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How to Develop a Simple Website

By Mandy Gross, FAPC Communications Services Manager - Most small businesses think if they are on social media they don’t need to have a website. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Today, every successful business needs a website, even small ones.

By Mandy Gross, FAPC Communications Services Manager

Most small businesses think if they are on social media they don’t need to have a website. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Today, every successful business needs a website, even small ones.

A website serves as the hub for a company’s online presence. Businesses should use social media as a marketing platform to drive traffic back to their websites. A website is an extension of a company’s brand and is often the first place potential customers will go to get more information.

With that being said, many small companies have no clue where to start when creating a website. The truth is, business owners do not have to be a website designer to create a simple but attractive website. And, a great-looking website does not have to break the bank.

One of the easiest ways for a non-developer to design a customizable website is to use an online website builder. Online website builders are web-based and run on the provider’s service, so there is no need to download or install the software on a computer. All that is needed is a web browser and Internet connection.

One benefit of most online website builders is they come with web hosting services, so there is no need to purchase hosting. Some examples of online website builders include Wix, Constant Contact, Site123.com, Squarespace.com, GoDaddy.com and Weebly.com.

Website builders come with do-it-yourself elements and drag-and-drop functuality to make the building process simple, quick and straightforward. Users can build a website with no coding knowledge or experience. The software provides a library of ready-made templates, themes and layouts with built-in elements and widgets such as images, photo galleries, videos, contact forms, blogs, social sharing buttons and more.

Publishing a completed site is as easy as clicking a button and viewing the website online.

The most common question small business owners have is, “How much does building a website cost?” Depending on the company’s needs, building a website can cost anywhere between $100 and $500. To build a small website, companies need to set a budget for purchasing the domain name, which costs around $15 per year, and a website builder plan, which runs from about $10 to $20 per month.

Before the design process begins, companies need to develop a strategy or plan of what they want their website to look like.

Following are tips to keep in mind when planning a business website.

  1. Select a domain name. Pick a domain name that is unique, easy to remember and fits the brand. The goal is to select a domain name that relates to the business and hints at the products or services offered. There may be a chance the preferred domain name is already taken. Simply come up with another or approach the owner to see if they are interested in selling the name.
  2. Start with five core pages. Every business will have different informational needs, but there are some core pages most sites should always include: a home page (set the tone/brand), products/services page (what is provided/offered), about page (tell the story), testimonials page (positive reviews) and contact page (multiple ways to contact).
  3. Keep it simple and clean. The best websites are those that are clear, sharp and easy to navigate. Decide on one or two fonts and colors that highlight the brand and limit usage to those items throughout the website. Make sure the navigation menu is prominent and use words users understand. While website builders offer a variety of themes and designs, remember less is more.
  4. Develop good content. The content is considered the meat and potatoes of a website. Content refers not only to written text but also images and video. All the content should be well written and relevant to the target audience. Images and videos should be used to complement the written copy.
  5. Plan for search engine optimization. A website with good SEO scores will show up higher on the list of results from search engines like Google and Bing. Before writing content, decide what keywords and phrases a user would enter into a search engine to find a company’s products or services. Use these words and phrases throughout the website in page headlines and body text. Add a title, alt text and descriptions to images used within the website.
  6. Make it mobile friendly. In 2018, more than 50% of website visits were made from a mobile device. The ability of a website to adjust content automatically to fill different devices/screen sizes is known as responsiveness. A majority of website builder themes are already responsive, so very little, if any, tweaking is required.
  7. Check it on multiple browser. Not all visitors will use the same browser to view a website, so companies need to make sure their websites work well on multiple browsers. Some of the top Internet browsers include Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Edge and Safari.

In this day and age, even the smallest of businesses can benefit from having a website. With these tips, plus a little time and planning, even a non-website designer can build a successful website.