So you’re ready to start building your own website, but not sure how? This is an exciting time for you and your business! A little scary, perhaps, but now is not the time to get cold feet and is definitely not the time to be a perfectionist.
I see so many businesses and entrepreneurs get to the 5 yard line, have all their content, pictures, social accounts, ideas, etc… in place and then they drag the website launch – wanting it to be just perfect. If this is you, knock it off!
Getting it out is better than getting it perfect. Generally this is the case with anything in business – and is especially true when building your website in this rapidly changing digital world.
We’ve been developing websites for over 15 years now for small, medium and large sized businesses so we’ve seen it all. Especially how the website user experience has evolved. We noticed over time that most businesses (especially small and medium-sized ones) fall into perfectionist traps. They want the website they’ve developed to be 100% complete before launching and are worried what people will think if they share imperfect copy. The reality is that barely anyone will see your website at first and from my experience, no one really cares if it’s not perfect.
This year so many businesses pivoted to go online. It forced businesses who may have just been “contemplating it” or “not in a real hurry” to get online, make the transition and make it quickly. So now as businesses scramble to either create a website or enhance their online presence through landing pages, social media, etc., the web has never seen so much activity.
One of the most frequently asked questions is: “What if I don’t have a big budget, but I really need a website. Where should I start?”
So, we decided to put together a guide to help you build your website from scratch with very little investment.
Your Step by Step Guide to Building a Website
Step 1) Secure your domain name
You may already have a domain name, especially if you’re an existing business. If you don’t have one or you are a brand new business, this is the first step. You may also want to secure a few different extensions (ie. .com and .ca) to eliminate it from any competitors. You can secure your domain name on a number of different platforms, GoDaddy.com and Bluehost.com are some of my favourites.
Step 2) Secure your social media & online accounts
Don’t worry about what platform you’ll be using or feel overwhelmed about posting to them all. Just secure the names and the accounts, you can figure out which ones to use later. Plus, it’s good for SEO to have more links to your website from all these high-authority sites.
I recommend all the major ones: Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, SnapChat, Bing Places, Yelp, BBB and any other major online directories or platforms relevant to your industry, city or country.
Step 3) Gather and organize your content
Content for the website includes copy, images, marketing assets (ie. banners, CTAs), videos, logo files and any tools/integrations you would like to include. I’m going to level with you, this is the hardest part. The best rule of thumb here is quality over quantity.
Short, impactful copy with a user-friendly design is crucial to the success of your website. Don’t use stock images for your website if possible, this is your chance to showcase your business at its best…take advantage of it. Video content on your homepage can be highly impactful when done correctly. Don’t litter your website with unnecessary pages and long-winded content, trust me on this one – less is more.
Step 4) Decide on what website design platform to use
If you are a retailer, I recommend Shopify for your eCommerce website. It’s a user-friendly platform, with a library of templates to purchase. (will put Shopify affiliate link here on live article)
For service-based businesses, platforms like Wix, WordPress and other CMS builders are out there. All of them are very similar with templates to purchase and an easy-to-use design. My favourite is Wix (especially if you have no prior experience building a website).
Step 5) Launch an “Under Construction” page
Build and launch your landing page or “under construction” page to start driving traffic, collecting emails and building a social media following. Don’t worry about getting the landing page perfect before you get it online. Make sure the information is correct, and the overall look is on-brand and push it live as quickly as possible. You need to start building your online network, and a landing page is an easy way to start.
Step 6) Post on Social Media
Choose which social media platforms to use and start putting up teaser content. This could be: things going on in your business, the journey of launching your new website or anything relevant to your industry, business or process that can start building and engaging a community. Remember to pick platforms that will help you achieve your specific business goals.
Step 7) Upload your content and develop your website
Here you want to just get to a minimal viable product (MVP) – as they say in Silicon Valley. It’s the first phase of your website that can be presented to the world. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you should put your best foot forward and get something online as quickly as possible.
Again, don’t worry too much about how it looks or it being perfect, because when you first launch, barely anyone will see it. And hey, if they do and they comment on it – that’s even better!
Step 8) Add additional or missing content
Add additional or missing content, products and new pages onto the live site and continue to update as you go. The reality of having a website is that updates never end. Continually update your website pages and copy as you go and it will achieve two important things. First, you will be in the habit of keeping your online channels current and relevant; second, it will keep users coming back as new content is released. Sounds like a win, win to me.
Step 9) Market your website and drive traffic
Back to those social media channels you set up. Create a strategy for posting content and stick to it. Social media can drive traffic back to your website, and expose your business to a vastly wider audience. Remember: content is king on social media. If your content isn’t creative and engaging, your social media won’t be as effective as it could be.
Don’t be afraid to put a little money into social media promotion at this stage. Pick your best content and boost the posts, it’s not that expensive and can do wonders for your brand recognition.
Step 10) Analyze & Schedule
You’ve done it! Your website is live and you’ve started to build your online network. Now it’s time to analyze the effectiveness of your website and make continuous improvements. Utilize tools like heat-mapping and speed checks to make sure your website is running to its full potential. How long are users staying on your website? Are they finding it easy to navigate? How many website visits are converted into sales? These are the questions you want to be asking yourself on a regular basis to ensure your website continues to drive business success.
As I said before, building your website is only the beginning. I highly recommend planning the first 3-6 months of updates and content you want to add. Break it down into phases. Do yourself a favour and schedule out all your content, not only on the website, but also on your social channels, blog and email list.
Having a predetermined content update strategy in place will help take some of the worry away. When you’re busy running your business, the website often gets put on the back-burner when you don’t have time to think about content for that day. I recommend planning out your content monthly, or at the very least on a weekly basis. Find what works best for your schedule and don’t overthink it. You will get better with practice and frequency. Unlike the website copy, quantity will lead to quality in this case. Monitor what your audience is responding to, and give them more of it!
Now you’re ready to get your business a digital presence by building your website and promoting it on social media. Good luck with your new website and share it with us when it’s live! Tag us on any social media outlets and our team will share it to help spread the word.