How to get online

The Covid-19 outbreak has disrupted the main income source for most businesses. Government restrictions demanding the closure of all bricks and mortar locations have forced operations online.

Most businesses soon realised that their online tools were not fit for purpose and needed to improve them immediately to maintain a source of income. Some smaller businesses didn’t even have an online presence, so getting online became even more necessary.

Getting online is easier than ever, and like most things, there are two ways you can solve problems. Either throw money at it or do it yourself. Setting up your website is no different. Most website projects go through the following steps.

Step 1: Make a plan for your website's structure and content

Do this bit yourself – grab a sheet of paper and write down:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • Why you’re good
  • How people can get involved
  • What else you do

Once that’s done, start thinking about whether you have a lot to say or not much at all. If you’ve got a lot to say, you’ll need a page (or section) for that, if you don’t, skip it and keep it on the homepage or the top-level section.

Throw money at it
Get an experienced UX designer to coach you through the above and help you arrange your website. They can help optimize your site and create logical paths for people to follow and aid conversion.

Your users need to know what to do and how to get hold of your stuff.

A designer can help you optimize your story so people can logically get from A-B, via C and D if needed or directly to B if they’ve done C and D before.

Step 2: Register a domain name – ideally, a dot com (.com)

Doing this bit yourself is where it can get complicated and expensive. What you need essentially is:

  • a domain name (e.g www.example.com)
  • an email host (email-one@example.com and email-two@example.com)

It’s good to find an all-in-one provider, as it usually costs around 50% less doing it this way.

‘Good’ providers don’t cap the number of emails you can have, but might cap the amount of storage you get. It’s usually enough for 1-50 email accounts.

Shop around and see what’s right for you, but you’ll need to consider Step 3 too – your CMS. You usually can pick up a domain name for between £0-25.

Attached to that cost is domain registration, the company you buy from will manage the reservation of your domain name. This is where hidden costs come in. Many have introductory renewal prices, thats why sometimes they cost nothing for the first year and £25 the next.

Throw money at it
Find an experienced web designer to find you the best deal and set it up with a CMS suited in the way you want to manage it.

Step 3: Find a website builder (and hosting provider)

Doing this bit yourself can be quite tricky. Once you have a domain, you need to fill it with content. You can use a tool like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Webflow.

You create an account, connect it to your domain, pick a template and fill in the content. WordPress is free but quite tricky to customize unless you know how to code. Wix, Squarespace and Webflow, have monthly subscription costs but are code free.

Throw money at it
An experienced web designer can create the designs exactly the way you want; you then need to agree on how you want to maintain and update your website. You can:

  • Ask them to create and maintain the site for you, or;
  • Do the above and connect it to a CMS so you can update the content yourself, or;
  • Ask them to connect it to a site builder so you can adjust the design and content yourself
Step 4: Launch your website and maintain it

You have to throw money at your site once it is up and if it’s your primary source of qualified leads.

You’ll have to make sure your content is fresh and relevant to your user base. You need to monitor how people are using your site and take steps to improve their experience.

There are tools we’d recommend for this are Google Analytics and Hotjar.

Google Analytics is a free tool, and the website builder you use will usually guide you through the process. You’ll be able to start collecting data on how your site is being used the moment you set it up. You’ll be able to find out:

  • Who your audience is, i.e. their age, gender, and location
  • Your most popular pages
  • Which pages people spend a long time on, and which pages people’ bounce’ straight off

You can use insights like these to make adjustments to your site and to inform how you make content in the future.

Hotjar shows you how people interact with your site. You can measure where people are clicking and how far down they are scrolling. Hotjar is free up to 2,000 page views per day, and then costs per month.

Next steps

Well, that’s up to you! You can use this guide to do it yourself or arrange a chat and get something started together.

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