4 First Steps for Building a Startup Website
In today’s digital world, one of the essential first steps in building a business is creating an online presence. 80 per cent of small businesses say a main use of their website is to provide general information, and 45 per cent cite customer service.
With 81 per cent of consumers researching information online before making big purchases, your website (or lack thereof) is likely the first thing a prospective customer or client sees (or doesn’t see) about your business.
In a previous blog post, we discussed some basic steps needed to get a new business website up and running, including registering a domain name, selecting a hosting company and content management system (CMS), and designing the website. Here, I’ll expand on a few of these, plus touch on site metrics.
Register a domain name
There are a number of registrars for finding and buying available domain names online, like Internic.ca, CIRA.ca, and Domainscanada.ca – or service providers like Bell who can help both research and register your desired domains. Whichever you choose, make sure they are accredited through ICANN, an organization that works to keep the web running securely.
Keep in mind that you may not get the name you want, either because it’s already being used, or it’s selling at too high of a price. In fact, some startups don’t even choose their company name until they do a registrar search to find out what domains are available! That said, new approved domain extensions like “.company” or “.guru” means you can get more creative with options.
Find a hosting provider
Look for a hosting or web services provider that has a reputation for reliability (site downtime is detrimental to a business), is affordable, and offers 24/7 support, ease of updates, and scalability as your business grows and changes. Consider what you want to accomplish with the site, and ensure the provider is aware of this, and everything that would be needed. For example, will your site have to pull data from a server? Is e-commerce a part of the equation, requiring added security and services to make it transactional? Will you want to send e-newsletters? It’s always a good idea to seek advice and referrals from those you trust, and have questions prepared in advance.
Build your site
You could, as our previous blog suggested, design and build your site using an open source platform such as WordPress. Open source content management systems (CMS) offer basic templates and designs to work from – but to better stand out from the crowd, consider getting your site created professionally. Professional web services, like those offered by Bell, provide expert consultation to design and build your site, and can create, host and provide support for your domains as well – all through a convenient, single point of contact. And of course, you can still manage and maintain your site in-house once it is built.
For specialized features such as secure payments, complex website metrics, and streaming video, make sure to discuss these needs upfront with the partner you’re considering to determine if they can fulfill them effectively, and if there’s an added cost for implementation. Ask to see some comparable examples of active websites the company has built. This can give you a visual idea of what the company can produce, and might even help inspire your own design.
Select a website analytics platform
To understand how well your website is performing once it’s up and running, you’ll want to have a reliable analytics tool in place. A good web analytics program can tell you how many total visits you’re getting, how many people are visiting your website, what they’re looking at, where they’re from, and even how much time they spend on the site. All of this gives you a better understanding of your customers, what they want, where you can improve, and provides you with valuable information for your advertising efforts. Google Analytics is a great (and free) tool that can be easily set up to keep track of your site’s stats. Check out this previous blog to learn how to add Google Analytics to your new website.
The World Wide Web is a critical tool for a new company trying to make a name for itself. There’s really no reason not to create a website when you have a new business – whether you want to build it yourself or engage a professional web services partner.
What do you most wish to get out of your business’ first website? Tell us in the comments below.