Designing Choicemaking a smarter living online

Build and Promote Your Website

Resources for the small home business to help build, promote and monetise their website.

It all changes so quickly, the different demands of being online - and with so many companies offering the "perfect way", "cheapest way, "easiest way to get online, it can be really confusing as to know what to do.

The best and most cost effective tactics and strategies to getting a website online change continually, so many of these links are to forums and neutral review sites.


Accepting Payments on Your Website

Partly dependent on what you are selling. Some payment processors won't accept certain products, so it's important to confirm what you plan to sell is going to be acceptable for that processor.

The first step for some businesses will be their bank, and getting a standard merchant account, but for many smaller businesses, simplicity is key, so here are some well known popular options:

  • Paypal - One of the most well known and established companies around. Your customers don't even have to have a Paypal account to use them.
  • Nochex - Not as well known as Paypal, but a 20 year old company
  • Square - Also offer website templates with incorporated payment processing.
  • UK Business Forums - A very often mentioned forum on this website, as it's long established and a reliable source of information.


Building Your Website

There are basically three ways to go these days:

A CMS - Content Management System. The most popular and well known of these is Wordpress. Basically, you have the front-end (what the visitor sees and interacts with), and the back-end (where the website owner builds the web pages using a well developed interface. Templates (the website design) are available free, with many companies also offering paid for templates with added features.

  • Wordpress - Very well established and supported, large range of free templates. There is a learning curve here, but there are plenty of videos online to take you through the basics.
  • There are competitors out there, all offering slightly different benefits. They come and go, so the best information sources are review sites such as:

Pre-built Shops - The are now several companies offering a one-stop platform for building an online shop. They have everything built in from website templates to payment processing. Rather than attempt to reinvent the wheel, there is a good review of the options here:

Custom Designed Websites - The last option is having a custom built website. The costs can vary greatly depending on how many pages you want and what you're doing with the site. Remember, website designers do not always understand how to make a website friendly to the search engines, so choose a company that you actually talk to, preferably visit.


Build and Promote Your Website ... The best and most cost effective tactics and strategies to getting a website online change continually.


Website Design

If you're going for a CMS or pre-built shop based site, you'll have templates to choose from and customise. So what do you need to look for (apart from the aesthetics) ...

  • Mobile and tablet friendly. These templates are called "responsive", which means that they automatically adapt to all screen sizes.
  • Easy to read. Yellow writing on a black background may look cool to you, but your website needs to work for your visitors - so choose safely.
  • Clear navigation. Make it easy for your visitors to find the information they want.
  • Fast loading. While you may like to have 32 photos of your product/service on the page, it will make that page take absolutely ages to load up. The search engines now use load times as part of their ranking algorithms, and more importantly people aren't going to wait seconds or everything to load. Be sensible.
  • Don't try to win design awards. By all means stretch the boundaries a little, but don't scare and confuse - people want websites they understand how to use. Remember you have around 2 seconds to make visitors stay on site.
  • Search for other companies in your business niche and choose the best of what they are offering.


More Advice - Forums

This article has been rewritten several times since first published on one of our other websites back in 1999 (this version written November 2019). It was much longer, with more sections on promoting, getting links, trick scripts and more ... The advice above should stay valid for a good few years (only the names will change), so rather than offer outdated advice, join some forums to keep up to date with the answers to the other questions you have:

  • UK Business Forum - Has a good ecommerce section as well as loads of information on all aspects of running a UK business.
  • The Web Design Forum UK - As it reads.
  • Warrior Forum - Very long established internet marketing forum which covers loads of topics ... don't get lost in there.
  • Black Hat World - White hat (safe), Black hat (risky) website promotion ... the dark side of website promoting. Start in the "White Hat SEO" section.
  • UK SEO Forum - SEO = Search Engine Optimisation, making your website rank well. Good popular and up to date forum.

There are more, but for most people starting out, that's enough to get confused by.

If you have any recommendations, please let us know here.



Discover more information to help your small home business thrive ... Click HERE