How To Create Your Business Website

Creating a business website can be anything from a few simple steps, up and running in less than a day, to the hardest project you’ve ever undertaken.

The good thing about building a website is that there’s lots of information available on the web.

The bad thing about creating a website is … there’s lots of information available on the web.

We’re talking information overload…

When it comes to building business websites, everyone’s an expert and everyone has conflicting views.

It’s not so much that different websites are trying to deceive you (I’m being kind here), it’s just that often the answer to “Which website builder should I use?” isn’t straightforward.

It depends on what you want from your website and what you expect from your business.

The web is full of information aimed at different business types and sizes, and tips from people who haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about.

Add into the mix that this is the tech industry, where products change by the day, and you get search engines littered with outdated information.

So here’s my attempt to cut through the noise.

I’m not a big techy, but I’ve been building websites since the days of dial-up.

This advice is based on my own experience balanced out by hours of sifting through posts on forums (yep so you don’t have to).

What Do You Want Your Website To Do?

It may even help to get your crystal ball out. The sort of things you need to think about are:

  • What’s my budget for setting up a website?
  • Will my website sell products?
  • Are these products physical goods that require shipping?
  • Do I need any special features?

When you’re starting out your business website should cover all the features you need to sell your products or services.

Put the emphasis on functionality: quick to load, easy to navigate, provide great content and a first class user experience.

What it doesn’t need to be is the best-looking website on the planet.

That can come later when you have profit to spare on a custom design.

E-commerce solutions

You will also hear the term store builder which is basically a website builder that has all the features you need for a full eCommerce set up.

There are two main categories, hosted solutions or self-hosted solutions.

Hosted Solutions:

It’s typically a software as a service (SaaS) solution, where you pay a subscription to access the website builder from the cloud.

It’s a popular option for newbies and technophobes: these builders are designed for ease of use.

With low start-up costs, even a complete beginner can get a fully functioning eCommerce website up and running quickly. It’s a weekend job at most.

The downside is flexibility. This option has constraints on what you can and can’t do with your website.

These types of website solutions have traditionally been scorned by web developers.

Why might you ask?

Today this has changed and the lines between Hosted and Self Hosted solutions have blurred.

BUT and it’s a BIG BUT.

With Hosted solutions you’re tied into a service. You’re stuck. Moving your website off these platforms isn’t straightforward and it’s a scary place to be when you’re a sizeable business with growing overheads.

My Hosted website went down for 4 days over Easter. It’s up there as one of those excruciating memories I just can’t forget. I was completely stuck at the mercy of my host.

So you need to weigh up the pros (accessible and easy to use) with the cons (less control). The convenience factor is hard to ignore and it’s a slick answer for a store with multiple products. But if you want more control, I suggest you take the self-hosted route.

Self Hosted Solutions:

  • The main advantage is full access to your website source code.
  • This means you have complete freedom over your design.
  • Your options are only limited by your coding skills and/or your budget.

Not so great for your average small business startup.

WordPress + WooCommerce

28% of all websites are created on WordPress.

Just think of a feature you need and someone will have come up with a solution.

In recent years the plugin WooCommerce has turned a great website builder into a fully functioning eCommerce store.

However, there is a catch.

Personally, I think if you’re going to run a business with a strong web presence it’s worth spending a bit of time and learning the skills to edit a WordPress site. Through Simply Hatch I will be showing you how to get started with WordPress.

I promise the investment will pay off.

WordPress.org or WordPress.com?

The widely used, popular software referred to in this blog is WordPress.org.

WordPress.com is a hosted solution. WordPress.com lets you set up a website for free but you don’t get to use your own unique name, you’re stuck with WordPress.com’s own adverts and you can’t make money from your blog. If you’ve ended up with a WordPress.com site you can easily migrate it to WordPress.org. Both of the hosted solution providers listed below will help out.

When you’re using WordPress.org you will need to source separate hosting for your website. I strongly recommend you use managed hosting that takes care of backups and security.

It means paying a little bit more but the benefits of peace of mind and reduced hassle will easily make up for it.

Interested in starting a blog ? Read my guide How To Start A Successful Blog.

Brochure websites

WordPress is the obvious choice for this type of website.

Blogging is terrific for driving traffic to a website. It’s central to the WordPress platform making it an ideal solution for building your customer base.

The superb flexibility of WordPress is the key selling point.

Long-term Goals for Your Business Website

As you choose your business website builder, think about how your business might change over the next 12 months, two years, 5 years…

Maybe take a look at businesses in the same sector and see how they’ve set up their websites. It could help you anticipate your future needs.

For example, if you want a brochure website now, will you want to add eCommerce capability a few years down the line?

If you’ve just chosen a hosted eCommerce solution, will it be able to handle your growth in product range?

Thinking through these options now can save a lot of time and costs the next time you revamp your website. The terrific advantage of WordPress is that it will always be fully adaptable.

Your first business website definitely won’t be your last one. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve rebuilt websites. Some designs have barely lasted a year.

With the likes of WordPress, these redesigns are very easy…just choose a new theme and away you go…

Originally published at simplyhatch.com on November 1, 2018.

On a mission to help tiny businesses grow and improve health and fitness. Founder of https://simplyhatch.com and https://lovelifebefit.com