When is the moment that your business goes from an idea to a reality? You might say it’s your first sale, or the day you can move your “office" out of your kitchen. For many entrepreneurs, it’s the moment you make your business website live to the public. A business website is the modern-day equivalent of planting a flag and saying “World, here I am.” 
 
With all the other costs of starting a business, the good news is that building your own website doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t have to know how to code or hire a professional developer to create one for you either - today it’s easy to create your own with a do-it-yourself website builder.
 
 
If you’re starting your own business, you’re already used to wearing many hats - CEO, HR, social media guru, etc. Why not add web designer to that list? This guide will show you how.

Website vs. Social Media: Does your business need both?

Maybe you already have a Facebook page and some pretty good reviews on social media (or at least no one has called you the “worst restaurant ever”!) Lots of people assume that having a social media page for their business is enough. 
 
There are a few problems with that strategy, though. First, you’ll always be at the mercy of the social media platform you choose. Algorithms change, rules change, and what’s working one day might not be working a few weeks from now. If you have a website, it belongs to you—and you can control the content and the message. 
 
Trends change, too. If your customers are on Facebook today, they might be on Snapchat or a new platform that none of us have even heard of yet tomorrow. As people shift from one tool to the next, your website will act as an anchor - no matter what platform customers prefer, they can always find your website in the same place.

Start building your own website

Lots of the steps to starting a business are, let’s be honest, not the most exciting. You write your business plan, you set up the various systems you need, you dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Building your website is your chance to push all the paperwork aside, have some fun, and visually show what your business is all about.

Make a site plan

Wait, what? You thought we said more this would be the fun part. Don’t worry, this will be quick, and it will save you a lot of time down the road. Take a moment to think about the different pieces of information you’ll need on your business website and where you want them to go. No need to get fancy — it can be as simple as an outline written on a piece a paper (remember those?).
 
You know you’ll need a homepage, that’s a given. You may also want an About page, a Contact page, and maybe a page that lists your services or your product in more depth. You don’t need too many pages - some of the most successful business websites are surprisingly simple. Another tip is to not create too many sublevels. You want people to be able to find most information in just a few clicks.

Gather your assets

Now that you have a sense of the pages for your website, it’s time to gather the pieces you’ll need to fill them up. 
 
  • Custom domain name: Even though it’s just a name, a custom domain (web address) is one of the quickest ways to show that you’re serious about your new business. Ideally you can snag the “.com” version of your business name, or try some of the new top level domains that are available. Just remember to keep your domain name as simple and easy to spell as possible. In many cases, you can purchase your domain name during the signup process for your website.
  • Images: Websites are a visual experience. The best text in the world won’t mean much to customers without some compelling art or photographs. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one image per page, so take stock of whether you have the photos you need, and at the quality and size you need for them to look their best. For example you might want:
  1. Photos for your website background or header image;
  2. Product photos (here’s an easy tutorial on how to take good ones);
  3. A headshot or other flattering photo of you (no cropping out relatives or posting something blurry);
  4. Some behind-the-scenes photos of your office or workspace so that people can get to know you.
Good news for the camera-shy: if you’re not a pro photographer, there’s a growing list of websites that provide beautiful stock photography for businesses completely free of charge, and they’ll be high-quality enough to look great on large monitors.
  • Text: Sure, people don’t read much on the web, but you’ll still need to write a bit about who you are and what your business does. Part of the beauty of having your own website is that you can tweak the writing whenever you want, so don’t worry about making it absolutely perfect. Just start with the basics, and you can always add more later.

    You also might not need as much text as you think, since visitors will likely skim it rather than read it. Short paragraphs and sentences work best.

    When you write, keep search engines in mind too. Try to use naturally-occurring words that people would type into Google to find your business. For example, if your new product is called a “Blend-o-matic,” be sure to also use words like “blender,” “smoothie,” and “healthy breakfast” in your website copy, as well as your location. By doing this kind of search engine optimization, you’ll make it easier for customers to find you.
  • Logo & Branding: These aren’t essential to create a website, but if you already have a logo and brand identity, that will help when you start designing. An affordable branding pack from 99designs is a perfect way to go. But if you don’t have one yet, don’t worry, and don’t let that stop you from moving forward with your website.

Designing with colors and fonts

If you’re not a professional designer by trade, putting together a new website may be a new experience for you. But with a couple of simple tricks, you can design something polished and professional.

1. Choose one or two accent colors, and use them consistently

Step away from the color palettes! Rather than starting with an array of complementary colors you’d like to incorporate into your website, you’ll have better results if you just stick with one or two. 
 
On many professionally-designed sites, you’ll see that they start with a neutral or mostly white website with black text, and then use one or two accent colors to really pop.
If you already have a logo or brand identity, those colors are a perfect place for you to start. Ask your designer for the exact color codes (RGB or hex values) in your branding and you can then copy those codes into the DIY website builder. No logo yet? No problem. Stick with a color you personally like, or that fits with the mood or emotion you’re trying to convey with your business.

2. Choose two fonts

Spend any time on Pinterest, and you’ll see that there are a lot of fonts out there vying for your attention. Serif, sans-serif, decorative, web-safe—who knew there were so many ways to write your ABC’s. 
 
Cut through all that clutter by picking one easy-to-read sans-serif font for your body text, like Open Sans or Roboto. (Sans-serif just means that the letters don’t have little flourishes or “serifs” on them, making them easy to read on a screen or at small sizes). You’ll use this font in most places on your website. 
 
Then pick one font with a little more personality to fit your brand. It could be something feminine, retro, cartoonish, formal...there really are a ton of different ways to express yourself with Google’s 800+ free fonts. Fonts can evoke a certain time period too. Have fun picking out a decorative font that “matches” your business. The trick to remember is to just stick with one decorative font at at time. More than that is like too many personalities competing for attention. Use this font in small doses throughout your website, like in your menu or headings.

The real secret of a business website is that it’s easier than you think

Maybe you’ve known for a while that your business needs a website, but there’s still something stopping you. It’s not the cost, it’s not the technical skills. Sometimes it’s just hard to try something out of your comfort zone - and being an entrepreneur is pretty much all about getting out of your comfort zone. 
 
That’s why we’re offering you a special discount to start your business website with Jimdo. Jimdo has everything you need to launch and grow your business’s website: a free custom domain, built-in search engine optimization, beautiful templates and design help, an online store, and a friendly support team with experience building millions of websites around the world. Start your website with Jimdo and receive 10% off your first year subscription to JimdoPro!
Article provided by Jimdo. Jimdo is the world’s easiest way to build your business website, with no coding or special skills required.
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