Nowadays, one of the essential steps in the process of setting up a small business is that of creating a website for it. We are living in an era where every ‘serious’ business is expected and supposed to have some sort of a website. Thus, the task of setting up a website for the new small business is just as essential as other tasks like, say, getting premises, furniture and licenses for the business. Yet on the other hand, the reality is in that the typical small business is unlikely to have lots of funds for web development. So the challenge is in how to come up with a decent website for your small business using the limited available funds.
Below are the steps you need to follow while creating a website for a new small business.
Identify the role that is to be served by the website
Are you planning to be selling your products or services directly through the website? Or are you just looking for a simple ‘brochure’ website to tell the world ‘out there’ about your business and the products or services it sells? The answer you give to this question will determine the complexity of the website development project. If what you want is just a simple brochure website to tell the world about your business and the products or services it sells, then getting it up and running will be a fairly simple affair. On the other hand, if you want an e-commerce website through which you would be directly selling products or services, its development would be a much more complex project. There are other important considerations, like the one on whether you want a website to impress potential clients, whether you want a website to keep up with your competitors… and so on. The most important thing is for you start out with a clear understanding of what exactly you want to achieve through the website. That would in turn determine what type of website would be ideal for your small business and what amount of work would go into the development of that website.
Register a domain for the website
The domain name is simply the address that people would be entering into their browsers’ address bars, in order to access your business’ website. In other words, it is the web address through which your business’ website would be reachable on the Internet. All you need to do is identify a domain name registrar and pay a small fee to the said domain name registrar in order to register the domain name for your business’ website. If you have retained the services of a professional web developer, he can help you with the intricacies of domain name registration. But in actual fact, the process of registering a domain name is not too hard, and it is something you can do by yourself within minutes if you have opted to create the website on DIY basis.
Subscribe for a web-hosting package
The next step after registering a domain name is to subscribe for a web hosting package. In some cases, you find that the companies that offer domain registration services also tend to offer web hosting services on the side. So you can opt to have your small business’ website hosted by the very same company you registered the domain name at. But then again, there is really no obligation for you to host your website with the company that offered you domain registration services. It is possible for you to register your domain with company X and have it hosted on company Y’s servers. Ultimately, the most important thing is for you to ensure that the web hosting company you opt to use for your small business’ website is one that offers robust services.
Develop the website’s front-end and back-end
One of the ways in which you can develop a professional-looking website for your business without spending too much money is through a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress. But you need to know how to play around with the CMS, and how to use things like plug-ins and themes in order to get a decent website. If the task appears to be too complex or the learning curve is too steep for you, you can hire a professional web developer to help you. So you just give the web developer a sketch of what you want your business website to look like, and he takes everything over from there to deliver the desired result.There are freelance web developers who can help you with the front-end and back-end development of your business’ website at unbelievably low costs. Ultimately, whereas you can create a simple brochure website for your business on a DIY basis, when it comes to an e-commerce website, you would probably need to get help from a professional.
Test the website
Once you have developed your business’ website’s front-end and back-end, the next step is to test it. You need to be thorough when it comes to testing the website. You first of all need to ensure that there are no glitches in the website. You then need to ensure that the website works well on all platforms and that it looks good on all screen sizes. You also need to ensure that there are no security vulnerabilities in the website. The latter bit (about security) is particularly important if you opted for an e-commerce website — because you can almost be certain that it will attract hackers’ attention at some point once it goes live. One of the worst blunders you can make is to allow a business website go ‘live’ without having tested it thoroughly first.
Deploy the website
Deploying the website entails making it go ‘live’. After developing the website’s front-end and back-end, and after testing it thoroughly, the next step is to let it go live – so that it can be accessed by people who want to know more about your business or people who want to transact with the business. Once the website is ‘live’/accessible on the Internet, it is a good idea to make the targeted people know about it. To this end you can (among other things) put the website’s address in your business cards, and perhaps include it in your business’ signage… The idea is simply to make people aware of the fact that your business has a website and to make them consider visiting it.
Optimize the website for the search engines
Your business’ website can bring you a lot of customers once it goes live. But for that to happen you need to optimize it for the search engines, so that when people conduct searches related to your line of business, your website’s link appears prominently among the search results. Of course search engine optimization takes quite a bit of time to bear results, and it is not guaranteed to work. If you want immediate and assured results, you can use an online advertising program like Google Adwords. It is not as costly as you may think initially. It is possible to set up an Adwords campaign for as little as $100 or even $50. You of course need to know how to make such campaigns work for your business, but there are lots of free resources you can use online for that purpose.