A website is an important part of your business’s online presence. A good website:

  • helps customers find and contact you
  • promotes your products or services
  • boosts your brand and reputation
  • lets customers buy your products online.

The first step in setting up a business website is to decide what you want it to achieve. You might have more than one website goal.

Example website goals:

  • be a digital shopfront for your business
  • help you reach a global audience
  • increase customer engagement
  • target new markets
  • improve your brand and reputation
  • share information or stories about your products or services.

Consider your wider goals first

Before you create a website, review your overall business goals and strategies. This will make sure your business website aligns with:

A domain name is the address for a website (for example, business.gov.au).

When choosing a domain name for your website, make sure it:

  • reflects your business
  • is easy for people to remember, spell and type
  • is available to use.

You need to register your domain name through an accredited registrar or reseller. Most website hosting companies can register domain names.

You’ll need a website hosting service. This stores (or ‘hosts’) your website on a server connected to the internet.

You’ll also need a content management system (CMS) to publish and update your website. CMSs can be either cloud-based or self-hosted.

A cloud-based CMS is a paid subscription service. It usually includes:

  • built-in website hosting
  • different design templates
  • optional features like online stores (ecommerce), online marketing and search engine optimisation.

A self-hosted CMS is an application you install on a separate website hosting service. You’ll need to pay for your website hosting and might need extra applications or plug-ins for things like ecommerce. Self-hosted CMSs are more flexible and customisable than cloud-based CMSs but take more work to set up and maintain.

Make sure the hosting and CMS you choose have the features, resources and customer support you need.

The look and feel of your website can have a big impact on what customers think of your business.

If you’re using a cloud-based CMS, you can choose a built-in template for your website design. Most cloud-based CMSs have a drag and drop editor so you can customise your website design.

If you’re using a self-hosted CMS, you can either:

  • buy a template design (or download a free one)
  • pay a web designer to develop a custom design for your website.

Things to consider when designing your website:

  • Branding: Your website should reflect your brand and align with your other marketing materials. Consider creating a style guide to follow.
  • Usability: A website should be easy for your customers to use. Avoid overly fancy designs or gimmicks that might distract users from your content.
  • Mobile compatibility: Mobile devices are responsible for over half of the world’s internet traffic. Design your website to work on mobiles as well as desktop computers.
  • Accessibility: Design your website so people with disability can access it. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has tips on designing for accessibility.

Create a sitemap showing the structure of your website. A sitemap shows how the pages on your website relate to each other. That includes which pages are ‘children’ of higher-level pages.

When designing your website structure, think about:

  • your website goals
  • the tasks customers will want to do on your website
  • the information you need to give them
  • grouping related pages into logical groups to make them easy for users to find.

The pages on your website will depend on your business needs. But they might include:

  • an ‘about us’ page to tell your business’s story
  • contact details or a contact form
  • descriptions of your services
  • an online shop with a page for each product
  • a blog
  • customer reviews and testimonials
  • frequently asked questions
  • terms and conditions.

Create your website content

Write content for each web page then build your pages in the CMS.

Content tips

  • Put the most important information first.
  • Use simple words, short sentences and short paragraphs to make content easy to read.
  • Break up the text with clear subheadings.
  • Check spelling and grammar. Mistakes can reflect badly on your business.
  • Include images where relevant.
  • Make sure your content is accessible to people with disability. W3C has tips on writing for accessibility.
  • Use search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques to improve your search engine ranking.

Cyber security is essential for any business website. Make sure your website and data are protected from cyber attacks.

If you’re using a cloud-based CMS, the provider should keep your website safe from cyber attacks.

If your website is self-hosted, you’ll need to keep your CMS and other tools up-to-date by applying the latest security patches. Turn on automatic updates or set up reminders to regularly update your applications.

Whatever CMS you’re using, choose a strong password and turn on two-factor authentication.

It's important to test your website before you launch it.

  • Make sure customers can easily navigate it and successfully buy your products or services.
  • Check for broken links and menu items.
  • Try navigating the website on different web browsers and devices.
  • Do a final review of all content to make sure it is correct.

Let your customers know when your website is live and give them a way to provide feedback.

Your website is the digital front door to your business, so you should promote it across your channels. This includes your social media platforms and email newsletters.

Use these channels to tell your customers about important new features and content on your website.

Maintain your website by making sure it always has the latest information about your business, products and services.

You should also continually monitor and measure the performance of your website to see if it’s achieving your goals.

  • Ask customers for feedback on the website. Is there anything they struggle with or would like to see improved?
  • Use website analytics tools to measure and understand user behaviour. Most cloud-based CMSs have built-in analytics. For a self-hosted website, you can install a product such as Google Analytics.
  • Use this information to improve the website for your users. You can then do follow-up measurements to see if your changes are successful.

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