Making It Know

When to Make a Website for Your Business

A website makes your business look more professional, allowing you to stay credible and advertise what unique goods and services you have to offer clients and customers. However, starting a website might also feel intimidating. It's a sign that you're officially announcing your business to the world, and the hard work you've put into making a business plan and brand strategy is now poised to pay dividends. 

Not sure if the time is right? Read on to learn when and how to launch a website for your brand or business.

Do you need a website?

Absolutely. In many ways, securing a domain name and building out your website is the most important part of your business formation. This is your online headquarters, the place potential customers will visit first, and an easy way you can start to generate interest in your business.

Although social media platforms offer ways to showcase services and items for sale, a website offers you more control over how you communicate your brand. Websites also offer permanence, and they make it easier for your target audience to discover your business online.

When Do I Need to Create a Website?

When to make a website depends on where you are in the business development process. For example, you might not want to launch something in the ideation phase, when you're still unsure of a direction. 

But one of the biggest misconceptions is that you need to have a fully fleshed-out design and content strategy before launching a website. Actually, you can launch a website as soon as you know the basics of your business’s name and mission. From there, you can keep working on developing your website gradually as your business takes shape.  

For example, say you're starting a restaurant. The first version of your website can be as simple as a landing page with an email newsletter sign-up prompt. As the restaurant starts to take shape, you can add photos and text about your story and what you offer. Once an opening date is close, you might add the menu and photos of select food items. In other words, your website content would grow and expand in parallel with the restaurant's evolution, creating excitement and drawing in potential customers.

What Do I Need to Create a Website?

As soon as you've committed to a business name and idea, it’s time to register a domain name for your website, then get started adding content to your business’s new online home. 

Register your domain name

A domain name is what customers type into their browser to access your website. These domains vary in price; however, you get a free domain name when you sign up for an annual plan with Squarespace. For branding and promotional purposes, your domain name should be related closely to your business name, if not exactly the same. This isn't always possible, of course, although there are easy ways around this. Some restaurants add their city at the end of their domain name, while creatives might append words like "author" or "art" to their domain name. Squarespace hosts a dedicated domain name search database to make sure your desired URL is available to purchase.

As part of choosing a domain name, you'll also choose a domain extension, which is also called a top-level domain (TLD). More than likely you'll choose a .com or .net, as these are commonly used for for-profit businesses, while .org is typically reserved for nonprofits. However, there are new extensions added all the time, with .me and .io becoming more popular in recent years.

After registering a domain name, business owners need to choose a service, such as Squarespace, to host their actual website. Hosting services take the stress away from business owners. They ensure your website stays active and accessible, and provide access to a content management system (CMS) where you can choose templates, make design updates, and add your content.

Add content to your website

Your website needs a customizable beautifully designed website template of your choice and high-quality images to go on it. Creating photos for your site can be as simple as using your mobile phone, but if you're not ready to use your own photos, you can use stock images from Unsplash, which is built into Squarespace and easy to add onto your website.

Websites also need written content, preferably written with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind so they come up in organic internet searches. When you optimize text for internet searches, you weave key words and phrases people might search for into the text—for example, "Italian restaurant in New York City"—to make your site stand out to readers.

The type of content you have on a website depends on what kind of business you're running. If your company is closely tied to services you personally provide, a page with your bio and business qualifications makes sense. However, a business selling physical products may instead emphasize its history, shipping policies, and a customer FAQ rather than more personal text. In either case, concise content is always better than lengthy blocks of text. Potential clients or customers often have limited time, and are looking for a high-level view of your business. 

Above all, your website should express the unique personality of your business. Be yourself and create a design aesthetic that reflects your market and goals—and customers will be more likely to respond favorably.

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