What are the simple steps to quickly launching a professional small business website?
Your website is a key online component to any modern small business. It is your digital footprint and it represents who you are , what you do and how you help people. Without a website in today’s digital space it’s pretty difficult for customers to find you.
Most small business owners are clueless in getting websites launched and this is OK because this is not their forte. It’s like setting up a shop front. You are not expected to do the fit out yourself. You hire specialists to fit the shop out for you. The same goes for websites.
Here are 5 steps to follow to launch a professional website quickly and easily:
- Register a Domain Name
A domain name is basically your website’s URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or address on the internet, for example, www.examplewebsite.com.au. It is your unique online identity.
Before you register your domain name, it’s best to check whether the name is available. The easiest way to check is to perform a domain name search.
Jump onto a domain name registration site (I use Crazy Domain) and type in the website name you like in the search bar similar to the one shown below, and the search results will display what is available.
2. Use a Content Management System
Now that your domain name is registered and you have your own URL, the next step is to look at fitting out your website.
Most small business owners outsource this task to a professional web designer which is great but please instruct your web designer to build your website based on a CMS (Client Management System) site so it is easy for you to update and manage your website going forward.
Remember, just like a shopfront where you update your products or display new products to keep your customers interested and wanting to come back for more, you need to keep your website refreshed and dynamic to keep your online customers engaged and interested with fresh articles or stories about your business.
When I build websites for clients, my favourite CMS website is WordPress.
What is WordPress?
It is an open source web creation tool and my personal opinion – one of the easiest and most powerful blogging and website content management system (or CMS) available today.
There are many other DIY website creation tools like WIX, SquareSpace and so on but my preferred CMS is WordPress because it is incredibly flexible, intuitive, easy to edit and is packed full of fancy tools and features to run a professional website that responds beautifully to devices like the phone and tablet. There are lots of different website skins or themes (the look and feel) to choose from and if you’re looking for a cool website tool to add you are spoilt with so many ‘plugins’ (extra tools) to use. Maybe you want to add a cool video slider that automatically features your company video message???
An example of a financial services firm’s website designed using WordPress:
3. Choose a Hosting Provider
Hooray! Now it’s time to work out who will ‘host’ your website for you. That is, when someone types in your website URL who will ‘serve up’ your site and make it available online and searchable on the internet.
Similar to renting a business premise, you need to get your website ‘hosted’ and pay a ‘hosting fee’ for some digital space on a server you rent.
I am a huge fan and have my websites hosted by WpEngine.
What is a server?
A server is a computer connected to the Internet, with software that allows it to store or “host” the pieces of your website: the code, the images, the video clips, and anything else that makes up your site.
It’s called a server because it ‘serves’ up the right content when requested – that is, when someone wants to view a page on your website.
Related Article: Understanding the basics of a website
There are many companies and services that will rent you space on a server and host your website. As I prefer to use WordPress websites, my recommendation is to use a ‘host provider’ that specialises in hosting WordPress sites if you decide to use WordPress as the CMS site.
4. Customise your website
Now, it’s decision time. Do you decide to:
- DIY and customise your own WordPress website?
I would recommend that you don’t go for this option. You are already too busy running your business, you don’t have time to learn how to customise a website to upload images, videos, design page layout structures and write up website content like About Us, What We Do, How We Help information.
You’ll end up feeling overwhelmed and your website will end up in the ‘too hard basket’ and left hanging for an indefinite time.
- Hire a freelance web designer?
I certainly recommend this option. Hire a freelance web designer and let them do what they do best (professionally and efficiently customise your site to be in ready to launch mode) so you can focus on what you do best.
Here is a list of the WordPress Websites I have helped my clients with:
5. Ready for Launch!
WOW! We are down to our last step – getting the website ready for launch. In technical geeky speak, you need to point your domain name to where your website is being hosted. This means when your website URL is typed into Google the domain name is redirected or pointed to your website so it is ready to be ‘served up’ and viewed by people online.
This is the last step to complete before your website goes live. You can manage this redirection by logging onto your domain name account and complete the redirection process yourself.
Related Article: 7 Top Website Designs for Accounting Firms