Whatever your business, and whatever the industry, with the digital world we now live in, creating and maintaining an online presence is crucial. It does not matter how large your business is, whether it’s just you on your own or if you are running a global corporation, you need a website to succeed. But, while they are crucial for everyone, from both tech firms to brick-and-mortar shops on the high street, learning how to build a website still takes a significant amount of time and resources. So, working with a web design company can help relieve pressure from your team while ensuring stellar results.
Websites provide a valuable source of information about your business to your audience, can help extend your reach, show up on search engines, boost your brand recognition, promote the latest developments and news from your business, and, most importantly, get sales. Given all these advantages it’s crucial you know how to build a website from scratch.
Of course, while every business needs to build a website to succeed whatever the sector, it’s still important to remember that each one has different goals and therefore different needs.
This means that there is no cookie-cutter approach to company website design, as it needs to be tailored for each business’ approach. Tailoring your content and learning to identify your business needs are both key if you want to know how to build a professional website.
At Fannit we have years of experience in digital marketing and spreading brands’ messages across the web. This means we know what it takes to create a website that works for your business. From getting started with designing your web page, selecting a domain name, or sorting out hosting, we know everything you need.
If you are thinking you want to make a website or perhaps just want to revamp your existing one, then let us lend our website-building know-how in this step-by-step guide with everything you need to know to create a new site.
- More helpful reading: https://www.fannit.com/blog/website-maintenance/
What You Need to Know Before Getting Started
When you build your website from scratch you need to think about what you need it for, and how to achieve it. Fortunately, if you are just getting started there are plenty of resources and advice out there to help you make a website. From website builders like WordPress to a hosting service, there are a lot of helpful tools on the internet you can get hold of.`ll worth the investment. Seeking professional advice can help make sure you create a website from scratch that works.
Why Is Having a Website Important?
As anyone who’s been paying even the slightest bit of attention over the last twenty or so years, the internet is everywhere. It’s completely changed how we work, live, socialize, and have fun. With more and more people getting online and engaging with others and brands through the internet, we really can not understate the importance of an online presence.
Did you know that 88% of US consumers check the internet to look up products online before they buy them? If you don’t have a business website there’s a strong chance they’ll never even find your company or products, so it is highly unlikely you will get any sales from these people.
Just having a business website is a crucial first step, even if it’s just a basic one you’ll at least be on the map so you can be found by a search engine. Of course, while a basic business website is a necessary first step, it won’t be enough to compete with other brands for attention, so it’s important you create a website that is quality that customers will want to visit and is easy to find.
A well-built, easy to use, and easy to find website can help your business in so many ways. And, there are so many more benefits if you know how to build a website from scratch and avoid using clunky templates.
How Can a Website Help Your Marketing?
A good business website is an invaluable marketing tool. In fact, it is the core of any digital marketing strategy, as every piece of content you place, every ad you buy, and every effort to improve your SEO (search engine optimization) all have the same goal: driving consumers to your website. You cannot have a digital marketing strategy if you don’t make a website.
As a website acts as your base, you need to make sure it is well built so people who get to it by your marketing get exactly what they are looking for. The more value and enjoyment they get from your site the better it will be for your business, as the more likely they are to return or spend a long time on the page, the more likely you will get a lead or sale.
- More helpful reading: https://www.fannit.com/inbound-marketing/what-is-a-landing-page/
Benefits of a Website for Your Social Media Marketing
A good example of how building a website can help your marketing is your social media activities. Your social media pages aren’t actually your website, they’re third-party platforms that contain profiles about your business.
This means there’s a limit to how much information you can put on there for customers, and how much you can personalize it to your brand. Unfortunately, it won’t have everything you need to be a substitute for a real site.
However, social media is still a great space to promote your company and actively engage with customers and is a useful tool for any marketing campaign. Yet social media still shouldn’t be the final part of the customer journey, so needs to lead customers to your website. Here is an example of how it can do that.
Imagine you’re a clean energy company. You could create a new Facebook post with a strong stat about how much more efficient or cleaner solar energy is. Many people reading it might find this interesting, but they might want to get more information. Therefore, the post should then include a direct link back to their website offering to explain why to get people to visit your site.
This way, your website serves as an information hub, where customers have to go to get particular information about a product or the field you work in, while your social media pages make sure they visit. If you provide interesting, relevant information, they’ll have a good experience and will make sure they want to come back in the future.
- More helpful reading: https://www.fannit.com/blog/open-graph-tags/
A Website Can Help Your Content Marketing
Content is another excellent tool favored by marketers that is useful for a whole range of purposes. From boosting brand awareness, showing off your expertise, engaging audiences, to improving your SEO. It comes in many forms, such as articles, blog posts, videos, and more. Of course, like all marketing efforts, you need to make sure people actually get to see your content.
So once you’ve written and created all this great, useful content, where could you put it so your customers can see it? Hopefully, the first answer that came into your head was to make a website. It is a platform that you own, so you can put whatever you want on there for free.
It also just makes sense, as your website will be the first place people go to find out information about your business, so they’ll expect to find all your informational content on there!
Once you start hosting your content on your website, it can really start working for you. If you add new content it will boost your SEO, improving your search engine results rank, leading to even more visits from customers, and increase the amount of time they stay on your website which can help with both brand recognition and sales.
In fact, one of a website’s main purposes should be for hosting all of your relevant company information, making it easily accessible to customers. You should always build your website with content in mind. This way it will have everything you need to make your content marketing a success.
- More helpful reading: https://www.fannit.com/blog/visual-content-improve-ecommerce-user-experience/
Why You Need a Website for Your Email Marketing
Again, a website is a crucial component of your email marketing efforts. Email marketing is an excellent way to reach customers and add new ones, especially those who have already expressed a strong interest in your product when they willingly submitted their contact data. They are the customers who are most likely to actually purchase something, which makes email incredibly valuable.
Email marketing works just how it sounds. It sends out emails to your customers and subscribers with information, news, and new products about your business. It should not exist just for your audience to read the email and then forget about it.
Instead, you need to make sure it is more strategic and has a purpose. This purpose should be, of course, sending them to your website.
Without a website, the emails will have little meaning, making them effectively spam. However, if you make a website, you can send your most interested customers to your website to read your content, new developments, and most importantly your products or services pages, where you can convert them directly into a sale.
How Can a Website Help Your Pay Per Click (PPC) Ads?
Another part of marketing that should be considered when you build a website is Pay Per Click (PPC) ads. These ads are a highly effective and cost-efficient way of driving traffic from search engines.
They appear at the head of search engines’ results, and you only pay for each click, meaning you only pay when they actually work. Of course, they need somewhere to take your audience, such as, you guessed it, a website.
Depending on the search terms you target, or what particular part of your business you want to promote, you can tailor these PPC ads to your advantage. Perhaps you want them to lead to a product page, maybe you’d rather get people onto your website’s news page, or just simply get them onto the homepage. Either way, you need to create a website first to be found by search engines.
If you make a website that is comprehensive it can help control what your audience sees, depending on your goals at the time. When a site is well designed and encompasses all the information your customers want, you can tailor all of your marketing campaigns, directing consumers to a range of content and information, all situated on your site.
A Website Is Crucial for Your SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial for any digital marketing strategy, as it makes your site easier to find by search engines. It’s also entirely reliant on your site. You can not have an SEO strategy if you don’t create a website, and the better your site is the better your SEO will be.
It works like this. When somebody searches in Google or another search engine they type in what is technically known as a ‘key phrase’. This will then lead to a list of web pages as results. If the key phrase is relevant to your business, your site should show up. The better your SEO is, the higher up on the list of search engines results your site will be.
One of the best ways to get started with improving your SEO is by making sure your website has all the relevant information for each key phrase that relates to your business. One way to do this is to add new content to your site.
When you do, make sure you include as many key phrases within the text itself, as this is what Google or another search engine will look for when selecting results.
A Website Can Help You Drive Sales
The most important thing for any business is sales. At the end of the day, sales are the end goal for every part of your business strategy. Everything we do from marketing to customer support, to building brand awareness is in order to increase sales and therefore increase income. This lets businesses grow and thrive. Fortunately, you can create a website from scratch to help with sales.
Making Sales From Anywhere
As we mentioned before, most people use the internet to find out information on products and services before making a purchase. You need to create a website that people can find if you even want to be considered along the customer journey.
It’s not enough to hope people find your brick-and-mortar store anymore. Having a site helps open you to far more customers, as anyone with access to the internet can find you. And the more people find you and visit your page the more sales you’re going to make if you’re hosting an online store.
Making Sales at Anytime
Websites do not just help with the ‘where’ (where customers can find you to learn about your brand and make a purchase), it also helps with the ‘when’. Most brick and mortar stores are only open for a set amount of time each day, limiting the hours in the day they can actually make a sale. Building your website to include an online store, means your products are just one click away.
When you take into account customers’ own busy schedules and the time they spend working, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for everyone to go to a shop and make a purchase. An online store on the other hand is up and available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
This means your products and services will be available around the clock if you create a website, so you can make sales at any time. Not to mention that with the advent of smartphones, people don’t even need to be at home on their computer to buy something, they can visit your online store from anywhere at any time in the palm of their hand.
Making Sales Automatically
Additionally, customers can happily peruse your site by themselves. They don’t necessarily need to be engaged with (although this can help in the form of chatbots and active members of your sales team) before they make a sale, so your website requires little resources and is an easy, hassle-free way to make sales.
Improving the Customer Purchase Experience
It makes a customer’s purchase experience better as well. When browsing products on your site they can also check out your informational content at the same time. This can help inform them on what they’re about to buy and make sure they choose the right product. A more satisfied customer is more likely to return.
Additionally, you could also provide content on similar products that would work well with what they’re about to buy. For example, if they want to buy a TV, why not have some content on your TV stands as well on the same site, as both products would work well together. If the customer sees this and is convinced then that’s more sales for your business.
Using a Website to Boost Brand Awareness and Expertise
When customers consider different businesses, one thing they look for is expertise. Companies that appear to know what they are talking about are probably seen by consumers as having better products or services. Naturally, brands that can show off their expertise will appear more credible to the consumer and will receive more attention and sales.
A crucial part of this is to create a website. The internet is so ingrained now in our daily lives that any brand without one would just look odd. Unlike the very early days of the internet in the 90s, not having a website is the exception, and not a good one. If your company or brand did not create a website or have any online presence then customers may not take you seriously.
Boosting Brand Awareness
Failure to create a website could show that you do not have the resources or aren’t modern enough to realize you needed one. Neither is good in the eyes of the consumer. The worst case could be that people may not even think that you exist anymore, so they definitely won’t follow up to try and purchase your products and services.
Displaying Your Expertise
However, if you do create a website, you can use it to show off your expertise and boost your credibility. Detailed content pages can help you achieve this by showcasing positive company news, thought leadership articles and blog posts by your spokespeople, and detailed, informative ‘about us’ pages.
If you add new content to your site you can personalize it around your brand. This helps when building your website with clear messaging and builds a story around your company. Having a clear, coherent brand identity will help with both brand recognition and credibility.
What Are the Tools and Platforms You Can Use to Build a Website?
We have discussed why it is so important to create a website and how a site can massively help your business. But once you’ve decided to build a website from scratch or perhaps want to improve on your current one, how do you actually do it?
The task of creating a website can seem quite daunting to those of us who aren’t used to tech, but fortunately, there are plenty of helpful tools out there you can use in case you don’t know how to build a website from scratch yourself, such as a website builder or web hosting company.
There’s a wide range of website builders available for budding online businesses to create a website with. Each website builder has its different perks and advantages as each is better for certain business goals.
Perhaps you’re building your website to be a source of information and expertise for your customers, or maybe you want to create an efficient ecommerce site to facilitate sales. Whatever you need, there’s a website builder for you.
It’s always wise to have a think about what exactly you need your site to do. Why not make a list of the goals you’re trying to reach, and then think about what your site needs to have on it. Things you could include when you create a website are news pages, an online shop, blog posts, the about us section, photo gallery, sharing functions for social media, and more.
Once you know what your site should include and the goals you want it to do, then it is time to check out each different website builder and tools to see which one is perfect for your site. So what are the different tools available online? Let’s take a look at the top website builders, such as WordPress, and how they could help your business.
Building a Website with WordPress
WordPress is possibly the most popular website builder on the internet. In fact, it’s estimated that over a third of all websites online were built using WordPress. WordPress is a free, open-source web builder. Open-source means software whose code is freely available for all, allowing people to study and use it themselves without paying for it.
- More helpful reading: https://www.fannit.com/seo/wordpress-seo/
Why WordPress Is Versatile
Having the source code readily available means a WordPress website is highly customizable, giving you a lot of control to personalize your website in any way you see fit if you choose WordPress.
This customizability also gives WordPress a high degree of scalability, as you can easily edit your site and add new features as your business and audience grow, without having to recreate a whole new site.
The other bonus of WordPress’s versatility is that it can be used for pretty much any kind of site. The variety WordPress provides means you can build an ecommerce platform, a social forum, simple landing pages, galleries for your visual content (images and video), a membership-based site. Pretty much anything your imagination can come up with, WordPress can probably do it.
It’s probably this adaptability that is the reason why WordPress is so popular with website builders. WordPress is a great website builder for almost any business starting their very first website from scratch as if you’re not sure what exactly to do the first time around, you can easily edit your page later on, to do whatever you need it to do.
For those who are unsure where they would even start when it comes to start building a website, WordPress also offers helpful templates. WordPress’s premade themes are of high quality and do the first step of the website design for you.
WordPress templates are a great way to get started for those new to creating websites and can be easily edited later on if you want to personalize your company site.
WordPress has made a lot of efforts to make the platform as user-friendly as possible. For example, you can easily use drag and drop page editors using the WordPress dashboard. These make it much simpler to set out your page layout in the way you want. You don’t need to be a coding maestro to make use of WordPress.
Due to WordPress’s popularity and widespread use across the globe, there are thousands of tools on the web that have been created to work with a WordPress website. One example is WordPress plugins.
These are programs that work in much the same way as an app does on mobile devices. They can upgrade your WordPress site by adding useful or even fun new features for both you and your visitors.
Plugins are a very important feature of any WordPress website and have helped it move from a simple blogging platform into a versatile and powerful website builder that can be used to create a wide range of different sites. They are available from WordPress, as well as many third-party sites such as GitHub.
Some examples of WordPress plugins include RetainMeNot which allows you to build a coupon page, perfect for driving sales. WooCommerce is a must for any ecommerce business wanting to use a WordPress website as it allows you to create shopping pages on your website. Perhaps you want to display some great images that are relevant to your business, in which case you can use WordPress’ Envira Gallery.
All these plugins, and many more, make WordPress the invaluable tool it is today. With over 48,000 different WordPress plugins available to choose from there’s bound to be one for anything that you need your website to do. It’s not just for features that visitors can use either. WordPress plugins have also been created to increase a site’s performance speed or boost its SEO.
Disadvantages of WordPress
Although WordPress has a ton of features for creating and customizing your website, it may not be the easiest tool for absolute beginners to use. If you’re not that confident with how tech-literate you are you may find WordPress tricky to use.
WordPress is more of a Content Management System (CMS), rather than an all-encompassing package. A content management system lets you easily organize your online content, but you might be better off using a hosting service and domain registration separately from WordPress.
Building a Website with Shopify
Shopify is a popular website builder amongst businesses because of its specific focus: shopping. It’s an ecommerce platform specifically designed to build online shops, making it highly valuable if your business relies on online sales. Unlike WordPress, Shopify is very much a niche website builder so should only be used if you want to focus on ecommerce.
- More helpful reading: https://www.fannit.com/blog/ecommerce-platforms/
Building an Online Store With Shopify
However, if you are interested in creating an online store then it could be the perfect website builder for you. Many other businesses think so too, as over a million businesses currently use Shopify for their ecommerce, processing billions of dollars worth of sales.
While not quite as customizable as WordPress, Shopify does still have some advantages. As Shopify does all the hosting itself, it means you don’t need to worry as much about site maintenance. Issues such as installing updates, fixing bugs, backing up data, or managing software are all done by Shopify, so you can relax.
It comes almost fully built, more so than WordPress, which means you do not need to do any coding yourself. This makes it an excellent tool to use if you are not totally comfortable with tech, yet still want to set up an ecommerce brand.
This is especially useful given how specialized the platform is, not every person is going to be able (or should) code an online payments system, after all.
Designed for Payments
Shopify has its own integrated payments system aptly called Shopify Payments. This means you do not need to worry about setting this up yourself and is secure. It also lets you accept credit cards and can add third-party payment gateways if your business requires it. Shopify Payments, therefore, makes the most important part of an ecommerce site, sales, ready to go from the start.
This is not all, however, as Shopify has thought of anything that an online sales business might need. It also has the ability to add an unlimited number of products to your site. It records your sales stats, doing a large part of your analytics work for you.
Shopify also grants you easy integration with your marketing and has full inventory management, as well as even more features.
Designing a Page With Shopify
Like WordPress, Shopify has invested in making its platform intuitive and easy to use for new users who might not have a lot, or any, coding experience. Its simple drag and drop design means almost anyone can use it, regardless of how tech-literate they are. Also like WordPress, Shopify supplies its own web design templates, but enough to give you plenty to choose from.
For ecommerce retailers, Shopify really does offer the full package when setting up your shopping website. It offers an in-built payment system, analytics, marketing tools, and even shipping tools.
Disadvantages of Shopify
However, with such a comprehensive list of pre-packaged tools, it does come with a price tag. It is a bit more expensive than most other website builders per month, however, if you’re focused on ecommerce, it could be well worth it.
Building a Website with Squarespace
Squarespace is another popular website builder favored by businesses. One reason why many businesses choose Squarespace is that it can host your website for you. This makes the setup and running of your website far simpler, as Squarespace does an important part of the work for you.
Just like all the other website builders we have mentioned so far, Squarespace has put a lot of thought into making the actual design of the website easy to use and highly customizable, making it easy to choose a new theme. It comes with a huge amount of different web design templates that you can edit to your heart’s content. This makes it a very versatile platform, ideal for almost any type of business.
Designed for Content
Squarespace’s platform was designed with content in mind. It is an excellent website builder to use if you intend on including lots of blog posts, articles, news pages, photo galleries, or any other type of written or visual content. The platform makes it very easy to add new pieces of content onto an existing website, so you can build up your content base as you go along.
The customizability of Squarespace’s layout templates means that you can present your content in any way you see fit. Like WordPress, this allows you to personalize your site as much as you want, so despite using a template it still has a sense of individuality compared to any of your competitors.
Building an Online Store with Squarespace
While not as hyper focussed as Shopify, Squarespace has taken online retail into account as well. It has its own ecommerce features if this is something you need for your business’ site. This allows you to build your own online store. From here you can easily manage your products and orders, and even include functions such as coupons and other retail services.
Building a Website with Wix
The next web building tool we’re going to take a look at is Wix. It is a cloud-based platform that is seen by many as being very easy to use, making it a great accessible tool for those creating their first website from scratch. Like Squarespace, Wix is fully hosted so you don’t need to worry about this yourself, making it even better for first-timers.
Designing a Site With Wix
As with all the other website builders we’ve talked about, Wix also supplies plenty of its own templates for when you are designing your site. You can customize and edit each one to fit your business’s style and image.
It’s also been made easy to use by using similar drag and drop functions as the other website builders. As with any good website builder, intuitiveness is the name of the game.
However, if you really don’t feel like designing the site by yourself, Wix also comes with a tool called Wix ADI. This is actually an artificial intelligence (AI) web designer program that can do all the designing for you and can do a pretty good job of it too.
Wix is also similar to WordPress, in that it has tons of plugins (or apps), available for use. Just like with WordPress this adds a high degree of both customizability and functionality to your site. You can upgrade with a whole range of different features to help you achieve whatever specific goals you had for your site. They’re available from both Wix and third-party sites.
Using Wix for Low Budget Websites
Another way in which Wix is designed for those just starting out with basic website building is that it offers a free version of its services. This lets you get used to setting up and running a website without having to invest too much into it. Unfortunately, it has limits to both bandwidth and storage, so if you want to expand you will need to eventually start paying per month.
Building a Website with Weebly
The next website builder on our list is Weebly. It’s a useful tool for those without much website-building experience. If you use Weebly, you do not need to be able to code to edit or update your website. Instead, you can just use their page builder tool which tries to make things as simple and intuitive as possible.
Weebly Does Hosting for You
Similar to Squarespace, Weebly does all the hosting itself. This makes the process less complicated for businesses, as there is no need to download the necessary hosting software, or to spend any time on maintenance or managing the software. Instead, this is all done in the background by Weebly, letting you focus on more important things.
Designing With Weebly
Designing your page is simple on Weebly too. It provides pre-made designs for you to use, making it easier to get started. However, once you feel comfortable with branching out, it’s also fully editable so you can make your page adhere to your business’ own unique style.
Creating an Online Store With Weebly
If you need your website to run online sales, then Weebly can also help with ecommerce. You can make a simple online store to showcase your products and ultimately make sales. It does however charge transaction fees on each purchase, however, you can pay for an upgraded plan that removes these fees if that’s best for your business.
Every webpage you build with Weebly automatically comes with features built-in, such as photo galleries, contact forms, and others. This makes it really simple to include these features from the start, without having much technical know-how when it comes to setting up websites.
Once you have decided which website builder, whether it’s WordPress, Shopify, or one of the others, is best going to suit your business needs and fit with your own technical expertise, the next thing you need to do is actually build it. Fortunately, we’ve put together a brief step-by-step guide to help you do exactly that.
How to Build Your Own Website, a Step by Step Guide
Hopefully, we have made it clear by now just how useful having a website for your business is. It can help with so many parts of your business, from marketing to sales, and is vital for any sector.
A large multinational firm, small business, or brick-and-mortar shop all need a functioning website if they are to succeed. If you don’t have one then it’s definitely time to start building your website.
Building websites now is much easier than it was in the early days of the internet. The very first pages required a good knowledge of coding as people attempted to build their websites from scratch.
However, now there are plenty of tools that do much of the hard work for you, streamlining the process. We’ve already discussed these, so hopefully, you’ve chosen the right one for you, and hopefully now is the time for getting started.
Preparing to Create Your Website
Like much in life and business, preparation is key. It’s worth thinking about what you want your website to do, and what you need to make it do this. There are a few things that you can think about and research before you get started, and will help you down the line and make your website the best site it can be.
What Does Your Website Need to do?
Firstly, you need to decide what exactly you need a website for. This will differ depending on the type of business, sector you are in, who your audience is, and what your business goals are. It’s really important that you conduct research into this before you begin. If you set up a website just because you feel like you should, but haven’t planned what to use it for, it won’t be successful.
What Are Your Business Goals?
It helps if before you begin, you clearly define your website’s goals in simple, clear terms. This will give you a great starting point and give you a straightforward task to follow in order to focus your website on achieving this goal, or goals. It will make deciding what features to add to your website much easier, as you can evaluate each one on whether it will help you get to your aims.
Do you want to create an ecommerce site to sell your products and services online? Does your website need to just be a repository for your company information, giving your customers what they need to know in a presentable way when they visit? Perhaps you’re trying to build a mailing list and you need your new web page to be somewhere to gain subscribers.
Some businesses use their website purely for branding purposes, or for showing off their work. They could do this with an attractive gallery of images and video if their work is of a visual nature, or with detailed content pages explaining how they have helped previous clients achieve their business goals if they are a services-based company.
Working out exactly the tasks you need your website to complete before you start can cut out a lot of the work for you. If you just need it to inform consumers about who you are and what you do, then you’ll probably only need to include a few content pages and some simple pieces of information.
However, if you are a retailer and you want your website to act as a sales platform, you will need to create an ecommerce site that is a bit more complex. You wouldn’t want to waste time learning about the technical aspects this entails if it’s simply not needed. This is why prior research and planning matters.
- More helpful reading: https://www.fannit.com/blog/how-to-start-an-ecommerce-business/
What Features Does Every Website Need to Include?
Once you’ve established what your website needs to achieve, you can use this to start deciding what features to include on your site. There are few different features you should consider when building your own website. Here are some examples of what you should consider.
Always Include a Homepage
There are absolutely loads of different features and pages you can add to your website for whatever your ultimate business goals are. This is what makes each company page different, depending on what they are trying to achieve. However, each website does still have one thing in common (or at least should have!): a homepage.
A homepage is crucial for any website, whether you want to know how to build a simple website or a quality, professional one. It is likely to be the first thing a customer sees when they visit your website, so needs to be high quality. A good homepage needs to clearly explain exactly who your company is and what you do.
The exact nature of your business should be obvious from one click. If a visitor doesn’t immediately understand your business and has to explore several pages before they work it out, there’s a good chance they will simply just leave instead. If they leave early their visit will not convert into a sale and could hurt your time on page stats, diminishing your site’s SEO.
There’s no point in being too subtle when explaining your company. Your homepage can say exactly what you do straight away. If you’re a marketing agency, just say that! Use plain simple language so there’s no confusion.
If your company sells gardening equipment, why not have a big picture of a garden (with some of your products included maybe), so visitors know who they’re dealing with immediately.
Include Your Brand Identity
Another thing to do when planning your website design is to have a think about your brand identity. One thing all websites need to do is represent their business. Remember, a website is merely an online extension of your business. You’d want your shop to have a particular image depending on what you are selling, and your website is no different. A brand identity can do this.
Perhaps your brand already has a strong identity from your previous marketing and advertising efforts, or if you already have a decent social media presence. If you don’t already have a recognizable identity, then building a new website could be a perfect time to create it.
How Brand Identity Should Affect Your Design
Your brand identity should set the tone of your website design. Your customers need to see your brand through every little feature on the website and instantly recognize your company with just a glance. It also matters what sector you are in. You may want to set a clean, professional tone with your identity, or perhaps create a sense of something more energetic and fun.
A good branding strategy means that your brand identity will also be widely used throughout all your other offline properties, from advertising, products, office space, even your business cards. Your website needs to work in concert with these by using the same brand identity so it feels like your company.
When it comes to the actual design of your website, your brand identity should dictate every aesthetic decision you make. Page layout, color, font, imagery, the tone of any written copy, and even the design of small icons and buttons on your site.
If you take the time to properly plan out your brand identity before you begin the design phase it will make it easy during the decision-making process. With your brand identity well planned, and well-executed, customers will know exactly what type of company they are dealing with from their first visit.
Do Your Research
As with any project, doing your research beforehand can be really helpful. We have already discussed the importance of researching your own business and what goals you need to achieve. However, another useful tip is to research your competitors and see what they are doing with their websites.
As you work within the same sector, you’ll often need similar functions on your site so it’s worth having a peek at what they’re up to. This does not mean you should copy them of course. You still need to have your own unique brand identity shine through.
But it can help by looking and what they are doing, what functions and features they have included on their website, and also what seems to be working for them and what is not. Perhaps they’re using social, maybe they have an online signup form for mailing lists. They could be including a feature you had not thought of but would still be great for your own business.
Design and layout is another important feature you should research. You don’t even need to necessarily research competitors or other similar businesses. Think of websites that you have had a pleasant experience visiting yourself and go back and see how they’ve been constructed. When you do your research make a list of ones that work smoothly and their design features.
If you are using a web builder tool then most of them will include pre-made templates for website design. It’s worth checking these out and comparing a few before you choose the one you are going to use for your own site.
One thing to remember is that design is not the most important thing when it comes to page layouts. Functionality should be at the front of your mind when planning your website design.
How many times have you come across a website with a unique design and aesthetic, that looks really impressive, only to find that none of it works smoothly and is actually incredibly hard to navigate? Nothing will put a user off more than clunky, difficult navigation and an awkward user experience.
Choose a Domain Name for Your Website
Every website needs to choose a domain name, it is easily one of the most important parts of a website. Your domain name is the main part of your URL, the name for your website, and what people will type into their web browser to find you. You’ll want your domain name to be everywhere, on your email signature, marketing, social media, and any other outreach to get people to visit your website.
Make Your Domain Name Relevant
As such, you should choose a domain name that is short, snappy, and catchy, something that users will remember. Most importantly of all, a domain name should also be relevant to your company, ideally your company name followed by ‘.com’ or another suffix depending on what exactly your company or organization is.
Some people, when searching for a business, will simply put the company name with .com and hope your website domain comes up. If you’ve gone for something too different from the name of your company for your domain name it could make your website harder to find, thus meaning you will have less traffic. There is no point in a website domain that nobody visits and it will fail at its intended purpose if this is the case.
If you can’t choose a free domain name that is exactly the same as your company name then it should at least be something similar. For example, we’re lucky enough at Fannit that our domain name is fannit.com, but if our domain name had been taken already, we could have gone for a domain like fannitmarketing.com. The domain name still has our company name in it and is also relevant to what we do.
Your domain name for your website should be something professional. Your domain is for your business after all and needs to convey your brand’s credibility. It helps if your domain name is relatively short and rolls off the tongue, and will make it easy for people to share your domain via word of mouth. Many online brands have now become synonymous with their domain name.
Choose the Right TLD
Part of the domain name you need to choose is the suffix. This is also called the Top Level Domain (TLD). Examples of a top level domain include .com, .edu, .org, .net, .biz, .gov and many others I am sure most people will recognize. Which one you should use for your domain name depends on what your organization is and what it does.
The most common top level domain is .com and can be used for a variety of different purposes, including business. .edu is for educational sites, such as universities or schools, .gov is of course a domain used by the government for their sites, and .org tends to be used by charities and other non-profit organizations.
For a more comprehensive list of TLDs and their meaning, you can look here.
Check for Availability
When you have finally decided what you want your domain name to be called you need to check its availability, which means making sure no other site is already using that domain.
Additionally, it is also prudent to check if the domain name is protected by copyright, as otherwise, you might unintentionally infringe on another company’s protected domain name. It’s always wise to avoid any additional legal admin or costs.
If your desired domain name is available then it’s time to purchase it, making it your legal property. You can do this through an organization called a domain registrar.
Some web builders, such as Squarespace and Wix can also act as domain registrars making it simple to register your domain name if you’re already building your page with them. Other popular ones include Domain.com and Google.
In the case that you have set your heart on a particular domain name, but find it has already been taken or protected by copyright, then it is still possible to use this domain name.
To do so you will have to get in contact with the current owners of the domain and make an offer to buy the domain name from them. If you’re lucky they may sell their domain name to you. You can also get your domain registrar to contact the owners for you instead if you prefer.
How to Host Your Website
The next step after settling on a domain name is deciding on your website’s web hosting plans. We touched on this briefly in an earlier section, discussing how some web builders like Squarespace do web hosting for you if you create a website with them. But what are web hosting plans? And why does a website need web hosting?
What is Hosting?
Web hosting is essentially where your website is physically. A lot of us see the internet as being in the cloud, bits of data that are available on all computers and mobile devices. However, all this data needs to be physically kept somewhere, in a real-world location. Data for websites are all stored on servers, which are the physical infrastructure of the internet.
External Hosting vs Hosting Yourself
If you want to host your website yourself then you will need to purchase servers. Unfortunately for a small business, hosting requires a lot of physical space, and large costs both upfront and for regular maintenance.
For a small business, it’s probably just not worth the expense and hassle. This is why many opt for using external hosts, like the web builders we mentioned earlier.
A web hosting plan will let you store the data for your website on their servers, taking responsibility for any hardware issues and costs. They’ll likely charge you a set fee per month for the privilege but this will be far more affordable than hosting yourself if you are a small business. Some larger multinationals and tech firms do host themselves, as at large scales it becomes more profitable.
Shared Hosting vs Dedicated Hosting
When you choose which external web host to choose, look out for which ones offer ‘shared hosting’ and ‘dedicated hosting’. Both of these different options have their perks and disadvantages. Shared web hosting essentially means that you share the server with other websites. This is great as a more budget-friendly option as you can split the cost with other websites.
However, as multiple different parties will be using the server, you will have to compete for bandwidth. This could make it more likely that your site will experience slow speeds, which can cause functionality issues on your site and hurt the user experience. It’s a good option if you are just starting out, but as your website grows and expands it may be time to consider a dedicated web hosting plan.
Dedicated web hosting means that you pay the external web host for your own dedicated server. This means your website is the only site to use that particular server. With no other sites, your pages will not have to compete for bandwidth keeping your speed high, and your website running smoothly for any visitors. Of course, this will often come with a premium so expect to pay more.
There are some external hosts who may be willing to host your website for free. While this is a good choice if you have budget constraints, keep in mind that hosting web servers do incur costs, which the web host will need to pay. If they don’t charge you a fee per month then they will make money in other ways such as hosting ads on your web pages.
You may not mind this and in fact many pages throughout the internet use banner ads. Most users do not seem to mind them as long as they aren’t too intrusive. However, if this is the case be sure to check to see how exactly the ads will appear, how much space they will take up, and how many there will be.
You don’t want to ruin your interface, user experience, or page speed by a site crowded with annoying pop-up ads. In the worst case, it could make your website unusable and deter any visitors from returning. Make sure you check what your site will look like with these ads before you make any firm decisions on web hosting.
The different options for web hosting all relate to scale. The more efficient and reliable they are the more expensive they will be. However, if you’re receiving a lot of traffic then the increased speeds from the pricier options will make them worthy investments. You can think of the options in the following order of scale:
- Free Hosting (supported by ads)
- Shared Hosting
- Dedicated Hosting
- Hosting Your Own Servers
Changing Your Hosting With Scale
It is always possible to change your preferred hosting plan as your business grows and your website expands with increased traffic. In fact, we would say it is actually wise to do so. Once your site is up on running, keep an eye on the analytics. Look at stats for traffic, page speed, time on page, and feedback from customers on their user experience.
If you find that your page speed isn’t keeping up with the traffic you’re receiving and you’re seeing a lot of user complaints it may be time to check if your site is still working as smoothly as it should be. If not, then it may be time to upgrade your preferred hosting plan, giving you better speeds and a much-improved user experience, the key to any website’s success.
Another issue to factor in when selecting a web host is its physical features. Do they have fast enough servers with plenty of capacity to provide a good service? Also, check where they’re actually based. You also want to select a web host in a location that is likely to be near all of your customers.
If your audience is US-based, there is little sense in selecting a European-based external server host. The nearer your servers are to your customers the faster your site will be, it really is that simple. Fortunately, most external hosts will likely be forthcoming with this information.
There may also be complicated issues around web legislation. For example, if you have a lot of customers in China, you will find it appropriate to host at least some of your servers in China itself, due to increased legislation surrounding the internet in the country.
Building Your Website’s Pages
After you have done your research, settled on a domain name, and chosen who to host your website with, it’s time to actually create your website. Modern web builders make this process much simpler than before, so there’s no need for coding. However, you still need to plan out how you need your website to be structured before you start to build a webpage.
Decide What Content You Need to Include
The first step in doing this is planning out what content you want to include on your website. Think of all the great articles and blog posts you’ve written, the fantastic images of your business that you’ve taken in the past, and anything else you think would work well on your site. If you know exactly what you want to use it will make it easy to create your sitemap later.
You may have a lot of content already on hand. If you’re tempted to just upload all of it onto your site you might need to think again. Always keep in mind site speed, if your site is too slow and laggy then it will harm user experience, putting visitors off. Nobody wants to keep coming back to a site that is too slow and clunky to work properly.
The amount of data on your site can affect site speed, so if there is too much it will slow down. Therefore, you should take care to only choose the content that you really need to show on your site, and don’t overload it with tons of poor quality images that just happen to be on your computer’s hard drive.
- More helpful reading: https://www.fannit.com/blog/what-is-seo-writing/
Create a Sitemap
Once you’ve got all the content you want to use together it’s time to decide what pages you need on your site, which is where the content will go. It’s important to have a layered site, with lots of well-organized information, going well beyond a simple homepage. The best way to plan this is to create a detailed sitemap.
A sitemap is essentially the blueprint of a website. It details what pages you need, what you need to have on these pages, and how they are all linked together. The last part is crucial.
Easy navigation is a major deciding factor in whether a website is enjoyable to use or not. People like websites to be simple and easy that they can traverse in one click, so they should be able to find the page they need quickly.
Include a Menu
It’s important to include lots of links on each page that can take your customers to other ones. A really easy way of doing this is to have a menu on every page. This can have a list of all the key pages on your site, so every page is simply one click away for your visitors. It could either be a drop-down menu or just include a list at the bottom of every page.
So what are some pages you should include on your sitemap? There are some that are for more specialist businesses, such as ecommerce platforms, but there are also pages that every single business or organization should have. It’s important you know how to build a web page. Let’s take a look at some of the essentials.
Include a Contact Page
First of all, every company site should include a contact page. You want customers to be able to reach out to you, it’s a vital part of cultivating that audience relationship and can lead to sales. Have a dedicated page that includes all of your contact details. This should include a contact number, email, physical address, and, nowadays, links to all of your social media pages.
For a lot of people, a company’s website is the first port of call when they are trying to get in touch with the business for whatever reason. It could be to make a purchase, a complaint, or even inquire about working for you. Don’t make it difficult for them to find the necessary contact details or it could hurt your relationship with that customer.
Include an About Us Section
Another essential page is the ‘About Us’ page. This is where you can tell your company story. You can include background with some company history, your mission statement, company values and also talk about some of the work you have been doing. It’s a nice touch if you want to add some depth to your company, giving your audience something to engage with.
Of course, you can also include functional parts of the About Us page too. Many companies use subsections of their About Us page to post current job vacancies, useful information about your team, board, and key spokespeople.
Include Your Products and Services
You will also need to have pages dedicated to your products or services. After all, these are the main purpose of your business, so needs to have space to be advertised. If you are a services company, it can be hard to visualize what exactly it is you do. Therefore, why not put a section on your site about the clients you’ve helped.
You can include client case studies, and project descriptions, detailing what you helped them with, and how you solved their issues. A nice addition to this is a customer testimonials page. Here you can include all the nice comments and feedback your satisfied customers have given you, showing proof to visitors that you provide a high-quality service.
If your business is focused on selling products on the other hand, then you definitely need plenty of pages showing off your products. This should include high-quality images, any technical information that customers might need, and price info. You don’t want to leave anything out that might frustrate customers trying to find it.
It’s a good space to let your content work for you as well. Well-written product descriptions are a must. They should include as much information as possible but also go beyond technical specs. You can talk about your products in a more human way, which will grab a visitor’s attention as well as being more convincing for anyone considering making a purchase.
Include a Blog Page
Beyond the essential pages, there are plenty more that you can include which will make great additions to your site. For example, blog pages are very popular. Here you can keep a blog discussing your thoughts and issues within the sector you work in. These could be opinion articles, highlighting your expertise, or perhaps instructional guides for something relevant.
Here’s an example. Imagine you are a business that sells car parts or tools that people need to use on their cars. You could write a blog post as a step-by-step guide on how to change a tire, and what equipment you will need for it. This shows your expertise and is of value to your business’s audience.
Perhaps you run a dog adoption center. You could use your blog page to post an article about all the benefits of adopting a dog versus buying a new puppy. This is directly relevant to your business and audience, will showcase your expert knowledge of this subject, and also advertise your services and convince people to come to you.
You can also use your blog page for posting news and company updates. Keep your audience informed with what your company is up to, any big achievements you’ve accomplished, new product launches, or any new marketing campaigns. If you’re also doing PR outreach, you can reshare any good coverage as a blog post too.
Include a FAQ Page
FAQ pages (frequently asked questions) are another useful addition to any company website. It is a good way of providing information to your visitors quickly, so they don’t have to root around your website trying to find it, a process many find irritating.
What you need to include are any questions about your company or the work you do that you think are likely to come up, or that you have already seen a lot of people asking when providing feedback. Some of these may be fairly obvious, and can be as simple as ‘What does our company do?’.
Once you have them all, put them onto a list and come up with some concise, well-written answers that will swiftly provide your customers with the information they are looking for, without too much hassle. The FAQ page should be easy to find but remember it shouldn’t be seen as a substitute for a contacts page. Some people may have more in-depth questions they’ll need to ask directly.
Include an Online Store
As we have already mentioned in this article, if you are looking to use your website to drive sales you should definitely include an online store. ecommerce is a vital tool for many businesses and is a major part of some websites.
A simple way of setting an online store up on your website is to use a specialized Web Builder, such as Shopify, or use other web builders like Squarespace which also have inbuilt shopping features. However, you do not necessarily have to use these, and you can set up ecommerce on your site with just about any method of building a website.
Whatever you choose to do, you need to make sure that you include an integrated electronic payments system. There is plenty of ecommerce software and third-party payment processors available online that you can use. A lot of hosts also include in-house shopping carts and other ecommerce programs with their plans.
Just like the rest of your page, your shop should be easily navigable. Provide easy-to-find links to the relevant product sections, you may want to add a search bar if you have a very large inventory. Content should be used throughout as well. Include high-quality images that clearly display your products along with clear and concise product descriptions, that include necessary technical specs.
What Every Page Needs to Include
There are a few things that you should remember when creating each page. The first one to mention is links. We’ve already discussed the importance of making your site easy to navigate, and including plenty of links back to your other pages is a great way to do this. Not only does it improve user experience but it’s also better for your website’s SEO.
Another great aspect to include is calls to action. A call to action is when you tell the user to do something. This could be to visit your site, contact your team or make a purchase.
For example, on your products pages, you should definitely include prompts to ‘buy now’, which can link straight back to your online store. ‘Contact our team today to find out more’ is also a great call to action on your homepage or About Us section.
Make Sure to Test Your Website
Once you’ve created your website, with all the different pages and features you want to include, and with plenty of good quality content, don’t think your job is complete just yet. Before you start sending your URL out to your contacts and customers take a moment to double-check that everything works properly and there aren’t any bugs.
Check every page and every link. You need to make sure it’s all running smoothly, isn’t too slow, and the layout all looks correct. Make sure each link goes exactly where it is supposed to. If you have any features, such as videos, shopping platforms, or sign-up forms, use these yourself to make sure they actually work.
This may sound like an arduous and time-consuming task, and frankly, it is. But it needs to be done and will save you a headache and even more hassle further down the line when the complaints start pouring in that your site isn’t working. What’s worse, is that rather than a complaint, a customer might just not bother using your site and will go elsewhere.
Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?
Once you’ve double and triple-checked that everything is working, you may think it’s time to publish your site. Not yet. You then need to check that your website works both on desktop and mobile devices. More and more people browse the web through their phone so it needs to be mobile friendly as well.
If not then you could be missing out on a lot of traffic. Many people will spend a large chunk of their day away from their desktop computer so will be relying on their mobile devices. If your site is awkward on a phone they will leave it quickly. Additionally, making a site mobile-friendly is also important for improving your SEO, making your site easily found by search engines.
Many web builders have taken into this account and you can ask them for help with making your site as mobile-friendly as possible. It’s remembering things such as, does this page work on a smaller screen?, is it easily navigable with touch?, do all my features work on iOS or Android? If you take all these into account, then it will be a much simpler job of making your site mobile-ready.
Take Advantage of Analytics
Analytics is an incredibly useful tool for testing your website before you publish it for the general public, but also for ongoing testing and maintenance when your site is up and running. It will let you know when something isn’t working by highlighting drops in site speed of traffic. This way you can catch problems early and solve them before they ruin the site’s user experience.
When your website is live you can monitor each page on there. If certain pages aren’t getting as much traffic as you hoped, compared to others, then maybe there’s something wrong with them? This could be a technical issue, such as a broken link, or perhaps it’s just difficult to find or awkward to access, driving traffic away from it.
Knowing the stats behind your website lets you know what is and isn’t working, and can give you insight into when to upgrade. An important part of knowing how to develop a website is knowing exactly what works and what doesn’t at any given time.
Want to Create Your Own Website? Contact Fannit Today
A good website is such an important asset for any company today, regardless of the type of business or what sector they work in. It has great benefits for brand recognition, marketing, sales and so much more. Any business should definitely be thinking about adding one if they don’t already have one. And it always helps to consider if your current one needs a revamp.
There are plenty of web builders available online these days, so making a website has become easier and more hassle-free than ever. Whatever you need your website to do, there is a web builder for that. No extensive knowledge of coding is required, so anyone can set up a website now, no matter if they’re a big corporation or a small business.
However, it still may seem like a daunting task. Having so many choices of different programs, where to host your site, how to get a domain name, could mean that you’re not sure where to start. If this is the case it never hurts to ask for help.
At Fannit, we have plenty of experience with web design for businesses. As digital marketers, we know just how important a well-functioning website can be for a business, so we know how to make one.
If you need help with deciding between WordPress or Squarespace, choosing a web hosting company, or registering your domain, then please get in touch and see how we can help you make the perfect website for your business.