Are you an aspiring entrepreneur with a good business idea and want to test it online? Or you are a busy entrepreneur who wants to get your business online? No matter what you want to do you will need to build your first website for that purpose.
Unfortunately, if you have never build a website the idea of creating your own website may overwhelm you. This is especially true if you want to get your site up on the web but you find it hard to choose good advice to follow. You might find the tutorials are made for students or beginners who seem to have lots of time to spend for creating a website.
This tutorial is different. It is created by a business person for business conscious people who want quick and easy to follow steps for building a business website. I’m about to give you very detail advice for setting up a business website you’ll be proud of, even if you have never built one on your own.
Things to Consider Before You Build Your First Website
A properly designed and built business website can help you reach your business goals. For that reason, before you build your first website make sure you know very clearly what you want to do with your website.
Do you want to sell your products? Do you want to interact with your target audiences? Do you want to get new potential customers? You just want to let the world know that you’re open for business? Or you want a combination of those goals?
Different purpose requires different website functionality. You will need e-commerce facilities for selling products online. A blog platform and/or forum are functions that you want to have to interact with your visitors. All you need to do is have a look at your business plus industry and then decide on your goals.
Pick the Right Small Business Website Builder
There are many website builder options for you to build your first website. You can find online website builders that offer a package of proprietary software and a hosting service like the ones reviewed here. Alternatively, you can go with open source software, such as WordPress or Joomla, installed in a web host of your choice.
My recommended platform is the self-hosted WordPress. Here are good reasons you want to depend on the WordPress platform for building your first website:
- Reliable website builder – Formerly known as blogging software today WordPress has become a versatile content management system. The Open Source software lets you create a tiny, several-page site to a sizable, fully functioning e-commerce website, which you can do it on your own or with the help of a pro.
- Easy to use – Although you will need some time to familiarize yourself, the platform is easy to use. Just get a premium WordPress template plus follow a tutorial for customizing a theme and you can design a great website within hours, even if you know nothing about HTML and CSS coding.
- Great functionality – You can easily install several add-ons or plugins. There are plugins that allow you to optimize your website content for search engines and share your content on social media sites. Adding fun plugins like polls and ratings can also help you interact with your readers.
- Flexible content management system – This is what I like most about WordPress. It’s more than just a website maker. Using a web analytics like Google Analytics I can find out how visitors use my content so I can recreate it to reach a specific page objective and overall site goals.
Those are just a few benefits you can get when designing, building and running your business website with WordPress. All you need to do now is build your first website. Make sure you move fast and easily forgive yourself when making mistakes along the way to build your first website. Let’s start…
Get a Great Domain Name
Your domain name is your brand. Picking a name that relates to your company or product, especially one that shows your main benefit and value proposition, is the right move. For example, you’re in the auto detailing industry and you want to offer a “spotless car” to your customers, simply get a domain name that has the words or its variations.
Short and memorable name is always good. For that reason, try to brainstorm and list a number of variations for your domain name before you pick the best one.
Finally, check whether the .com option for your wanted domain name is available at Namecheap.com. Before you build your first website, make sure you register the available domain name that you like at the registrar.
Find a Small Business Website Hosting Service
A web hosting service lets you to build your first website on their computer server. The facilities offered include virtual space, tools as well as support to create web pages and email accounts.
A reliable web host that I use and recommend is Hostgator.
There are many plans for you to choose from but you can click on View Web Hosting Plans and pick a Baby Plan to start with. The Baby Plan is what you need to host unlimited domain names on your account. This option will work if you want to buy more domain names for the same project or attractive ones for a completely new project.
Host Your Domain Name with Hostgator
Once Hostgator sends your login info, log in to the Control Panel. Find out your account information to the left navigation to view you name servers, which look like ns6422.hostgator.com and ns6423.hostgator.com.
To host your domain name with Hostgator you will need to point it from Namecheap to Hostgator. For this purpose, make sure you have registered your domain name at Namecheap and have received your login info. Here’s how to do it:
1. Sign in to your Namecheap account.
2. Click on Manage Domains (point your mouse to your account and you’ll view it from the dropdown navigation).
3. Click on a domain you want to change the name servers for.
4. Click Domain Name Server Setup.
5. Select Specify Custom DNS Servers (Your own DNS Servers) and enter the two Hostgator’s name servers on the provided spaces.
6. Click on Save Changes button.
It will take some time for your domain to start resolving the name servers and showing up on Hostgator.
Install WordPress Website Building Software
Login to your control panel and find out the WordPress hosting to the left and press the Install Now button. You’ll be directed to QuickInstall software where you need to click Continue to install WordPress on your domain. Fill in the blank spaces and then click on Install Now button.
If you still don’t see your domain on the QuickInstall page just wait till it shows up there.
Once installed check your email to get your login info. Click the link or type in your browser this url yourdomain.com/wp-admin/ (change yourdomain.com to your real domain name) to login to your WordPress Dashboard.
The first thing to do on your WordPress dashboard is to point your mouse to Settings on the left navigation and click Reading Settings. On the Search Engine Visibility check Discourage search engines from indexing this site instruction and click Save Changes button. This is to make sure search engines won’t index your site while you have no valuable content.
Install Your Website Template or Theme
Still on the WordPress back-end, point your mouse to Appearance and click on Themes. You will see default templates provided by WordPress.
A theme is a basic site design for your online presentation. There are two options for you to build your first website: free theme and premium theme. You can start with a default, free theme and install a premium theme later, or directly go with a premium theme.
However, I would recommend you build your first website with Fastline Theme.
Fastline theme is a package of Page Builder plugin and fully responsive Automator theme that allows you to get your website up and running fast and easy. You can instantly build visually stunning pages on your WordPress’ editor with an intuitive drag and drop system. Below you can compare my conventional WordPress page editor and the one with the Page Builder installed.
Build your first website with Fastline Theme!
Add Necessary Plugins for Your Small Business Website
WordPress allows you to customize your site’s functionality with little software add-ons popularly known as plugins. Great plugins help you build your first website that carry out many critical tasks. But you want to carefully choose your plugins. Make sure you weigh pros and cons of a plugin and only install ones that you really needs. Here is a list of plugins that I use:
Akismet – Already comes installed on WordPress for protecting comment and trackback spam.
Jetpack by WordPress.com – Connect your blog to your WordPress.com account so you can use the powerful features available to WordPress.com users. (You will need to create a WordPress.com account first.)
WordPress SEO – All-in-one SEO solution that includes on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps and much more.
W3 Total Cache – Improves the speed and user experience of your site.
Disqus – A comment platform that connects a community of people with accounts.
Comment Love – Add a link to the blog of a commenter when they comment.
Microkid’s Related Posts –Display a set of manually selected related items with your posts.
To install those plugins just point your mouse to plugins navigation and click on the Add New link. Simply copy the plugin name above and paste it on the search space then click Search Plugins. Once you find the plugin you’re looking for click on Install Now link. If successful, you’ll be directed to activate it. Some plugins may need specific settings but at this stage you will want to follow their default settings.
On Using Pages and Posts in WordPress
There are two ways to create and publish content in WordPress. The first one is with posts. Posts are dynamic content organized in a reverse chronological order through categories and tags. This publishing option allows you to set up conversations with readers via its commenting system and to syndicate content with RSS feeds. Posts are good for publishing timely news and information updates called blogs.
Another content publishing option is pages. Pages are static content organized in hierarchical order in parents (pages) and children (sub-pages) forms. Premium themes usually give different page templates for customizing specific presentation needs. Based on those features, pages are right for publishing guides/tutorials, infographics and other training materials.
Start Creating High Quality Website Content
Now it’s time to actually create your website content. Start with researching questions your target audience would likely want to know about your topic and create pages that answer them. You may also want to add pages with basic info such as about us or contact us.
Just go online and use Google to find exiting websites that offer the same products and services as yours. Take notes on strengths and weaknesses of those appear on the first page of Google results. Find out ways to offer better content. Simply create and publish such content on your website.
Once you have several pages of good content to offer your visitors don’t forget to go to the Search Engine Visibility and uncheck Discourage search engines from indexing this site and then click on Save Changes button.
What to Do Next?
Did you manage to build your first website? If not, reread the above tutorial and act on any step that you haven’t done or finished yet. You may want to learn more about creating good website content. Or read these website building tips and take your new website to the next level.