A website is a collection of multimedia files that can be accessed via the internet. The web site may be owned by an individual, a business, or another entity, such as a government agency. The collection of files is listed under a domain name belonging to the site owner, and it’s hosted by one or more servers.
As of November 2017, there were 1.28 billion websites around the world, with over 5.5 billion Google searches made through those websites everyday. This article will cover the advantages of having a website, as well as the common ways of creating a website.
Advantages of Having a Website
- It is affordable – Many website builders, such as Weebly, have free and low-cost options and easy drag and drop features to help you build a site.
- It is always open – Unlike a physical shop, which is only open during certain hours of the day, having a website lets you advertise and market your business continuously 24 hours a day.
- More brand credibility – Customers are more likely to trust brands that have an online presence
- Increased opportunity – Retailers can expand their consumer base by selling their products and services online.
In 2018, there really aren’t many downsides to owning a website, except that it requires some time and money to keep it up to date. You’ll also want to secure your website, especially if you sell products and services or store customer information.
How to Create a Website
There are two main ways for small businesses to create a website, depending on your technical ability, the amount of time you have, and your budget. They are:
Option 1: Use a DIY Website Builder
If you are a beginner, a DIY website builder will help you easily create your website, sometimes in as little as a few hours. All you need to do is drag and drop text boxes, images, and other elements to set up each webpage. You can either start with a blank page or a template that comes included with the website builder. Many DIY website builders will also host your website for you once you are ready to publish. Some of the popular DIY website builders are Wix, Squarespace and Weebly.
Drawbacks: DIY website builders do have limitations. Your customization options are limited to what the builders have to offer. The drag and drop features can also make your site slower to load. And for certain specialized features, you have to add plugins, which can also slow down your site.
Option 2: Hire a Professional Web Designer
If you require a website with more customization, hiring a programmer or a web design service is your next option. Web developers will be able to use code in order to add custom elements. They can help you build special functions and features that you need for your website and help with user-friendliness, SEO, scalability, maintenance, and security.
The major disadvantage when hiring a professional to design a website is the upfront cost. DIY website builders cost around $10-15/month, but design professionals may charge hundreds of dollars per hour. However, there are freelance web designers on sites like 99designs that can can do the work for you for less than a large design firm. Similarly, a boutique, individually owned design firm will charge more reasonable rates than a large, corporate design agency.
It will also take a longer time to launch your website when using a third party because you review and approve each decision before it even reaches the stage of testing.
What You Should Have on Your Website
Content is the information found on your website and depends on the goal of your website and your target market’s interest. It’s important that your website provides value to your audience in order to attract traffic that you can convert to paying customers.
Consider these two questions while planning your website content:
- Why do you want a website? You need to set a goal for your website so you can have a way of measuring how effective or useful the website is once it’s up and running. Remember that your website will represent you or your business to your target internet users.
- What do you want your website to do? In order to be effective, you need to identify in detail the functions you expect from your website. For example, do you want to sell products or services? Do you want to provide blog content? Figuring this out will help determine what features you need your website to have and how much customization you’ll need.
Once you answer these two questions, it is your obligation to find the right balance of free and paid content that will help you carry out the stated goals of the website.
Free content often includes blog posts, infographics, and certain kinds of video. Even if content is free, you can ask customers to sign up or provide their email in exchange for viewing the content. That allows you to send targeted marketing messages to these customers later. Speaking of sending messages, adding live chat to your website might be a game-changer for your business.
Paid content, on the other hand, is information that’s usually exclusive and highly valued. Access to the data requires payment in the form of membership, subscription, or registration. Data, surveys, research, books, webinars, and podcasts (eBooks or audio) take time and even money to gather and interpret, so it’s not unusual to require payment for access to such content.
Publishing Your Website
Once you have your website created, you’ll need a web host to make it visible on the internet. A web host gives you server space for your website. Check out our review of the best web hosting services. Aside from server space to publish your website, web hosts also helps you register your custom domain name or website address, as well as a business email address.
Almost everyone now is connected to the internet, and a business that doesn’t have a website is missing out on a critical opportunity to market, advertise, and sell its products or services. While there is obviously a certain amount of investment involved, creating a website will help you gain customer trust and ultimately lead to more revenues.
If you want to learn more about website basics, check out the following articles: