How to Create a Business Website (for Total Beginners)

woman wearing an apron typing on a laptop surrounded by packing boxes
Sabrina Dougall

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You can run, but you can't hide… from the fact your business needs a website. Maybe you're not a tech person. Maybe editing your email signature is your greatest tech achievement, and that's OK by you. You might be worried that creating a business website is beyond your skills and experience.

But the truth is there's never been an easier time to whip up a website as a total beginner, especially now there are several brilliant website builders on the market that make creating a slick, professional website very simple.

We're talking click, click, drag, easy. I don't speak Python (that's not a Harry Potter language, you're thinking of Parseltongue) but I've built a bunch of business websites. And so can you.

These are the steps we'll go through to make your fresh new business website:

  1. Choosing how to build your website
  2. Getting the website online (hosting)
  3. How to get a web address
  4. Securing the web address
  5. Picking a website design
  6. Editing the website design
  7. Connecting payment providers (for online sales)
  8. Adding extra features to your website
  9. Setting up an email inbox with your website

You can definitely do all of this in a week. If you really put your mind to it, you can do it in a day. But if you want to take longer, that's perfectly fine. Let's get started on your website. 👩‍💻

1. Choosing How to Build Your Website

There's a number of ways to build a website nowadays, and it can be hard to decide which method is right for you. The simple way to approach this question is to consider the purpose of your website. After that, you can weigh up factors like how much time, expertise, and budget you have available.

To get started, let's think about this question: Do you want to sell things online? If yes, then you need an ecommerce website, also known as an online store. We've put together a separate guide to the best ecommerce platforms for small businesses which can help you find the right platform to build a website that's geared up for selling.

Next, we can think about the building options that are available based on your broader context.

  • Lots of time and tech skills –> custom CMS such as Joomla or Drupal
  • Some time, low tech skills, budget $0-$1,500 –> website builder such as Wix or Weebly
  • Low on time, no tech skills, budget $5,500+ budget –> web design agency or contractor

Whether you're briefing the work in-house, taking on the project yourself or hiring a third party, it's helpful to have an idea about what you want the website to do. Then you can get a better idea of costs, because features and complexity dictate the nature of the website. With lots of websites, however, you can actually change your mind later and add bits on as needed. Just be sure to check the possibility of making changes later down the line before you commit to a path.

Choosing a drag-and-drop website builder can keep website maintenance costs low because certain features are all included in the subscription price. If you commission a bespoke website, you'll have to pay for security updates, hosting renewal, and design updates as separate charges.

Which Website Builder is Best for Me?

We've mentioned website builders, which are suitable for anyone who's willing to roll their sleeves up and get creative. Now, there are various types of tools which are better suited to different website types. Some have more storage space (for image-heavy websites), while others have better templates for certain industries.

Enter the website builder decision matrix. Cool name, useful tool. It's simply a summary table of our recommendations per website type.

To use it, look for your occupation type in the central column or check out your preferred website type in the left-hand column. Then you'll find our top recommended website builders in the right-hand column.


Website TypeWho Needs It?Recommended ToolCritical Features
Corporate or general info websiteAny entrepreneur, business owner or marketing manager
  1. Wix
  2. GoDaddy
  3. IONOS
  4. WordPress
  5. Hostinger
  • Wide range of features
  • Security and hosting
  • Custom domain
  • Affordable
  • Email inbox
Appointment booking websiteLocal businesses, such as spas and beauty services, healthcare and therapy clinics, educators, consultants, coaches, advisors, tour guides
  1. Wix (Core)
  2. Squarespace (any)
  3. Square (Plus)
  • Visitors can schedule appointments with you through the website
Portfolio websitePhotographers, artists, creative professionals, models, performers, designers, media makers
  1. Squarespace (Business)
  2. Weebly (Professional)
  3. Hostinger (Website Builder and Web Hosting)
  • Unlimited storage space and bandwidth
  • Image-friendly templates
  • Accept payments and sell products
Campaign websiteMarketing managers running short-term drives for new sign-ups
  1. GoDaddy
  2. Hostinger
  • Quick to set up
  • Bold layouts
Community forum websiteBusinesses with an interest in community building, (eg. parents, music fans, therapy clients) or peer-to-peer selling
  1. Wix (Light)
  2. WordPress plus bbPress plugin
  • Discussion forum creation feature
  • Connect with social media channels
Blog websiteBusiness leaders, education centers or creative professionals who need to keep their followers updated.
  1. WordPress
  2. Wix – limited importing
  3. Weebly
  • Content scheduling
  • Low cost
  • Option to scale up
  • Content import

Did one or two of these catch your eye? Feel free to click any of the links to go straight to the website builder where you can start playing around.

Remember, the variety of features you need will affect the cost of a website, so remember to choose a plan with everything you'll need – and no more.

2. Getting the Website Online (Hosting)

Hosting is included in drag-and-drop website builders

If you're using a website builder such as GoDaddy, Wix, Shopify or Squarespace (or many others), hosting is already included in your subscription. That means you won't have to worry about it at all.

But if you're using a platform such as Drupal, WordPress, Magento or others, then you'll need to purchase hosting separately. A third party developer will generally cover hosting as part of your total package.

If you need a fresher on what hosting means, skip down to the FAQs at the end of the page. At some stage, you're going to have to sign up for a hosting service. That's another cost to factor in, but there's no need to spend more than around $100 a year to host a basic business website.

The type of hosting you need depends on how much traffic (the number of visitors) you expect your website to get. You can get away with spending $4 or $5 a month if your website has few pages and around 1,000 or so people visiting it monthly.

Signing up for hosting is extremely easy – simply go to the website of a hosting provider (big names include GoDaddy, Bluehost, and HostGator). Then browse the hosting types on offer, and consider:

  • The size of your website (in GB)
  • Whether you expect spikes of traffic at certain times
  • If you want extra security or privacy
  • Whether you can install it yourself or need assistance
three price plans of Hostinger hosting packages
All Hostinger hosting plans include a website builder tool at no extra cost.

Then all you do is add your preferred hosting package to the online cart, and checkout.

Unless you're a seasoned webmaster, it's unlikely you'll have to go as far as comparing and purchasing web hosting yourself. It's a specialist area, but worth knowing about if you find the hosting charges on your invoice and want to know what it's all about.

High performance websites such as large online stores will need premium quality hosting services. The reason is you'll need more server resources to cope with lots of website visitors and fast loading times. These can cost in excess of $200/month, so don't assume that a hefty price tag means you're being overcharged.

3. How To Get A Web Address

The web address is a rented location for your webpages. It's a virtual location – think of it like a folder where you store your documents (such as on your computer) – that all internet users can access.

This bit isn't hard, but there's a few new words coming your way. So buckle up.

Domain name: the middle bit of your website name, eg: “”
TLD (top level domain): the end bit of your website name, eg: “.com”
Registrar: the company you buy your domain name from

Your job now is to choose a registrar and then think up a cool website name. You should choose a major registrar (such as GoDaddy, Namecheap or BlueHost) so you've got a better chance of good customer service. Then, go to their website and type in your chosen website name and click, “Search”.

From there, you add domain names to your cart (just like shoes or groceries) and then buy them via the online checkout.

screenshot from GoDaddy showing is for sale at $4,960 + $19.99 per year.
Your chosen domain may already belong to someone else – you can try to buy it from them.

Most domains cost around $11-$25 per year (you'll have to pay for it every year). It's best to buy several years in one block for the best price. This is also the most convenient way of buying a domain name, as you won't have to remember to do it each year. Remember, if you forget to renew your domain then anyone else can buy it.

A high value domain name costs a whole lot more. To the point where it's possibly easier to change your company name than to outbid the current domain holder. For instance, “” costs $23,898.47, according to a GoDaddy estimate. The reason it's so expensive is because the trade name is commercially valuable (for some reason).

These are the best practices for choosing a domain name:

  • Avoid the dash symbol “-“
  • Avoid numeric symbols (eg. 0-10)
  • Pick something short and memorable
  • Make it relevant to your business
  • Buy a couple of TLDs with the same domain name

4. Securing the Web Address

If you were wondering when to start thinking about cybersecurity, the answer is now. Right away. As you buy your domain, you may see a package offer to buy an SSL security certificate with it.

You should definitely buy an SSL certificate. It prevents basic cybersecurity attacks on your website, which could pull it offline or, worse, steal data from your customers (or you).

close-up of SSL security certificate visible in address bar of
This is how an SSL certificate appears to web users.

There are different types of SSL certificates, which you can learn about in the FAQs at the end of this article. You can either buy your SSL certificate from your domain registrar or from a separate company. You can actually get a free one from Let's Encrypt. You'll need a little know-how to install it. Or you can hire a web design expert to do it for you.

If you're using a website builder such as Wix, your SSL certificate is included in your monthly subscription cost.

Secure sockets, secure pockets

The secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate shows users that your website is trustworthy. You should invest in a higher grade SSL certificate if you are processing payments through your website. It's your duty to show web visitors that their credit card details are safe on your website.

5. Picking a Website Design

Great, you've got the website name sorted. Or even if you don't, that's fine. We can get started on the fun creative bit now, anyway.

Most people like to choose a pre-made template, and replace the placeholder images and text with their own. We like this way of creating a website because it gives you a running start. With hundreds of website templates available nowadays, you're highly likely to find one you like enough to start messing around with.

three website templates in from IONOS
Three template examples from IONOS – you can edit every picture and text box.

How can you choose the right website design? We have a couple of suggestions:

  • Think about the mood you want to create. If you're running a kindergarten, it makes sense to choose bright colors and a fun design. But if you're offering financial services, you need to create a more serious tone. Consider the impression your website gives, and whether that matches your aims.
  • Showcase your business clearly. Make your message understood from the second a visitor lands on the homepage (or any page) of your website. If you sell shoes, add pictures of them. If you're a legal firm, ensure your specialty and location is written in big clear letters.
  • Guide your users. Who is using your website – and why? If you mainly have a website to capture email addresses, then include an email form high up on the main page or use a pop-up. If you need visitors to call you, make sure the “Contact us” button is large, central, and clear. Make sure it's easy to navigate around your website by including links to other pages.
Let the robots decide

Can't pick a template? Many website builders have a quiz option now where you can simply answer a couple of multiple choice questions. Then it generates a website design for you, based on your answers. It's known as ADI (artificial design intelligence), and it's less effort than choosing a template yourself.

6. Editing the Website Design

You've got a basic website design, but it doesn't feel like yours yet.

Well, most website builders have an editor workspace that lets you make creative changes. Here, you can edit different elements of your webpages by clicking on the section you want to change. Then a set of icons should appear which allow you to change colors, fonts, styles, and layouts.

Indeed, every website builder works slightly differently so our advice is to pay attention to the on-screen help guides. GoDaddy and Wix won't let you click and drag design elements. You'll have to hover the mouse over until you find up and down arrows to move the sections.

screenshot of Wix editor showing 'move section up' box

Squarespace gives you better design control, with its new “Fluid Engine” editor allowing you to drag and drop text boxes or images along a grid.

Squarespace website editor with blue box around "Advice" and grid in the background of two text boxes

The Weebly editor is somewhere in between, allowing you to move design elements up, down, left or right but only relative to other design elements. So you can move a text box beneath a button, but you can't position it precisely on the page. To do this, hover the mouse over any section, and wait until eight dots appear in a rectangle at the top of the box. Then click and drag once the mouse turns into a four-directional arrow. You'll see the object you're moving snaps into place, rather than lands exactly where you position it.

Weebly design editor with text box on the left hand side highlighted by a blue box, and an image to its right

7. Connecting Payment Providers (for Online Sales)

It's not difficult at all to start taking payments through your website. Usually, though, you'll need to sign up to a premium subscription package on your chosen website builder. The exceptions are Square or Weebly (now owned by Square) which allow you to start selling products on their free plans.

The process is very similar for all website builders. You click on “Commerce” or “Sell Online” or “Store Payments”, on your account dashboard. Then select “Connect a payment processor.” Here's how it looks with Squarespace:

screenshot of Squarespace dashboard with Stripe, PayPal and Square payment processors
Squarespace allows US customers to connect three different payment processors.

Now, simply click the payment processor that you want to start with. You can come back and add more later. In the case of a Squarespace account, clicking on Stripe brings up a separate, smaller window. On this new screen, you follow the instructions to authenticate yourself as the Stripe account manager.

Stripe payments authentication window with multiple choice options
You'll need your basic business information to hand when connecting payment processors.

Authentication can take the form of validating your email address, and confirming your phone number with a specific pin. You'll need to type in your business details, including the registered business address and its legal name. Make sure you've got your IRS paperwork with your Employer Identification Number (EIN) as you'll need to include that too.

Remember, the payments company is responsible for carrying out basic checks to ensure it's not helping financial criminals out.

Squarespace guidance warns that you, as the merchant, are responsible for monitoring whether fraudulent payments come through your business. But Stripe has some detailed fraud prevention advice that can help you out.

If you encounter problems with Stripe down the line (such as banned products or declined charges) remember you'll have to contact Stripe, rather than Squarespace to sort those out.

Speedy PayPal connection

To connect your online store with your PayPal account, all you need to do is log in through your website dashboard. Make sure that the currency in your PayPal account matches the currency you sell your products or services in online. You'll also need a Business PayPal account, rather than a personal one.

The process for connecting any other payment provider is very similar – simply look for the payment processor of your choice in the website builder's options, and follow the on-screen instructions.

Note that each ecommerce platform (a fancy name for an “online store” website builder) only allows you to connect certain payment processors. For instance, Squarespace only has three options (Stripe, PayPal and Square Point of Sale) while Wix has over 20 including Klarna and various Crypto services.

Get Seen by Google

A marketing technique called “search engine optimization” improves the chances of shoppers finding your website through web search. We've written a guide to the best ecommerce platforms for SEO which can help you choose between different online sales providers.

8. Adding Extra Features to the Website

Depending on your method of website creation, you'll approach adding additional features in various ways. Most commonly, you can connect external software programs using APIs, plugins or “apps”. Many website builders have app stores, including the Wix App Market, the Shopify App Store, the Weebly App Store, and so on.

In the latter case, all you'll have to do is search through the app store of your chosen website builder for the feature you need. For example, if you go to the Weebly App Store and search for “marketing” you'll find a list of third-party tools that will improve customer engagement on your website:

ten apps from the Weebly app store with star ratings and prices

Some things to bear in mind when choosing apps to add to your website:

  • There's often an extra subscription cost to pay
  • Adding too many can slow down your website
  • You may be able to find one app that combines the functions of several apps
  • Read customer reviews to find out if the app is working well currently

9. Setting Up an Email Inbox with Your Website

One of the best things about launching your own website is the opportunity to include a professional email address with it. There are a few different ways to go about this.

Launching email from your hosting control panel

In the event that you end up managing your own hosting, you can set up email inboxes from its control panel (often known as cPanel). Navigate to the “Email” section of your hosting control panel, and click “Email Accounts.” Next, pick your settings and click “Create account.”

Creating email accounts via WordPress

Email is available as an upgrade option through WordPress. You'll need your own domain name, so you'll have to buy that (which you can do through WordPress itself if you choose). WordPress partners with a product called Titan, which provides features such as read receipts, schedule email send, and template creation.

Find “Upgrades” on the left-hand toolbar, then select “Emails”. There you'll find email subscription plans, and simply follow on-screen instructions to purchase your favored option. Then you can manage settings from within your dashboard.

Starting email through your website builder

Website builder products – particularly those from hosting providers – often offer email as a perk of signing up with them. Sometimes you'll get the first year free (eg, with GoDaddy), but there's usually an option to sign up for a personalized email account.

For instance, IONOS includes an email address inbox with every website builder plan:

screenshot of three IONOS website builder plans side by side with highlights showing email inbox is included with each one

This is relatively unusual, as most providers require you to pay separately for email services. One exception is Hostinger, which gives you a free email inbox (1GB mailbox) with its $6.99/month Website Builder and Web Hosting plan.

Other website builder subscriptions include a sign-up deal with Google's Gmail.

Gmail deals

If you subscribe to Squarespace Business or Commerce, and your domain has never had a Google Workspace account before, you'll get a year's free Gmail as a bonus. Wix pricing doesn't include a Google Workspace plan, so you'll have to buy your own, but you'll get 30GB of Drive storage thanks to Wix's partnership.

Signing up with email from Google

In any case, you can go straight to Google and sign up for one of its Workspace plans. Google's pricing is fairly steep, particularly if you have many users that require a lot of storage space. For that reason, we recommend sharing account inboxes where possible.

Google's four price plans for its workspace, at $6, $12 or $18 or unlisted
Google offers four pricing options per user, per month, for access to its Gmail and other products.

At a minimum, you're looking at $72 per year for a custom email name such as “”. However, the professional impression this email gives may bring it much more new business than you'd otherwise get without it.

All personalized Gmail inboxes are connected to a particular domain name. That's the second part of the email address. So you can either use your domain purchased from a separate registrar, or you can purchase one through Google.

Google Workspace logo with question asking, 'Does your business have a domain?' and options yes or no
You'll need a domain name to set up a Gmail inbox, but you can buy one through Google.

In any case, you can go straight to Google and sign up for one of its Workspace plans. Google's pricing is fairly steep, particularly if you have many users that require a lot of storage space. For that reason, we recommend sharing account inboxes where possible.

Making the Most of Your New Website

Congratulations! You're now the proud owner of a snazzy new business website 🎉 Your hard work will pay off in the following ways:

  • Growing your online presence, appearing to customers or investors who search your business name online
  • Adding credibility to your brand
  • Giving you a place to showcase your work
  • Selling items or services, if you choose
  • Opportunity to capture customer email addresses
  • Providing a place to publish news, articles, pictures, and videos

But there's still a few more things to do: now is the time to research SEO services to improve the chances of people finding your website through search engines. You can also look into social media marketing to boost the popularity of your brand, and publicize your website's awesome content.

But first, don't forget to celebrate your hard work.

▶ Read more: Discover more about IONOS with our full pricing review


What's a domain name?
A domain name (sometimes known simply as a “domain”) is the part of a web address after the “www.”. For instance, “” is a domain name. It must be purchased from a registrar, and is only owned for as long as you have paid for it. If you forget to renew your domain registration, it becomes instantly available for anyone else to buy.
What is website hosting?
Hosting is the service that sets your website live on the World Wide Web. Until you've got your website connected to a server, you can't access it via the internet. A server is a metal box containing microchips – and the physical location where websites are stored. So every time someone types in your web address into their browser, a request goes to the server to bring up your website.

Because hosting requires electricity, maintenance, and safety checks, providers charge fees on a monthly or annual basis.

What are the different types of SSL certificate?
There are five main types of secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates to safeguard your web address. These are: DV SSL, OV SSL, EV SSL, multidomain and wildcard SSL. The first three types relate to how many layers of verification the website owner went through to get the certificate. The latter two describe how many domains are protected by the certificate.

Here's a table that summarizes the different SSL certificates, and examples of which website types need them.

SSL certificate type ExplanationSuitable For
Standard (DV) SSL“Domain validation”, with standard encryption

Covers just one domain: eg

To get this, you just have to verify you own the domain.


Microbusiness websites: small charity, community, non-profit, campaign website, beauty salon, auto services, at-home services, repair workshops, studios. 

Storing no sensitive data and taking no payments. 

OV SSL“Organization validation”, with good encryption. 

You’ll have to submit your business details to confirm you own the website.

SMBs, local businesses, tour operators, legal firms, consultants, accountants, care services, agencies, libraries.

Holding some data, such as email and log-in but not payment details.

EV SSL“Extended validation”, with very strong encryption. 

Your business details must be verified to rule out fraud.

Large websites with sensitive customer data, payment details, such as online shops, financial services, specialist consultancy, medical services including counselling, addiction or mental health treatment
Multi-domainCovers several websites (could be three, or several hundred depending on your subscription): eg

Entrepreneurs running multiple websites. Eg web developers, agencies, hoteliers, merchants.
Wildcard SSLCovers subdomains: eg

Business websites with subdomains (such as a separate website for an online shop or corporate customers or log in zone/intranet). Eg education sector, public sector, financial services, and corporate sector.
Written by:
Sabrina Dougall
Sabrina Dougall Web Marketing Expert

Sabrina is a business journalist whose career began in news reporting. She has a master’s in Investigative Journalism from City University London, and her work has appeared in The Times, The Daily Express, Money Saving Expert, Camden New Journal, Global Trade Review, and Computer Business Review. She specializes in writing about SEO (search engine optimization). Having run her own small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how critical digital marketing is to building a client base and local reputation.