So You Need a New Website – Where to Start

Jun 13, 2024 | Effective websites

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Need a new website but not sure where to start? You’re not alone! This blog will guide you through the essential steps to take your business online, from identifying your needs to launching your site.

Step 1. Understand Your Needs and Abilities

Before starting a new website project, whether you hire an expert or try to DIY it, I always recommend defining your goals and assessing resources. This will help you make better decisions and get better results down the road.

To help with that, here is a list of questions to ask yourself (and your team if you have one):

  • What is the intended purpose of your website? Are you setting it up to sell products, book appointments, or simply provide information?
  • What functionality does your website need? For example, do you need a booking calendar, online payment options, a blog, etc.?
  • Do you intend to do paid advertising in the near future? If you do, you will need to make sure your website is professionally designed and optimized for conversions since you’ll likely pay for each visitor.
  • Do you (your team) have the necessary skills, or is there a need to hire external professionals?
  • Do you have branding in place? It’s important to establish your branding early on to prevent costly redesigns later. Many web design experts (including us) add branding to your web design package.
  • What is our budget for this project?
  • What is our timeline for the project? Are there any critical milestones or deadlines you need to meet?
  • Are there any legal or compliance issues to consider? Do you need to address accessibility, data privacy, or other regulatory requirements?

Step 2. Choose your domain name

A domain name acts as your digital address online

Tools like Namecheckr and Namecheap are valuable resources to check domain name availability. They allow you to explore different name variations and extensions to find the right match for your brand. 

Keep it Short and Simple: Aim for something easy to type and pronounce. Avoid overly complex words or phrases that are hard to remember.

Avoid Numbers and Hyphens: These can often be misunderstood or misremembered when spoken, leading to potential visitors going to the wrong site.

Choose the Right Extension: While .com is the most popular and easily recognizable, there are many other extensions (.net, .org, .biz) that might be more suitable depending on your business.

Different domain extensions like .com, .net, etc

Step 3: Plan Your Website Structure

Essential pages for small business websites are:

  • Home: This is often the first page visitors land on. It should capture the essence of your business and guide visitors to other sections of your site.
  • About: This page gives your business a human touch. Share your story, mission, and what sets you apart from the competition.
  • Services: Outline your services. Provide detailed descriptions and, if applicable, pricing information.
  • Contact: Make it easy for visitors to contact you. Include multiple contact methods like phone, email, and a contact form, along with your physical location if relevant.

For businesses that offer multiple products or services, consider creating a dedicated page for each offering if resources allow.

 Step 4: Prepare assets: 

Getting these assets ready will help you to keep your project timely and organized:

  • Branding elements
  • Fonts and colors
  • Images and photos
  • Testimonials

Step 5. Choose a Website Builder or CMS

Evaluate platforms like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace based on your technical skills and your site’s specific needs. While we prefer WordPress, each platform has something good to offer. WordPress really shines with its flexibility, control, and scaling ability. It’s a great option if you’re aiming to create a strong online presence for your business. That said, go with what fits your specific needs and what you’re comfortable managing.

Different popular website builders logos

Congratulations, your website design project is now ready to take off! 

Think you might need some expert guidance? At Black Cat Web Studio, we specialize in helping small businesses get a website that looks great and brings in new leads and clients. We’d love to help you with your project.