My First Website: What to Do and What Not to Do as a Startup

My First Website: What to Do and What Not to Do as a Startup

Building your very first website is a daunting challenge. But as a startup, you really have to have a site if you want to get ahead. If you’ve never built a site before and you don’t know much about the web, though, where should you start? Lucky for you, you’ve found our complete guide on everything you need to know. Check it out below!

startup website image

Before You Start: What’s Your WebSite Startup For?

No matter what kind of startup you’re running, you have to start by defining what exactly your site is for. Form, function and structure all stem from what you want the site to do. So, consider the following:

  • Do you want to sell to customers through your website? Then build an E-commerce site. You’ll want your site to look less flashy, and be more easy to use.
  • Do you want to sell to clients through your website? Then you have to impress them and demonstrate your value. You’ll want a site that can incorporate plenty of rich media like video, and to look good too.
  • Is your site more informational and less ‘sell, sell, sell’? Consider Wikipedia: a blank, white slate that’s perfect for purpose. You don’t need an outstanding, best-in-show design.

Choose Your Website Domain Name

Next up, your domain name. The vast majority of businesses simply use the name of their business as their domain name, as this helps people find you through search. If the name of your business is on the longer side, you might want to consider an acronym, because long domain names are more difficult to spell and remember.

A common problem is for the domain name you want to be taken. When this happens, you have a few choices: you could add a further identifier to the name to make it unique, you could contact the owner to try and buy it, or you could simply try for a different name. Whatever you pick, the three golden rules you have to live by are:

  • Your domain name should be directly relevant to your business. Otherwise, people won’t get an idea of what your startup is actually about.
  • Your domain name should be memorable, so that previous customers can remember where to find you.
  • Your domain name should be make it easy for people to find you on Google. Say you’re selling dog collars through an online shop; would make it easy for potential customers to find you, whereas wouldn’t. Nobody Googles ‘Amaze-O-Collars’, but they do search for ‘buy dog collars online’.

Choose a Host For your Website Startup Business

Next up, you have to pick a dedicated host to host your new site. There are a number of factors to take into account when picking a host: first off, you have dedicated servers and shared servers. The clue is in the name: if you have a dedicated server, you have a server all to yourself. If your site is on a shared server, then you have to share it with other businesses/sites, and consequently you don’t get the full amount of ‘server time’, i.e. the time that the server can give you to process requests, like people trying to load your site.

You don’t have to get too technical. Different hosts offer different kinds of server, running on different ‘operating systems’ and with different amounts of processing power. The majority of the time, the cheaper you go, the slower your site will load. This can drive off customers. However, if you don’t plan on hosting videos/rich content and your site is nice and basic, you could even get away with hosting it on a shared server (which is much cheaper).

Decide On Your Startup Design Specs

Before you get ahead of yourself, we don’t recommend that you design the site yourself, even if you have an eye for that sort of thing. Why? Because translating designs into code is a big ask. You’ll spend 9/10ths of your time pulling your hair out and shouting ‘But why is that going there? I want it to go there!’

What you can do is figure out what you want your site to look like. Think adjectives: do you want it to look modern? Colourful? Muted? Sweeping? Cool? Structured? Put some time into imagining how you would like your finished site to look, draw a couple of design specs, and find similar examples online. Then…

Find Your Website Design Expert

Find an expert to do it for you. You have plenty of choice: you could pick a design agency for a more expensive option, or you could find somebody cheap and cheerful on a freelance site like PeoplePerHour or the exceptionally cheap Fiverr. Hand your design specs over to the expert and have them draw up more detailed designs. Don’t settle: invest time to make sure you’re happy. Your expert can then handle everything from coding to uploading your site, and if you like, could give you advice on anything from domain names to hosting too. In their capable hands, your site will turn from dream to reality!

Startup Do’s And Don’ts

This last mini-section is a reflection on the entire website building process. There are some really important do’s and don’ts that it’s important to know before you start.

Do Pick Function Over Form

If ever there’s a conflict of form and function, pick function. Don’t ever let snazzy design get in the way of UX, no matter how snazzy!

Don’t Build Your Website Startup For Free (As Tempting as it might be!)

There are loads of ‘free’ options out there when it comes to designing websites. You can find free hosts, free website building editors and more. But it’s just not worth it. Free hosts append their own url to yours, so instead of, your site would be Plus, free hosting is patchy: your site will be down just as much as it’s accessible. Free website builders fall foul of what’s called ‘SEO’, or search engine optimisation. In other words, the way they’re coded makes them more difficult to find through Google or Bing. Not good. Stick with paid options if you have genuine ambition for your startup.

Do Consider a Website Content Management System

Another key aspect of your SEO is your content. A content management system, or CMS, helps you edit content on your pages/blog without touching the complex code beneath. They’re a real lifesaver if you’re not comfortable with code, and trust us- you will spend plenty of time editing your content. WordPress is a great example of a CMS.

Don’t Try and Build Your Website Startup Yourself

If you have a little background in coding or visual design, it might be tempting to try your hand at DIY. Whether you’re capable or not isn’t the question. The real question is whether you have the time, and if you’re running a startup, you probably don’t. Outsourcing is your friend, so that you can focus on everything else that needs doing.

Do Be Picky with Your Startup

Our last tip is to be picky. Don’t be afraid to send designs back if you don’t like them, because it’s your site, and the way it looks and works is very important.

So there you have it. If you can follow these tips from start to finish, you can’t go wrong. There’s plenty more out there to learn, though: SEO, paid advertising, generating great content and more. But to get your site off the ground, the tips above are all you need!