Quickstart Guide for Online Stores and Websites

Like so many things in life, the hard part about making a website or online store is often just getting started. You’ve decided that you need one, but you don’t know where to start. What should you tackle first? What should you save for later? There’s really no wrong answer to those questions, but there are some general tips and strategies that can help get you to the finish line sooner. 


Define your brand


Your brand pulls your site content together and strengthens your identity through visual consistency. What makes up your brand? A logo if you have one, up to two fonts and colors, and recurring phrases or language you feel reflects your vision. Defining your brand in advance will make designing and building your website much easier.


Decide on content


What is most important for your visitors or customers to see or know? Create a list of items in order of most important to least, and make a note of what content is required and what you consider optional. Plotting out what you want to add in advance will save you time and prevent you from getting stuck and feeling frustrated.


If you aren’t sure what you need, take a look at other websites or online stores for ideas. What do you look at most? What have you never needed to look at? The answers to those questions can give you some guidance on what you want to add to your own site. 


Set up your products and store settings


If you are not selling online, then you can skip right past this section. However, if you are selling online, I recommend completing your product and store settings first. It will make building your website much easier later.


First things first, there are couple of questions you should ask yourself:


  1. How are you going to fulfill your orders? With Square Online, you can provide pickup, in-house delivery and on-demand delivery, self-serve, and shipping
  2. Are you going to charge sales tax? You can set up manual or automatic tax rates. Note: automatic rates are not available in all locations.


Answering these questions and setting them up now will mean you can apply them to your items in batches with the Bulk Edit button.


Speaking of items, if you are using Square Online and already have items in your Square account, then you’ll see these have synced over for you. If you’re not using Square Online, you can add items individually or import your items with a CSV. All of the items and categories you’ve added will have website pages made for them automatically.


Great! Now that you have your store ready to go, let’s start building the rest of your website.


Dream big but build small


Remember that list of content you made where you sorted from most important to least? Now is when you get to put that into action. One thing to note, though: creating your site or online store isn’t a one-time task. You’ll want to update and add more content as time goes on. Starting smaller here will help you get your site published sooner and make it easier to maintain in the future.


Note: Take a mobile-first approach to building. This means that you build your site thinking about the experience on mobile devices from the start. The Square Online builder handles this for you.


Feed your website (just not after midnight)


Think of your website as a dynamic experience . You’ll want to keep your content fresh and up to date, both to keep people engaged and to improve SEO.


An easy way to do that is to use stories in Square Online or blogs with the Weebly editor. Blogs and stories make it easy to add fresh content, even when your other content doesn’t change much. You can also use them to promote your site on social media. I recommend keeping a list of potential topics and coming up with a realistic schedule to add updates - this will help set you on a path that you’ll easily stick to.


Have any tips you learned when you made your own website or online store? Feel free to share them in the comments below. Thanks for reading, good luck, and most important: have fun!


Community Manager, eCommerce
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