If you’re thinking about building your first website, congratulations! Though the process might seem overwhelming, new internet technology has made it possible for even the greenest of beginners to create attractive digital properties.
As you get to work on your site, the following questions should help to get you through the stumbling blocks you may encounter:
Website Building Basics
Question #1 – Do I need to know HTML?
Nope! Tools like Homestead’s SiteBuilder or the WordPress blogging platform make it possible to build websites off of defined templates – rather than from scratch using HTML.
Question #2 – Will building a website take a long time?
Again, no. If you want to build a fully customized, top-of-the-line site, you’re in for a long project. But most small business owners can use the tools listed above to create new websites within a few hours.
Question #3 – What is a web host?
A web host is the company that provides the server space on which your website lives. Think of it like renting an office space or a storefront in a shopping mall. Your web host provides the space and resources needed for your website to operate.
Question #4 – What is a URL?
URL stands for “Uniform Resource Locator” and refers to the website address you type into your internet browser in order to locate a given site. In our case, “www.homestead.com” is this website’s URL.
Question #5 – How do I choose a domain name?
The ideal domain name is short, clear and easy to remember. Avoid abbreviations, numbers and less popular domain extensions (as in, “.tv” or “.biz”) if possible. Check out our article here for more guidance.
Question #6 – What does “FTP” stand for?
FTP stands for “File Transfer Protocol” and refers to the process used to move digital files between servers. If you build your site from scratch, you’ll need to use an FTP tool like Filezilla to upload your files from your computer to your web host (using SiteBuilder eliminates the need for this extra step).
Site Design Strategies
Question #7 – How do I choose the colors for my website?
When choosing colors, pick those that will be pleasing to your visitors’ eyes and that represent your business or industry’s image. If, for example, you run a tax preparation office, stick with navy, burgundy or forest green – not teal or lime green!
Question #8 – What pages should my website have?
At a minimum, your website needs a home page, an “About” page, a page that describes your products and/or services, and a page that lists your contact information. Our “Site Content 101” article can give you more guidance on unique page needs beyond these basics.
Question #9 – How often should I update my website?
Frequently! Updating your website at least once a month helps you to build rapport with your readers and helps give your site a boost from an SEO perspective.
Question #10 – Is my text readable?
Before you release your new site to the world, be sure that you have a high amount of contrast between your text color and your background color to ensure readability. Black text on a white background is the best option, so be cautious when using other color combinations.
Question #11 – Does my website need a logo?
Not necessarily. If you choose a website template that uses text – rather than graphics – to display the company’s name, you may not need a logo file. If you do need a logo, check out our guide on how to have one created.
Question #12 – Where can I find pictures for my website?
The pictures you use for your website should come from free or paid stock photo websites or from sites that release image files under the Creative Commons license. Avoid simply grabbing images from other websites or Google’s Image Search feature unless you’re sure that usage rights allow you to use the image.
Question #13 – How can I edit my images?
It’s best to edit your images to the size they need to be before uploading them to your website. Pic Monkey is one great free service for doing so.
Question #14 – Should I include Flash animations on my site?
Flash intros are totally out! If you must use Flash on your website, use it sparingly and be sure that your website will display alternate content for viewers who aren’t able to view (or who have turned off) Flash.
Question #15 – Should I have music playing on my website?
Auto-played background music frustrates users and should be avoided on all websites.
Maximizing Visitor Engagement
Question #16 – How will visitors find my website?
Visitors may find your website through search engine results, business directories, review websites, social media links and more. For a primer on different types of web traffic, check out our “Web Traffic 101” tutorial.
Question #17 – How can I measure the number of visitors my site receives?
There are many different analytics programs available today, but we recommend the fully-featured and free-to-use Google Analytics.
Question #18 – How can I make my site load faster?
Slow loading sites frustrate viewers, so make site speed a priority. In particular, avoid adding extra pictures, video clips or other multimedia files, as these can slow down your website.
Question #19 – How do I create a sitemap?
If your site is small, you can manually create a sitemap using the instructions found here. If your site is larger, look for plugins and other scripts that will create this important website page automatically.
Question #21 – How can I sell products on my website?
Depending on the scope of your available products, you might be able to get away with manually creating Paypal buttons for each item you plan to sell. But no matter what the size of your store is, it’s a good idea to look into ecommerce solutions (like Homestead’s Basic and Advanced store features) that take the hassle out of selling products online.
Question #22 – How can I sell more products on my website?
If you aren’t making many sales, you can increase your conversion rate by improving your sales copy, tweaking your product photography, creating more appealing products or taking a number of other actions. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your new website!
Question #23 – Do I need to collect tax on internet purchases?
That depends. In most US states, you’ll need to collect sales tax on any purchases made by buyers in the state where your business is registered. Given the complexity of tax laws, though, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney if you have questions.
Question #24 – Do I need to create social media profiles?
Yes! Social media can be a great way to reach out and connect with your customers, so take the time to map out a social media strategy that works for your business.
Question #25 – How to I get people to review my business?
Reviews on sites like Google Reviews and Yelp can help convince new customers to do business with your brand. To encourage people to leave these reviews, add links to your business listing on these sites to your new website and specifically request that visitors take the time to leave feedback on your brand.
Do you have any other questions? We’re planning a follow-up post on this subject with another 25 questions for the future, so please leave your questions in the comments section below: