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Do you have a small business or an idea for an online business?
Today all businesses, both large,small, local, national or international see the need to have a website.
Businesses like bed and breakfast, guest Houses, hotels, restaurants, tradesmen e.g. plumbers, real estate agents, lawyers, dentists, consultants etc, can all benefit by having their own website.
Sites can range from simple one page sites to large sites with hundreds of pages, depending on what type of business you own, and what the site is designed to do for your business.
Who am I?
I’m Steve, and I have been building and managing my own websites since 2003.
My own websites are all online niche websites but I have also created websites for small offline businesses.
Online or offline the physical process is exactly the same the difference is really in the level and focus of the website content, and the choice of domain name.
Building Your Website
As a business owner you have several choices when it comes to building your website:
- Have the site Built by a designer
- Build it Yourself.
- Have parts built and do some yourself.
Using a Web Designer
Hiring a web designer to build a business site may seem like the obvious thing to do, especially if you don’t have the time to do it yourself, or are confused by the technology.
Although a web designer will probably design an attractive and professional site, you will may also find that:
- It costs a lot of money to build and maintain
- The site may not be necessarily be search engine friendly
- You can’t add your own content easily.
- You don’t have much idea about site visitors and performance
- You are reliant on the designer for updates and maintenance
Do it Yourself
As you are reading this page I take it that this approach is of interest to you.
In reality a complete DIY approach is rare for non technical website owners due to the many different considerations involved in building websites.
DIY + Outside Assistance
This is the route that I would recommend you look at.
The idea is to do as much as you can and outsource what you can’t or don’t feel comfortable with.
With the end goal being to be able to maintain and update your own site without much assistance.
Small Business Website Types
There are two types of website that I will be covering on this site.
- Online websites (like this one)
- Local websites e.g. local plumber,electrician etc
Online or local the physical process is exactly the same.
The difference is really in the level and focus of the website content, and the choice of domain name.
Content Management Systems and Website Building Platforms
Although there are many different ways you can build a website, by far the easiest way is to use a use a Content management systems (CMS) like WordPress.
WordPress lets you create and set up your own website or blog quickly and easily just by using a web browser.
WordPress is used by both small and large corporations and is used by over 50% of all websites.
However there is a learning curve involved which makes it really suitable for semi technical people who need the flexibility that WordPress offers.
For small business website with just a few pages then good alternatives are Wix and Squarespace.
These are cloud based platform that some with templates and a website builder to let you create your own site quickly and easily.
They tend to be more expensive that getting your own host and installing WordPress but they are much easier to work with for beginners.
There are other options that you might want to consider but it is the only one I work with, and is the focus of this site.
5 Steps to Starting Your Own Website or Blog
Getting started with any new endeavour is the most difficult part as your knowledge level is very low, which makes choosing the best approach difficult.
There are Five basic steps to building your site they are:
- Choose a Domain Name
- Choose a hosting provider
- Install and Configure WordPress
- Creating and Adding Content
- Promote Your website
Choosing a Domain Name
Before you rush into purchasing hosting you need to take time and choose a suitable domain name for your website.
The type of website i.e online or local business does affect the choice of domain name and is covered in How to choose a Domain Name.
Choosing a Hosting Provider
There are many companies offering totally free blog/website solutions.
This type of solution is OK for personal or maybe hobby websites, but should never be used for business websites.
If you opt for WordPress then it requires Linux based hosting with PHP and at least 1 MYSQL database.
For ease of install look for a hosting provider that supports scripted installs.(most do now)
Because most hosting providers will provide a free domain name with their hosting package it it normal to use the hosting provider as the domain name registrar.
If you go with a platform like Wix or Squarespace then the domain name and hosting is part of the package.
Choosing Your Platform
I personally use WordPress for all of my websites but I am also very aware that it is not suitable for everyone and certainly not for those who just need one or two pages with very infrequent changes.
You need to decide whether to use:
I am working on a comparison guide to help you decide.
Creating Content and Website Promotion
This is were the difference comes between and offline local business website and a on line content based website.
Most small local business websites will contain very little content but may benefit greatly by adding a blog. See creating Small local business website.
Online business websites like this site are content heavy and consist of anywhere from a minimum of 10 to maybe 100s or thousands of pages.
My own website all have over 50 pages.
See Building Online Content Based Niche Websites
Note: these pages are currently being updated and reviewed.
Q-How Much does it cost to setup a Website?
A- There are two main costs involved.
1. A domain name which costs around £10 per year for a .com domain name. This is often included with the hosting cost.
2. Hosting costs, which are approximately £60-£80 per year.
Q- Can I use a Free Host and Domain Name? –
A- Yes WordPress.com and blogger.com are popular choices for starting a personal/hobby websites. Business sites should always use their own domain name and hosting.
Q- What do I need to start a website?
A- You will need:
- A host
- A domain Name
- Website building software or CMS e.g WordPress
Q- Do I need to Learn HTML?
A- Yes and No. Having a basic understanding is necessary regardless of what most other sites would like you to believe.
However you don’t need to be an expert. My starting HTML course covers all you really need to get started.
Q- Do I need to Learn Web Design?
A- No -There many professional designs available in the form or themes( WordPress) and templates (HTML/PHP).
Providing you don’t want a completely bespoke design, then It is simply a question of choosing a design for the site rather than creating a new design from scratch.
Q- I’m Not very Technical Can I still do it myself?
A- If you can use a modern Word processor like Microsoft Word then you should be OK.
Technical aspects like installing WordPress, backups etc have become much easier, but you don’t have to do it all yourself if you don’t want to. You can always outsource more technical tasks if you need to.
Q- Can I really Create a Professional Looking Website myself with WordPress?
A- Yes because you will be using a theme from a professional web designer.
Q- When Will by website appear in the search engines?
A- Websites aren’t automatically added to the search engines when they are built See How to Get Your Website Listed In Search -Google, Bing and Yahoo and Simple Tips for Creating a Search Engine Friendly Website or Blog
Q- What about building a shopping Website ?
A- Shopping websites are more complicated than standard content based sites. The starting an ecommerce website article should provide a good introduction to get you started.
A collection of basic introductory tutorials for complete beginners to grasp the basics.
- Starting HTML
- Cascading Style Sheets for Beginners
- Starting Scripting
- Starting PHP
The Website Building questions and answers page tries to answer the most common questions.
You can also use it to ask your own questions.
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