How to Create a Successful Web Site For Nothing (or Almost Nothing)

Have you got eight hours and $10? Then you can build a Web site for your business.

Thanks to competition among Web-hosting providers, and the falling costs of Web storage, it’s never been easier to get a Web site up and running — from buying the domain name to building a site to setting up a payment system to tracking traffic.

But many small businesses still seem intimidated by the job. In a survey published last year, JupiterResearch LLC found that just 36% of online small businesses — that is, businesses with fewer than 100 employees, where managers access the Web at least once a month — have Web sites.

So, here’s a guide for owners looking to make the leap online. We’ll lay out all the steps you need to take to build your site, and present some expert opinion about getting it noticed and keeping track of customers — all with no technical background required.

1. BUY A WEB ADDRESS

First, you have to buy a domain name — e.g., YourCompany.com — for about $10 a year. As an example, we’ll show how to buy a domain using the registrar Go Daddy Group Inc., but you can shop around at others, such as Tucows Inc. and Register.com Inc.

Type the domain name you want in the search box at GoDaddy.com. If it’s taken, try another. When you’ve settled on one, scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Proceed to Checkout.” Ignore the offers for additional products and services, continue to the checkout page, enter your payment information and hit “Checkout Now.”

You’re now the owner of a Web address.

2. FIND A HOME

For years, companies have charged small businesses a fee to “host” sites — store the sites’ content on their computers. According to a recent survey from Jupiter, about a third of small-business executives say they pay up to $1,000 a year for Web hosting, and about another third pay more than $1,000.

Fortunately, in the past year, a number of companies have begun providing hosting services free of charge. They often make money by charging for premium services or running ads on your Web pages.

All you need to do is visit the Web site for one of these hosting services — such as Microsoft Corp.’s Office Live Small Business, Weebly Inc. or SynthaSite Inc. — and enter a user name, a password and some other details. Then visit your domain-name registrar and tweak your settings so that your Web address points to the service you’ve chosen. The hosting service will give you instructions on how to do this.

3. BUILD YOUR SITE

Once you’ve got a host, you’ll want to design your site. The good news: Most of the free hosting services provide tools that let you build a site quickly, without lots of technical know-how.

Among the things you’ll need: a welcoming home page; an “About” page that describes you and your business; and a “Contact” page that tells people where you’re located and how to reach you. The rest depends on your business. If you own a restaurant, you might include a “Menu” page. If you’re selling a product, you might include a “Store” page where people can buy your wares.

Adding those things can be simple. In Weebly, for instance, click on the “Pages” tab, then choose “New Page.” In Office Live, click “Web pages” in the top left-hand corner of the editor and choose “New page.” In SynthaSite, click “New Page” at the top of the editor.

In each case, doing so calls up a blank page template, like opening a new document in Microsoft Word. Once you’ve created a page, you usually can add content simply by typing the text you want into the template and dragging and dropping graphics.

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2 Responses

  1. imo the web tools that allow you to produce your own website result in a poor quality site, good for begginers though i guess

  2. If there is one thing I’m really grateful for, when it comes to my son’s CPA practice, is the Internet. Due to this limitless world, along with the professional web designing services of emochila (http://www.emochila.com/home), my son has been able to gather a lot of clients and his business is flourishing. These guys are highly dedicated professionals and offer really affordable and result-oriented service. I would recommend that you should definitely visit their website and take a look at their services features. You’ll be surely impressed.

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