More than ever, today’s consumers turn to the Internet when they want to find local businesses. Thanks to comprehensive online business directories such as Yelp.com and YellowPages.com, it’s likely that your business has a small online presence already — even if you do not have a website yet. When a consumer finds a potentially worthwhile business in a directory, though, he or she is going to want an avenue through which to conduct further research. That’s why your business needs a website.
If you have never owned a website before, the process of starting one may initially seem a bit daunting. Once you understand the basics of website ownership, though, you can actually have a basic business website running and ready to accept traffic from potential customers in only a few minutes.
The simplest method of creating a business website requires only four steps:
- Register a domain.
- Create an account with a web hosting provider.
- Install a content management system.
- Build your website.
Does the above list look confusing to you? Never fear — we’re about to explain each step.
Register a Domain
A domain name — such as example.com — is a website’s unique identity on the Internet. Only one person or organization can own a specific domain at any given time, and you only own a domain if you continue to pay the yearly renewal fees. A domain name ending in “.com” seldom costs more than $15 per year. You can register a domain with the same company that you use for web hosting services, or you can use a separate domain registrar. Since all domain registration services are essentially the same, you can look to a site such as Cheap-Domain Registration and its services to keep your costs down. Choose the shortest and most memorable domain name possible.
Create an Account With a Web Hosting Provider
A web hosting provider allows you to lease the resources of a web server for a small monthly fee. In a shared hosting environment, many customers share the resources of a single server simultaneously — so no single customer pays very much for the service. Shared hosting often costs less than $20 per month. When a potential customer types the name of your domain into his or her browser — or clicks a link pointing to your website — your web hosting provider will send your website’s data to that person’s computer, smartphone or other device.
Install a Content Management System
A content management system provides the framework that makes a website function. It also provides the template that determines what the website looks like. We recommend using a CMS to power your website because a CMS makes it unnecessary for you to learn how to write computer code. With a single click, your web hosting provider can install a CMS such as WordPress on your website. Once the CMS is installed, you can build your website using an intuitive text editor that looks much like Microsoft Word or any other word processor.
Build Your Website
If you’ve followed the first three steps in this article, you should now have a working website. If you type your domain name in a browser, you should see a page with a message such as “Hello World.” Now, you’re ready to begin building your website. You might begin with a few simple pages explaining what your business does, what your hours of operation are and how people can find your store. In time, you might like to start a blog. Tell the world what makes your company special. With your own business website, there is no limit to what you can do.