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Lisa Schiller from Scooter Computer gives you a step by step guide to setting up your own website.
If you’re running a business from home, your company website often acts as your shop front to the rest the world – so it’s important your website looks smart.
The good news is that if the purpose of your website is to provide an introduction to your company and the services you offer, the likelihood is that you’ll be able to create it yourself. Nowadays there are easy to use free services that can help, so you don’t need to worry about programming language or confusing technical jargon once you know the best places to go for help.
There are a lot of amateur web designers out there, and an awful lot of bad websites, so the key is to keep it simple.
The basic process is to firstly register a domain name. This is the website address, and will also form the end part of your email address – for example email@example.com. You can do this for under £20 for two years with companies such as 123-reg.co.uk. You can check to see if the name you would like to use is on there and order it through them if so.
You will find that “.co.uk” domains are cheaper than “.com” domains, and if you are based in the UK these are usually more appropriate. Try to avoid hyphens in the name, very long names, and ambiguous spellings- you’ll be giving out your email address over the phone thousands of times, and the easier to explain the better. Also avoid alternative endings for domain names, such as .biz, .tv, etc as they also lead to confusion.
Once you have your domain name sorted, you then need to “point” it somewhere. If you have someone else design a website they may point it to their server where they will hold your web pages and email accounts. If you are going it alone with a simple (and elegant) service such as Google Aps , you point it to their servers, and they handle all your email accounts and web hosting for you, free of charge. The service will take you through the entire process with easy step-by-step instructions along the way. You will see how your site will look as you type, so there’s no unexpected gobbledegook along the way!
Then comes the fun bit – the look, feel and design of your website. Google Aps provides an easy to use editing programme (similar to an Office Word or PowerPoint facility) through which you can upload your company logo, photographs and edit your details.
Your design can bring your company brand to life. Easy to read fonts and a simple palette that depicts your logo or key visual colours will have impact.
If you work on the basis that a third of each webpage is made up of images with no more than two thirds text, you will help guarantee visual appeal for your readers. Remember less is more, so try not to overcrowd the site with too many messages. As you plan the content, work out the top three things you want to communicate on each page – keeping things simple will help you standout.
Finally, bear in your audience in mind – many web users tend to access ‘bite-sized’ chunks of information rather than read reams of text.
Keep the site up-to-date by editing the copy regularly. This will help optimise where you’re ranked on search engines too. You can help publicise your site by exchanging links with partner businesses, through online PR and buying Google AdWords too.
It’s also important to pop a reminder in your diary to renew your domain name every two years or as advised at purchase.
Help is at hand if you need support with building your own website. London based Scooter Computer has a team of IT knights that can help get you up and running online in no time. What’s more the team can help with sorting out other IT problems for mums working from home too including speeding up a sleepy computer, zapping viruses and installing new programmes.