#1 Pick a Domain Name
Choosing a domain name is one of the first steps you'll want to take when building a website, as this is how customers will ultimately find your website.
You may want to consider a domain name that's easy to remember, easy to type and easy to say.
An "easy" and accessible domain name also plays a big factor in your SEO. Here are some key takeaways:
- Try to pick a .com extension if possible
- Try to pick a domain name with less than 15 characters
- Try to be typable and memorable (consider avoiding hyphens and numbers in the domain name)
- Use keywords effectively for SEO purposes
There are tons of different platforms you can use to register your domain name. We've outlined a few of the most common ones below with their expected costs.
- GoDaddy GoDaddy is the worlds largest domain name registrar and pricing starts at $9.99/yr
- Domain.com Domain.com specializes in domain names, web hosting, VPS hosting, SSL certificates, email and starts at $9.99/yr
- Namecheap offers domain transfers, app integration, SSL certificates, email and starts at $8.88/yr
#2 Choose a Web Hosting Plan
Web hosting is essentially where all of the files on your website live - so it's important to choose a reliable plan.
There are a few different ways to host your platform. We've broken down the difference between Hosted vs Self Hosted websites:
Hosted Platforms (more common)
Hosted platforms are typically an "all in one" purchase, meaning the platform provides both the software/design to actually build your website AND the storage that all your files live in (known as web hosting).
Here are a few examples:
One of the perks of choosing a hosted platform is that it's low maintenance compared to self-hosted platforms - things like software updates are typically managed by the hosting team.
Self-Hosted Platforms (less common)
With a self-hosted platform, the developer typically builds the website using their preferred software and then chooses a web hosting platform to store the website.
#3 Choose Your Platform
Depending on your business, it's critical that you choose the right platform to build your website on.
The last thing you want is to spend days/weeks building your website only to find out that you should have used a different platform.
To help support your decision, we've highlighted the top platforms to use in 2020 and explain why they may be a good fit for your business.
Shopify is one of the #1 leading platforms for e-commerce businesses.
Here are some of the main reasons most e-commerce businesses are using Shopify:
- Geared towards supporting store owners. Provides a simple way to launch and manage your online store
- Customer support is off the charts (live chat)
- Easy to use - You don't have to worry about the technical side
- The design is clean and mobile-friendly. There are also hundreds of templates you can use.
- Easy integrations and additional channels (ie. Amazon, email marketing integrations, Facebook, etc).
- Basic Shopify: $29/month
- Shopify: $79/month
- Advanced Shopify: $299/month
WordPress is one of the most common platforms for agencies and landing pages.
Here are the main reasons agencies are using WordPress:
- The platform is free
- SEO is built into the platform (automatically generates title tags and meta descriptions for you)
- Hundreds of different themes that are easily adjustable.
- Great blogging functionality
Free to use/open source but you will need to pay for the hosting.
Squarespace is a great option for small businesses and is known as one of the easiest platforms to use.
You may find yourself in a decision on whether you should choose Squarespace or WordPress.
The main difference between the two platforms is that Squarespace is known to be more turn-key than WordPress, and does not involve as much management and upkeep.
Benefits of using Squarespace:
- Great for beginners who have little to no coding experience
- Flexible and stylish designs
- You can easily switch up templates (and not feel the need to completely start over)
- Over 55,000 plugins
- Personal Plan: $12/month
- Business Plan: $18/month
- Basic: $26/month
- Advanced: $40/month
Webflow is unique in that the platform allows designers to code visually, rather than writing code line by line.
If this sounds interesting to you, check out a few more advantages of the platform below:
- Full CMS functionality
- Great for prototyping and mockups
- Easy to illustrate your animation ideas - they're all about the visuals
- Allows you to design hundreds of pages at once
- Great for designing landing pages
- Basic - $12/month
- CMS - $16/month
- Business - $36/month
Wix is mostly geared towards small businesses, restaurants, online stores, and artists.
One of the main reasons people love Wix is because their drag and drop functionality is unlike any other platform, making the platform super easy to use.
Here are some other advantages of using Wix:
- One of the few site builders that allows you to animate text and other elements.
- Impressive app integration (check out their app market).
- Highly intuitive and easy to use
- Free plan
- Combo: $17/month
- Unlimited: $22/month
- Business Basic: $28/month
#4 Start Designing your Website
Now that you have chosen the domain, web hosting, and platform, it's time to get started with the design phase.
Themes are a great way to produce the fundamental style and identity of your website - this includes everything from your font design to your blog post styles.
One of the best ways to get started is to simply explore the various themes (free or paid depending on what you're looking for) and test them on your site.
If web-design really isn't in the cards for you, you may want to consider outsourcing a web designer to help bring your vision and brand to life.
Celeste Druve, founder of Viper by KCH talks about her experience outsourcing a web designer:
When we began, we each saved up $800 dollars to throw in. We spent it getting some contracts drawn up from a lawyer to incorporate and have an operating agreement. We (poorly) designed our first website but once we had some money we had someone redesign it and make us a pitch deck. Although we were a startup, we didn’t want to look like it so we tried to keep all our aesthetics well branded. Our initial branding looked way different than it does now.
We made our own website at first but it was pretty tragic so we ended up hiring someone. We got played by our first two graphic designers and that taught us to be way less trusting and smarter about money and contracts. That was a big lesson.
Examples of Great Websites
What makes a great website? We've given you a few examples below!
Matt Griffin, founder of Combat Flip Flops does a great job when it comes to professional design and a clear CTA to buy his product.
Check it out:
The idea first happened in 2009 and my fellow Ranger, Donald Lee, registered our website name. We sat on it for over a year until my sister-in-law married Andy Sewrey.
Andy learned about the mission, started working on designs, and helped us bring the idea into a digital rendering form. From there we started floating images and messaging on Facebook. Followers gave us feedback and input until we had a design good enough to prototype.
Another great example is the Swoveralls website, created by Kyle Bergman.
Here's another great example of what a Shopify website looks like.
Just by scrolling down the website in the first 20 seconds, he gives you a clear idea as to what type of product being sold and what makes the product so unique:
#5 Implement Page Structure On Your Site
Once the basic structure of your site is complete, it's important to focus on the specific pages you are going to have on your site.
There are certain pages that may be more important than others, and this may depend on your specific business.
We've listed out the general pages you may want to consider, and their importance:
Your home page is arguably one of the most critical pages of your website, as it's the very first impression your customer will have of your product.
Your home page also impacts SEO and the way Google ranks you.
Check out how captivating [Photobooth Supply's] home page is. Founder, Brandon Wong has a really unique promo video play as soon as you land on their website.
He also states the company's objective in just eight words over that animation, which is highly effective.
The about page is a great place for your customers to go once they understand your brand and are looking to learn more.
The about page is the perfect opportunity to talk about what makes your product so unique.
You may want to consider diving deeper into your mission and value here- this often builds rapport with your customer.
Think of this as the "seal the deal" page.
Consider making this page easily accessible for your customers and also try to provide them with multiple ways of contacting (message box, physical email they can click, and a phone number).
By having a blog on your website, you're covering these basic factors:
- Driving more customers to your website
- Building trust with your customers (they'll think of you as a leader in the space)
- Complimenting SEO efforts
You may want to consider producing new and relevant content 1-2x per week. At the very least, perhaps you can experiment with a blog and see where it goes.
Here's how I published 142 blog posts in 12 months.
And that's it! Building a website doesn't have to be a daunting task and can be implemented easily with the right tools and software in place.
Are you in the process of building a website or looking to get started on your next business idea? Join our community to learn more!
Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list.
We've outlined 5 steps (and several examples) on how to get started.
We cover things like:
- Best platforms to use
- Examples of great websites
- Design hacks
- ... and much more!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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