Everyone expects your company to have a web presence these days— and for it to look good and function well. There have always been high barriers to entry to getting a website set up and your business online, but thanks to some smart tech entrepreneurs, this task can actually be very easy. To keep things simple, this article will focus on using the incredibly popular and well-supported WordPress platform. We will follow it up in the coming weeks with a multi-part series that will outline key strategies for leveraging social media to drive new business; we were skeptics at first, but it really works! There are many platforms out there, but WordPress is one of the best. So how do you get started?
Getting Your Business Online
WordPress was originally designed as a platform for bloggers. While it has retained this core feature, it has also morphed into a highly customizable and powerful website platform. You can build an entire website by pointing and clicking—and customize anything and everything if you so choose. For basic setups, no programming experience is required, but if you are having trouble figuring out where to click, there are endless online resources and tutorials available at your disposal. Even if you find the steps to be a little daunting, there are numerous developers, individuals, and professional companies that can help you build your WordPress site.
So what are the basic steps you need to follow in order to get a WordPress site up and running?
1. Find a WordPress website host provider
Every website needs to be hosted somewhere, that is, it lives on a computer (usually called a web server) that is available 24/7 to serve up webpages when customers visit your website. Personally, I like using GoDaddy.com. They make it easy to get your website up and running and can do so for as little as $7 a month. GoDaddy also has great support that can help guide you through the setup of your website should you require assistance.
2. Pick a domain name
The next item is to choose a domain name for your website that is 100% unique. For this article, I will use the example www.marksbookshop.com. I use a domain name search tool provided by GoDaddy. It will tell me if the name I want is available or already taken. You can check it out here.
Once you’ve picked a name you like, you can add it to your cart and check out.
3. Choose a “look and feel”
There are two ways you can go about this: 1) completely design your website from scratch and have it coded up (this can be very pricey and time-consuming), or 2) simply choose from one of the thousands of professionally-designed templates that are either free or cost no more than $100. My favorite source for themes is http://themeforest.net/. Navigate to the WordPress themes and refine based on what you like. You can even do a “live preview,” which lets you try the theme on a demo website that the theme author has created. Once you see a design you like, add it to your cart, check out, and download the file. If you really like the design and want it to be exclusively yours, you can even check an option that allows you to be the sole owner of that theme, and no other website can use it.
4. Install the theme
Go back to your GoDaddy account and upload the theme to your website. They make it very easy with their one-click install option. Before this option became available, you had to really know what you were doing and hope that it was going to work. Now GoDaddy takes care of all the setup for you. If at any point you require support, GoDaddy is there for you and will help walk you through the process.
5. Talk about your business
Great! Now you actually have a website— well, the theme is up at least. If you type your domain name into your browser, the default theme that you installed will show up. Now it’s time to fill it up with information about your business and bring your business online. Try to be as concise as possible; long, run-on paragraphs never do well on websites. (Note: the average visitor will decide in 3 seconds whether or not to continue browsing your site. Focus heavily on pictures and highlight the key offerings of your business.)
In future posts, we will be talking about other platforms and components that are critical for a successful web presence, such as social media marketing, localized Google Ad-words, and E-Commerce options, so stay tuned!
Mark Van Vliet
IT Support Manager