Creating a website for your small business is easier than you think. Even if you have no prior web design experience, this guide will show you how to create a website.
This guide is intended for the beginner and layperson. It will take you step by step through the web designing and hosting process from the beginning.
Step 1: Get your domain name
The first thing you need to do is to get yourself a domain name.
A domain name is a name you want to give to your website. It’s a friendly URL people can type into their browser to get to your website. For example, the domain name of the site you’re reading is “thestarta.com”.
To get a domain name, you have to pay an annual fee to a registrar for the right to use that name.
Getting a name does not get you a website or anything like that. It’s just a name. It’s like registering a business name in the real world. Having that business name does not mean that you also have the premises to go with it.
It’s advisable you choose a brandable, memorable and catchy domain name.
Domain names are registered at some sites online. Registering domain names in Nigeria typically costs about N2500 ($9) a year. smartweb.com.ng and whogohost.com are two of the popular registrars you can consider.
Step 2: Hosting your site – Choose a Web Host and sign up for an account
If getting a domain name is like getting a business name in the real world, then getting a web hosting account can be compared to renting an office or shop premises for your business.
There’s need to sign up for an account with a web host so that your website has a home.
You can build a fully functional website on your personal computer. But if you want other people to see it, you will need to use a web host.
Web hosting uses a web server. Through this server, people around the world can view your website contents (images, videos, documents, etc.) on the Internet.
They allow you to place your website on their server, usually, for an annual fee of about N2,500 or less ($9). Whogohost.com and smartweb.com.ng both provide this service.
Step 3: Planning your website
Once you have settled your domain name and web host, the next step is to plan your website.
When planning your site, you will need to make some important decisions. Like the type of site you need; is this news or informational site? Is it a site for a company or service, a nonprofit or cause-driven site or even an e-commerce shop?
Each of these kinds of a website has a slightly different focus that will influence its design.
Before you start designing or building pages, you should have a clear strategy for the content that those pages will contain. These inform the design.
Step 4: Designing and building your website
Now is time to design the website.
We recommend you use a Content Management System (CMS) to build your website at this point.
Content Management Systems are WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) web editors allow you to create websites visually, without knowing how to code. They work like a regular word processor.
Many aspects, including their ease-of-use and extensibility, have made CMSs more appealing than a bunch of codes.
They keep track of every piece of content on your website, much like your local public library keeps track of books and stores them.
Content can be simple text, photos, music, video, documents, or just about anything you can think of.
Based on what you want to do with your website, you have several choices in software. Many of them are even free (open source) with minimal costs for various add-ons.
There are a few good website builders that you may want to test out to see if they can help you out and if you like using them. WordPress is the most popular CMS on the internet. About 70% of websites on the web is built with it. So, give that a try. Other options include Squarespace, Weebly, Jimdo, Joomla and Webydo.
If yours is an ecommerce website, you should select a CMS that is specifically designed for e-commerce like Bigcommerce, Wix, Shopify, Squarespace and Weebly.
Once you’ve chosen your CMS, next is to design the website.
The first step is selecting a template. Templates make your site look good. Think about them as “clothes” for your website. If you don’t like one set of clothes, just change to another one to give your website a completely different look and feel.
With many content management systems, you can pick from hundreds or even thousands of different templates (or themes) that give your website the look and feel you want.
Some templates are fairly generic while others are either themed to a particular type of product or service (with background graphics and other visual elements that reflect the product or service) or have built-in features that may make it attractive for you.
Beyond templates, you may require additional add-ons to add specific functionalities to your website. Either to make its content more shareable or to make it easier to use.
Whether you want to add an e-commerce page, provide social networking share buttons, incorporate videos, or build a mailing list, just about anything you can think of is available as an add-on.
Step 5: Publishing your website
Publishing your website is a matter of getting the pages you created in step four up to the hosting provider and on to the domain name you set up earlier.
You can do this with either the proprietary tools that come with your hosting service or with a standard FTP (File Transfer Protocol) software.
Knowing which you can use depends on your hosting provider, although, but most providers support standard FTP.
Contact that hosting provider if you are not sure what they do, and do not support
Step 6: Testing your website
You will need to test your web pages as you design them in the major browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge and on mobile.
Directly testing your site is the only way you can be sure that it works the way you want it to on your visitors’ devices.
Hopefully through this post, we’ve shown you that you don’t necessarily need to know how to code or become a tech guru to learn how to create a website. Those old barriers are now gone.