A 2015 study reported that small- and medium-sized businesses see more success from their websites than from any other channel, which makes it remarkable that more than half of small businesses still do not have an online presence.
If the technical side of building a website seems daunting, small business owners today have an array of free and easy-to-use website builders to help bring their businesses online. Created for the non-technical user, these tools provide out-of-the-box templates that let you point and click your way to a new website.
Here are a few tips to get started:
1. Visualize Your Website and Identify Your Needs
Take a moment to think about what your website will look like. It often helps to get really simple and take a notebook and pencil and sketch it out. Do you just need a basic one-page flyer for your business? Or, maybe you’d like to create a multimedia marketing and sales hub? Most free website builders are great tools if you want to start with a few simple pages, but also offer the option to upgrade to a more premium package for additional features and functionality as you scale your website. Generally, options included in a free package versus a premium package will vary by provider, so knowing what you require now — and what you might need later — will help you to narrow down your list of potential website builders.
Take a look at the comparison below to get an idea of what to expect when selecting a website builder:
2. Register a Domain Name
Your domain name is not only the Web address for your site; it is also your online identity, so it’s important to register one that best represents your business and brand. Some website builders will suggest you skip this step and offer to host your site on their domain, but sending customers to your own registered domain name will help you achieve the following:
- Build your business’ brand
- Launch a central place on the Web for customers to find you, even if you switch website providers
- Create a memorable address to use for marketing
- Establish a company-branded email through the domain name
Try to come up with a domain name that represents your business name and choose a domain extension that is highly recognized and credible. Many experts recommend using a .com or .net domain since they are the standards for doing business online, and offer the high recognition and credibility that are important for a small business website.
For inspiration, use a name suggestion tool such as DomainScope.com to search for available domain names. Be creative and keep in mind a more descriptive version of your business name — one that includes your location, creatively highlights certain aspects of your business, or includes popular search keywords — may be the most successful in getting customer attention.
When you finally have that great idea for a name, head over to an accredited domain name registrar to register your new Web address. Many companies that sell domain names also offer website builder services, or you can connect your already-registered domain name to the tool you select.
3. Select the Right Website Builder
Research, research, research. Start by doing a search on ‘free website builders’ on your favorite search engine. Look at your list of requirements and choose two to three website builders to compare. Keep in mind the features offered in premium packages, as you may need to use them as your needs grow with your business. Not all tools are created equal, and selecting the right builder for your website will save you time and frustration down the line.
Ready to get started? Download Verisign’s Building a Website Checklist.
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