It’s no secret that more than three billion people across the world have access to the internet. From mobile devices to desktops, it seems like everyone these days is plugged in — and if your business isn’t claiming space on the web, then you’re missing out on oodles of potential customers. No matter your niche or where you’re located, it’s essential to start a website for your business.
With a website, you can sell products or services online, establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, generate new leads for your business, reach and connect with customers, and give your brand the visibility it deserves.
Are you on board yet? Good, because having a website is important, but building one that suits your needs and is functional for potential visitors is the end goal.
Start a website in 5 steps
For the remainder of this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know to build a highly effective website — from getting started by establishing achievable goals, to creating a content-rich website that both visitors and search engines will love. We’ll take a look at what you need to know to sell online. We’ll introduce tools that will help you achieve your website goals. And we’ll divvy out tips and best practices to make your website work at maximum capacity. domain
1. Plan your website.
2. Design your site — DIY or have someone do it for you?
3. Create amazing content.
4. Sell on your website.
5. Get found with SEO.
Now that you want to start a website, we want to help you succeed. Ready? Let’s go.
1. Plan your website
Before you can dive into the nitty-gritty of website creation, you need to map out a plan for success. Even if you already have an established brick-and-mortar store, taking that identity to the web requires a bit of foresight.
Establish concrete goals
If you’re looking to break into the online scene, you’ll first need to define your purpose. It’s not enough to say, “I want to sell online,” or “I want a website.” Rather, ask yourself, “What do I want my website to accomplish for my business?” Perhaps it’s revenue or monthly visitors. Regardless of the metric you choose, make sure it aligns with your overall brand.
When it comes to establishing goals, don’t be afraid to start small and work up to the big stuff.
Crafting measurable, attainable goals gives you a way to track your company’s success. Instead of saying, “I want a million followers on Twitter by the end of my first year,” break it down into quarters (and maybe start with a smaller number).
Not sure where to start? Here are some things to consider:
- Keep your goals realistic.
- Make sure they’re well-defined.
- Align them with your business’s mission.
- Ensure they’re measurable.
- Set a time limit for each goal.
The purpose here isn’t to confine or stifle you — there’s merit in dreaming big. But if you set lofty goals before you have the platform to achieve them, you run the risk of low morale, which only hinders your output. And remember, you’re building this site to put your business in front billions of online users. Clearly defining your goals ahead of time makes it easier to connect with your target audience.
Define your audience
As appealing as it sounds to cater to the three billion users online, it’s not reasonable. Those three billion users are unique individuals with tastes that vary wildly, so you’re better off targeting people who closely align with your business’s niche in the marketplace. (If you’re not sure what your niche is yet, then this article will help you find and identify your niche.) It’s important to get granular with your online presence so you can better connect with potential consumers.
Casting a broad net makes it hard to create a recognizable identity — let alone one that’s relatable to your audience.
What kind of site are you building? Do you want to be humorous or serious? Are you selling mint-condition bobbleheads or offering legal advice? Knowing who your audience is, and appropriately tailoring your language to their needs, means you’ll have a better chance of encouraging them to act — and by that we mean buying, subscribing, sharing or whatever your desired end result might be.
Pique your audience’s interest
Let’s say you want to start a website to sell custom printed T-shirts with wacky images and humorous catchphrases. How are you going to appeal to customers — both existing and new — when it comes to your products? You probably wouldn’t lean on dry text when trying to describe your fun logos. Let’s take a look at two options and see which one you’d prefer:
Option 1: Try our cotton-blend men’s T-shirt. Sixteen different colours available in six sizes, ranging from XS to XXL. Features a cute sneezing panda on the front.
Option 2: Woven with the craftiness of Rumpelstiltskin himself, these comfortable T-shirts will softly caress your skin for a guaranteed 24 hours. The sneezing panda will definitely make you an internet sensation — for a limited time.
Which do you think your audience would prefer? Why are they visiting your site? But most importantly, which option will encourage your consumers to act? It’s not the same for every business, so don’t be afraid to test out different methods until you land on the right one.
Define your audience
Complete the following fields to get a better picture of who your target audience is:
- Age and gender: (eg Women over the age of 20)
- Interests and hobbies: (eg Skateboarders)
- General location: (eg London and the southeast )
- Personality and attitude: (eg Humorous)
- Occupation and income: (eg Student, less than £20,000 a year)
This combination of demographic and psychographic information will help you narrow down your audience, even giving you the opportunity to tailor content and potential products to make acting — buying, sharing, subscribing — easier for consumers.
Pro tip: Get more tips for creating an ideal client profile and putting it to work.
Pick a domain name
Picking a domain name isn’t to be taken lightly. Whether you’re starting a brand-new business or already have an established company, one thing stands true for both — your domain name should represent your brand. And since there are more than one billion websites currently on the internet, that means finding the perfect domain name might be a tad difficult.
Don’t limit yourself by looking only for domains ending in .com. There are hundreds of new geo- and industry-specific domain extensions that can help you score a domain name that perfectly represents who you are, what you do, and where you do it.
If you’re starting an eCommerce site, consider a domain name ending in .shop or .store. Lawyer? Check out .legal and .lawyer domains. In the pet services industry? Snag a domain name ending in .pet. Plumber? There’s a .plumbing domain name that’s just right for you. The sky’s the limit with the availability of these new generic top-level domain extensions (gTLDs).
Above all, an effective domain name should do the following things for your business (regardless of the extension you choose):
- Safeguard your brand.
- Accurately represent who you are and what you do.
- Grab the attention of your visitors.
Simple, right? Let’s take a look at some helpful tips for choosing the perfect domain name.
10 tips for choosing the perfect domain
- Make it easy to type.You don’t want your visitors ending up somewhere else because you added a silent “T” to your name.
- Keep it short. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is better left to Mary Poppins.
- Use keywords.If you can, incorporate the product or service you offer.
- Target your area.Consider using your geo-location to your advantage.
- Avoid numbers and hyphens.These keys aren’t typed as frequently as the alphabet — don’t make people work to find you.
- Be memorable.Standing out from the crowd is good thing.
- Research it.Don’t grab the first name you think sounds catchy — test among your friends and family first.
- Use an appropriate domain extension.Don’t get stuck in the .com mindset.
- Protect and build your brand.Consider registering multiple variations to safeguard your brand.
- Act fast.New domains are registered every day — don’t wait too long, or yours might get snatched.
You can go more in depth on these steps, in this guide to picking your perfect domain name.
You can also read this guide for tips on naming your business.