If you’re running a new business, building your website from scratch can be more than a challenge. But creating your online brand should always begin with your website and there are many important elements you should include. So this article will give you the lowdown on everything you need to know to get you started.
Do you need a website for your business?
In a word, yes. It’s natural for customers to go online and research any item they’re interested in before they buy. If your business doesn’t show up in their search results, you could be missing out on a huge amount of sales traffic. So if you’re selling what customers are looking for, your website will tell customers that you’re open for business.
Choosing the right CMS for your website
Every website has a Content Management System (CMS) and it’s important to use the right one. But what is a CMS? It’s the software platform that helps you create, manage, and change your website without needing to be a qualified web developer.
A CMS makes it easier to build your website from scratch and will deal with all the technical bits of the website (the ‘back end’) so you can focus on the design, content, and images. Here’s a selection of six of the most common Content Management Systems out there.
As the most popular CMS in the world. WordPress is free, easy to use, and fully customisable which is why it’s used by over 40% of all websites currently online, from sole traders to global corporations.
Popular and easy to use, Wix is a good choice to get you started. Come with lots of pre-set templates, but there’s an annual fee payable upfront. And the cheapest plan also comes with ‘Wix’ ads that don’t look professional.
While Shopify uses its own CMS to run, it’s an easy to use, entry-level CMS if you want to sell anything through your website. Paid plans give you plenty of benefits and a dashboard to track and manage your sales, orders, and payments.
Another popular choice with hundreds of templates, including eCommerce templates if you want to sell, and a simple ‘drag and drop’ method of building your site. More expensive than Wix, but has a better range of options.
Like WordPress, Drupal is a free and powerful CMS, but it’s aimed at larger businesses with experienced developers who have prior knowledge of web design.
Like Drupal, Joomla is best suited to experienced web developers and designers, as it needs a high level of prior knowledge to get the best out of it.
What’s the difference between a blog/vlog/website/webshop?
There are plenty of website variations, and though everything online is technically a web page on a website, they can be split into four key categories:
Blogs, or ‘weblogs’, are helpful or informational content on different topics and used by full-time bloggers to create a high turnover of content. Blogs also appear on standard websites to keep customers up to date and informed while boosting SEO.
Vlogs, or ‘video (b)logs, are similar to blogs but are video-based content created by vloggers on different subjects. All vlogs appear on a standalone website (or dedicated channel like YouTube) with a high turnover of content for their followers.
A website is a collection of multiple web pages identified by its main URL. Different pages will be included in any website, including a Home page, plus About and Contact pages, and various Product or Services pages. Each page has a unique URL so it can be found through any web search.\
Similar to a standard website, a webshop (or Webstore or eCommerce site) allows you to sell your products, goods, or services through a platform like Shopify. You can have a standalone webshop or you can add specific ‘shop’ pages to any standard website if your product range is small.
How long does it take to build a website?
Naturally, you’ll want to get your site built and launched as soon a possible. But even a fairly simple site might take you longer than you think. Even if you’re using a template, you might have trouble turning the vision in your head into a fully workable website.
You should also factor in time for writing copy (or getting it written for you), curating any images you want to use, and testing the site to make sure it works properly before you launch. Depending on your plans, it could be a few months to get from idea to launch. If you’re looking for a more bespoke or complex site, a web design agency can help you but this could considerably add to your budget.
How much does it cost to build a website?
This depends on what you want from your site and how complex it will be. Using the CMS platforms we mentioned will save you money, but you’ll need to spend more time building your website from scratch. But a web design agency can quote for you based on the specifications you supply them.
Their costs will depend on what you need and what you want them to do, and could range from up to £1,000 for a basic site to up to £10k or more. It’s best to shop around and check their websites to make an informed choice, then talk to them directly to discuss it further.
Who should I use to build my website?
No websites are the same and neither are web agencies. If you use an agency to build your website from scratch, give them as much info as possible, including what type of site you need, how many pages you want, and whether you’ll need any ongoing support.
Don’t necessarily go with the cheapest option as this could be a false economy. See which agency provides the best service for what you need, and if you like them and what they do.
How to market your website with SEO
Once you’ve launched your site, it’s time to make sure people can find it. While specialist agencies can provide targeted SEO information, it can add a hefty monthly cost. But there are ways to promote your website for free to help get it found by the search engines. Here are a few to get you started:
Place relevant keywords and phrases throughout your website’s copy, with H1 headings and H2 subheadings. Give your images a relevant name, rather than uploading them as ‘IMG_7643.jpeg’ and use ‘alt-text’ to describe them in case they don’t load properly.
Regular blogs are another way to boost your SEO. Publishing content that’s relevant, helpful, and informative helps you to become an authority in your sector and makes it easier for people to find your site.
Whatever social channel you use, they’re crucial to engage with your followers. Posting content on these channels increases your chances of people liking and sharing it. And people who click through means increased website traffic.
Google My Business
This free local listing service from Google helps you manage your online presence, including Google search and Google maps. You can add photos, your web address, contact details, and edit your business information.
Get some website help from Geeks On Wheels
While building your website from scratch might be daunting, if you need reliable advice to get you started or you need some specialist tech support, Geeks on Wheels can help you. We offer full on-site support at our premises or full remote support if you prefer. Contact us today and we’ll help you get you up to speed on anything you need to know.