Build your own website step by step
Firstly, the good news for anyone with zero knowledge of coding: you don’t need to know any HTML or CSS. Secondly, where start-up funds are in short supply, paying a web developer to custom-build a site is an expense budding entrepreneurs could do without – fortunately, going it alone with a website builder is within reach.
Work out what you want your website to do
The purpose of your site will determine the features it will need to have, and the tools you should choose to put it together. For instance, do you intend to sell products directly to customers via your site? If so, you’ll need to add features that allow you to keep track of orders, and a payment gateway for customers to pay for those goods securely and safely.
If your website is going to be used mostly as a platform for advertising your services, you won’t need the same order management capabilities as an e-commerce store; but you’ll still almost certainly want the ability to add and change the website content easily. This might include:
- A blog page and/or news feed to engage with your customers
- Links to your social media channels, and to show Google that yours is a useful, up-to-date site
Get a domain name
Every business needs an address: your domain name refers to your site’s internet address. If ‘yourbusinnessname.com’ is already taken by someone else, you can’t use it. However, most domain name and website builder services let you check what’s available, and have name generating features to help you find something suitable that’s available.
Good practice is to try and keep it short, memorable, and easy to type. Additionally, a .com or (if you’re aiming for a purely UK market), a .co.uk address is what the majority of your potential customers will be familiar with.
Wix offer domain registration services, and the basic price per year for maintaining a domain tends to be around £10. However, these very often are bundled with other services, such as hosting (see below).
You need a web host to store your site, keep it open, and make it accessible to visitors. You’ll find no shortage of hosting options out there. Service providers will often package up the cost of your email, hosting and website build – keeping everything in one easy-to-manage place.
Building your website
Think of website building as a kind of virtual lego: if you’re capable of drag-and-dropping images, then, in theory, you can put together your own site. This is all thanks to website builder tools that let ‘non-techies’ install and customise their own sites.
Finding the right theme
It might be a self-built website, but you don’t want it to look like one: a badly designed website won’t attract many customers. A website’s ‘theme’ is a collection of files that make your web pages appear in a certain way. This includes the layouts, fonts, and colours.
Wix offer a selection of free, and paid-for themes. There are also plenty of web design and development companies that offer ready-made and custom options. As a start, browse what’s available via the theme library to find a match for your brand and product.
Will the finished site meet my needs?
This is especially important if you intend to use the site for online selling. Some platforms aren’t designed with online selling in mind. However, over time, e-commerce ‘plug-ins’ (additional pieces of software) have been designed specifically with e-sellers in mind. With Wix, you can easily integrate whatever functionality you need to make your website work for your business.
Putting together the structure of your site
As a start, the ‘must have’ pages are as follows:
An overview of your services, and the top reasons why you are worth doing business with.
Have a dedicated page for each one.
Give your background, and list your credentials.
Don’t just tell your customers how good you are: show them.
Where you’re based (you might want to consider a company address service if you’re working from home) and how to get in touch with you: think email, and phone number. Be sure to include hours of business, and links to your social media channels.
Test it and make it better for your customers
Test your website on as many different types of devices and browsers as possible. This will give you answers to questions, such as whether it loads quickly and smoothly, or not. Now comes the task of attracting the right audience, and checking that it ticks all the right boxes for visitors. This is your cue to find out how SEO and analytics can drive your website forward.