Establishing and maintaining an online presence is a necessity of running a business in the 21st century. Without a website, your business is next to invisible to about 3 billion potential customers. That’s a lot of people that could be using your services, if only they had a way of finding out about you online. Fortunately, developing a website for every conceivable need has never been easier than it is today. It is not an exaggeration to say that you can have a website up and running in a just a few clicks, provided you took the necessary preparations.

That being said, building a website from scratch can be difficult if you have no clue where to start. To bring you up to speed on what making a website entails in practical terms, we have made a concise step-by-step guide for you to read.

1. Determine the Purpose of Your Website

Think of your website as a storefront. It’s the first thing your customers are going to see before deciding whether to conduct business with your company. And in order to design a proper one, you first need to answer two basic questions: 1.) What is your main line of work? and 2) Who is your intended audience? Having a clear answer to these questions is a necessary preparatory step for figuring what kind of website is appropriate for your specific business needs. Always keep this information in mind when making practical design decisions, which we will be talking about in the rest of this guide.

2. Decide Which Tools to Use

Now that you have an idea on the purpose of your website, it’s time to dig in into the technical details. The first thing to consider is whether you want to build everything from scratch, or use a website builder service. The first option at the very least involves using HTML, CSS and JavaScript, the three cornerstone web technologies. Going this route means you are either proficient in coding, or are willing to hire a professional, which might be too expensive for smaller businesses. The alternative is to use a website builder service, which offers more user-friendly design interfaces, built-in themes and a host of customization options for every need. Be sure to look into different website builder options to find the optimal one for your particular needs, if you decide to go with this route.

3. Choose and Implement the Right Design

Whether you are using pre-built tools, or doing everything yourself, the next step is to figure out what your website is going to look like. Start by making or choosing a template, then keep adding the necessary elements such as menus, buttons, navigation bars, social network plugins, etc. Make sure that everything fits together both aesthetically and functionally. Each element of a website should be designed in such a way to draw attention to the service your business is providing. Keep in mind that mobile browsing is now the dominant way of surfing the web, so optimizing your website for portable devices according to principles of responsive web design is no longer optional. If you feel your design still has room for improvement, consider hiring a professional web designer to give it an extra touch of class at the end.

4. Add Relevant Content

Once you are satisfied with the general look and feel of the website, the next step is to populate it with content. This involves text, images, video, custom illustrations, etc. The goal is to make sure that visitors can find the information they need in order to decide whether or not to use your services, starting from your landing page. Quality content is ultimately what determines the fate of your website. A poorly designed website might turn-off a lot of visitors, but one lacking in relevant content will appeal to no one.

5. Optimize for Marketing

Marketing optimization is something you should take into account during each step of the process of building the website. That being said, once you have your design and content in place, it becomes possible to further fine-tune your website for maximum impact and discoverability. Site design involving bright contrasting colors, asymmetrical layouts, and bold typography is predicted to be popular in the coming years. As for content, optimizing your search engine rank through tactical keyword usage and link-building is something every business needs to do in order to stay ahead of the competition. Before settling on SEO strategy, take some time to get acquainted with coming SEO trends. Keeping up to date with what’s hot in the world of digital marketing is a key step in future-proofing your website.

Conclusion

Building a professional-looking website used to be something only big companies could afford. In recent years however, the availability of powerful consumer-grade tools has allowed smaller businesses to compete on equal footing. By following the steps we have outlined, you will be well on your way in staking your claim in the digital frontier.