A Pre-Website Checklist to Get You Motivated and Online

It’s no secret that having an eye-catching website plays a huge role when it comes to competing as an entrepreneur in today’s digital marketplace. How else is your target audience going to know about your impressive line of handmade bow ties or your cat-training service — let alone, how to find it? Word of mouth only travels so far.

A website checklist is a time-saver for a business owner who’s ready to take their venture online. More importantly, checking items off of a list can bolster your confidence as you discover how streamlined, accessible, and profitable website creation has become.

If you’re hesitant about taking your business online, the first items you need to check off the list are determination and confidence. So, resolve to push forward where the possibilities are limitless. But if you’re anxious about creating an online presence, this handy summary of things to consider and do can help you stay organized and motivated.

Gather website ideas

If you’re the creative type, you’ll enjoy dreaming up a fitting header for your homepage, interesting article topics for your blog, and a suitable style for your website. But if your imagination is clouded by everything else that entrepreneurship entails, why not gather ideas from peers’ or competitors’ websites, such as these big-name sites powered by WordPress.com?

When borrowing ideas, spin them so that they’re unique to your venture. For example, perhaps you enjoy the simple and straightforward format of The New York Times‘ website. You can follow a format similar to this one and make it your own by adding your brand logos, slogan (if applicable), and colors.

Snap some photos

When was the last time you saw a website that was merely black words on a white backdrop? Scroll down and back up this page. Note the call-to-action buttons (like this one), and how the header image relates to the article. Under the title, you’ll also see my photo and byline (hi!).

Consider some photo opportunities to add to your website checklist such as an image of yourself, an image of your storefront and team, seasonal photos, and a few shots to support your first blog stories along with your products or service.

WordPress.com Gravatars

When you begin adding images and other features to your site, aim to make each page interesting and practical.

Select a theme

WordPress.com website themes are plentiful, but don’t be overwhelmed. Focus on those with names or images that relate to your venture. Or, enter your business type — restaurant, photography, music — in the search bar to generate suitable options.

Click on your favorites to open their overview pages, and familiarize yourself with what a WordPress theme is all about. Ultimately, that’ll help you decide which design best fits your venture’s style and needs.

WordPress.com Restaurant Theme Example

Choose a domain name wisely

Each website address (or domain name) is as unique as a mailing address or phone number. But a domain name is a bit more involved than the latter two. A short, suitable, and memorable domain improves your SEO ranking, and sometimes even your bottom line. In other words, a great domain name is vital to survival in the world of business, according Adam Fridman, founder of Mabbly, a Chicago-based digital marketing agency.

But what if the name you want — myname.com — is already taken? That’s where top-level domains come in handy. Swapping out .com for a fitting TLD such as .restaurant, .yoga, or .photography could make your site’s address even more distinctive and catchy.

Set a deadline

Now that you’re motivated to start a website, why put it off? Your audience and potential supporters await.

However, if you’re still sitting on the proverbial fence, set a target date — tomorrow, next Monday, whatever works — by which to become a website owner. Just don’t stall for long. The sooner your business has an online home — even if it only promotes your location, contact information, and hours of operation for now — the sooner you’ll reap the rewards.

Thousands of small businesses and online stores call WordPress.com home.

Whether you’re looking to promote your business or share your story, we have a plan that’s right for you.

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Lorna Hordos

Lorna Hordos is a home-flipping business owner and freelance writer.

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