Starting a new website can be a daunting task. Here is some steps for you to follow.
Before you start, it is a good idea to take some time to think about what it is that you want to achieve with your new website. Are you trying to increase the number of leads you receive, are you in need of a place to send your customers for information and support, are you just looking for some more brand exposure; whatever your main goal is you want to run all your decisions past it, is this going to help me achieve my goal. that will help prevent you from wasting time on things that don’t help you and keep you focused.
Scope out Competitors
One way you can get a better idea of your options is to look at some of your competitors websites and see what they are doing. Although you don’t want to directly copy them, it is useful to see what kind of information they have, the general style they are using, and any other inspiration that you can get. When you are just getting starting, you rarely need to create something totally new. Websites in the same industry will often have the same general look and feel, because that is what people are used to and that is what works.
Collect Existing Marketing Material
If you are a newer business you may not have a lot of existing marketing material. But if you have business cards, brochures, or even just pictures of your business or services; it is a good idea to have those available. As you start to create a brand you want your different materials to match r at least have a similar tone. Also, having your photos and any other content ready makes in much easier to layout your website.
Write Your Content
Think about what you want to say about your company and then write it out. Sections about your business, sections about your services. Collect testimonials from previous customers.
Domain Name and Hosting
If you don’t already have a domain name you need to register a domain name, essentially an address for your website. A good place to register your domain name is Hover.com. Now you also need to rent the space where your website will be living, called hosting. For starting out we would recommend Siteground.com or if you are on a really tight budget namecheap.com. Once your website start to get more traffic it is a good idea to switch to managed hosting like kinsta.com.
Choose a CMS
Now that you have your content ready, it needs to find a home. Typically you are going to want a Content Management System to store your website. Using a content management system allows you to easily add and edit information and even features to your website without knowing a lot of code. The most popular CMS and the one we recommend is WordPress.org.
Download the WordPress files and upload them to your hosting account. Follow the installation instructions. You will need to set the name of the website, create the first username and password, and add an email address.
Choose a Theme
Once the CMS is setup, we will need to add a theme. A theme is a skin for the CMS. Like the paint job of a car, it changes the look of the website. When it comes to themes, we have two options that we recommend. If you want a quick, efficient way to get start we recommend the Genesis Theme Framework combined with a child theme. If you want to be able to customize every option without code, we recommend a page builder like Beaver Builder combined with the starter theme like Astra. Follow the setup instructions for your theme.
Next you will need to add some plugins to extend the features of your website. While you don’t want to add to many plugins, because it will slow down your website, a few carefully chosen plugins can be a huge asset. A few plugins we use for almost every website are: WPForms for contact forms and The SEO Framework for search engine optimization.
Next, we want to add all the content we gathered previously. Add the content to the website and adjust the theme to fit the content. Fill in any gaps you find. Move things around until you are a mostly happy with the results. Don’t expect it to be perfect in the first round. And because you have a CMS, your website is dynamic, you can continue to add and edit content as you want.
Take some time to test your website on different devices and browsers to make sure there is no big problems. Test it to see how quickly it is loading.
Now it is time to launch. If you haven’t already, point your domain name to your hosting. And promote your website to the world. On social media, over email, and word of mouth.
On an ongoing basis it is good to add and edit content. Make things better.
Over time you will want to get into things like Search Engine Optimization, Email Marketing, or Adverting, to increase the leads to your website.
While the recommendations we make may not be the cheapest options, they are usually the best value. Often the cheapest options have hidden costs that only show up down the road, or they over promise and under deliver.