- Remove or add account extras and fill in your personal information
- Create your account and enter payment information
- Log in to Bluehost and choose ‘one-click WordPress install.’
Choose a Theme For Your Website
A theme is a customized design template for your site. It changes the look of your site, but using a theme is a lot easier than starting from scratch. There are 8,000 free themes available with WordPress, plus several premium themes, so you should be able to find one you like.
Once you’ve chosen them, click the ‘activate’ button to install them.
Add Your Content
Before you can fully customize your website, you will need to have something on it. What you need to add for content will be dependent upon the subject of your site and your goals related to it. Regardless of your site’s purpose, there are a few pages that are present on nearly every website:
- A homepage
- An about page
- A contact page
How many other pages you add will depend on what information you want to provide to your site visitors. Within WordPress themes, there are page templates for various page types. For example, you may choose to add a blog page, a shop page, a link page, etc.
Ensure Site Organization
The structure of your website will become more and more critical as you add more content. This will happen over time, but your site needs a logical structure that’s easy to navigate for visitors. Your site navigation menu is critical to the site’s organization, so once you’ve created a few pages for your site, use WordPress to create your menu by clicking on Appearance>Menus>Create Menu.
You can choose which content to add to your menu by ticking boxes next to the pages you want to include. Then, when you are satisfied with your navigation menu, you can choose where you’d like it to appear on your page. Finally, click ‘Save Menu’ before exiting.
Customization Options for Your Website
Click on Appearance>Customize when you are ready to customize the look of your website. It will allow you to modify individual parts of your site, such as:
- Tiles and bylines
- Color schemes
- Fonts and typography
- Background images and watermarks
You can customize the appearance of your homepage, blog page or add custom code to your site if that falls within your skill repertoire. Which customization options are available to you will depend on which them you chose to install.
WordPress has a significant number of plugins available, and several of them are free to use. There are 60,000 plugins in the WordPress directory that add different features and functionalities to your site. You can also install plugins from third-party marketplaces to integrate with your site.
To install a plugin, simply click Plugins>Add New. Then, hit the ‘Install Now’ button on the ones you wish to use and click ‘Activate’ once the plugin is downloaded. You will be able to activate and de-activate plugins at will.
Some plugins that are worth your consideration are:
- Yoast SEO – This plugin provides you with on-page SEO optimization prompts, as well as an option to view Open Graph social media tags. It’s a great plugin to help your page rank on internet searches.
- Jetpack – Improves the speed, optimization, marketing, social media integration, contact forms, and site searches on your website.
- Smush – Used to compress images you upload into WordPress, save storage space, and speed up page load times.
- WooCommerce – This is a popular plugin if you are setting up an e-Commerce store.
- MonsterInsights – Adds Google Analytics to your WordPress dashboard.
Add a Blog (Optional)
Depending on the nature of your website, you may or not need a blog page. The advantage of a blog is that it allows you to show off your expertise and establish authority in your niche. In addition, regularly updating content provides value to your site visitors and helps you create a loyal following.
Setting up a blog page in WordPress is as simple as selecting Pages>Add new and name it ‘Blog’ or whatever other name you choose. The name you choose will be assigned a web address yoursitename.com/blog. Don’t forget to add your blog page to your main navigation menu.
Each time you add a new post, select Posts>Add New. You’ll be linked to the same content editor you used previously for your other pages so you can add images, customize formatting, place headers, etc. Categories and tags are also available on the sidebar.
Add an Online Store (optional)
As with a blog, you may or may not need this page on your website. However, if you do add one, the best plugin for this is WooCommerce. It allows you to quickly set up an online store, adds different payment options, and choose from a wide range of themes. In addition, you can purchase various extensions according to your needs.
Configure Your SSL
SSL is short for a secure sockets layer. It ensures that any data sent from your site to your site’s visitors is secure. Having an SSL certificate will improve your site’s rankings in search results and ensure your users have a positive experience with privacy and data security.
Again, using Bluehost as an example, this is how you set up your SSL:
- Log into Bluehost
- Click on My Sites
- Click on Manage Site
- Find and click on the Security tab
- Verify your SSL certificate under the Security Certificates tab, or click on Let’s Encrypt if you don’t have it on. There is a toggle to turn your SSL certificate on or off.
Launch Your Website
Once you’ve set everything up, it’s time to launch your website. Double-check settings and proofread your posts one last time. On the top of your dashboard, there should be a link that says, ‘Coming Soon Active.’ On that page, you should be able to scroll down and click a button that says, ‘Launch your site.’ Your website should now be live!
An Alternative to Building Your Own Website
If creating your website by yourself seems like too daunting of a task, you can hire an expert to do it for you. Human Proof Designs specializes in web design and offers customized packages to meet your needs. If you don’t want to invest the time it takes to build your site, create SEO content, customize, and launch, Human Proof Designs can help.
Here is a look at what Human Proof Designs offers with regards to custom web design:
Web design experts build all sites built with Human Proof Designs. In addition, they have in-house writers to develop SEO-optimized content and promise that your site will rank in search results as soon as it’s launched.
Not only will Human Proof Designs build your website, but they will also train you on how to run it. In addition, they have hours of training in their video library to help you efficiently manage your website.
A customer support team is available 24/7 to answer any questions you might have about your new website.
How Human Proof Designs Builds Your Website
Conducting Niche and Market Research
A research team will help you find a profitable niche that you are passionate about to maximize the chances of your website success.
Procurement of Products
If you are building an affiliate site or dropship site, you will receive assistance in high-quality sourcing products to sell. There are hundreds of affiliate programs to choose from, so a bit of help in this department doesn’t hurt.
Human Proof Designs also optimizes your product pages for conversion and marketing. For example, if you are running an affiliate site, product reviews, comparisons, and ‘best of’ articles will be developed.
They will research your niche market and analyze the keywords that drive traffic to your site. This is critical to get your site ranking in search results but can take weeks to research on your own.
Once they’ve researched your keywords, they will provide you with as much content as you want. Human Proof Designs has a team of writers who write SEO-optimized, ranking content. If they have research on your niche and keywords they don’t use, you will receive it so you can use it later.
Custom Web Design
Human Proof Designs uses WordPress to design your website. It takes approximately four weeks from start to finish, but you will have a completed site that is professionally designed.
Your New Website
Whether you built your site on your own or hired a professional to do it, getting a website up and running is no small task. But it’s also just the beginning. So, use the knowledge you’ve gained to continue growing your site and increasing its functionality.