Does creating a website feel like a daunting task? Are you putting off building a website for your business, non-profit, or portfolio because it just seems like too much work? If learning to code, sourcing photographs, and figuring out how to create forms sounds overwhelming, I’ve got great news.
You don’t need to know how to do any of that to build a basic website.
The days when you needed an expensive designer or web developer to build a simple website are long gone. Today, all you need is an afternoon and (depending on the tools you use) between $20 and $100.
And here is the thing: If you want to build and grow a successful business, a website is a must.
97% of people search the internet when they are looking for a local business.
So in this post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to do to set up a basic website:
Let’s get started.
Before diving into actually creating your website, you need to take the time to define what your website’s purpose will be.
Understanding your website’s function will be important as you consider which tools to use.
Before getting started, answer these questions about your website:
Setting up a website requires three main components: a host (which stores your website files and delivers them when users request them), a domain name (which serves as the online location of a site), and a site builder (which is the tool used to create pages, add copy, upload images, and so forth).
These three features are often offered within all-in-one packages from web hosts such as GoDaddy, BlueHost, and SiteGround. There are dozens of web hosts, and each offers a variety of packages, which can make choosing a host complicated.
Here is how to choose the right web host for your website:
Finally, read reviews of each hosting platform before you make a purchase. While moving hosts isn’t impossible, it can be complicated. Reading reviews can help you avoid the hassle. Who Is Hosting This and Hosting Facts both publish in-depth reviews and compare and contrast the most popular hosting options.
In the past, building a website was a complex process that could take weeks. Today, with the help of templates and drag-and-drop site builders, you can build a functional site in just a few minutes.
Your first step should be to see what your host offers. Many hosting providers include a proprietary site builder or access to a third-party builder with your hosting plan.
Siteground, for example, offers free use of Weebly or WordPress with every hosting plan.
Here is a quick look at the most popular site builders on the market.
As the most popular content management system on the internet, you have likely heard of WordPress.
There are two options: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is a paid service that provides hosting and helps keep your site secure. WordPress.org refers to the free files you can download to your hosting provider.
WordPress can be as complex or simple as you like, and there are a variety of themes to choose from. If you plan to expand your site, WordPress is an excellent option.
Squarespace is a template-based site building tool and an all-in-one platform. They offer hosting, domains, a site builder, and even ecommerce features.
Squarespace sites are quite flexible, but options are slightly limited compared to WordPress.
Template selections include sites for restaurants, portfolios, events, weddings, bands, and online stores.
If you don’t want to mess with building your Squarespace site yourself, you can hire a Squarespace designer who can build the site for you.
Weebly is a super easy to use, template-based site builder with drag and drop features.
Adding features and even a store is super simple; however, Weebly does limit your ability to customize. For a simple site, though, limited customization may be fine.
Weebly also offers domain names, if you haven’t already purchased one.
Weebly has been growing in popularity, particularly for small businesses that do not need a site with complex functionality. It is an affordable option, but businesses looking to expand will quickly outgrow Weebly.
Once you have your host and your site builder, it is time to get to work writing and creating the pages of your site. While the number of pages will vary drastically based on your business, there are a few pages that every website should have.
Keep in mind, users should not have to dig to find information. If a page is important, be sure to list it in the main navigation bar (website header examples here) or the footer.
Here are a few main website pages every site should include:
Make sure to include a call to action, or CTA, on every page. For example, at the bottom of every LOCALiQ page, there’s a form for getting started:
Depending on your business model, you might use the CTA to direct site visitors to your email list, contact page, or your product page.
Once your website is online, how will users find it?
Most users locate the information they need by typing (or speaking) a search into Google. For example, a family looking for a children’s clothing store might type in “kids clothing near me.”
Google uses more than 200 ranking factors to determine what site to show, and optimizing your site will give it a better chance of ranking well for your industry and location. The tools you use to optimize your site will depend on both the site builder and the host you use. Here are a few to consider.
And this guide to SEO basics provides more information on how to optimize your site to rank higher on Google.
If you plan to sell products online or allow for online ordering, then your site will need a way to accept payments.
Popular payment options include PayPal, Stripe, and Square, though there are plenty of other payment processor options. The host you choose may provide an ecommerce option, as well.
Here is a quick rundown of three of the most popular payment processor options:
When selecting a payment processor, consider how your target audience prefers to pay and also how much each processor charges.
If you own a small business, you have likely heard how important having at least a simple, basic website can be, but actually creating a website can feel overwhelming. With the wide range of tools and solutions on the market today, getting your business online no longer requires knowing how to code or spending thousands of dollars.
Using the tools and walkthrough above, your business can be ready to connect with the 4.33 billion internet users in just an afternoon.
Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, long-form content creators for SaaS companies. Their work has been featured in The New York Times, Business Insider, TheNextWeb, Shopify, Moz, Unbounce, HubSpot, Search Engine Journal, and more.
See other posts by Brad Smith
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