We’ve put together A Helpful Guide to Developing a New Website for Your Business in 2019. In this guide, we’ll cover all of the large points you need to consider when making a plan to develop a new website for your organization. We’ll cover the basics from getting started, deciding on features, creating website templates, creating content, launching your new website and finally, driving traffic to it.
If there is anything in here that you would like further explanation on or if you need help with a project, please feel free to get in contact with us.
Let’s get into it!
Developing a New Website: Where Do I Start?
You may be asking: “Where do I start when developing a new website?”
Launching a new website can seem like a daunting task but if you follow this guide it should demystify some of the more confusing aspects of getting your new website developed and the many considerations you need to make to achieve success.
The most important things you need to determine in the beginning are:
- What do you want your website to accomplish?
- Do you want to share company news?
- Do you want people to contact you?
- Do you want to sell products or services?
- Do you want to get new reservations for your business?
- Do you have a more adventurous idea for your website?
- Do you want to get more visitors to your retail location?
- Do I already know how to make websites?
- Do I have the time to learn all the different aspects of creating a website?
Determining what the end goal of your website will be is the best way to discover what elements you are going to require when completing your project. We’ve provided a few examples of different types of websites that are most commonly used by companies online.
A Standard Website
Most websites consist of a few basic elements and some solid cross-browser functionality. This means that the website looks great on all types of devices and displays your content in a way that conveys your marketing message. A standard website would generally include a fair amount of body copy, images or videos that explain what the company is about and what services it provides. This type of website would also provide a way to contact the business either via a phone or e-mail link or a built-in web contact form that would send you (the website owner) an e-mail directly from the website.
An E-Commerce Website
An e-commerce website allows you to display and organize the products you have for sale and has the ability to accept payments. This allows your customers to buy directly from you online. Most basic e-commerce platforms allow you to have sales and shipping features built into your website while more robust e-commerce solutions allow you to manage every aspect of the look, feel, function and content on your website. There are even solutions that will allow you to control your online and in-store inventory and payment processing.
A recurring payment website is built using the same technology as a standard e-commerce website, but it allows you to store payment information in a way that will let you charge customers on a subscription basis. This can be very helpful when creating monthly subscription services for your business.
A Website for Blogging
A blog allows you to share articles or news to the viewers of your website. Generally, a blog gives you a control panel that you can login to and add new content to your website. There are many simple services that you can create a blog on for free. Blogger would be a great example of this.
Most of these free services are great to get started but they don’t really allow much customization of your website’s layout and code. These services also force you to keep their logo on your website unless you pay to have it removed.
If you’re looking to blog a little more seriously, I would highly recommend purchasing your own hosting for your blog. This will give you more control over your new website and will allow you to totally control the look and function of the website. Typical news websites, for example, are generally created using more complex blogging software but operate under the same premise of a simple blog. These are always hosted on very reliable servers that can handle a lot of website visitors at once.
A Directory Website
A directory website uses a database system that allows you to sort information into categories.
Here is an example of a directory website that we currently maintain.
This website enables the administrators to organize free camping listings throughout North America in easy to search categories. This data is easily updated and makes for a smooth user experience allowing them to be able to find information about a location they may be travelling to.
What Features Does My Website Need?
Once you have determined what the primary function of your new website needs to be, we need to figure out what kind of features your website needs to accomplish your goals.
Here are some common features that websites have:
- Contact Forms
- Image Sliders
- Image Galleries
- Blog Posts
- Drag & Drop Content Editors
- Content Management
- Landing Pages
- Analytics Tracking
- Recurring Payments
- Social Media Plugins
- Data Capture Forms
- Phone Numbers
- Other Contact Information
Most companies only require a few of the options from this list to create the most optimal website for their business. A good portion of small businesses would require some text content, an image gallery or some image sliders, a basic content management system, a blog and a contact form. Adding SEO and analytics tracking to your website will also increase your chances of being found and seeing where your website visitors are coming from.
Some businesses can require more custom solutions depending on their needs and generally, this is something you want to bring in a skilled web developer for. The amount of time it takes to be proficient at a lot of the more nuanced skills required to be a web developer would be time better spent on focusing on the other needs in your business.
The Basics of Buying a Domain Name
What Is a Domain Name?
A domain name is the address that customers or users will type into their web browser to find you. Just like the domain name you see at the top of your browser now: https://www.keeptheinternetbusy.com
Why Do I Need One?
Having a domain name is needed for people to be able to view your new website. If you do not have a domain name for your website, you won’t have an address to give your customers to find you online.
Where Can I Buy a Domain Name:
There are many places to buy domain names online that vary in price.
Here’s a list of a few places that we like to buy domain names from.
NameCheap – https://www.namecheap.com/
DreamHost – https://www.dreamhost.com
How Can I Find out If My Domain Name Is Available:
In order to discover if your domain is available, you want to do a domain lookup.
You can use services like:
WHOIS – https://who.is
Domain Tools – http://whois.domaintools.com
Type your potential domain name in the form provided on the website and it will let you know if your domain is available.
Please note: These websites will try to sell you that domain once you search it. You do not have to buy the domain from this service and note that you should shop around to find the best price before purchasing.
What the Heck Is Web Hosting and Why Do I Need It?
What Is Hosting?
Web hosting is the place where your website is served to the internet for other people to find. When you pay for a hosting plan, you’re essentially renting space on a computer that is constantly connected to the internet and is running software to broadcast your website to the world wide web.
Finding a reliable web host is important for your new website. Depending on your needs there are many options. For a simple blog you can use a free service like Blogger or WordPress. For more robust websites, you’ll want to pay a hosting provider for access to server space.
Why Do I Need Hosting?
Having a place to host your website gives you a place to store the data that your website is made out of. Having access to a hosting server gives you a place to upload your website’s files and gives you a place to point your new domain name. Without hosting, nobody will be able to see your website.
Some great options for purchasing hosting:
DreamHost – https://www.dreamhost.com
NameCheap – https://www.namecheap.com/
Choosing a Content Management Platform
Based off of the initial assessment of your websites needs, you can choose the best system to manage your new website. A content management system allows you to alter and manage most aspects of the website. Content management systems come in many forms from very simple to highly complex.
An example of a simple CMS would be a system that allows an administrator (you) to login to an admin control panel to add new blog posts.
A more complex CMS would allow for the entire management of a website, online store and in-store inventory and payment processing.
WordPress is one of the world’s most popular content management systems. It can be modified in many ways to achieve most general website functions from simple blogs to e-commerce websites. WordPress has access to an abundance of free and premium templates and a massive library of free and premium plugins to increase the functions of your website.
Squarespace is a newer service that is similar to WordPress, but it focuses on simple drag and drop template builders and e-commerce. Many successful businesses use Squarespace and it can be quite solid as a simple e-commerce solution.
Shopify is one of the top and most robust e-commerce platforms in the world. Shopify can power your website and in-store inventory and payment processing with ease. Shopify also has a great marketplace for feature add-ons that can turn your e-commerce website into a selling machine.
A lot of businesses need a more custom solution and will hire an external company or hire internally to build a custom content management that fits their exact corporate needs. You’ll need to have a fairly sizeable budget to accomplish and maintain a system like this so it’s not suggested for smaller businesses.
Some companies decide to avoid using a content management system because their website is simple and doesn’t require to be updated by someone that doesn’t know how to write code. A website with no CMS isn’t as popular as it used to be. However, there are still many cases where a website like this can be useful. If your company’s website doesn’t need to be updated very often this could potentially be a great direction for you.
Creating a Website Template
This can be one of the most daunting parts of developing a website. There are many options from drag and drop website builders to creating websites from code or using a hybrid of both. Now is probably the time you want to ask yourself if you want to create the website on your own of if you want to hire someone to build it for you.
Building a website yourself depends on how proficient you are with computers or how much time you have to dedicate to learning how to create a new website.
If you’re a tech savvy person or you have plenty of time to learn about website design, I would highly recommend building your own website. It’s fulfilling and you can learn a lot of great problem-solving skills that are transferable to other aspects of your life. If you are a new small business and your budget for a website is low, it might be favorable to build a very simple website on your own to save money using a drag and drop editor like Wix or Squarespace. The key thing to weigh when making this decision is if the time spent making the website yourself is worth the time not spent working on other aspects of your business. Services like Squarespace and Wix have fairly intuitive drag and drop website builders that are generally easy to work with for beginners and more advanced users.
Here are some great resources if you want to learn more about web development:
W3Schools – https://www.w3schools.com/
FreeCodeCamp – https://learn.freecodecamp.org/
With all that being said, if your website is a key pillar to your business, I would highly recommend hiring a web developer or a web development agency like KeepTheInternetBusy.com to create a solid foundation for your company’s online venture.
Creating Content For Your New Website
Along with all of the time spent on selecting the technical details of your new website, we have to be mindful of the type of content you’re going to need to fill that website with: useful information, graphics, photos, videos, etc.
The content of your website is one of the most important aspects of your website. It tells your customers what you’re promoting and it allows search engines to determine what your website is about. Without great content, your customers will be ill-informed about what you do or what message you are trying to share with them.
Your text content should educate and entice your viewer while being free of spelling errors and bad grammar. Body copy is the most important tool you have to make an informative impression on your website viewers.
To accompany your compelling body copy you need to have great visuals to help create a more focused narrative for your website. Having great photos, videos or graphics will allow you to tell the story of your business and help you to sell your product or service.
A Little About Website Security
Another important aspect to think about when building your new website is making sure that the website is secure. The first step in ensuring your website is secure is to purchase an SSL certificate for your website.
The most common use for an SSL certificate is to provide a secure connection for customers that are entering credit card or payment processing information into your website.
This certificate will change the http:// in your website’s URL to https:// and will allow a web browser to tell your user that the connection between you and them is a secure one.
There are other aspects of web security like protecting your databases and user information. Having knowledge of the type of data your website will store will give you a better idea on what levels of security your website needs to protect your business’s information.
Launch Your Website
What Does “Launch Your Website” Mean?
To keep it simple, this means making your website available for your customers to see. This requires you to place your website’s files on the web server you’ve acquired from your hosting provider.
There are a few steps to follow when launching your website; check out our handy “The Ultimate Getting Ready to Launch a Website Checklist”.
Maintaining a Website
Websites aren’t always created and then just left to run. A lot of websites require constant updates to body copy, photos, blog posts and other points of data entry. You’re also going to need to ensure that coded features stay up to date with web browser technology so your website can run smoothly well into the future.
Here are some points to think of once your site is launched:
- Who’s going to ensure the website continues to operate correctly as technology evolves?
- Who is going to make updates to your website?
- Do you require regular blog posts?
- Does your company need new products constantly added, removed and edited?
- Who going to make sure your content management system stays up to date?
How Do I Get Traffic to My Website?
The hardest part for every business and website is getting people to visit it. There are plenty of ways to attract people to your website but there is no doubt that you will have to put a lot of work in to increase awareness about your new website.
Here’s a list of ways to increase your websites traffic:
- Search Engine Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization
- Facebook Marketing
- Google Adwords
- Social Media
- Traditional Marketing
- Business Cards
- In Person Networking
- Word of Mouth
- Print Ads
Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of this guide. We hope it has helped you understand the thought process and decisions needed to create a new website for your business.
If you still have questions or are looking to get a website created for your organization, feel free to contact us. We’re always happy to help!
We’d love to help you with any online project you have from websites to social marketing and even general consulting if you think your current web development company isn’t being honest.
You can contact us via our online chat, online contact form, phone or e-mail.