With more and more people shopping online it's becoming difficult to stand out in the world of online shopping. This is why we think it's important to have a great-looking and functioning website, and why here at Create we offer easy-to-make websites that anyone can build!
If this is your first website, or even if you want to redesign your existing website, we think it's best to have a plan and in this guide I will be talking about the things you need to consider before creating your own website.
Now that you have decided you need a website, the first thing to do is have a good think about what you actually want from it. It's important to consider what you want your website to do for you, to establish goals for the website and for your business.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get you started. It might be handy to write out your answers to refer back to in the future, so maybe grab a pen and jot some of these down:
What do you want your website to look like? Quirky? Professional? Friendly?
Tip: Start by looking at websites not only in your industry but far away from it. Make a note of any that you love and what it is you like about them.
Who is your website for? What is your target market? Will the look that you have in mind suit this market?
Will you sell your products online or use your website to promote your business?
What are your website's goals? Do you want to make sales, drum up more business in your actual shop or get more enquiries about your service?
Please note that this section is aimed at UK business only. For local advice in other areas, we suggest contacting a local legal professional.
If you intend to sell goods online in the United Kingdom, you will need to comply with the distance selling legislation as well as the normal legalities of setting up a business.
You can read our handy guide on distance selling and the law by clicking here.
You can find a great 'one stop shop' for information about setting up a business in the UK on the .gov website here:
This has information about starting up and running a business in the UK, including help if you're self-employed or a sole trader.
Now that you have your business ideas you can start considering your website's content. We find it's much easier to actually prepare most of your content before you start designing your website, so that you can include it early on and your website will take shape faster.
Tip: Try to write out a page plan. List all the pages you'll want on your website, then group some together to make it easier for visitors to browse your site. Indicate which pages will be parent pages and which might be child pages. For example, you might wish to show a "Portfolio" page as a child page of "About Us" . This will come in handy if you use drop-down menus later.
Here is a list of the content you might want to start thinking about writing and collecting:
Text. You could write out the text for all of your pages in Notepad or TextEdit, ready to add to your website later. At this stage, you can write just a first draft. The great thing about Create is you can update your content as often as you like, so you can always change it later. You will need text for the pages and if you are selling online you will need descriptions for your products. (Please be aware that if you are going to paste text from anywhere onto your website, you will need to use the "Paste as Plain Text" tool, otherwise you could cause some formatting issues with your pages. You can read about this tool here.)
Photographs and other images. Do you need product images? Does your page need illustrative images? Are you going to source them online, take them yourself or hire a professional? You can read some tips on our blog about taking your own great website photos.
Logo. Have you got a logo or branding ideas yet? If you are going to create your own logo, you can get some ideas on our blog on "How to design a logo.
Finally, have you thought about what domain name you would like to register? Your domain name is your website's address such, as “www.create.net”.
Domains are registered, and you keep your registration for a period of time depending on the register. Domain names registered with Create are registered for two years at a time and you can renew them for further two year periods after this if you wish.
Once you have paid for and registered your domain name you can't change it, so it's worth thinking about the kind of domain name that you would like carefully before you take the plunge and register it.
Here are some things to think about:
You want something that's easy to type.
You want something that will reflect your company brand.
Avoid hyphens and numbers.
Check online to see if there are any similar domain names with any negative connotations. You wouldn't want a customer confusing your business with another poor website or service.
Try to avoid your domain being something that you would search to find yourself. This is called “exact match domain” and Google tends to favour website's that do not use these. So for example if you sell plants in Hull, you would not want your website to be www.plantsinhull.co.uk.
You can purchase your domain name to secure it early during your free trial, or after you have subscribed! You can read how to register a domain name on your Create account here.
Phew! I think we're well on the way to starting a new website now. Below is a handy checklist you can scan through to ensure you have covered all aspects of planning your website:
Have you fully considered what you want from your website?
Have you thought about the legalities of selling online?
Have you gathered the content for your website?
Have you thought about what domain name you would like to register?
Now that you have planned your new website, you can click here to read about choosing your template and colours