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Checklist for building a business website

Are you planning to start (or just started) a business and want a website? - this article steps through the things you will need to do or have done for you.

A business website can start off simply as a Facebook / eBay page, or you can get a WordPress site built reasonably cheaply. Advanced requirements with a lot of features may need a custom built site.

Plan your site - write the content

What do you want on your site?

You need to write out the content (text and pictures) for each page on your site. For example you will start with a home page and have a products / services page at least.

Write this all out yourself first (use a word processor is fine as a starting point, but just a text editor is better as it allows you to focus on your *message*, rather than the colors and fonts).
Spend some time thinking carefully about the wording and message you want to say. It will save you time if you have some polished content ready to go when you start building your site.

[ ] work out the pages you want on your site
[ ] write the text for each page
[ ] prepare photos /  videos for the pages you want
[ ] convert media to appropriate scale for a website
            


Choose how you will build your website

This depends on your budget and your needs - if you are starting out, you may want to use a WordPress site but if you are building something with a lot of interactivity you will need a custom built site.

If you are really starting out with a tiny budget you could bypass this step by creating a "page" on an existing platform - eg setup an eBay page or a Facebook page.

Things to do:

[ ] work out your budget
[ ] choose the platform
[ ] find a developer (or learn the technology)
[ ] agree on a price
[ ] get the site built
            


Create the Design for your site

This is different to the structure (technology) and content (the text, pictures and videos) on your site - you need to work out a theme that determines how your site looks.

You can shortcut this by buying a theme (WordPress has many themes for sale, and if building a custom site, you can purchase a theme using CSS (e.g. Bootstrap themes)

Things to do:

[ ] think about the theme of your site
[ ] choose the colors, fonts
[ ] hire, buy or build the theme for your site
            


Find a Host for your site

A host is the provider that actually has your content on it, and people visit - this is basically the computer that stores and delivers the content when someone types in www.yourwebsite.com

If you have a Facebook or eBay / shopify site then you don't have to do anything here - they will host your site seeing you entered your content onto their platform.

As a starting business you could probably get away with a lower priced business plan (never go for the cheapest / free tier option) because traffic to your site is likely to start slow.

For custom sites, you will need to do the following:

[ ] find a host that will handle the traffic you expect
[ ] register an account with them
[ ] upload your content
            


Get a domain name

A domain name is the thing that people see when you visit the site - www.google.com

Most of the good names are taken, so you wont get plumber.com very easily

You can search registries for available domain names and find one that matches your business - they offer alternatives if the one you want is taken.

[ ] find a domain name for your business
[ ] register the domain name
[ ] point your new domain name to your hosted site (DNS entry)
            


Getting Paid

How will your business website accept payments?
There are many options including
- phone number to you to collect payments manually
- outsourced ecommerce provider (Paypal, Stripe)
- Form to collect credit card payments (not really recommended these days, unless using a Bank API)


[ ] decide how you will accept payments
[ ] get an online payment system
or 
[ ] get a developer to build a payment system
            


Testing

Congratulations - you have a business website! At this stage, you have a new domain with all your content loaded but no one is going to see it because no one knows that it exists (unless you happened to grab plumber.com).
This is the time for you to do testing, and this takes some time to do properly.

Steps to test your website

[ ] make sure the correct home page loads
[ ] test each page, and read all the content
[ ] ensure images load correctly and quickly
[ ] check all the above steps from a mobile
[ ] all the above steps on ALL the popular browsers
         (Firefox, Chrome, Edge, Safari)
            


SEO - how will people find your site?

SEO means telling people about your site and getting them to visit

There are a number of ways of doing this

[ ] use your social media - Tweet | Post
[ ] email lists - use your contacts list
[ ] Use SEO specialist services
[ ] write a blog (provides good back links)
[ ] Advertise! - Google Adwords, Facebook, etc
            



That's all for now - hopefully you have an idea of the steps needed to setup a business website.



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