For many people the thought of building a website is terrifying. They hear words like Java Script and HTML and want to run screaming. At one point you needed a college degree to build a fully functional website. Today, that's just not the case! I have personally build a number of websites, none of which required a lot of headaches. In today's world the idea of creating a website shouldn't be scary at all.
Websites like FreeWebs and Yola all by walk you through the process. My personal favorite is Yola, but I have used others as well. It really is very simple to do. Once you sign up for an account you will pick a style. There are a number of free options and some more complicated ones that you have the option to pay for. Go through them and find one that fits your needs. If your website is more about jewelry than it is trees, don't pick one that is covered in forests... It's really that simple.
The next "challenge" is actually creating content, or the stuff on the page. Again, this part will vary a bit depending on what your business is... But generally you will need the following pages in a good website:
- Welcome/Home Page - This page will be the first thing that visitors see when they type in your web address. It should be colorful and eye catching as well as have a simple and informative message that welcomes new and old visitors.
- Business Overview - This can be combined with the Home Page, but that can get to be a bit overwhelming. So I generally recommend a second page for this. You'll want to write a few informative paragraphs to introduce your business or company. Make sure to include your mission statement (if you have one) as well as a little about how you got started. The more people know the better and safer they will feel using your business over another.
- Product or Service Overview - This page is exactly what it sounds like. You will want to review your products or services in detail. If you make jewelry, talk about how it's made and what you use, if you clean houses make sure to cover how you got started, what area you cover and what you can do for a person's home. Of course these are examples, so, make sure that you tailor your page to your business.
- Business/Employment Opportunity - If you are someone that has started a business from scratch and isn't looking for employees, skip this one. But if you have a franchise style business, will be needing employees or are looking to expand through others this is a must have page. Explain what you are looking for in potential employees or business partners and how they may contact you if interested. What are the benefits of working with you? And why should they choose you over a competitor?? These are very important things to include!
- Contact Us - No matter if you have a multi million dollar corporation or a small home based business visitors to your site are going to want some way to contact someone be they have questions. On this page you'll want to thank them for visiting and invite them to contact you with questions or comments. List whatever contact information you are comfortable giving out. This should include at least a business email and or business phone number. You could also list the business address if you have a store front.
Generally I also advise against listing any prices on your site, unless they will be ordering directly from it. The reason for this is simple. If your cost goes up and your prices change you don't want to be loosing money because you listed a price six months ago... You'll want to show some examples of your work if you are selling things or describe the services you provide. But I generally suggest a "call for pricing" notice. Offer a "free consult" or "free estimate" which will leave them the option of calling, listening to your prices and still saying no without feeling like they are cheating you. If people feel like they are roped in to buying something just by calling with questions, they won't call.
Once your website is set up and ready to go you will have just a few things to do before you are ready to list it on your business card. FreeWebs, Yola and most other website creator sites will give you the option of a free web address. This will look like www.YOURSITENAME.yola.com, it's long and hard to both remember and refer to... They will also give you the option of buying a "domain name" through them. However, I do not generally suggest doing this. Instead you'll want to go through a site like GoDaddy to purchase your domain name. Again, it's a very simple process.
You'll want to visit www.GoDaddy.com and sign up for an account. There will be a box where you can search for a domain. This is where you will type in what you want your site name to be. However, there is a chance that someone else has already taken it, and you will have to try again. You will also have the option of having a .com, .org, .biz, .info and more. Choose the one that best fits your business. Although .info tends to be the cheapest, .com tend to be the easiest to remember.
Your cost for a domain name will vary from as little as must $1-$2 to as high as a few hundred depending on what you want. Obviously I suggest finding one that's not already owned this way you can get a .com for about $10. This will give you the highest amount of views.
So, once you have built your site and purchased a domain name you will need to connect the two. If you are using Yola this is very simple. You will simply click on the Publish My Site button in the top right hand corner of the site builder. It will give you 3 options, the last of which is I already own my domain name - choose that. Then it will ask you to "Please make sure your domain name is pointing at Yola" and you can click "How do I do this" that will walk you through it. It's very simple to do.
Once you have built your site, chosen and bought a domain name, linked the two and published the site it will take about an hour for everything to show up... You will have the power to update and add to your site at any point, so don't worry that it may not be perfect. Just remember that after you add content or change anything in the future that you remember to click the update button (which is where the publish button was) so that visitors see the changes.
And you're done. Feel free to use your new business website on business cards, signs, ads and more... You will be surprised to see the growth!