I know that having a website is a good way to promote my business but I don’t know where to start.
Should I need to pay someone to do it for me, or can I create one by myself?
As the world increasingly moves online, having your own website can help your business raise its profile and communicate with customers. But how do you get your hands on one?
There are a number of ways to go about it, depending on how professional you need your site to look, what it will be used for, and how much spare time and technical knowledge you have.
The main options are to learn how to build a website yourself, use the skills of a web designer, or go to a full service digital marketing services provider. There are advantages to all three depending on your business’s individual needs and budget.
Build a website yourself
It’s possible to create your own website. However, going it alone isn’t completely cost-free – other than learning how to do it in the first place, there are some essential purchases you need to secure your place on the world wide web.
Mark Clisby, marketing director at Yell, explains: ‘You will need a domain name. This is the address of your website so that visitors can type it into their internet browser and view your website.
‘Typically, you would have the name of your business as the main part of the domain name and then choose either a .co.uk or .com suffix.’
You will also need to buy some website hosting for your new site, as it will need to be stored on a server that is permanently connected to the internet so that online visitors can access it.
Hosting costs vary considerably depending on how big or complex your website is, but for a basic website with a few pages, it shouldn’t be very expensive.
One way to make the finished product look more professional would be to do an online or evening course in web design, to learn skills such as creating a layout, and using coding to build the website.
WHAT DOES YOUR WEBSITE NEED TO INCLUDE?
Once you have a domain name and some website hosting, it’s time to think about the design and build of your website.
‘This is likely to be the most expensive and time-consuming part of the process’.
Think about what you want your website to look like, in terms of your company branding and logo, and what colour scheme you would like to use. You’ll also need to find some images that best reflect your business and the products or services you offer.’
After that, one of the most important aspects of your site will be its content – that is, what is written on it.
You need to think carefully and use suitable wording to convey what your business is about, what services you offer and what your unique selling points are.
If you are selling products or services from your site, you’ll need to have online store functionality. This will allow you to sell products online securely and keep track of orders through a back-end management system.
If you don’t know how to do website coding, it’s a good idea to get a content management system, which is used to edit the text and images on your website.
Finally, it’s time to think about search engine optimisation. It’s no good having a beautiful website if nobody gets to see it; using SEO is a way of appearing higher up in search engine results, meaning your site will be visible to more people.
You can improve this optimisation by using common terms that are relevant to your business throughout your website – in page titles, body copy, images and more. That way, your website is likely to appear high up in results when those keywords are searched for.
Another way to optimise your position is to build a site that is suitable for viewing on a tablet computer or a mobile phone as well as a desktop.
This is called responsive website design, and search engines favour websites built in this way, which will help boost your visibility on the results page. It’s a good idea anyway, as many people will access your website via their mobile phone rather than a desktop computer.
ASK A WEB DESIGNER TO BUILD YOU ONE.
Another route is to ask a professional to design a website for you. They can help you come up with a look that suits the ethos of your business and make sure your website is of a high standard.
A designer will also have an idea of what sort of aesthetic will suit your enterprise and how to create an effective site navigation to help visitors browse different parts of your website.
After that, it will usually be up to you to update your website and sort out any problems that might arise.
Obviously, using a web designer is more expensive than doing everything yourself but a design-only service could be a good option if you feel your website won’t need much upkeep or you just need someone to get you started.
Use a full-service digital marketing services provider
If you want a website that not only presents your business in the most professional and visually appealing way possible, but also to ensure it performs well in search engine results, is fully mobile responsive, and is regularly updated, a full-service digital marketing company is an excellent option.
Their experience will not only deliver a website that performs well online, but they can also offer complementary digital marketing services such as pay-per-click campaigns and display advertising, so your online presence is maximised in a consistent and cost-effective way.
Mark says: ‘If you don’t have design and coding skills, you will benefit considerably from using an experienced provider whose technical expertise and experience will make the process much faster and produce a professional-looking website that is search-engine optimised (this is what the term SEO refers to) and mobile friendly as a result.
‘Such an investment should help build up the success of your business, so you can spend more of your time running it.’
Once your website is live on the internet, you need to keep the information and images displayed up-to-date so that you can reflect any changes to the business, and keep your site looking modern.
If you have a very complex website, or don’t have the time or ability to update your website yourself, a full-service provider could be best placed to look after the maintenance and hosting of your website for an ongoing monthly fee.