Creating a website can be daunting. Same goes for updating or improving your existing website. It feels like a huge project. You may feel like you don’t know where to start.
The good news is, with the right help and the right tools, creating a website is a very manageable process today.
And it all starts with a good plan. To get started, think through what you need to do. Start making notes to keep track.
The following website checklist, provided courtesy of Verisign, will guide you as you consider key issues and what is involved.
1. Purpose and Goals
Determine the purpose of your website. Is it an ecommerce site designed to sell items online? Is it mainly an informational brochure for your business? Is it a blog that you intend to update regularly with posts? This will be your starting point.
2. Domain Name
Choose and register a domain name for your Web address.
Determine what is critical for your website today. Can you start with a simple site and add more bells and whistles later? Write down what you need now, versus later.
4. Site Pages and Features
Develop a list of your website requirements. For example:
- Number of website pages
- Amount of website storage (images and videos mean more storage space)
- Tools such as online forms, blogs, customer reviews, maps, slideshows
- Links to or integration with social media
- Video and/or audio players
- Shopping cart
- Tech support
- Mobile device optimization (so your website looks good on mobile devices)
- Easy way to make content updates
5. DIY vs. Professional Service?
Decide if you want to create a website yourself or if you want to outsource the development and design to an expert. Most DIY website building tools are now made with small business owners in mind, and do not require coding or design skills. Non-technical people can achieve a professional-looking result just by following the online instructions included with a good DIY tool.
6. Website Builder
Choose a website builder. This can be either a do-it-yourself tool, or a professional service that sets up your website for you according to your specifications. Do an Internet search or ask colleagues for recommendations.
Your site will need to be stored on a computer accessible over the Internet in order for visitors to reach it online. For that you’ll need a Web hosting company. Some website builder tools include hosting — just use the tool, follow the instructions, and it will automatically get the site online for you. Or another approach is to choose a hosting company first (such as the one where you bought your domain name), choosing one that offers a website building tool or service.
8. Connect Your Domain Name to Your Website
If you choose to use a website builder tool that places your website online on the builder’s domain name instead of yours, redirect (also known as web forwarding) your domain name to where your website is located. That way you will have a Web address that’s easy for customers and the public to remember, so you can build up your brand with and to make marketing easier and more effective.
9. Plan and Develop Content
Determine what website content is essential and create it. What information will your visitors find valuable? At a minimum, make sure your website shows your business’ contact information such as your company branded email and phone number, as well as any required information your line of business may require such as a state license number. Note: Your domain name can be used to create a company branded email. Check with your hosting company or the company you bought your domain name from.
10. Promote Your Website!
Think about how your visitors will find your website. Put your Web address everywhere possible including business cards, social media, advertising, and online business directories. Experiment with paid search advertisements to attract pay-per-click traffic to your website.
11. Track Performance
Understand how your website is performing and who is coming to your site. Website analytics can yield great insights into what you need to do more of, or what you need to change. You can install an external analytics program, or use one provided by your website builder tool or hosting company.
12. Keep Up a Cycle of Continual Improvement
Continually optimize your site and develop useful content to your visitors based on what’s working.