Growing Your Business
Up and running and ready to grow your business?
We’re here to help. This section covers everything you need to know to build your empire.
How to create and maintain a website as a small business
Starting and maintaining a website is easier and cheaper than ever before.
But at the same time, it’s more than a little confusing. With so much choice, and every man and his dog (or cats – especially cats) building their online presence, the whole thing is quite daunting.
So here’s a super simple guide to starting and maintaining your website, perfect for busy small businesses who want to set their digital wheels in motion.
Choose a Content Management System (CMS)
For regular folk who don’t know how to build a website from scratch using their own code, a CMS is the answer.
This is basically where you build and maintain your website.
These days there is an incredible amount of choice, and most systems are extremely user friendly.
Have a look to see what you like the look of. Chances are you may end up with WordPress or Squarespace – the two biggest and arguably simplest systems available.
However, if you have no web design experience or knowledge at all, Squarespace is widely considered the best choice. You can create really slick looking sites incredibly easily.
Check whether you need to find web hosting
Now, some CMS systems will be an all-in-one website builder, which means you won’t need to purchase web hosting.
But, with WordPress for example, you will need to purchase web hosting separately.
So when you’re choosing your CMS provider, factor in whether they provide web hosting as part of their package.
Choose a domain name
The next job is to choose a domain name – in other words, the name of your website.
Purchasing a domain name, depending on what you want, normally isn’t too expensive – maybe £10 to £15 a year.
However, once again, if you choose an all-in-one site builder a domain name will be included in your price and annual plan.
Some web hosting providers also provide domain names in their monthly or annual pricing.
Choose a template for your site
Now, the CMS you choose will have a vast library of templates or ‘themes’ for your website.
It’s possible to create your own from scratch of course, but to make your own look professional really does require some solid web design experience.
The easier option is to choose a theme, and then customise your site using your own images, fonts, language and services.
Create your webpages – and site structure
Most websites broadly have the same structure.
There’s a homepage on which sits all of the key details about your business. This is typically where someone lands when they look for you online – so it’s vital that you give them the information they’ll need, or direct them to the correct page.
Then you may have product or service pages, where visitors can find out more about what you do.
Finally, you should have a contact page, including the best means to reach you.
So, decide on the pages you want, and create them.
Our top tip is to start simple. Use a basic structure to begin with that achieves your main goals (allow customers to book a table, showcase what you do for customers etc.), and then you can extend your site over time.
Make it easy for you, and easy for visitors
Keep your site alive!
Websites, ideally, should be regularly updated.
When your site is updated, visitors (and more importantly, Google) see that your business is active online. There’s a reason to visit your site again.
Perhaps you can link your social media channels to your site. Maybe you can start a blog through the CMS you choose. Or you can simply update your products and services as required.
Whatever you do, just try to think of your website as a living thing that needs regular attention if you want it to succeed.
And remember – this is just the start
Following these steps is a good starting point – and more importantly, it will get you up and running at minimal cost.
But to make an impact online and to ensure that your website becomes a revenue driver, you will need to invest more time and money.
Competing with similar businesses who are established online is challenging, and will probably require hiring a web agency – and potentially an SEO specialist too.
These experts can help to ensure that when someone looks for businesses like yours, they find you specifically.
But we have to walk before we can run – and creating your first website is a big step in the right direction.