Starting a Business: Step 2 – The Website

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Starting a Business: Step 2 – The Website

which platform to choose

This is where it gets real. Your website is your public face to the world so you want to make sure you put your best foot forward. When someone comes to your homepage, they should immediately know who you are, what you do, and what you want them to do next (this is called a call to action). It’s important that you let people know these things because usually they’ve never met you before so they need to get a feel for who you are as a company before they’re going to trust you with their money, shares, and time. The easiest thing to do is a google search for other companies that are like you or other websites that have caught your eye in the past. It’s important you pick a design for your site that complements your message. People aren’t used to seeing a personal health blog with neon yellow text on a black background, but that kind of design might work for a tech site.

Buying a Domain Name

Buying a domain is really simple. All you need to do is search for the name you want and purchase. I’ve included steps here for Namecheap.com which is my goto registrar. You can opt to buy a domain you manage yourself or you can buy a domain through most of the platforms below. You’ll usually save a little money buying it yourself and you’ll have the added freedom of controlling things like subdomains, dns entries, etc. I recommend buying your domain separate from your platform.

Step 1:

Go to Namecheap.com (affiliate) and enter your business name in the search box. It’s best if you can come up with either a catchy name like mailchimp.com or a descriptive name like dollarshaveclub.com. Don’t go too long or you risk people not being able to get to your site. Also avoid dashes if you can. Google sees dashes as spaces, but they aren’t necessary and make it harder for potential customers to remember. Try not to use numbers for the same reason.

namecheap search

 

Step 2:

Choose the tld (ending) you want. The best for SEO are .com, .net, .org, and .io.

namecheap search listing

 

Step 3:

Add the site to your cart and checkout. I don’t think you need screenshots for this. 🙂

Choosing a Platform

Choosing the right platform for your website can sound difficult at first, there are so many options. I’m going to help you narrow it down to just a few. I’ll list the pros and cons of each.

WordPress

wordpress logo

WordPress is the big daddy of content management systems. Originally built for blogs, WordPress has grown to be a powerhouse in the industry. It currently powers more than 73 million websites (over 25% of the internet)!

Pros:

  • Massive user base means excellent support. If you’re trying to do something, chances are someone has already figured it out.
  • Extremely customizable.
  • Easy to use.

Cons:

  • Can be confusing at first.
  • So many options can be hard to know what to use.
  • You can break your website if you aren’t careful.
  • No built in shopping cart. (But can be added with plugin)

WordPress can be intimidating at first. With all the options available for it, it can be easy to get intimidated. I absolutely recommend it to everyone just starting out though. Its massive adoption make it easy to find the answers you need. If you’re trying to sell something, woocommerce is an excellent shopping cart that can be added as a plugin.

Squarespace

squarespace logo

Squarespace has quickly become one of the leaders of the website building game. They have one of the easiest to use editors on the market.

Pros:

  • Easy to use.
  • Good support.
  • Beautiful designs.

Cons:

  • Not as flexible.
  • Higher pricing ($12/month for their cheapest plan if paid annually).

Squarespace is a great option for getting your first website set up. They let you purchase a domain through them for $20-70 a year which is convenient. Their WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It allows drag and drop design with easy menu options even if you don’t know a lick of code.

 

Wix

wix logo

Pros:

  • Easy to use.
  • Good support.
  • Good looking stock designs.
  • Cheap.

Cons:

  • Not as flexible.
  • Editor is not as good as squarespace.
  • Almost no ability for custom code.

Wix (affiliate) is a good starter website builder. Their drag and drop is really strong but I found it to be limiting for specific things.

 

Shopify

shopify logo

Pros:

  • Easiest shopping cart on the market.
  • Cloud hosting.
  • Affordable.
  • Beautiful themes.
  • Plugin support.

Cons:

  • A little pricier than other options.
  • Requires plugin for recurring products (think curated boxes).

Shopify is a great platform. When it comes to setting up a shopping cart it doesn’t get much easier. You can buy a domain from them for $9/year. They support all the major payment processors, but I recommend Shopify Payments. If you’re doing a curated box type business or a software license with monthly access fees, you’ll need 3rd party apps. I still end up recommending Shopify for most customers because it’s just that good.

 

Conclusion

I find that with most of my customers I’ll either end up putting them on either WordPress or Shopify. They have the most support and best market penetration. They’re extremely powerful tools that you can do just about anything with.

 

Next steps:

Next you’ll need to set up the platform. I’ll show you how to set up Sordpress and how to set up Shopify.

 

 

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