A professional website helps your customers learn more about your business and buy your services or products. While creating a website can seem like an overwhelming and expensive project, there are a variety of options available for your design and budget.
Web Design Company or Do-It-Yourself
Decide if you will work with a web design firm or design the website yourself. Compare companies to see how they meet your programming, budget and design needs. If you will create the site on your own, find WYSIWIG (What You See Is What You Get) software or a website that guides you through the design process. A web design company will cost more, but your site will be created faster. You will spend more time than money if you create the website yourself.
Domain Name and Hosting
Choose a domain name. Your customers will find your business online using this information (also known as a URL or web address). Choose a professional-sounding name that relates to your business. Most companies simply add “.com” to their business, product or service name for their website address.
Register your website address and choose a hosting company. If you work with them, a design firm will usually register your domain name and provide hosting services. On your own, you can register your name and host your website with one company or shop around to find the best deals on each service separately. Avoid free hosting sites, since they can make your site look unprofessional by placing advertising on it.
Examine your website purpose. You should think about why you are creating a website and what you want your customers to do there. Common goals include improving your company image, selling products or services, gaining sales leads and creating an online community.
Create a content outline. Using your goals as a guide, list what types of pages you will have on your website. This summary should describe special pages such as forms, forums and blogs.
Design a site structure map. Your homepage should be at the top. Write out your main site pages under the homepage. Then, organize subpages (which contain related content) under these main headings. This map will help you remember to create all the pages you need for your website.
Design your website. Your site should reflect the personality of your business, and appeal to your customers’ sensibilities. Take a look at your competitors’ websites to get some design ideas. A design firm will ask several questions to determine the look of your site, and present a variety of designs for your consideration. Designing the site yourself, you can choose a template or create a site using your design software or websites.
Test your website before making it live (available online). Have a few friends or business associates review your site to look for typos, missing information, ease of navigation and appearance. Make sure all links work and all content loads properly. An error-free website appears more professional because it shows your attention to detail.
Your Live Site
Upload your site to your hosting service. Many hosting companies have online uploading interfaces. However, some sites may need you to upload via an FTP application. Check your host’s website for instructions.