How to Create A Website For Your Small Business.
Creating a Website. Start With A Solid Foundation. The Rest Will Follow.
Today, I want to talk to you about something that has been on my mind A LOT lately: Getting Started – Creating A Website.
Starting a project from scratch. Zero Percent. It’s a great and exciting place to be—but it can also be daunting. You have a completely blank canvas to fill. If we’re talking about something like a website (and I am), or something you haven’t tackled before—where do we start? Not to worry! We’ve got you covered.
Getting Started Doesn’t Have To Be Daunting.
Getting started doesn’t have to be troubling. Find yourself a process (like this one) to follow and take the unknowns out of the work.
There are so many sources of inspiration out there—and resources. We’re going to walk you through the most important steps to get started, gain momentum, and build something that you’ll be proud of AND that will serve you.
And don’t skip these important first steps. Remember, a successful website (or any large project) starts with building a solid foundation, seeing the finish line, and consistently working towards it.
We also put together this PDF of this process to follow along with. Sign up with your email address and we’ll send you a copy!
Creating A Website: The Magic Sauce…
First, get some paper and a pen, or a whiteboard. These are your hammer and nails for planning. It’s time to start dumping all of your ideas out. The good ones… and probably a LOT OF BAD ONES. And don’t get discouraged by that—bad ideas breed creative solutions and from their ashes often produce the best results.
Don’t try to remember all of your ideas. Plus, having them down on paper helps—and forces—you to refine and choose between your brain children. They won’t all live. Sorry 🙁
Alright, let’s dig in…
Step 1: Define Your Purpose (and… PASM)
First, write a general statement about what you want. In just a couple sentences, this gives you an overarching purpose—in layman’s terms—for what you’re looking to do. If you get off track at some point in your work, you can come back to this “North Star”. If you need to revise it later down the road—that’s okay too.
What Is Your Website Going To Do?
When creating a website it’s important to state a clear purpose. What is it for? Is it for education? A blog? Ecommerce? Or something else?
Here’s one other acronym for you to define AND to think about throughout this process.. (Forgive my technical writing background) Along this entire journey—remember to think about PASM, which stands for:
- Purpose: What is it that you are trying to accomplish? In a nutshell, this is the general description. The rest of these are just to help you fill in the blanks.
- Audience: Who are you trying to engage with? Who is your ideal target?
- Scope: Limit your goals (at least at first). Be very specific about what you want to accomplish. Make it attainable.
- Medium: Of course, a website. But the website is a hub. Are you going to integrate email marketing, social media, traditional marketing? This will help get the gears turning on what other landing pages you will want.
Step 2: Set Primary Tenets
Second, write down AT LEAST three (3) primary tenets for your website. These are the driving pillars behind your website. They will help you clarify to yourself how you want to build your website and how you want visitors to interact with it.
You might just need a basic one—so your tenets might be:
- EDUCATE visitors (potential customers) on your expertise and services
- COLLECT LEADS and contact information
- CREATE A COMMUNITY hub for my social media content and drive traffic/engagement
Then again, you might be putting together a site for a larger business that sells products (Ecommerce), provides a range of services, generates income through advertising, or supports a large customer base. In that case you might have tenets such as:
- PROVIDE A MARKETPLACE for products and services
- SUPPORT new and existing customer inquiries and problems
- EDUCATE customers through FAQs, forums, and online chat support
- COLLECT LEADS through email marketing newsletters, social media engagement, customer login portal
- ENGAGE with customers in other ways
That’s all you need to get started. Now you know the basic functionality that your site will need—so you can plan your pages accordingly.
Step 3: Outline Your Pages
Now we’re ready to list out the pages you want. We can brand (or name) these pages later—but for now let’s just name them after their primary function. MOST websites will use something like the following (we’re not totally breaking the mold). But in some cases you might want just a simple one page scrolling site, or something more non-traditional. As long as you’ve covered your general purpose and primary tenets—you’ll have a guide to outline these.
So here are the pages we’re expecting for a general-purpose (small) website.
- Home (Main Landing Page)
- Services/Products/Media (depending on your company/purpose) Could have one page or multiple
- Blog (Optional) – Could be a place to share ideas or anything else
- Contact – The best way to get customers to contact you if they’re interested
- Additional landing pages that meet your campaign needs
Note that there are creative implementations out omissions for all of these. You don’t necessarily NEED a contact page (like we have)—if you would rather do away with it and integrate a contact form into a footer, banner, or in other places across your website that make sense and supports your visitors. If you want to integrate chat into your website, you might be able to avoid a contact form altogether.
You could also combine the about/contact pages—or in a one-page scrolling site you can have it at the very bottom.
The trick is putting them down, then iterating on your sitemap and wireframes.
Step 4: Aesthetics & Wireframes
If you haven’t been living under a rock—you have visited hundreds of other websites while surfing the internet. Think about a couple of them that you like that are similar to what you’re trying to do.
Does one have the “look” you want? Maybe another has the page layout you like the best. Perhaps you want a pop-up to collect newsletter signups. I really like that sticky navigation that stays with me as I browse through the entire site. You know?
After you have an idea, start drawing stick figures! Yes, I said stick figures. Boxes, shapes, and lines that represent what content you want. One for each page type. Once you have some outlines, you’ll be primed and ready to start generating content for it. This will also help keep you drawing “within the lines” and reduce your development costs (or investment of your own time).
Step 5: Anticipate and Plan For Tech Needs
There are a couple of questions to ask yourself when anticipating your needs…
First off, will you be selling products or services? And how large will your catalog be? Next, when updates need to be made OR basic maintenance needs to be done—are you comfortable doing it yourself? Do you want someone else to manage those for you for a recurring fee?
Either way, if you’re operating a small business, pursue a framework/technology that supports a Content Management System (or “CMS”). This provides you (or you content manager) with a visual back-end to change text or pictures and make general updates—without having to spend more money for custom development work.
Sitebuilder tools to develop your own website.
Next, remember that in today’s world there are thousands of devices—all of which have different viewing sizes. This might make you worry a little bit about needing multiple designs for phone/laptop/desktop. But don’t sweat it.
Web development tools and builders have come a long way. Responsive design tools allow you to adapt one site to meet multiple devices. We’ll iterate on it later. Just keep your wireframes simple. And reach out to a friend, web designer, or site builder for help when the time is right. Design your website around the medium that you believe most of your clients will view it on (desktop vs laptop vs mobile). We can fine-tune it later.
Honestly, we’re starting to get ahead of ourselves now. But this is important. Creating a website is a significant investment in time—and it will serve you for years to come if you do it right. So a few minutes of brainstorming and ensuring you’re on the right track is a worthy investment.
Step 6: What’s Next? Your Lean Digital Marketing Strategy For Small Business!
The last step… finally.. SEO, social media, digital marketing, advertising, etc. Learn more about Digital Marketing.
A website without any funnel (i.e. social media, marketing, advertising, etc.) is just a very expensive and tech-glorified resume. A ship lost at sea in the night—without a rudder, and no wind for the sails.
We’ve spent a LOT of time and energy honing our Digital Marketing Process AND following it to a T. That’s why it works.
You NEED to be reaching out on social media platforms, forums, through affiliate programs, or creating business relationships that drive links back to your site. Drive traffic every month and build that following. So start thinking about it. And start putting a budget together. And a budget can just be a commitment in time—if you don’t have the money to spend on it.
To Wrap Up
So There it is… Follow these steps and you’ll be crushing it in no time.
Step 1: Define Your Purpose (and PASM)
Step 2: Set Primary Tenets
Step 3: Outline Your Pages
Step 4: Aesthetics & Page Wireframes
Step 5: Anticipate Your Tech Needs
Step 6: What’s Next? A Digital Marketing Strategy!
Step 7: World Domination??
Narf! Zoinks! Egad!
And Some Words of Encouragement…
Stay Focused. Stay Motivated. Don’t worry! Nothing ever goes 100% to plan. In fact, problems provide the opportunity to learn something new and come up with creative solutions to traditional challenges.
And remember, one step at a time!. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, if you make it complicated—you’re probably going to get hung up. Start simple and build on that. You’ll be more concise AND your audience will understand it!
Picture The Finish Line! If you can’t envision the finish line, you’ll never get there. It might seem fuzzy or far away…
After all of this.. the single largest piece of advice I can give… just get started. Don’t let worry or magnitude overwhelm you. Enjoy the process! Have fun creating a website!
Thanks for reading! I hope this has been helpful! If you have any feedback, go ahead and leave it in the comments below.
“Find your passion! We’ll help you fan it.”
“I started Cinder to help small business owners and creatives get their start and help them make an income that allows them to pursue their dreams! I want to help as many people succeed in this entrepreneurial paradigm as possible!”