Every business needs to develop a website. Regardless of the industry you are in, the product or service you provide or the size of your organisation.
Every brand needs a strong presence online.
However, if you are a small business looking to create a website or an entrepreneur with an innovative idea - the concept of website development can feel pretty overwhelming (not to mention expensive).
What if I were to tell you that is doesn’t have to be this way?
What if I were to tell you that website design doesn’t have to be overwhelming...
... and it doesn’t have to break the bank?
What if I were to suggest that you could go from zero to a stunning website in a matter of weeks?
Would you believe me?
If you do not believe me now (and I don’t blame you - I've been there!) I would like to offer you a bet… a wager if you will.
I bet that, once you have read this article, you will have changed your mind*. After reading the words that follow, you will see that there is nothing stopping you from creating a stunning website for your business.
Domain And Hosting
Your first step is to secure your domain name. This is the address that you and (more importantly) your customers will type into a browser when trying to access your website.
Be prepared, selecting a domain name can be a frustrating business. Here are some domain selection tips that may help:
- When choosing your domain, you should take care to make it as short and as memorable as possible
- It is also a great idea to include your keywords - this will help the search engines find your website
- As you want to make life easy for your visitors when they come to type your domain name into their browser it is best to avoid ‘clever’ spellings, hyphens and numbers
- When choosing your top level domain (TLD - the information that follows the ‘dot') I would advise that you go for a .com if at all possible
- Experiement with potential domain names via domain provider sites such as GoDaddy and see if they are available for you to buy
- If you can, it is a good idea to buy the .net and .org domains for your website so that you can redirect visitors from that TLD to your .com before they end up on someone else’s site.
Once you have secured your domain (yay!) you need to look into hosting.
Hosting is the (typically monthly or sometimes annual) fee that a hosting company will charge to ensure that your website is visible on the internet. You should look to pay between £3-5 per month for hosting.
Make sure that you choose a reputable hosting firm. If your site goes down or experiences technical issues for any reason, you want to know that you are able to contact your hosting provider easily and you want to get a timely and helpful response back.
I use Jimdo for my domain and hosting as, for £60 per year, I can secure my domain, feel confident in the security and consistency of my website and know Jimdo's customer service is second to none.
Now that you have your domain name and hosting all sorted, it is time to build your website. This is where the fun starts!
The great news is, if you have used Jimdo for your domain and hosting you are already halfway there. There are, of course, many other website builders but Jimdo is my favourite by far.
There are many reasons why I love building websites with Jimdo. For example, it is so easy to develop a stunning website using Jimdo’s wide range of templates. Each template has many style elements that you can adapt to make your website stand out and look gorgeous.
In addition, Jimdo websites are functional and super easy to maintain. When I build websites using Jimdo, I know that my clients will be able to go forward with their new sites and add or make changes independently.
Everything is just so simple and intuitive.
Of course, it is my job to support my clients if they have questions about their website. However, if you decide to create your own website, I can reassure you that Jimdo offers great support.
For example, you can find lots of information on the support section of the Jimdo website, you can email their customer service team or you can contact them via their social media channels. I have always found them to be extremely helpful.
Just click here if you would like to start creating your website using Jimdo. Alternatively, if you would like more information about this website builder, feel free to drop me an email: email@example.com.
There are lots of different types of content that you will need to consider for your website. For example, you have your website page content, your blog content, your visual content, your social media content and your video content (phew!).
It is a good idea to start to think about your page content as soon as you begin to develop your website. You need to give yourself that time as you will (undoubtedly) edit and tweak your words many times before you are completely happy.
One of the first steps in this process is to think about your website navigation. This is so important. You want your visitors to be able to move around your site with ease - always able to find exactly what they are looking for.
If your navigation is difficult or confusing your visitors will disappear.
Keep your navigation bar simple and visible. It is best not to have too many options - you can always include a drop down menu with further information.
Once you have created your navigation and once you know what pages you want to include on your website, you can create your content. Here are some tips:
- Keep your content simple and to the point
- Don’t make your reader struggle to find just what it is that you offer
- Be professional but ensure that your words are not overly formal or ‘corporate’
- Be yourself and add your character to your words
- Feel free to tell your story and give your visitor a glimpse behind the curtain.
Content is not just about words of course. You need to consider images too.
Make sure that (on every web page) images break up your text. Those images need to be high quality and relevant to your visual brand. (Your visual brand is simply the fonts, colours and images that you use to represent your business.)
It is essential to keep your visual branding consistent. I would suggest that you choose a couple of fonts (one for your body text and one for your headers) and two or three core colours.
Your logo is a great place to start. If you haven’t got a logo yet (or you fancy an upgrade now to compliment your shiny new website) I would suggest that you either select a logo from an online provider such as Pixellogo or use the community of designers at 99 Designs to create something for you.
If you are in need of colour or font inspiration, I would recommend:
- Dafont - a great site where you can browse through a large selection of fonts**
- WhatFont - a Google Chrome extension that allows you to hover over an online font in order to find out what that font is called
- Colour Lovers - a fantastic site where you can search for colour palates
- Eye Dropper - another Google Chrome extension that allows you to click on a colour that you like online and discover that colour’s hex code. By grabbing this code, you can use this colour in your own designs.
**(If you decide to go with Jimdo to create your website the entire Google web fonts directory is available for
Quite simply, you want your customers to recognise your business from the images that you produce alone. You need to create images for your web pages, your blog and for your social media posts.
But, what if you are not a graphic designer?
Don’t worry. There are some amazing tools out there that can help you to produce truly stunning, share-worthy images. I use stock photo libraries such as iStock Photo (paid) and Pixabay (free) and create visuals using Canva and Pic Monkey (for more on this see my recent blog post: Create Awesome Images With These Free Online Tools).
Another important piece of the content puzzle concerns video. Video is a powerful marketing tool for any business - need I say more than ‘You Tube’?
You can use video to promote your business, to help your clients, to educate, entertain and inspire. The important thing is that you use it! (see this article for more information: 5 Reasons To Use Video in Any Business).
I like to use Animoto to make business presentation videos. You can see an example of this type of video on the Pic Presents home page. I also use this software to make testimonial, product and service videos for my clients.
Meanwhile, I use Camtasia to make tutorial videos, video blogs (VLogs) and video introductions. Camtasia is not free, but for a relatively small investment you can create some amazing videos for your business. However, if you would prefer to start with something free, I would recommend Jing.
I find SEO so fascinating. I am firmly in the 'get found by creating great content' camp but I am also so interested in the tips and tricks that search engines recommend you implement to help them find your website.
Because, however daunting SEO can feel, there are a number of small, relatively simple, tasks that can send your website zooming up the search engine rankings (for more information on this see How You Can Manage Your Website's SEO).
Here is an SEO checklist that may help:
- Verify your website with Google via Google’s Webmaster tools and make sure that Google has a XML sitemap of your website
- Research your keywords and use them - particularly in your first 100 words (but don’t stuff your content full of them - keyword stuffing does not make Google happy!)
- Think about phrases - Google looks to see if you are using the phrases that it associates with your keywords
- Use your headings - put your keywords into these headings as Google emphasises keywords that are in a larger font
- Make sure that your content is unique. Google will penalise sites with duplicate content. The higher the quality, the better. In addition, some experts believe that the longer your blog posts are (approx over 2000 words) the better in terms of search engine rankings
- Make sure that you link to other relevant content on your site and to the sites of other high quality websites. When you add a link make sure that you make full use of your anchor text. This is the text that is highlighted and clickable. Do not just use ‘Click Here’ as your anchor text. Instead use ‘Click here for a high quality article about social media’
- Check your website’s page speed using this Google page speed tool
- Add alt tag information to every image that you upload. The bots at Google cannot read images so you need to tell them (using those all important keywords) what they are missing
- Make sure that you give your images full, keyword rich, file names.
If you are creating your website using Jimdo you can add your keywords, meta data and optimise your page titles and descriptions quickly and easily.
Widgets That Work
Once you have your website up and running, you can make it stronger and more appealing by adding widgets. Installing a widget involves copying a small piece of code onto a specific (it will tell you where) part of your website.
I love a good widget myself and, on my website, I use several.
For example, I use a Pinterest widget on my homepage to show my visitors all my most recent Pins. I use a widget from Shareaholic which creates a floating bank of social media sharing buttons to appear on all of my website pages.
In addition, I use a widget called Disqus to create and manage the comment boxes that appear at the end of my blog posts.
Other, Jimdo compatible, widgets include:
- Mailchimp - for your newsletters and email marketing
- Dropbox - for sharing and syncing files, photos, and documents
- Photosnack - to embed mobile-friendly slideshows onto your website
- Pubble - for live Q&A communities
- Powr.io - to customise forms, galleries and social media
- Rumble Talk - to enable a group chat facility for visitors and customers on your website
- Swiftype - to embed an online search engine onto your site
- Scribd - to embed documents into your site
- Polldaddy - to create surveys, quizzes and polls (see 3 Free And Easy Ways To Create Surveys And Collect Data Online for more information on PollDaddy)
- Wufoo - to build and embed HTML forms
- Snap Engage - to add a live chat capability to your website
- SoundCloud - to upload and embed audio to your website
- Availability Calendar - allows you to create and embed calendars on your site
- Google Calendar - another online calendar option
- BackBlaze - an online backup service
- Get Events - enables you to create a complete, customised and up-to-date events page on your website
- Add Search - adds instant, visual search on your website
- Google Translate - does what it says on the tin!
The list goes on and is growing all of the time as more interesting widgets are developed. They are super easy to install and can really boost your website’s functionality.
I hope that this post has given you some ideas as to how to create a website quickly and easily.
Thanks for reading!
*If you have any questions or if you still believe that website development has to always be a long, arduous and expensive process, please do not hesitate to get in touch and I will aim to persuade you further!.
You can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment in the box below.