In this lesson we’ll talk you through some crucial early decisions you’ll make about your website: choosing a website name and planning how your site is structured. The goal is making it easy for customers to find their way around and get what they want. Because a happy customer equals a more successful business, right?
Ready to go?
First up, your domain name. That’s what people will type into a web browser to find you.
When choosing a domain name, you first need to check if the one you want is available. There can only be one TastyBakery.com on the web, for example, and if someone has already claimed it, you won’t be able to use it. So, how do you know if the name you want is taken? Just do a search for ‘domain registrar’ and click on one of the results. There should be a tool on the site that lets you see if someone is already using the name you want. And, if they are, it may suggest another similar name that’s available for you to use.
A good domain name is one that people can easily remember. Keep it as short, relevant and as to-the-point as possible.
You may be able to get a variation of the name you want by choosing a different extension, which is the fancy name for the bit at the end. You’re probably familiar with the ‘.com’ or ‘.co.uk’ extensions, but you might find others that are available or a better fit. For example, non-profit organizations often use ‘.org.’ What this also means is that although ‘TastyBakery.com’ may be taken, ‘TastyBakery.net’ may still be available. OK, that’s the name sorted. Let’s have a look at some other common parts of a website, like the home page. This is the first page people see after they type in your domain name and get to your website. The home page is your shop window, where you invite people in and explain what you’re all about. A home page also directs visitors to other pages of your website through what we call ‘navigation’. Your navigation headings may run across the top of a page or down the side. Either way, it’s a menu that lets people travel from one part of the site to another.
How you organise the site is very important. Start by thinking about the websites you visit regularly. How are they organised?
Now, decide what kind of content you want to offer, and then group it together in ways that make sense. Incidentally, many website-building tools offer business website templates that can help you get started.
One easy place to start? The pages and sections you see on most websites: things like ‘About’ and ‘Contact’ pages. Your website’s Contact page might include your address, phone number, email and a map with directions.
The About page might tell the story of your business and include photos of some of your best work. There’s no right or wrong way to organise a site, but you’ll always want to put yourself in your visitor’s shoes. What’s he or she looking for? What are they trying to accomplish on the website?
Now, you want to set things up so it’s super-easy for visitors to find the information they need, like the bakery’s working hours, or complete important goals, like submitting an online order.
Let’s check out what you’ll see on the pages themselves.
First, you’ll notice those navigation signposts, like the About and Contact headings. They should appear on every page of your site so that people can always get to where they want to go, or back to where they’ve been.
Of course, there will also be words, or text: headlines, paragraphs, bulleted lists. And you might also have things like images and video.
Text and images can also be set up to link to other pages on the Internet when they’re clicked. These are known as ‘hyperlinks’, or shortcuts to other pages either on your site or elsewhere on the web. Many websites also invite customers to interact, with features like forms to submit questions, maps with turn-by-turn directions to your store or shopping baskets to buy products directly. Your website — your digital storefront — is a great opportunity to connect with customers. Choosing the right domain name, organising the site logically and including nifty features can help your visitors find exactly what they’re looking for.