Now that you’ve set up your business backend, it’s time to set up your frontend, which includes your front-facing website and services that your customers will see and use.
In this article, we’ll go over how to choose a website theme, a page builder, and plugins. Next, we’ll review media tools you can use to add images and videos to your site, and how to ensure your website looks great on mobile devices.
Finally, we’ll cover which pages and content you should make for your site, as well as how to choose a customer relationship manager (CRM) and customer service system.
We have lots to go over, so let’s get started.
This is Step 6 of the 8 steps in the in-depth guide for starting an online business.
Website Themes & Page Builders
Choosing a website theme for your online business is an important step since it will likely make the first impression on a new visitor. Website themes can change the entire design of your website, the layout of your content, and how users interact with your website.
Here are some of the design elements you can affect with a website theme:
A website theme consists of a package of files and settings that you can install via a content management system (CMS), such as the one you chose to use for your site in the last step.
Most themes offer a plethora of settings and user-friendly editors that you can use to tweak the look of the theme. However, if you need to customize your theme even further, you may have to make manual changes to the underlying theme scripts and files.
PRO TIP: If you’re using a WordPress theme and you want to make customizations to the theme (e.g. add custom functions or CSS code), you should first create and use a child theme based on your chosen theme, and then make your changes to the child theme.
That way, your theme changes won’t be lost when you update the parent theme!
Most CMS platforms come with at least one or more predesigned website themes that you can use directly.
However, entire marketplaces also exist where you can browse, download, and install 3rd-party website themes. Sometimes, these marketplaces are built into the CMS, but other times you have to go to a 3rd-party website to get their themes.
What should you look for in a website theme?
When choosing a new website theme, you should be on the lookout for the following features:
Other Theme and Content Tools
Page builders and content block editors are related tools that help you create new pages and page layouts. They can also allow you to easily reuse common components throughout your site.
Depending on the CMS and e-commerce system you use, these page builders and content block editors can have a dramatic positive effect on the design and performance of your online store, potentially greatly increasing your customer conversion rate.
In addition to website themes and page builders, many plugins exist that can also help you easily change and improve the design and layout of your site. Plugins are pre-designed scripts and packages of code that you can install in your CMS, providing any number of features, enhancements, and tools.
More than likely, you will be able to find lots of themes, plugins, and page-building options, no matter which CMS or e-commerce system you choose to use for your online business.
Below are some themes, page builders, and plugins for some very popular CMS and e-commerce platforms.
WordPress Themes & Plugins
To get you started, here are some popular themes and plugins for WordPress sites.
WordPress Themes & Plugins
Shopify Themes & Plugins
If you will be using Shopify for your online store, make sure to check out these themes, page builders, and plugins.
Shopify Themes & Plugins
By the way, if you’re running a Shopify store, you probably would find these tools interesting as well.
As you create your content and pages for your site, you’ll likely quickly find yourself needing images, photos, or videos. For example, each blog post requires a featured image.
If you have the time and/or skills, you can create the images and videos yourself. Some media tools nowadays make it really easy to create new graphics by using drag-and-drop editors.
Even if you want to design your own graphics and videos, it probably makes sense for you to use a royalty-free stock photo or stock video service so that you can quickly choose from existing collections of premium assets.
Here are some popular royalty-free stock media sites where you can find premade images, photos, illustrations, vector graphics, videos, music, and audio that you can use in your media projects for your online business.
Royalty-Free Stock Media Sites
If you’re looking to edit your images, such as adding filters, text, or other graphics, or if you want to make infographics, posters, charts, or similar content, then you might want to check out these popular media editors.
Image & Media Editors
Mobile usage is huge nowadays… but do your customers use it to research or buy your products or services?
Perhaps desktop users are more important for your specific business niche. For example, if you’re selling downloadable PC software, you probably want to focus on the desktop browsing experience.
PRO TIP: Just be aware that even if you are targeting desktop users, your customers might first do research on your site via their mobile devices. So, you don’t want to neglect either platform.
Either way, be sure to test your website on multiple devices, screen sizes, and browsers.
PRO TIP: Did you know you can use your existing desktop browser to test out how your site looks on different screen sizes? This is more of an advanced feature: you can use the browser’s built-in “Inspect” tool to not only look at the actual code that makes up your web pages, but to also force the browser window into any standard mobile, tablet, or desktop size you wish. Then, you can see how your page reacts to the size changes.
These changes are only local and temporary. They don’t actually change the underlying files or settings on your website.
To do this, right-click on the page you want to change and choose the “Inspect” option (or similar). In the new developer window that pops up, toggle the device emulation tool, which is usually found in the top-left corner of the tool (it’s the little icon that looks like a phone in front of a tablet device).
From there, you can choose from preset devices and screen sizes, or set your own custom size. When you’re done, make sure to toggle off the device emulation tool, and then close the developer window.
Google and other search engines use the performance metrics of your site as a factor in determining where your web pages should show up in search engine results. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your site gets a good Google PageSpeed score.
Google measures all sorts of Web Vitals for each of your pages. However, a few particular Web Vitals called Core Web Vitals are especially important. These Core Web Vitals include:
Generally speaking, the better your web pages perform on these scores, the higher your pages will appear in search results, all other things being equal.
That’s why it is important to choose a website theme and plugins that are lightweight and load quickly!
PRO TIP: Your Core Web Vitals are measured separately on desktop and mobile versions. These scores then affect desktop and mobile search results accordingly. It’s possible to have a great desktop Core Web Vitals score, but have a poor score for mobile! So, make sure to review both scores.
Another great way to easily optimize your site for mobile is by using caching plugins and image optimizers, such as these:
Now that you got your frontend tools situated, it’s time to create some content for your site.
Which pages should you create for your site?
Here is a list of some common pages that sites include:
Speaking of compliance and policy pages, you should be aware that your type of business, its geographic location, the data you’re collecting, the software you’re using on your website, and the types of products and services you are offering all might require you to display specific types of disclaimers and disclosures.
Do you need compliance or policy pages?
Some of these declarations are required by law, depending on your particular situation… so do your research!
Here are some common compliance pages and policies you should look into:
To help you navigate the legal mess above, you might find the following compliance tools and services helpful.
Compliance & Policy Tools
Are there AI tools you can use to help write content?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has come a long way over the last few years. It’s really quite incredible what can be created using AI nowadays!
Check out these amazing AI writing tools that you can use to help you create new content or simply give you some fresh ideas to break through writer’s block. Most of these tools offer a free plan that allows you to try out their services risk-free. 😊
AI Writing Tools
Anyword AI is a cutting-edge artificial intelligence system that enables businesses to unlock their full potential with innovative insights. Powered by advanced machine learning and natural language processing technology, Anyword AI provides unprecedented levels of automation, analysis and understanding of text. This powerful tool gives businesses the ability to gain valuable insight into customer conversations, identify key topics of interest, and even craft automated responses based on language patterns. With Anyword AI, businesses can transform how they engage with customers in real-time.— Anyword AI bot
CopyAI is the world’s first AI-powered copywriting tool. It takes your content and turns it into a sales page that converts visitors into buyers. CopyAI uses AI to analyze your content and create something compelling, effective and more human than anything you could write yourself.— CopyAI bot
Writesonic is an AI writer that helps you create SEO-friendly content for blogs, Facebook ads, Google ads, and Shopify stores. Our paraphrasing tool makes it easy to create unique content without plagiarizing. It uses natural language processing technology to rewrite and rewrite sentences in an accurate and informative way. We also offer a free content creation service that can help you craft content quickly and easily.— Writesonic AI bot
Customer Relationship Management
Before you start gaining customers, you’ll need to have some sort of system in place to manage your customers’ information, order history, customer support, and sales leads. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can help with all of these things.
A CRM can also be used to analyze past sales and customer demographics to help better understand your business and potentially increase conversion rates and overall profit. This data can of course also be used to improve your sales and marketing.
However, the most important part of using a CRM has to do with building relationships with your customers throughout the entire lifecycle.
For customer service, you can either use an all-in-one CRM solution or use a specialized customer service platform.
When researching which CRM or customer support software to use, keep your eyes peeled 👀 for services that provide these features:
Here are a few CRMs and customer service tools you might want to check out.
CRM & Customer Service Platforms
Congrats! With your products, backend, and frontend all squared away and ready to go, you’re now well on your way to launching your business!
The next step is to tell the world about your new business and start getting traffic… and sales!
Continue strong by heading over to the next step all about marketing your new online business!