How to Build a Website for my Company

Since the mid-1990s, having a business presence online has been one of the best ways to increase a company’s revenue and popularity. Frankly, it makes sense: Instead of having a customer base that primarily consists of locals and the occasional tourist, businesses are now able to appeal, market, and sell to a global audience! However, with a global audience comes global competition. As a result, businesses that take the first step into the online world often find themselves surrounded by several – if not hundreds – of competitors scooping up their would-be customers!

Thankfully, there are ways to build a website so that it’s not only a functional and excellent representation of a business, but also so that it can survive and compete in the virtual market. Building a website, however, isn’t as simple as finding a nice template and coloring it in: The development process can be long and arduous, consisting of complex code, design choices, marketing lingo, and plenty of maintenance afterwards. Although it may be a little tough, it’s extremely rewarding and not too difficult if you can find the right people to help.

Step 1: Taking the “DIY” Route vs. Hiring Professionals

Every step of the way you’ll be faced with a decision: Do you hire a professional or just do it yourself? There are glaring pros and cons to each, but the decision is really going to come down to your needs and abilities. Unless you’re a professional developer, there’s a good chance that you’ll be better off hiring somebody to do the job for you. While you’ll ultimately end up with a better product, there’s a drawback: You’ll need to pay them a sizable sum of money. As a result, you can certainly get quality, but it’s going to come at a price.

You can always learn some areas yourself, and you might just be able to do a good job too. However, this takes times, practice, and more importantly, experience. If you have no plans to build more websites in the future, then it may be smart to hire a professional.

Step 2: The Development Process

Although there are many components to a good website, the foundation comes in the form of code. Code itself comes in many languages, each of which fills different purposes: HTML and CSS make up the structure and appearance of the page, JavaScript and jQuery help make client-side scripts such as animations, and PHP and MySQL are responsible for communication between the website and a database. Of course, there are other languages – such as Python, Ruby, and AJAX – but the aforementioned are the most basic and common. If you’re establishing an ecommerce website, there’s a good chance your website will be using a combination of all of them!

Step 3: The Design Process

While development may be the foundation – and even the frame – of the “house,” design is just about everything else. Design, however, is more than just looking pretty: It’s the art of catching the eye of your visitor, getting them to stay, and above all, ensuring that they can easily navigate the website without hassle or confusion. All of these things are extremely important, especially considering the fact that users will leave a website the moment they become confused, lost, or frustrated.

Although web design is an incredibly broad topic that takes several long books to cover, there are some basics that will ensure great results as long as they’re kept in mind.

- Keep it simple! Most visitors don’t want to be greeted by a website with hundreds of different navigational options, several different uncoordinated colors, and haphazardly-placed images. Keep your design, images, and layouts simple and easy to navigate; it goes a long way!

- Keep the essentials at the top. The “essentials” will vary between websites, but they usually include the website’s header, the navigation bar, and the shopping cart. These things should not only be kept at the top, but should be unchanging between pages.

- Make sure everything is accessible. In other words, don’t “hide” things: Make sure everything the user would ever need is only a few clicks away.

- Keep the First Law of Usability in Mind: “Don’t Make Me Think!” This law was first written by usability expert Stephen Krug in his book by the same name. Whenever you face a design decision, ask yourself, “will including this make it so that my visitors need to ‘think’ to get around it?” If the answer is “yes,” consider a simpler alternative.

Step 4: Marketing and Promotion

If the previous two steps have been carried out nicely, there’s a good chance your website is completely built and ready for launch! But once you’re online, how will anyone notice you? Well, this is the other half of the battle: Marketing. This is also a broad topic, but like a design, it can be condensed into a few major sections.

- Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization: Often abbreviated simply as SEM and SEO respectively, both are incredibly effective ways of becoming visible online. Whenever someone wants to find something online, they almost always submit their query to a search engine. As a result, marketing through the search engines through paid listings is often a very smart decision.

SEO, however, is where things get slightly more complicated. Search engines such as Google organically rank websites based on numerous factors, such as your content’s keyword density, the number of links from other websites, and more. Since this subject is rather broad, it’s best to pick up a few reputable books on the subject. Although it may be complicated, you’ll get a lot of traffic for no cost when it’s carried out correctly!

- Paid Advertising: “Renting” parts of other websites so that you can host advertisements leading back to your website is very effective, but is also expensive. Thankfully, there are many advertising agencies that can help you with this.

- Social Media: Social mediums such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter are excellent ways to not only spread the word of your business, but also drive traffic back to your website. All of these mediums require you to produce relevant and interesting content, which almost always result in targeted traffic directed back to your website.

There’s a lot more to online marketing, but those three categories are the “big three.” Bear in mind, however, that the aforementioned are only brief descriptions: The actual subjects themselves are very broad and often interconnect. As a result, it’s recommended that you hire a professional to perform this task for you.

Step 5: Maintenance

At this point, your website is completely built, launched, and being marketed in some way. The job, however, doesn’t stop here! A great website is something that needs to be looked after, maintained, and regularly updated. Thankfully, many tools exist that can help you keep track of numerous statistics such as your website’s traffic. There are also other tools for other things, such as keeping track of marketing and advertising campaigns. Although there are many tools around, some of the best are Google’s free web master tools.

One of the best ways to keep your website updated is to maintain a regularly-updated blog with content relating to your company’s products. Doing so will not only help you keep things up-to-date, but will also help drive traffic, establish yourself as an authority in the field, and even increase your rank in search engines if people link to it!

Intimidated Yet?

If you are, that’s perfectly alright: Setting up a website is more complicated than most would think! And to make things even worse, all of this was only the tip of the iceberg. However, don’t let it scare you off: We have been using HostOtter.com for about 4 years now and would definitely recommend using them. HostOtter.com can aid you in building a website for your company. Also, if you hire the right people and have a good product standing behind you, you’ll find that your website will be less of a maintenance hassle and more of a smart – and lucrative – investment.

Remember that investing in your website is investing in your business: If you invest wisely, you’re going to get some incredible returns!