A professional website can help turn your business idea into a reality or help take your enterprise to the next level.

Sure, it’s fine to start with a Facebook business page as you test the waters of taking your small business online. But as you get serious about growing your business, you’ll want to expand your digital footprint to include a website with a custom domain.

Without a proper website, you’re missing a huge opportunity. These tips can help you take your small business online.

1.    Get a domain name

Your domain is the part of your website address that comes after the www. Your domain is your business’s nameplate on the web, so take care to choose a domain name that represents your business and is easy to remember.

How to choose a domain name

  • Keep it short. Would you remember the domain name if you saw it on the side of a bus?
  • Make it easy to type. Avoid hyphens and unusual spellings.
  • Include keywords. Try to use words that people might enter when searching for your type of business.
  • Target your area. You can use your city or province in your domain name to appeal to local customers.

Make sure the name you love isn’t trademarked, copyrighted or in use by another company. That could result in a hassle that’s easily avoided.

Pro tip: If you register more than one domain, attach your website to your primary domain and point any secondary domains to that address. It’s really easy.

2. Plan your website approach

Figure out what you want your website to do for your business. Do you want your website to inform, inspire or generate sales leads? Is it enough for your website to showcase your products and services, or do you want visitors to buy directly from the site? If it’s the latter, you’ll want to consider an e-commerce website.

Prepare for e-commerce

Here’s what you’ll need to plan for if you want to build an e-commerce site:

  • A shopping cart. This tool lets you display product images and descriptions. Look for a cart option that includes important features like shipping options and inventory tracking.
  • Payment processing. While you can use a third-party service to collect payments, establishing your own merchant account to accept credit card payments will give your business more credibility. Merchant accounts let you accept payments from major credit, debit and gift cards on your site, so your customers don’t have to leave your online store to pay for their goods.
  • SSL. Secure your e-commerce website with an SSL certificate so customers feel safe making purchases on your site. Visual indicators of an SSL can include a padlock icon in the browser, https:// before the website address, and a green address bar.
  • The local GoDaddy e-commerce solution works through a WordPress plugin, so this is more suited to professionals who are comfortable with taking their website to the next level.

3. Choose your website creation tools

You have options for creating your website depending on how comfortable you feel creating and managing your own website.:

Website Builder

Site builders like GoDaddy’s Website Builder are great if you’re a DIY-type who wants an affordable, attractive, basic professional website in a short amount of time.

WordPress

Do you like the idea of building and updating your own website without learning HTML, but want more flexibility than a website builder? If you’ve got a little skill and some extra time, WordPress might be for you.

You can choose from free or paid WordPress themes (designs for the overall style of your website). A range of plugins can also boost your site’s features and functionality.

Professional designer

Hiring a professional designer is a great option if you have an idea for your website, but don’t want to build it yourself. It can be expensive, but the results might perfectly meet your needs.

We live in a mobile-first world, so many (if not all) of your visitors will view your website from a mobile device. Whether you design your own website or hire a designer to do it for you, make sure your small business website is mobile-ready.