How To Build a Website for Your Business in 9 Steps
Your website is your business’s digital home, where customers go to learn more about your company, uncover your services, products, and prices, and understand why you might be able to solve their problems.
While creating a website for your business is easier than ever, you should put careful thought into its development. In fact, it only takes 50 milliseconds for people to form an opinion about your website, so you want to make the best impression as fast as possible.
We’ll walk you through how to build a quality website that represents your business well.
- Register a domain name
- Choose where you want to host your site
- Decide on a website builder
- Pick a template
- Map out your site
- Add content
- Optimize your site for search engines
- Integrate any apps, if needed
- Publish, monitor, and update your site regularly
1. Register a domain name
Your domain name is one of the most important parts of building a website because it’s how many people will find your business online. The trick is to have your domain name be descriptive enough that customers understand who you are and what you’re offering, but not so creative (with abbreviations, acronyms, etc.) that it confuses them. You also want it to be easy to remember in case they’re coming from a direct search.
However, there are over a billion and a half websites. This means that not every URL is available for use. Fortunately, sites like GoDaddy, Squarespace, and Wix let you conduct a domain name search. Sometimes, something as simple as changing the top-level domain (TLD)—the domain name suffix like “.com” or “.org”—can help you find a domain that works.
Consider these tips for choosing a domain name.
- Don’t pick something that customers might easily confuse with another business. For example, if a company in your area has the domain “bestmarylandplumber.com,” you might not want to use “bestMDplumber.com.”
- Try to avoid numbers in your URL. People might not know whether to write out the number or use the numeral.
- Don’t choose a URL that looks spammy. Using excessive punctuation or cramming in too many keywords will make your site look less legitimate.
As you start to form an idea about what you want your domain to be, proceed to a domain registrar, such as GoDaddy or MailChimp. These registrars will offer you a domain checker so you can see what URLs are available. Look through the available options and make your selection.
Then, purchase the domain from the registrar and fill out the information they request. Once you complete the purchase, the domain is yours. Keep in mind that domains generally need to be renewed on a yearly basis. Pay attention to the duration of your domain purchase and renew it before it expires.
2. Choose where you want to host your site
Once you’ve purchased your URL, you’ll want to find a web host. Web hosting is when you rent or buy space with a hosting platform to house your website. Your website needs to live on a server to be accessible to customers online. A web hosting service provider has the required server to give you the online space necessary to build your website.
There are many hosting companies from which to choose. Let’s review some of the most popular platforms.
Most people have heard of GoDaddy, but they may not realize that GoDaddy provides domain name registration services and acts as a web hosting provider. This provider generally works well for people new to running their website and those who want to manage multiple domains. Altogether, it has about 21.2 million customers.
- GoDaddy is the largest domain register, which can help you find the domain you want to use.
- GoDaddy often offers discounts users can take advantage of throughout the year.
- You have access to various options in controls and hosting, including Linux vs. Windows, cPanel, and Plesk control panel interfaces.
- GoDaddy has had issues with site speed, although they have worked on improving it.
- Users don’t get a choice in their data center location.
- Users don’t have access to live chat support around the clock.
Price: Plans on GoDaddy can range from $1.99 per month for shared hosting to $89.99 per month for certain dedicated packages.
When people hear of DreamHost, they most often associate it with WordPress; it’s an officially recommended host by the popular site builder. This web hosting option can offer a lot of variety in its hosting packages. Users can access significant processing power when needed, or they can get a simpler package for smaller hosting needs. This platform also boasts a 100% uptime guarantee while hosting over 1.5 million websites, blogs, and apps.
- DreamHost offers a variety of website-building benefits, including unlimited sub-domains, unlimited SQL databases, unlimited bandwidth, and unlimited data storage.
- This provider also integrates very easily with WordPress, making it easy to design your site.
- You can access benefits like a free website domain for a year and a three-month money-back guarantee.
- You’ll have to pay a premium for many features on the DreamHost dashboard.
- Many users find that the control panel isn’t as intuitive as other options.
- It’s common to encounter significant delays when looking for support.
Price: Plans typically fall between $2.59 and $7.95 per month.
Bluehost is another popular hosting platform that comes with benefits and drawbacks. The website has recently updated a variety of its features, creating an improved experience for many users. It also integrates easily with WordPress.
- Bluehost can come with WordPress pre-installed, and it’s easy to use the popular website builder.
- Bluehost offers benefits like unlimited storage and unlimited data transfer.
- This platform also offers some customer experience benefits, including guided website creation, responsive live chat support, and free SSL.
- Bluehost doesn’t offer the best website speed and performance, which can hurt search engine optimization (SEO).
- You have to upgrade your plan to take advantage of a variety of features.
- You don’t have as much control over the automatic data backups.
Price: Plans run between $7.99 and $14.99 per month.
InMotion has a reputation for working particularly well for businesses needing to host a website and has more than 570,000 customers. The company regularly upgrades its offerings, including a recent DDoS mitigation update and the introduction of a new website builder.
- InMotion has an excellent reputation for website speed and page loading speed.
- You can build your website with a premium website builder and pre-installed WordPress, Joomla, or PrestaShop.
- This platform gives you access to unlimited disk space and data transfer, as well as SSD drives and UltraStack Servers.
- Packages with InMotion don’t include CDN.
- You can only create a few sites per account with many plans, which can hinder anyone who needs to build a variety of sites.
- Some users won’t like the payment plans, which generally require paying a year in advance.
Price: Plans typically run between $7.49 and $22.99 per month.
SiteGround offers hosting services that work well with a variety of website builders. Many users also note that the customer service representatives for this platform are particularly helpful, thanks to the specific training they receive.
- SiteGround offers a variety of free features with a plan, including a free domain name, a free daily backup and restore, and free Let’s Encrypt SSL.
- SiteGround offers data centers on three continents.
- This platform offers some unique features, like an anti-bot AI system and improved server restore technology.
- With SiteGround, your webspace is capped at 10-30GB.
- You need an advanced plan to access some features, like managed hosting.
- The costs of these plans are higher than some other options.
Price: Plans run between $14.99 and $39.99 per month.
Decide on a website builder
Next, think about the website builder you’ll use to create your website. Many small business owners and new entrepreneurs who have not built websites before enjoy going for options that offer step-by-step guides or even drag-and-drop web design options. This can make it simple to build a professional website.
But keep in mind that the best website builder will be the one that fits your needs and optimally creates a presence for your business online. Let’s explore a few popular website builders.
Wix is a website builder that specializes in making design easy for site owners. Businesses across industries use this site builder—it has over 200 million users across nearly every country. It also offers plans that start at $0. Those who have not created websites before can use the pre-populated templates to create professional-grade websites.
- Easy, intuitive design options, including drag-and-drop tools
- Vast app market to make designing an ideal user experience straightforward.
- Supportive help centers and beginner’s guides can help you feel more confident.
- Once you select a template, you can’t change it without starting over.
- Some helpful third-party apps cost more, and might not work well for larger e-commerce stores.
- Beginners may feel a little overwhelmed by all the choices.
Price: You can use the builder for free, or paid plans start at $14 per month.
WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMSs)in the world. Over a third of all websites are powered by WordPress, including major sites from organizations like AMC. WordPress makes it easy for site owners to design a site and keep it updated with blog posts and new content.
We explore some key benefits and drawbacks to developing a WordPress website.
- Free versions and the extremely intuitive format make it easy to get started.
- The popularity of the platform makes it easy to find step-by-step instructions for different tasks and information about optimizing your site.
- WordPress developers have created a vast array of plugins and themes to help you customize your website.
- WordPress has regular updates that you need to keep up with to protect your website.
- Since WordPress is so popular, it can make an attractive target for hackers and malicious actors.
- You need some background knowledge in coding and programming to take advantage of all that WordPress has to offer.
Price: Prices start at $0. Hosting can start for just a few dollars a month, but can go up if you use paid themes and plugins.
Squarespace offers a higher level of complexity than some other options, like Wix, but it also comes with beautiful, award-winning templates. This website builder has been particularly popular with those building creative websites. More than 4.6 million websites use this host.
- It’s easy to coordinate multiple contributors on the platform and sync with social media platforms.
- Access built-in analytics and a host of SEO tools
- It has an excellent inventory system and related e-commerce features.
- You don’t get total freedom over your site and are limited by your template.
- You have to manually save your work, and the lack of autosave can leave you open to potential disasters.
- There is no free plan (only a free trial), so you’re limited in your experimentation options.
Price: Plans start around $12 per month.
Weebly draws the attention of many entrepreneurs because of its free option and step-by-step instructions. This can make it a good option for beginners. This website builder is used for about 1.7 million websites across the globe.
- This platform has an excellent free plan, making it a good choice for those just getting started with their business.
- The What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor and drag-and-drop editing make it intuitive.
- You get access to helpful guides and information about building a successful website and SEO.
- Your templates and use are limited, and you can only infuse so much of your own creativity.
- The platform doesn’t have the level of mobile optimization expected for modern websites.
- The templates offered aren’t as modern as you may want, resulting in sites that look a little dated.
Price: Free options and paid plans starting at $6 per month.
Drupal is a CMS like WordPress, but it offers a greater degree of flexibility, which some site owners appreciate. An estimated 1.7 million websites run on Drupal, and major agencies like NASA.gov have used it. As a CMS, Drupal makes it easy to keep your website updated.
- Drupal has greater flexibility in design and creativity than WordPress.
- It offers straightforward layout and design.
- The free plans are exceptional.
- It’s designed for users who understand at least some coding and programming, making it more challenging for many.
- It can be harder to get your site up and running on Drupal, including a need to configure databases (which you do not need to do with WordPress).
- It can be harder to change themes and make other adjustments compared to WordPress.
Price: Offers free plans. Premium hosting begins at $3.95 per month and goes up with paid plugins and other extras.
Pick a template
Carefully select a theme or template before building your website. Many website-building options offer a wide range of website templates. Each one will provide your website with a design and layout that can help you plan your website.
The theme you select will considerably impact how your website appears to customers, including how different pages are presented and how users interact with you.
Keep a few principles in mind as you look at your options.
- Pay attention to functionality. Ensure that users will have no problem using your site and finding the pages that matter to them.
- Choose a template that easily incorporates your branding. Make sure that your chosen template will look good with your brand colors, logo, and other elements.
- Plan to evolve with changing technology and needs. You want your template to be easily updated so it can help you keep pace with these changes. Select a template that is easily managed.
Map out your site
You need more than just a homepage for your website to work effectively. Other webpages are necessary to help your customers better understand your business and what you have to offer your target audience. Therefore, your next step will be to map out your site. Make a list of what pages you want to have on your site.
Some standard pages that you will likely want to include are:
- About us. This gives your customers some background on your business and what makes you unique. You can also include information about you and your team so customers can feel a more personal connection with you.
- Pricing and packages. You’ll need a page dedicated to telling your customers how much you charge for your standard products and services.
- E-commerce. On the other hand, if you offer online retail, you’ll need product listing pages to let customers browse what you sell and how much your products cost.
- Contact us. You also want to make it easy for customers to reach out to you when they have a question. Having a contact page that details your email address, phone number, and physical address will help them ask you any questions.
- FAQs. If you often receive questions from your customers, dedicating a page to answering them can create a user-friendly experience.
- Resources. While this page doesn’t play as much of a central role, many businesses include a resource page. This might consist of a variety of resources, like blogs, white papers, and even e-books.
The pages you include will depend on your target audience and the information that matters most to them.
Once you’ve outlined your pages, begin adding content. The content you add should help customers better understand your business, how you can help them, and why they should buy from you specifically.
The pages you create should reflect the primary goal of your website. In other words, develop your pages with the specific needs of your target audience in mind. You also want each page to have a clear purpose. The purpose might be to provide customers with more information about your business, help people browse your product selection, or learn more about their pain points and how you can help.
Each page should also contain a call to action (CTA) so customers know how to take the next step. That CTA might be for customers to check out with their full shopping cart, click to contact you, or start browsing your product listings to get ready to buy.
Some essential information to have on your site includes:
- Background information on your business
- Your phone number
- Your physical address
- Your email address or other contact information
- The products and services you offer
- Your logo and visual designs
- Quality photos related to your business (not stock photos, but actual photos of your products and services)
If you want help creating visuals for your websites or creating an effective UI, the experts on Upwork can help you create the project you envisioned.
Optimize your site for search engines
Keep SEO best practices in mind as you build your website. SEO dictates how search engines view your website, understand your content, and align it with relevant searchers. A site that has been well-optimized for SEO displays some key attributes that search engines appreciate.
- The site displays expertise. Your site displays clear expertise through credentials, content that outside sources link to, and building a reputation as an expert in this field.
- The site displays authority. The content on the page is well-supported and aligns with established leaders in the field.
- The site displays trustworthiness. The information provided is accurate, and people can trust the source. In other words, it’s not covered with ads or spammy material.
Keep a few critical best practices in mind as you focus on developing your site according to those three criteria.
- Internal linking. Make it easy for search engines and users to move around the site, understand how the content connects, and see your expertise across your main subject areas.
- Fast site speed. Google has indicated that it pays attention to site speed when ranking content. Optimize your page so the website loads as fast as possible.
- Keyword placement. Use keywords to understand the targeted topics that interest your audience and create content that speaks to them. Keywords will help you better attract an audience and let Google know that you write engaging content for your intended audience.
- Regular fresh content. Keep your website relevant for users and let the search engines know that your page is current and well-maintained through regular publications.
- External linking. You want to link your website to other pages that support your content. This shows your business’s place in the digital ecosystem.
- Optimized images. Make your content more visually attractive with images, but use alt text to let search engines and those visually impaired know what the image shows.
- Social media incorporation. This will draw more attention to your small business website. Promote your pages through social media platforms and build a presence on popular sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. Also, use your website as a resource for people to follow you directly on your social media platforms.
If you’re new to SEO, trust the professionals on Upwork to get you started. Their dedication to SEO can help your brand rank higher and build your business.
Integrate any apps, if needed
Depending on your business model, you might need to use various apps and plugins to give your customers an optimal experience. For example, if you run an e-commerce site, you want an integration that allows people to purchase and pay for items on your site through an online store. Your site should easily accept credit cards and payments from popular sites like PayPal.
If you own a restaurant, you want customers to book a table directly on your website. Many web developers also create contact forms and integrations with email marketing so customers who submit their information can be added to marketing lists.
Consider which apps will improve your users’ website experience. Your website builder might also offer an app store that lets you look at the different app integrations.
Publish, monitor, and update your site regularly
Now that you’ve built your site, it’s time to publish and go live. However, you’ll need to regularly monitor and update your site once it is online.
One of the first steps you want to take with your live website is to add it to Google Analytics. This tool can help you see how people find your site and engage with it. You can track the number of visitors you get on the different pages and what they do. This will let you know if you need to make changes or updates to your content to encourage people to engage better.
Monitor consumer trends and what people look for from websites. As you monitor your site visitors, also keep your website updated. This will help you keep your website at the forefront of the industry and ready to help customers.
If you’re new to using online analytics to keep an eye on your business, an independent professional on Upwork can help you find your footing. They dedicate themselves to understanding and interpreting analytics to help you better understand the data surrounding your site.
Take your time creating the perfect business site
Your website is your business’s online home, and it will form the basis for your online presence. It provides you with a tremendous opportunity to engage the modern consumer, who has largely moved online. The key is developing a site that customers will appreciate and that ranks well on search engine results pages (SERPs).
If you want to build a professional-looking website with the help of an expert, consider working with independent professionals on Upwork. With the largest online platform for freelancers, we have a variety of experts ready to help you at all stages of your project.
If you’re an independent professional specializing in developing websites, you’ll find the largest marketplace of clients looking for skill sets like yours. Get started building your business today.
Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.