Every business should have a website, but the truth is that not all businesses do. Or if they do, it may only be a landing page with basic info and is not maintained. But, if there is one thing the challenges of 2020 have shown us, it’s that an online presence is absolutely CRITICAL for all businesses today. So, if you fall into any of the following categories, then this Guide to Starting your Own Website is for YOU!
- Existing Business, but no website
- Basic website that needs updating to work harder for you
- Starting a new ‘Offline’ Business (brick and mortar or other service)
- Starting an Online Business
You likely fall into one of these categories, so WELCOME! You are in the right place for improving or starting your own website and learning about the tools to help.
Steps for Starting Your Own Website
While you may be very excited to get started or may be under a time crunch, starting your website should be thought through first. Finding the best host, the best platform, and the best theme design for your business upfront will save you tons of hassle, time, and money later. Many businesses have started websites only to find out it was not a fit for their business needs and had to spend countless hours and money to change things later. So let’s walk through the basic steps.
The domain name is the first step and one of the most important as it’s how people will find you! A domain name is made up of two parts, the website name, which is the name of your site and the top level domain (TLD), which is the ending, such as .com, .net, .org, .ca, etc.
For the website name, you ideally want to use the name of your business. However, that is not always available. If it isn’t available, you have a few options. Find a new name entirely, change the name just enough to make it a unique domain, change the top level domain from .com to .net for example.
To secure the domain name, you will need to go through a Domain Broker such as Godaddy.com or through your Host. But you can do research on the availability of the domain name prior to selecting your host and then purchase the domain for 1 year or longer depending on your budget and needs.
Hosting Service for Starting Your Own Website
Once you have your domain name selected or already secured, it’s time to select a Hosting Service Provider. A Hosting Service provides your website with the technology to be viewed on the internet and also stores your website and all of the data behind it on private servers. To learn more about what a hosting service is and the types that exist, check out this Beginners Guide to Web Hosting.
Not all hosting providers are created equal. Some have more bells and whistles, features and tools. And not all hosting providers can supply the same server capacity. Depending on the type of business and growth plans you may need more or less from your server. That means you need to select a provider that meets your capacity needs. If your traffic is expected to grow to millions of users, then you will need a provider that has the capability to grow with you and offer you more storage along the way such as GoDaddy.com. Make sure you do your research and talk to others in your industry to see what is working and not working with their providers. Here are a couple of rankings and reviews for best 2020 Hosting Providers: PCMag’s The Best Web Hosting Services for 2020 or QuickSprout.com’s Top 9 Best Host Providers for 2020.
Next step is to find the best platform or website builder for your site. Some key things to ask yourself before looking at platform options:
- Will I be doing this all myself or hiring a developer?
- Do I want something very turnkey with limited flexibility?
- Am I willing to do a bit of leg work to get more flexibility?
- Do I want access to any plug in out there?
- Do I have special platform needs, such as having a blog or a store?
Depending on your answers to the above, you may end up wanting a website builder that is completely turnkey and you simply enter your content into set pre-designed fields. Or you may want a bit more flexibility and adaptability in the future. Different Platforms will get you to these two different places. You can also read this article, Websites 101: What to Consider When Choosing a Platform for Your SMB Website to get more insight into selecting a platform.
Some of the most used platforms or website builders are WordPress, SquareSpace, Weebly, Shopify, and Wix. Your Host will usually offer a basic wordpress installation, but if that is not what you want, you will need to have a different Host vs. Platform provider.
This is by no means the end of your website building, managing, and growing life, however, it is the last in our basic steps to get started. Select a Theme. A theme is a package of website pages that fall within a certain layout and design. Regardless of which Platform you go with, you will be presented with many different themes to select from for your website. Certain themes will cater more to the less is more theory for the landing page and others will be information-heavy. Some themes are best suited for blogs and others for service businesses. And still others are best for stores.
Some things to think about before selecting a theme for your website. Which websites do YOU like best? What are the common design and functionality features? What websites within your industry are most successful online? Think about what you want from an aesthetic as well as functional aspect.
Finally, you can change your theme down the road, but it isn’t always easy or fun to do. It can be time-consuming and risky. It can also confuse your customers. So try to find a theme that really fits with your needs and your user needs from the start.
Plugins to Consider when Starting Your Own Website
Ok, so you have a website! Woo Hoo! Congrats! Now, it’s time to add Plugins, which may be a new concept if your are just starting your own website. Plugins are applications that can be installed to the backend of your website to improve the functionality. Some are strictly backend and help the website run smoothly. There are others that are user-facing and help the user to navigate or use your website. There are many, many plug-ins available, and they can start to seem like the next new shiny object that you need. HOwever, the key is to distill them down to the minimum that you need. Too many installed can actually do more harm as they can slow down site speed. Each one also adds opportunity for either the plug-in to malfunction or cause a negative interaction with another plug-in.
Here is a sampling of recommended Plug-ins, however this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many more options that you can explore!
Security & Website Health Plugins
These are just some of the plugins that help maintain security and check the health of your website.
Jetpack by WordPress.com – Security, performance, and site management
Vaultpress – Protect your content, themes, plugins, and settings with real time backup and automated security scanning from VaultPress.
Akismet – Anti-Spam for blogs protects against spamming comments
WP Broken Link Status Checker – Check and manage HTTP response codes of all your content site links and images.
Yoast SEO – The first true all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress, including on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.
Health Check & Troubleshooting – Checks the health of your WordPress install.
Website Functionality Plugins
These are plugins that offer greater or more efficient function of your website. These are both for developer and user functionality.
Insert Headers & Footers – Allows you to insert code or text in the header or footer of your WordPress blog
Duplicate Posts – Clone posts and pages.
Elementor – The most advanced frontend drag & drop page builder. Create high-end, pixel perfect websites at record speeds. Any theme, any page, any design.
MonsterInsights, Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. See how visitors find and use your website, so you can keep them coming back.
Boxilla – Call-To-Action Boxes that display after visitors scroll down far enough.
Hubspot -Easily create user-friendly, mobile-optimized pop-up forms. No developer required, works on any website, and it’s free.
Popup Maker -Create Effective Popups For WordPress. Boost Conversions. Get Results – Easily.
Ninja Forms – web form builder with unparalleled ease of use and features.
Social Media Plugins
There are plugins that help improve interaction with social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Facebook Pixel – analytics tool that helps you measure the effectiveness of your advertising. You can use the Facebook pixel to understand the actions people are taking on your website and reach audiences you care about.
Pin It Button On Image Hover And Post – pins your blog posts, pages and images into your Pinterest account boards.
Social Warfare – A plugin to maximize social shares and drive more traffic using the fastest and most intelligent share buttons on the market, calls to action via in-post click-to-tweets, popular posts widgets based on share popularity, link-shortening, Google Analytics and much, much more!
Other Tools to Consider for Starting Your Own Website
Once your site is up and running, there are many other tools that can help you to manage your business, create engaging content, and promote and advertise. Manage online sales by setting up payment gateways. Find out what people are searching for or wanting to buy at Google Trends. Find out what keywords you can rank for with Spyfu.com. Use engaging imagery on your website with free images at Unsplash.com. Create Infographics, printables, ads, or other images at Canva.com.
Use a Virtual Office Address for Website Privacy and Credibility!
Once you have a website up, you will need to add your business address. Your business address may be written in big and bold copy on the front page to drive consumers to your store front. Or it might be tucked away at the footer or in a contact page. If you do not have a storefront or are building your business from home, then a Virtual Office Address is a great solution for you.
A Virtual Office Address is a professional physical business address. This address can be used to start your business, receive your mail, and publish on any and all business communication, including your website. This means you do not need to use your home address and risk your personal privacy. And it shows your customers credibility and legitimacy.
In addition to a physical office address, a virtual office can provide you with other key features, services, and benefits. Check out the article Virtual Offices for Online Businesses.
At Starthub, we offer comprehensive virtual office solutions. We’ll even give you your first month FREE. Just click here to get started. You’ll receive a prestigious mailing address in downtown Miami, dedicated mail handling services from a talented team, and an innovative digital platform to receive and direct your mail. Plus, 24/7 customer support. For more information on why Starthub is the best choice for your virtual mailbox, click here.