You’ve determined you need a website to promote your business or community agency but you’re just not sure where to start. Having a website is an expectation people have for business and non-profits these days. It’s come a long way and a digital presence is absolutely critical for the success of any organization no matter what industry you’re in.
If you haven’t read our blog on Creating a Domain Name then that is the place for you to start. You need a domain name to get your website going so lets get that step out of the way. The blog also introduces you to Melissa Broadbent from the Digital Service Squad and touching base with her would be another good step on the journey to creating your own website. The Digital Service Squad services are free and their goal is to assist businesses with their digital presence. They’re also located in rural Alberta so they rural business needs. Before you give them a call though, take a read and see what steps you can take to set you on the path to website ownership.
Determine the Goal of Your Website
This is the first and most critical step. Don’t enter into this process without a clear idea of what you expect from the website. Why are you looking to have one in the first place? What’s the purpose of the website? Is it to sell products, inform customers, or promote your brand? Knowing the end goal of your website will help your design.
If you’re looking to promote your brand for example you’ll want to ensure you have well-organized information about who you are and the products or services you provide. Take your time on this stage of the process and think it through. Involve friends and business people you trust to get their ideas. Everything you do at this stage will help you along the path to website ownership.
How will you Build your Website?
This is the real question. There are three essential ways to do this. The first is to hire a web design company to do it for you. The second is to use a DIY Website Builder and the third is to just code it yourself. We won’t go into the third at all because honestly, if you can code a website you don’t need this blog.
Hire a Web Design Company
There are some great advantages to hiring the services of a professional web designer. They allow for complete creativity and will work with your vision. They also will often design the site to be optimized for search engines to better drive business to your site. Continued customization is another great aspect as a web designer can respond to your needs as they change and keep your website relevant. They’re also fairly easy to find with a simple Google search for “Top Web designers in Alberta”. Shop around and find the best one for your needs.
There are some downsides to having a web designer do the work for you and the most obvious one is the cost. Custom work always comes with a bigger price tag than doing it yourself. They also tend to take a lot of time and there’s more back and forth communication required. If you need a website quickly, a web designer isn’t the way to go. Also when you hand the job over to someone else, you lose a little bit of control. And you’ll always need this person whenever you need a fix or change your website.
Maybe hiring a web designer is the way you want to go. It will require some patience and people skills but your website will be unique. Just have that checkbook ready.
Using a DIY Website Builder
A DIY website builder is an application that allows you to use templates and choose elements you want to build in your website. It doesn’t require coding, just drag and drop the elements you want and just like that you have a website. This approach is much more affordable than hiring a web designer and these services easily fit onto any budget with a price range typically between $0 – $40/ month. It is possible to sign up for a free plan but these tend to be quite limiting and often contain advertisements.
Wix, Web.com, Network Solutions, Squarespace, WordPress, and the Canadian product Godaddy, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to options out there. It’s worth spending some time to choose one that works best for you. Most of them will also offer domain name hosting. You’ll have your website up and running the same day.
The drawbacks of this approach are you are limited to the templates the website building platform offers you. You may not be able to design your site exactly the way you want. Another drawback is the fact you’ve used another company to create your webpage so their branding may be present on the site tucked right alongside yours. This may be something that’s troublesome depending on what your business is.
Test it out Before Publishing
No matter what choice you’ve made to create your website, be sure to test it out before publishing it. Developers should be able to allow you to see the site before it’s live. The DIY website builders quite often have an option to preview. Take a look on your computer and your phone to make sure they both look good. There are a few things to look for:
- Is all the spelling correct?
- Are all the menus working?
- Is your formatting consistent?
- Does it work on both desktop and mobile phone?
- Are you happy with the message it conveys?
Testing out your site will give you the piece of mind your hard work is ready for the world to see. The worst case scenario is for people try to access your site and it doesn’t work. You’ll never know how many customers you’ve lost.
Once you’re happy then go ahead and get the site published, press “publish”! Tell your friends, link it to your social media channels, and get your local Chamber of Commerce to list you as a local business on their website. Anyone can make a website, and it (literally) costs nothing to find out. Take a couple of website building platforms for a spin and see what happens. You just may wind up creating something wonderful and you are on your way to entering new markets.