Create A Website For Your Small Business - [Step By Step]


             by Gav Barber        January 2019      

I've made this super easy guide on how to create a website for your business (2019 version). 

STEP - BY - STEP

With so many website builders out there it's hard to work out the best option.

So I'm breaking it down to just two options that I have researched and tried.

A site using WordPress and a site using Wix.

FYI - This site contains links to products or services that I may get a commission for. This helps to fund the ongoing costs to run such a site. Rest assured for the products and services I recommend, I have either tried them previously, or have done extensive research.

Website Builders

Wix or WordPress?

There are currently 3 main ways to build a website

1. Get a site custom-made by a developer 

  • Good outcome but expensive $$$$.
  • Built using code that requires a lot of training.
  • You still need to add costs for a domain name and hosting.

2. Use WordPress which is the single most widely used Content  Management System (CMS) in the world. (see chart below)

  • Can be used by non coders but still has a steep learning curve.
  • Offers excellent customization and is search engine friendly
  • WordPress itself is free and you just pay for your own domain name and hosting (and a theme if not using a free version)
  • You also need a theme which creates the "look" of your website and can be free or purchased.

3. Wix is also a CMS but is much simpler to use than both WordPress and a custom-made site.

  • Wix is one of a group of website builders that is hosted, which means everything you need to build a website is in the one place.
  • Another example of a hosted site is Squarespace 
  • Wix is more suited to beginners and people wanting to get a site up quickly without the hassle of coding and lots of customization options
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But What's The Best Website Builder For A Small Business?

With a market share of nearly 60% you would think WordPress would be the better option. 

But not necessarily. 

For minimal frustration and for people wanting to quickly build and get a site up and running for their business, Wix gets my vote.

Don't get me wrong I love WordPress,

I currently have two sites, dirtbikebeginnerpro.com and this site, but here is the thing, I'm a website nerd, I don't mind putting in the hours tinkering and learning.

If you are just starting a new business, most people won't have the time to learn WordPress and all its idiosyncrasies.

But either way I'll give you the help to get started with either builder.

Does Wix rank high on Google Search?

Running a website that nobody can find is not going to make you much money.

Wix had some issues early on for ranking, but they have really caught up in recent years.

Today they have a range of features that assist in ranking high on google search.

For a basic business website that is working locally, Wix is a good choice due to its ease of use and built in search engine optimization (SEO) features.

Want an example of site ranking well?

Type in organic beard products into google search....

Yep Ageofbeard.com is no 1

Need more convincing?............

The Website builder expert site provides a good run down on the state of play of SEO with WIX and some guidance on how to rank well in google search.

Lets Compare.

Custom Made

$500+ Initial build + Hosting and domain

Guaranteed product of excellent quality

Not a DIY option

Totally customizable for any type of design element or functiionality

You will be reliant on the builder's agency for most changes and maintenance required

Very good opportunity to rank well in Google if built correctly

WIX

$8.50/mo or $4.50/mo with ads. Also has a limited free option

Easy to use for DIY applications. The user interface requires little training

500+ theme options available for users

Whilst not as customizable as WordPress it will be fine for the majority of websites including small businesses 

Excellent customer service support

Take Me To WIX

WordPress

$3.50/mo with free theme and BYO hosting and domain

Affordable with low cost entry

A steep learning curve compared to WIX type CMS systems

Plugins allow for minimal coding and superior customization to WIX

Minimal customer support with free themes and none directly for WordPress although information is readily available on the internet.

Let's Build a Website!

Option 1. Getting Started With Wix

Step 1. Go to the WIX home page and set up your account.

Wix home page link image

Step 2. Hit the start button.

Wix sign up page

Step 3. Hit the create site button and you are good to go!

Wix create site landing page

Step 4. Click on the business website link or whatever type of business site you are after

As an example I will use a lawn care theme as my goal.

You can easily use whatever theme you prefer depending on your business.

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Step 5. You have a choice of two ways to create your website

The first option is the Wix ADI or artificial intelligent program.

It asks you a series of questions to determine the layout of the website.

    • I tried it out and its pretty good. 
    • If you don't like the ADI approach go back and just pick a theme which is option 2
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Step 6. Search for the type of website you are looking for

In my case it was lawn care but you can change any theme to what you want, just type in the search bar

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Step 7.  After finding your desired template, you can now edit it with your own data

Wix edit page example

Here is a video that can assist in editing templates

If you don't have a domain you need to buy one unless you are using the Wix free version

You can actually buy the domain through Wix and connect it under settings in the editor. The premium domains often give you the domain for free in the first year.

Domain registration

Option 2. Setting Up A WordPress Site

1. Purchase a domain name and hosting

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To be able to set up WordPress, or the majority of websites, you need a domain name and web hosting.

  • domain name is the web address of your site, so for this site the web address is lawntoolguides.com
    • .com is the most common version and there are plenty of resources on the web explaining how to select a name.
    • My preference is to go with .com. 
    • Here is a useful link for discussion about how to pick your domain name.
  • Web Hosting is where the site is stored, this includes all the files associated with the site such as images, content and other files.

Where to go for your domain name and hosting

The good news is that purchasing a domain name and hosting is relatively simple.

In fact most website hosting companies also have the ability to sell domain names as well.

I have personally tried both Blue Host and Site Ground and I don't have any complaints.

Both would be fine for your hosting and domain purchases but for a business website I am going with Host Gator.

  • The reason I'm going with Host Gator is that it is super reliable and easy to use. Plus their prices are super competitive. For a new business novice, these features are important.

Don't take my word for it, PC magazine rated Host Gator as one of their recommended small business hosting options 

2. Select the right hosting provider

Unless you are expecting lots of traffic the hatchling plan will be fine (see below)

Remember you can change up or down with plans depending on your needs and budget.

 

Host Gator hosting packages

3. Pick a domain name

You can also pick your domain name via Host Gator.

You don't have to use Host Gator, there are plenty of other places, but I am trying to keep the process as simple as possible.

Go to the Host Gator home page and click on domains.

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There are lots of different variations of domain extensions.

The most common one is .com but there are lots of others such as .org, .net etc.

My recommendation is to stick with .com , this article provides further assistance

Complete the registration process and pay the amount for the domain and hosting.

When purchasing your domain get the domain privacy option as this stops spammers from contacting you. You don't need all the add-ons for hosting other than the free SSL certificate.

Once the registration process is complete, set up a pass word for you Host Gator account.

4. Set up the website

Once you have set up the hosting and domain its time for the fun part.

Log into your Host Gator account and go into the CPanel (this is where you manage hosting services)

In the CPanel go to the software section and click on the "quick install " button

This is where you can download WordPress with one click. Voila!

A drop down menu will confirm what domain name WordPress will be associated with.

Choose a Theme

Free Website Themes 

Once you have downloaded WordPress, you now have the "bones" of a website but a theme is required to allow for the right "look" of your site.

An example of this is my first website dirtbikebeginnerpro.com.

My budget was tight, so I used a free template called Kale. SEE BELOW

Kale is a theme for food bloggers but in reality any theme can be converted to your own needs if you like the look.

Kale Theme example

My Site - Look Familiar?

dirt bike beginner pro theme example

As you can see I have just swapped out the information I need into the Kale theme even though the theme was  intended for food bloggers.

Free Website Theme Example For A Business

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This theme from Template Monster is another example of a free theme that can be used in WordPress. Please note that because this theme is free it does not come with any support.

Feel free to use the template and remember that if you don't like a theme, WordPress allows you to change to a new one.

This theme could easily be used for a lawn care, gardening or landscaping business.

See below for how to install a theme on your WordPress site.

If, you choose to go with a free theme try to get one that can be upgraded to the paid version. You may get some support from the builder and you can always upgrade to the paid option for regular support and features. Themes not upgradeable tend to be older and not always compatible with the latest version of WordPress!

Paid Website Themes

Paid themes are fully functioning programs that come with customer service support (usually 12 months) and are generally regularly updated to support the latest version of WordPress.

The good ones tend to cost between $50 -$80 but can be more depending on the way they are set up. 

I would definitely recommend a paid theme if you can fit it in your budget.

From a business perspective paid themes will ensure less hassle when setting up due to access to support. This is important as it can be quite frustrating when things don't go right.

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In keeping with my lawn care business example, this paid theme costs $49 and comes with 6 months support (upgradeable to 12 months).

It is highly customizable and has multiple home page options.

It also rates well from consumer feed back which is an important indicator of how good it is.

How To Install A Theme On WordPress

  1. Go to your WordPress dashboard
  2. On the right hand side search bar go to "Appearance", then click " Themes"
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3. This is where there are over 1500 free themes.

4. Take the time to go through and see if you like one otherwise upload a paid theme

  • If you find one you like click on "Install" then "Activate"- good to go!

5. If you have bought a theme and downloaded to your PC, laptop etc. you upload via the "upload" theme button.

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REMEMBER 

If you need to change a theme it wont delete any of your previous information such as pages, posts and files etc. The formatting may need work to set it up correctly however.

How To Customize A Paid/Free Theme To Your Own Style

The majority of changes you need to make to a template /theme you have downloaded can be done via the customization tab. This allows for on the fly changes that make customizing easy to manage.

Hover your mouse over the home page of the website and it will bring up "visit site"

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After clicking through to the site you will now see a customization tab at the top.

This is where you can make the majority of changes to the theme so that it has the information you require such as your contact details, menu structure, relevant images.

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Once you click on the customization button it will take you to the customizer screen and from here you can make lots of changes.

Play around with the buttons and make changes and you can see them live as you make them.

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How To Get An Affordable Website Logo

A website logo is not an essential item but I think it does provide a more professional look and helps to create a brand image.

The good news is I've discovered an affordable option to get you started.

Design Hill has a $20 option for a basic logo. 

I used their service for this website, and I was extremely happy with the end result.

The system uses AI to do the work so it can be all done via the website.

I used over a dozen AI logo makers but design hills is the best.

Keep in mind the 20 dollar special is low res so may not be suitable for all applications.

Installing plugins To Optimize Your WordPress Site

What is a plugin?

Plugins are additional add-ons or extensions that enhance a WordPress website in many ways.

They are like pre-made programs that allow you to build in the type of functionality and performance you want without learning to code.

Plugins do all sorts of tasks such as image optimizing, performance enhancement and security, just to name a few.

There a literally thousands of plugins available which can be daunting.

Plugins can also cause trouble, so if you have a problem with your site that you can't work out, chances are it is a plugin causing the issue.

In most cases you can deactivate plugins and see if the problem goes away

REMEMBER TO DO A BACKUP BEFORE YOU MAKE ANY MAJOR CHANGES

How to install a plugin

Installing plugins is dead easy.

Go to the plugins tab on the right-hand side of the dashboard and "add new"

This will take you to the plugins home page where there is literally thousands of plugins.

Once you find a plugin you want you just hit "install" and you are good to go.

A lot of plugins are free or can be upgradeable to a paid version with more features.

Plugins I recommend and are currently running on my WordPress sites

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Summary

This plugin stops your site from getting bombarded with spam. A necessary plugin particularly when you enable comments.

Highlights

1 million+ installs

Filters all comments for spam

Good visiblity on changes

Summary

Any easy contact form to set up in your site that is also easy to link to an email address

Highlights

Can manage multiple forms

1 Million + installs

Supports Captcha Integration


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WP fastest cache plugin graphic

Summary

A plugin designed to optimize your sites performance in speed. Creates static files of your website that don't have to be re-rendered again therefore speeding up page loading times. Important for SEO

Highlights

An easy to use cache plugin

800k + installs

Provides a number of performance optimistation tasks

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Summary

Allows your website to be set up like an app that can be accessed from a mobile device.

Highlights

Easy to set up

Important for future SEO

Measured through Google Lighthouse plugin

Summary

An awesome plugin that is a big help in achieving SEO. Gives feedback on SEO for blog posts and pages

Highlights

Easy to use

1 Million + Installs


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Summary

Automatically optimizes images to reduce load time and improve SEO. One of my favorites

Highlights

Same features as paid products

Takes the hassle out of optimizing images

Check your sites performance via Google Chrome Extension Lighthouse. These plugins contribute to this sites score below

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More Information.

Answers to some frequently asked questions.


Well done - you are good to go 

If you have managed to get this far then you are probably well on the way.

The biggest decision to make is how much effort and time do you want to put into the website side of your business.

If tinkering for hours doesn't sound too exciting go the simple WIX type site.

If you suddenly feel your inner nerd rise up, go for WordPress.

"Hey if you get stuck and are struggling to move forward, I would be happy to help. Just go to the contact page on Lawntoolguides.com and send me an email."

Regards

Gav Barber