First things first
Before designing a website for your business, you need to know a few things about websites. The first thing you need to know is that a website needs a space on the internet to reside. The other is that your website needs an address through which your potential customers can access it on the internet.
The space where a website resides on the internet is called a server. Adding your website to a server is technically called web hosting. You can host a website yourself if you are a very big business, but for the rest of us, renting a hosting space on the internet is recommended. You can rent server space from businesses called web hosting companies or web hosts. You will pay the hosting company monthly or yearly and they will host your website on the internet.
The unique address through which customers can reach your website is called a domain name eg www.yourbusinessname.com. You buy or register a domain name from a domain name registrar. Payment for domain names is yearly. Your hosting company or web designer can help you buy and pay for domain names.
Now that you have a little bit more information about websites let’s see how you can design one.
Employ a web designer
This is the recommended route to follow. A web designer is someone who is experienced in designing and maintaining websites and offers web design services to the public. Web designers know a lot more about best practices and latest technologies in web design and would normally design better websites for you. Employing a web designer allows you focus on your core business while an expert builds your business website. You don’t have to bring your business to a halt just because you want to build a website.
Employing a web designer means you can tap from his experience about going online (sometimes free). You can get helpful tips, advice, and recommendations from the web designer on building your online business strategy. This will ensure your business succeeds online. A web designer will even help you to buy hosting and domain name for your website. Web designers also offer free hosting and domain name as part of their web design packages.
Build your website yourself with online tools
You may decide to design your website yourself. One of your options if you choose to take this route is to use online website building tools (website authoring tools). These tools offer a graphical user interface that makes it easy to design websites. They encapsulate all the complexity of building a website into clickable and drag-able menus or objects. Just drag and drop and you could have a website in minutes.
There are free and premium website building tools. These online tools offer attractive templates as well as images for designing good looking websites. Online website design tools may also offer free domain names and/or free web hosting.
The downside of using website authoring tools is that while designing your website yourself, you are distracted from your core business. Website built with some authoring tools may not be easily portable to other services. So, if the company behind the online website building tool folds up or you no longer like their services porting to another service might require more work and time than you will be willing put in.
Design your website yourself with templates
You can also design a website for your business using website templates. Website templates are like website skeletons. They come with the layout of the website. All you need is to add some flesh to it with your web copies, images, videos, logos, and links and you could have a business website in a couple of hours. And if you have some knowledge of web design technologies you can even tweak the templates further.
Website templates can be downloaded free on the internet however, a premium website template is better for your business especially if you cannot customise a free website template. Premium website templates look a lot better than their free counterparts and are ready to use out of the box.
You can also run your template on top of a Content Management System like Joomla, WordPress, or Drupal. These CMS software make managing and maintaining your websites a lot easier.
Designing your website yourself will always take your time and will distract you from your core business. In addition, building a website with a template can create problems for you if you decide to change the look of your website in future, especially if you do not have knowledge of technologies like XHTML and especially CSS.
Design your website yourself from scratch
Well if you are technical, love challenges and have lots of time to play around with you can decide to build your business website from scratch. At least you will need knowledge of web design technologies like XHTML and CSS. Other technologies that could come handy include knowledge of server scripting technologies like PHP and ASP as well as database technologies like mySQL and MS Access.
You can use website building and authoring tools like Dreamweaver and FrontPage to reduce the complexity of your website design effort. Designing your business website yourself requires a lot of hard work and you must be very brave if you choose this path.