In today’s digital age, having a well-designed website is crucial for small businesses in Perth. A professionally designed website can...
Are you a small business owner who is in need of learning web design fast, but you don’t know where to start? Designing your own website can be a daunting task, especially if you are new to web design. But with the right tools and resources, you can have your business website up and running in no time.
In this guide we’ll discuss the basics of designing your own business website, from what tools you’ll need to get started through to the best website platforms to use. We’ll also include some tips to make your site look professional and polished.
Creating a website for your business can seem like an insurmountable task. But it doesn’t have to be! In this guide, we’ll show you how to design and create your own website in just a few easy steps. So why wait any longer, let’s get started!
There are five basic tools needed to design a business website fast.
You will need:
a) A computer or laptop with an internet connection.
b) A web hosting account.
You pay a web hosting company to provide a space on the Internet for your web pages or content to reside so that your website displays 24/7. There are many web hosting companies that offer a variety of hosting packages for an annual or monthly fee.
It’s best to use a local Australian web hosting provider for better support. You can edit your website at any time using a PC with an Internet connection, but you’ll need to upload changes to your files via a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program such as WinSCP, FileZilla or Cyberduck. Many of the website platforms outlined in step three below also offer web hosting as part of their service.
c) A domain name.
This is your businesses’ address on the internet, such as www.janesflowers.com.au. There are many unique domain name extensions available but the most common ones are .com or a .com.au website address. Companies that offer domain names include a free search function so you can check if your preferred domain name is available.
Many web hosting companies offer domains as well, or you can use a separate domain registration company for this service. The total cost of both hosting and your domain name in Australia can be less than $180 a year, so these aren’t significant costs.
d) Themes and templates.
Either a free or paid website “theme”. All of the website platforms listed in step three below offer either free or paid website designs or “themes”.
Be aware that free options usually mean that the platform’s banner will be presented along the bottom of each page of your website, such as “Powered by WordPress”. Also, free themes tend to be abandoned a lot quicker by the developer or web design studio that created the theme which means they fall behind in their security updates and make your website vulnerable to hackers.
Further, free themes have a cookie-cutter look, and can be very frustrating because they allow only limited flexibility to make changes to page elements like the header, footer and navigation menu, unless you know how to code these changes yourself.
In addition, free themes often lack support. Finally, not all free themes are created equal as there are different licenses available, so it’s best to find out upfront what you can legally do and change with your free theme.
We recommend that you purchase a paid theme that gives you access to all features and support. Paid themes also give you more options to tailor your website and provide additional options such as a field to add Google Analytics code and theme-specific content post types.
Please contact us and we will happily recommend the best option for your business.
e) Free text editor software.
A free text editor software such as Notepad++ or Visual Studio Code. Both of these software programs allow you or a professional web designer to access the raw code behind your website.
This is really important if you ever need to make changes to your webserver files.
Download and install either of the below software programs so that you can make changes to your website files.
One of the most popular open source text editors. This free program is easy to use and comes with syntax highlighting for your code and an amazingly easy to navigate interface.
Visual Studio Code is a free open source program developed by Microsoft. It has IntelliSense, a run and debug feature, built-in Git and many extensions to help you with your coding.
A powerful text editor program with many features and plugins created by the Sublime Text Community. It offers a free version for testing but requires a paid license per user to use.
Atom is a free open source text editor with a community of developers who have created themes and plugins to make your coding experience enjoyable. Atom is a great starter text editor program.
Backets is designed by the team at Adobe and has been created from the ground up for web designers and front-end developers. It’s a free open source program with great support and plenty of amazing extensions.
Nova (Formally Coda) is a paid text editor for the Apple Mac. It allows you to build in the terminal and an inspector is available as well as a powerful interface to let you edit both local and remote files from your computer.
Websites are a great way to market a business, and having one is almost essential these days.
Without an online presence, how can you possibly hope to reach your target audience? You can’t. Sure, it might be nice to think that if your company is doing well enough on its own, and that it doesn’t need marketing; but this is not true at all.
All businesses need to be continuously marketing their goods or services. You need customers and you need them yesterday. A website will help you achieve that goal more efficiently than any other means of marketing.
First let’s discuss what exactly makes up a great website and how to prepare for yours.
Later we will discuss how to get visitors to your website. There are a number of strategies for making this happen and we’ll go over some of the more popular ones in detail.
But for now, to prepare your website’s content you’ll need to have:
• Your about us page information ready. What drives you to do what you do and what is your businesses’ story? On this page you should include a team photo or individual professional headshots of your employees with their details so your customers can put a face to their name. You should also include your company’s mission statement, qualifications, experience, and details of any awards you have received.
• Client testimonials ready to go. These provide social proof that you are a reputable business producing quality goods and services.
• Decided on a website structure. Most business websites include an About section which tells the businesses’ story, a Services or Shop section, depending on whether you are selling goods or services, a Contact section, and a Home section. A Frequently Asked Questions section also often pays off handsomely for businesses, with this text helping clients with questions about how their product or service works. Frequently asked Questions relieve client fears and can save lots of time answering client questions verbally. Other websites will include a Blog page, which includes articles that help customers learn about the products and services you offer. Blogs can also help bring traffic to your website and boost the ranking of your website.
• Quality photographs and graphics ready. A picture really is worth a thousand words. You will need quality images to add value to your website and communicate what you do.
• Your portfolio list ready to go showcasing successful projects completed, and other success stories or achievements.
The below three pointers should also be kept in mind when you present information on your business website:
a) Use sub-headings to structure and break up text.
b) Include plenty of white space to break up the text on your website. If people are confronted with a wall of text without images and white space to make it digestible, they will click the back button. Use short paragraphs.
c) Use dot points or numbered lists to provide structure and to again break up large chunks of text.
To help you design your website fast, below we outline the most popular website platforms currently in use around the world.
All of the below platforms allow you to simply drag and drop text and images into your website using a Content Management System (CMS). All offer both free and paid options. None require coding skills to get started.
37% of the internet runs on WordPress and 62% of websites globally use the WordPress Content Management System. That’s 455 million websites across the world! WordPress offers free and paid themes and plugins.
You can create a professional business website, e-commerce store, or membership website with WordPress. We recommend all our clients purchase a paid WordPress theme as the basis of their business website.
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) which can provide you with an out of the box solution for your e-commerce store, business website, or membership site. WordPress is the most popular blogging platform and content management system in use on the web. It includes an extensive range of themes and plugins, custom widgets and a simple block text editor that allows you to create a powerful online presence for your business with minimal coding experience or skills.
A wide selection of free or premium WordPress themes are available that are pre-designed to fit a wide variety of business types.
If you are running or intending to run an online store, the use of WordPress is highly relevant for your endeavour. The most popular free plugin for creating an online store in WordPress is WooCommerce.
WooCommerce helps you sell more products because it provides an easy way to manage product catalogues and it allows customers to purchase items through your online store using a simple shopping cart system.
WordPress is available in two versions. A self hosted version on wordpress.com which will allow you to get step-up and pay a monthly fee to have your website working through their services. With this option, locked into their ecosystem and various restrictions that are associated with this.
The second option is the open source version on the wordpress.org website that professional web designers use as a platform to design a professional website for you.
Weebly is a great starter website for those who are looking for a fast and affordable option to get a website up and going straight away.
A number of templates are available with an easy drag and drop menu to the side of the screen. Many small businesses and new start-ups who require a simple, easy to use website with great marketing benefits use Weebly.
However, there are some drawbacks. With Weebly, content and layout is difficult to prepare for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) purposes because of restrictions associated with adding optimised keywords in image tags.
Nonetheless, if SEO isn’t a major issue and you just want to test creating a website for yourself, Weebly is a great way to get started in learning web design fast and affordably.
Wix is a popular web builder which provides you with lots of templates to get a website started. It’s beginner-friendly, scalable and great if you are on a tight budget.
It also boasts simple drag and drop features and an impressive selection of e-commerce tools if you’re looking to sell products online. In 2021, Wix had over 200 million users across 190 countries worldwide.
What draws people to Wix is that you can get started for free and you aren’t locked into using the platform. Wix is easy-to-use and offers a massive selection of professional looking website templates for all types of businesses.
While building your first website in Wix is easy and free, if you want to add an online store, premium features or even sign up for a domain name with your website, things can get pricey.
Squarespace offers a customisable template system for you to build a simple business site, portfolio, or online store.
Small business owners and first time web designers like to use Squarespace because it is easy to use, and has a shallow learning curve. Text in the templates auto-adjusts to fit your documents, so you don’t have to worry about re-formatting anything.
If you want to create an online store, Squarespace doesn’t handle payments outside of its own system. However, it does integrate with Google Analytics to allow you to track e-commerce activity.
Customization is limited because there are only 100 templates to choose from. You can’t change the style of the website unless you hire someone to do this for you. Additionally, uploading video can be slow at times due to file size restrictions and speed limits that are placed on free accounts.
Shopify is an e-commerce platform like WooCommerce. Users pay either monthly, annually or biannually to use Shopify software.
The cheapest Shopify plans simply integrate the Shopify e-commerce software into your existing website. Shopify also offers drop-shipping which makes it popular with some businesses.
Drop shipping is a fulfilment system where your store doesn’t need to actually carry its own stock. When customers make a purchase from your website, you simply order the product from the supplier, who ships the product direct to the customer. This improves efficiencies and reduces inventory costs.
We can help with setting up your online store as we find that this is where many clients run into issues.
You may need to choose what postage options you will offer and whether you prefer to use flat rate versus variable postage rates. Australia Post modules may need to be integrated within your e-commerce platform and set up within your web hosting to ensure the software feeds current Australia Post pricing to your website.
Your web hosting account will need to be able to access the Australia Post API (Application Programming Interface) in order to do this, and we can help with any blockages that arise here.
You also need to consider what option you want to use to receive payment from customers. The most popular payment methods are PayPal, STRIPE or SKRILL.
These can be tricky to setup, especially if you want your website to receive a notification once a payment is successfully made. This can easily be setup using a webhook so that both parties (your payment processor and your website) are communicating with each other.
Finally, you will need to consider if you want to sell your products outside of Australia. Be aware that doing this may require you to setup different tax rates in some countries and to report your income at tax time.
A few final words of warning before you finalise your website theme and start entering business information and graphics into your website.
Preparation and planning is key to a successful website. If you rush into your web design project without giving much thought to what you want it to do, how your website will operate and who will use it, then there’s a high chance that your website won’t achieve what you wanted it to achieve.
Initiation of a new business venture should start with a written plan, and so should your web design project. Your website should have clear aims from the very beginning which are outlined in an up-to-date web design brief before any other work begins.
An objective or purpose statement should outline exactly what you hope the website will achieve for your company and the type of person who might benefit from using your website. “To promote my service“, is far too general and doesn’t outline the overall purpose of your website which should be to get visitors to take a specific action, such as place an order to purchase your service.
When choosing the best web design platform for your website, you need to consider the functionality and scalability of these services. Some platforms limit the number of pages that can be built using their program and the number of items that can be placed on each page, which makes life difficult if you ever change or expand your business.
Over many years as professional web designers we have seen our business clients experience unnecessary heartache in a number of recurring areas. The below five tips are offered to help you avoid the same heartaches:
a) Make sure Google and other search engines will be able to find your website.
There is nothing worse than spending hours and hours of time developing your website only to discover that it doesn’t seem to exist when you search for it online.
While your website is likely to eventually be found by the Google bots that are constantly crawling the web, there are a number of ways that you can help Google and other search engines not only find your website, but rank it so that customers will actually see it.
Firstly, once your website is completed, you will need to submit your website to Google and provide them with your sitemap in the Google Search Console.
Secondly, Google and other search engines look at a number of factors when they assess how highly a website will rank. These factors include site loading speed, backlinks from other sites to yours, the quality and quantity of your content, whether you are helping Google identify the keywords that are associated with your content, and so on and so forth.
We can help you to ensure your website is a hot favourite with Google and the other search engines by preparing your website effectively and submitting your sitemap to Google.
b) Make sure you aren’t creating a slow website that people will click away from before it even opens.
A website that is slow to load will cause visitors to click back before they’ve even seen it. With the increasing use of mobile phones for internet searching, a reasonably fast page speed is becoming increasingly important.
It is also one of the key factors affecting whether your website ranks on Google as mentioned above.
There are a number of reasons for slow websites. These include images that are too large, web server issues, coding issues, and coding errors that delay the “scripts” on your website.
If you need help with ensuring your website is user friendly and fast, give us a call.
We can get your ailing website back to health quickly, and help you to ensure that it stays that way.
c) Be selective about what plugins and scripts you run on your website.
When you develop your business website you will discover that there are a number of free and paid “plugins” or “scripts” that you can run on your site to perform a myriad of additional functions.
These are usually offered on your website platform and there are thousands of plugins now available. The website platform WordPress alone offers over 59,000 free plugins.
Some plugins and scripts check the readability of your website content, some give you statistics and reports on who is looking at your website, and so on and so forth.
Unfortunately, a website with multiple plugins and lots of scripts running can become awfully slow. Ineffective and outdated plugins can also cause embarrassing security and performance issues as well as error messages on your website.
We can help you choose the best and most reliable plugins and scripts to keep your website functioning correctly.
For clients that don’t have the time to do this, we also offer a monthly WordPress Maintenance Plan to keep all of your WordPress plugins and themes up-to-date and we will flag any issues that arise before they become a problem.
The reality is, search engines are much like social media platforms. They require you to build momentum through constantly updating and improving your website.
Much like a brick and mortar shop front, nobody is going to find your website unless you advertise or draw attention to your business in order to bring people in.
To achieve a website that is loved by search engines:
a) Develop your Off-Page SEO
For your website to rank on Google, you will need to achieve Off-Page SEO. Off-Page Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) includes social media signals (your social media activity that takes people to your website), backlinks (a link to your website from another person’s website), and feature-rich content from podcasts, YouTube Videos, forum posts, blog posts and guest posts, etc.
As mentioned above, promoting your website’s blog article on social media can be a great way to get organic traffic to your website and to build yourself as an authority in your niche.
When you provide value to your social network then those friends are more likely to revisit your website to read your latest article or to browse your website for the services that you have to offer. This will help you to build organic traffic and brand awareness.
The easiest way to acquire backlinks is through the use of infographics that you can post on free image hosting websites like Flickr or Picasa.
People who find your infographic valuable can then share it with their friends, followers etc. All they need to do is click once to share it with their social networks.
Feature-rich content (such as podcasts, YouTube videos, blog posts that include lots of images, etc.) allow people who might not have visited your website before to get exposure to you and what you have to offer.
People really enjoy seeing or hearing a business present something on a familiar topic in a unique way. Such feature-rich content is also a great way to introduce yourself as an expert.
Keep in mind that when you first start out, it’s a good idea to focus on the basics first and then work your way up from there. So, if your site is about home improvement, start by writing blog posts or creating YouTube videos related to painting walls, replacing light fixtures etc., before moving on to more advanced topics such as laying laminate flooring or installing a toilet.
In addition, designing a well-structured site will make it much easier for visitors to find what they are looking for.
Having clear headings and subheadings within each post also makes navigation easy, even if the reader lands on a blog article deep within your website.
b) Develop your On-Page SEO
If you are including content on your website that you want people to be able to find on Google, you need to help Google find and rank this text.
To do this you need to provide Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) friendly and keyword rich pages and blog posts on your website. A well-researched and SEO friendly blog article will attract the right audience to your page.
Simply guessing a keyword and then using it once or twice within a blog post will not achieve any results.
Your first step is to research the best keywords for your business. This involves looking at your business niche, and your product or service focus. What do you want your market to find you for?
A Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) business or a freelancer can help you generate a list of mixed keywords based around your target keywords, as well as services keywords, local keywords, blog keywords and frequently asked question keywords.
You need to look for keywords that:
• Are used in lots of online searches, ideally in more than 100 monthly searches. In particular, you want keywords of high volume and low competition. An example of a low competition long tail keyword might be “buy alpaca wool jumper,” versus “wool jumper.”
• Are low difficulty keywords. Low difficulty keywords are keywords that are easier to rank for when customers conduct an online search. Some keywords are immensely difficult to rank for due to the fact that such keywords already return a number of authoritative websites with lots of quality back links when people search for them.
Once you have chosen your keyword (or words), pop the keyword into your favourite search engine and then open the top performing page at #1.
Generally, in order to outperform this page or blog post you must write an article with more words, that includes the chosen keyword more often, and that includes at least as many images.
While this method does not guarantee success, the above three factors are the basis for out competing your competition and ranking higher than them on Google.
Your blog article also needs to have a clear call to action so that you convert visitors to buyers. Finally, make sure you include links to previously written blog articles and products/services that you offer on your website.
Sales knowledge is just as important on your website as it is in any other part of your business!
Overall, your website’s homepage should be regularly updated to provide new content and images to keep it fresh and exciting. This tells the fluffy Google bots that your website is active and being regularly updated.
The Google bots are encouraged by this activity, triggering the reindexing of your website so that Google will list your new blog articles or pages.
Finally, in order to assess how your website is performing, there are a number of free metrics tools like Google Analytics that you can use.
Google Analytics provides reports and statistics on who is using your website, where they came from to get there, how long they are staying on your website, whether they are clicking through to other pages.
It also shows you which of your website pages are most popular. The more traffic you have, the more information you will have about your visitors and what they do on your site.
To set this up Google Analytics gives you a small code snippet that needs to be embedded into the top header of your website.
Some free website builders provide a box which you can copy and paste this code in to. If you run into problems here give us a call and we can help set this up for you. A website is a powerful marketing tool for any business, whether you are a big corporation or a small family run craft shop.
The benefits of having a website include being able to market your products and services 24/7 and to allow customers to purchase directly from your business online. Statistics show that 81% of internet users go online with the intention of researching and purchasing goods or services.
This means websites are an attractive proposition as long as you can rely on your website not crashing due to too many people visiting it at one time. Contact us if you want to check on the overall robustness of your website and to ensure it can handle traffic peaks.
When you begin doing paid advertising on search engines such as Google or Bing or social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, your website statistics are vital to your advertising campaign’s success.
If you can’t analyse your visitors behaviour then it makes it difficult for you to make improvements in the future to maximise the return on investment (ROI) on your advertising spend.
When learning web design fast the best tools usually come directly from the website platforms themselves.
You can follow the online tutorials and videos on how to use each website platform, including WordPress, Wix, Weebly and Squarespace (to name a few). These step-by-step videos are typically hosted on the website platform’s official YouTube channel, so you can watch them at your own pace.
In addition to these videos, you can also find a lot of helpful online resources that explain how to use the various functions and features of your website platform from various blogs and supporting forums
Now for the fun part!
You now create your website by entering your business information, photos and graphics. This is a lot of fun because you are now watching your website come to life.
It is definitely worth designing your website well from the start. Fixing a badly designed website is a lot more time intensive and expensive than creating an effective, fast and user friendly website from the start.
With your own website:
• You can expand your market reach;
• You can sell your products or services to customers long before they walk into your store; and
• You will always have full control over your domain, or your very own slice of the world wide web.
a) How will you handle spam?
Many businesses make the mistake of publishing a business email address on their website, and then fast find themselves drowning in spam originating from every corner of the globe.
This is immensely painful, and it means businesses miss genuine enquiries from customers because these emails are lost amongst the 150 spam emails that have arrived on the same day.
SPAM bots jump from one website to another looking for email addresses. An email address on your website is likely to end up on a list of email addresses that is sold or given away freely.
It is then used by advertisers to bombard your inbox with SPAM. Once your email address is on the list, it’s next to impossible to stop these SPAM attacks as your email address will continue to be added to more and more lists.
To protect your email address, we recommend instead providing your visitors with an online form that they can quickly fill in to contact you if they prefer to send a written message through your website rather than contact you by phone.
This form prevents your email address from being shown publicly but still sends the form enquiry straight to your email address. We can help you with setting this up. In addition, because SPAM bots also target online enquiry forms we recommend the use of one or more of the protections listed below:
• Set up a “honey pot” on your contact form. This is a hidden field that is triggered to let the form know if the user is a genuine human or a SPAM bot before it executes the send command.
• Use Google’s reCAPTCHA. This is a service which identifies patterns on a page to identify if it’s a real human or SPAM bot that is filling out your online forms. This service can be a simple tick box to say that you’re human or an exercise where you select from some pictures to identify an object (reCAPTCHA v2) which verifies that you are indeed a human being.
• Use Google’s reCAPTCHA v3 which simply runs in the background and analyses if you are likely to be a human based on your behaviour before the form is sent.
However, be aware that because SPAM bots have outsmarted these sophisticated protection tools, you still might discover some SPAM coming through to your inbox.
b) Will you be accepting comments from people on your website?
This is an often-neglected question that we always ask our clients. Do you have time to respond to comments, or would you rather disable this function so that customers contact you in other ways?
Comments unfortunately are yet another way that your website can become vulnerable to SPAM bots.
Essentially, there are two options here:
1. You can ensure the settings on your website require you to manually approve all comments so you can sift the good from the bad. This also prevents comments from being displayed that can hurt your credibility and brand.
There are also SPAM protecting services and plugins that can help block SPAM bots from your website.
2. If you don’t have the time to administrate each and every comment, we would suggest disabling comments on your website. You can instead set up Facebook Comments which require a Facebook login in order to comment.
This will encourage a more authentic comment from a real human rather than comments from bots that have run wild all over your website.
So there you have it, our guide to designing your own business website fast.
This guide gives you the information you need to develop an effective website, and a platform from which to grow your own knowledge through online learning.
If you do however find yourself too busy running your business to develop your own website or if you are too time poor to fix issues that are causing your website to perform poorly, you can hire the experts at Constructive Visual to design a website for you.
You can click here for a quote on web design or a quote on making changes to your existing website.
You might find that the cost of either designing a new website or fixing issues on your website that are hampering your business is less than you think.
Designing a new website can be anywhere from $1,000 to tens of thousands of dollars. We quote on a case-by-case basis as each customer and their business is unique, with some businesses requiring extra features and functionality than just a basic website.
You can even start with a more simplified sales page and easily add further functionality as you go. Gone are the days of paying ongoing annual fees to website designers, we only charge you the one off cost of setting up your website unless you request ongoing website support.
We are happy to discuss what you wish to achieve with your website and offer a range of options so that services can be tailored to your budget.
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