By April 22, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

7 Steps to Create your Small Business Website

7 Steps to Create your Small Business Website

3. Choose a Web host

Once you decided on your software, you need to choose a web host, the remote location where your website and related software will be held and made available to visitors.

Your choice of website host will depend in part on the software you choose but also on the speed and number of visits you expect to receive. With some companies, you can start off with less expensive but less powerful shared hosting services and if required, you can step up to faster and more powerful dedicated hosting. This option is something you should consider when choosing a host, even if you start with the least expensive option.

Another consideration, particularly if you are setting up your website yourself, is whether your host provides for automatic installation of your chosen content management software. Most of the popular hosting services will enable you to do this with the click of a button. And in most cases, you can use the same host for more than one website.

If you are doing it yourself, the host’s support services should be an important consideration. While few, if any, will support the software, the hosting application and related issues can be complicated.

4. Choose a template and plug-ins for your Website

Once you've chosen your software and decided on a host, you have to start thinking about other features.

The first one is the template. With many content management systems, and in particular with Joomla! and WordPress, you can pick from hundreds or even thousands of different templates that give your website the look and feel you want.

Some templates are fairly generic while others are either themed to a particular type of product or service (with background graphics and other visual elements that reflect the product or service) or have built-in features that may make it attractive for you. In most cases, the graphics can be edited or changed.

For instance, if you are a real estate agent, you would look for a template that is geared towards selling real estate. This would include a template that has a relevant background and features that let you showcase your listings. Whether you are a consultant, dog groomer or roofer, you should be able to find a template that meets your requirements.

While free templates are readily available, don't be shy to spend a small amount for premium template that most closely matches your needs. In some cases, you can get a template for as little as $25 or you may be required to join a “template club” for $65 or so. Regardless, it's a cheap way to get a great template.

For an idea of what is available, visit these template sites below. For more, search for “Joomla Templates” or “Wordpress Themes”

Free WordPress Templates

Joomla! Resource Directory  (Template providers)

Beyond templates, you may require additional add-ins to provide functionality for your website that makes it easier to use. Like templates, there are many free ones but sometimes the ones you pay for have the best features and are also quite reasonably priced. For both Joomla! and WordPress, you can go to their sites and sort through all the add-ins that are available. Keep in mind that most of the paid versions are not listed on their sites. It's particularly useful to visit Joomla to see what's available since they have a very good system of categorizing. Even if you go with WordPress, at least you can see the kind of functionality that's available and then search for something similar for WordPress.

Whether you want to add some easy e-commerce, provide social networking share buttons, incorporate videos, start a podcast, require people to sign up to receive free material or downloads, create a portfolio of your photographs and even run surveys, polls or a newsletter, just about anything you can think of is available as an add-in.

5. Organize your Website

At this stage, you need to start thinking about what your website will look like and how it will be used. This includes your logo and other visuals, the menu selections you want to make available and the kind of information you want to put on each of those pages.

With most e-commerce sites, you'll have choices within the software itself to set up your storefront with different formats and styles.

If you choose to use Joomla! or WordPress, you'll also need to decide what to display on each page. Templates for these content management systems use a structured approach that enables you to add traditional content and also add-ins with specific information and content you can position on the page based on the structure of your your particular template. In many cases, you can even change the visual appearance of the different information so you can highlight certain things.

The starting point is certainly your menu. There is always a home selection, but you get to choose what the main menu selections are and chose sub-menus off each of those main menu selections. It's important to think carefully about how you want to organize and structure the information on your website to give you the maximum flexibility. Even if you only end up with three main menu selections initially, for instance, it's important to consider what you might add at a later date so that your initial design can easily accommodate it.

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