Whether you are a local tradesman or an International organisation, it has never been more important in business to have an online website.
However, creating a company website can be a daunting prospect, especially if you are not the most technically minded person.
That fear could perhaps have been justified a few years ago when the Internet was still in its relative infancy. However, times have changed and its never been easier to start creating a company website – even if you are not sure where to start.
Yes, if you prefer you can pay a professional web designer a few thousand pounds to set you a website up. However, this is not a necessary cost because everything you need to know can be learned within a matter of just an hour or two.
Step 1: Domain Names & Hosting Explained
When creating a company website you will need two things to get started – a domain name and some website hosting.
A domain name is the address people will type in to their browser to find you for example www.Business4Beginners.co.uk.
This is very much like the address of your home, it is unique to you and allows anyone – even complete strangers – to find you (Google and other search engines are essential just massive ‘website’ versions of the BT phone book!).
The other thing you will need is website hosting. This essentially is the space where all of the content and files you wish to place on your website are kept. This makes the webspace very much like an online version of the hard drive on your computer. Or if you prefer to keep the housing analogy going then it is like the house you live – a place to store all of your belongings.
All websites need both a domain and the hosting space – neither work without the other. Some company formation agents actually include domains and/or hosting as part of their limited company formation packages.
Step 2: Designing Your Website & Publishing Content
Once you have set up your domain name and hosting you can begin designing the look and feel of the website and adding the content.
Nowadays you don’t need to be a technical whizz to create fantastic looking websites.
There are a number of website builders on the market that make it really easy to publish a business website quickly and easily.
These website builders usually have a ‘drag and drop’ interface allowing you to quickly change images and colours and put things exactly where you want them. Once you have the design of the website something like how you want it, you can begin adding content.
The exact content you add will depend on the kind of business you are running and the role you want your website to play. If you are a tradesman hoping to use your website to generate new business then you will obviously need to make your contact details clearly visible. As well as publishing your phone number, address, and email address you may also want to add a ‘Contact’ form so visitors can easily get in touch with you directly through the website.
You may also want to showcase some of your work and publish testimonials from past customers. The key thing is to make it as engaging as possible so that people can get all of the information they need and enjoy doing so.
If you are looking to setup something more advanced such as an e-commerce store then there are a number of tools available to you too although naturally you will want to publish details of the products you are selling rather than just telling people about yourself.
Step 3: Attracting Visitors
One common mistake people make is to think that once a website has been built and set ‘Live’ then people will soon start visiting it without the need for much effort. This could not be further from the truth.
The hardest part of creating a company website is not the actual building of it, it is attracting people to it.
In 2012 it was said that there were over 634 million websites online – the chances are that figure could now be approaching (or even exceeding) 1 billion. When you put it like that, its easy to see why people may not find your website.
Just like any other part of a business, you need to put some effort in to get noticed. You may be able to start simply by telling your customers about your website and printing it on your business cards but ideally you want to reach new customers and not simply re-advertise to existing ones.
This is where marketing comes in to play. Some of the simplest forms of online marketing include paid advertising (try Google Adwords to start), posting on related forums and discussion boards, social media (think Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc), and SEO (search engine optimisation).
There are far too many options to discuss here and each option alone could easily take up an entire website so you would be recommended to start by searching for information on the marketing techniques that most appeal to you and begin developing your own strategy.
Once you have finished creating a company website you will hopefully be already generating an income for your business and so your attention will need to turn to the financial side of your company and in particular your business bank account.