Building a Website – Part 1: Where to Begin



At Digital Canvas, we get lots of people who call or email to ask about starting a website. Whether you’re starting a brand new business and want to simply “hang out a shingle” online, or whether you’re trying to expand into e-commerce to sell your latest and greatest, getting started with a website can seem like a daunting task. Where to even begin?

We like to start by asking our new web clients where they see a website fitting in with their larger business plan. This makes sense, if you think about it in the same terms you think of any other business investment. Your website is an asset like your building, your company vehicles, or your equipment. You’re going to put your money down and in exchange you want a tool that will enable your business to generate revenue.

So, the beginning point is asking yourself: What role do you see your website playing in the way your business makes its bread and butter?

Publicity is one that comes to mind for many clients right away. “We want to be Number 1 on Google.” As you think about your website in terms of giving your business publicity, it’s helpful to push yourself a little further.

If someone finds you on Google, what happens then? What do you want them to actually do when they get to your website?

  • If you are an author, you probably want them to order a copy of your book.
  • If you are a restaurant, you probably want them to make a reservation for dinner.
  • If you’re a car dealer, you probably want them to enquire about a car.
  • If you’re a motivational speaker, you probably want them to buy a ticket to an upcoming seminar.
  • If you’re an accountant, you probably want them to call you for an appointment.
  • If you’re an animal shelter, you might want them to fill out an adoption form or send a donation.

Whatever it is for your business, the first step for your website is to clearly understand how it fits in and helps you do the main thing you do.

Notice I haven’t said a word yet about technology or whether you should get on the phone with GoDaddy (because they’re the ones with the crazy SuperBowl ads — which must mean, of course, they know how to spend a lot of money on advertising) or if that service your Uncle Dave is telling you about every time you see him is really the way to go.

That’s because nobody can tell you what technology you need, or how much it’s going to cost until you know what kind of asset your want your website to be. If you put the cart before the horse, you buy into something because it looked flashy or promised to be easy or inexpensive or someone told you “this is what everyone is doing,” you can easily end up with a liability instead of an asset.

At Digital Canvas, we believe that the place to begin a website comes long before the first napkin sketch of your home page is drawn. It starts with you answering the question: “How does this investment fit into the way my business does its most important thing?”

If you’re ready to start building your website as an asset to improve your business, we’d love to help. Drop us a note online, or give us a call, 330-877-3075. Maybe, after exploring these questions with you, we’ll be able to build a website with you. Or, if our talents and abilities don’t meet your needs, we will refer you to someone we know with the right skill set.

If you’re interested in checking out some of the websites we’ve helped other clients create, browse our portfolio’s Web Design area.