A Simple Guide for Small Business Website Creation
Yes, You Need a Small Business Website!
Is your small business still operating without a website? You are not alone! Over 29% of all small companies did not have a website as recently as 2019. You might want to join the rest of us in 2021 and change that! Our simple step-by-step guide to small business website creation makes it easy for you to get the small business website you need.
29% of Small Businesses Say They Will Start Using a Website in 2021.PRNewswire
You see, modern and mobile consumers expect brands to be online. Without a small business website, you’re losing valuable opportunities to attract more visitors and tell them about your business. By not having a website, you give the impression that your business may be out of business!
Having a well-designed small business website is also an effective way to market your business and compete with larger brands in your industry. There are plenty of time and cost-effective options for small businesses to get the website they need. It has never been easier for budget-conscious small businesses to look as professional and polished as big brands.
Are you creating your first small business website or rebuilding an outdated one? Our step-by-step guide to small business website creation will help you design, market, and maintain a professional site. Let’s get started, shall we?
Small Business Website Creation in Easy Steps
Step 1 – Determine the Primary Purpose of your Website
Before you can even start with your small business website creation, you need to figure out precisely what kind of site you need! There are two basic types of small business websites. A static or brochure website simply provides information about your business and the products and services you offer.
While it can provide interactive functionality such as contact forms and email opt-ins, this type of site is generally not used for selling your products or services or accepting payment for them. Static or brochure websites are the most common type of small business website we design for our clients.
Suppose you are a retailer or service provider. In that case, you may want to consider selling your products and even services on your website. This type of website is an e-commerce site. By providing your customers with the option to pay online, you’ll need to use an external service to receive your payments. We will go over it a bit later in this post.
Even if you are a service-based business, you still need to include a strong call-to-action (CTA) on your small business website. People need to know what you intend to do. The primary purpose of your website is to gain more consumers or clients for your small business. Be sure to define your primary objective from the start. It will shape how your website is structured.
Think about the specific user experience you intend to provide. Whatever the fundamental purpose of your website is, users need to be able to achieve it quickly. Here at our agency, we sometimes use our moms as usability testers. “Hey, Mom, can you figure out how to …?” It may sound funny to you, but it works!
Here are some other essential items you should consider for your small business website creation.
Step 2 – Choose your Domain Name
Your domain name is one of the essential features of your website. It’s the URL (web address) you will be sharing with your current and potential clients. If you want to keep them coming back to your site, you need to make it memorable. Keep it short and easy to spell and pronounce. Stay clear of abbreviations, acronyms, and numbers to avoid customer confusion. And remember that Google does not like special characters in URLs.
You will also need to decide on your top-level domain or TLD. The TLD is the suffix at the end of your domain name. Since many domains ending in .com no longer available, it is very tempting to consider something different and register your site as a .net, .us, .co, or .biz. That’s entirely up to you, of course. But we always recommend you try to get a .com if at all possible.
Once you’ve selected your domain name, you’ll need to confirm its availability and purchase it through a domain registrar. We use and recommend GoDaddy. We generally do not recommend hosted solutions where the service provider also controls your domain. Should you change your mind, it can be challenging to manage a domain URL you own!
Step 3 – Select a Web Host
Every website needs a “host,” a server where all of its data is stored for the public to access. We like to refer to website hosting as being the same as leasing a new car; you have to drive it off the lot and park it elsewhere.
As a small business, hosting your website is simply too significant an expense, so you’ll need to select an external host. Depending on your budget, there are several different options for hosting your website.
A shared Web host, the least expensive option, means you’ll share a server with other sites. Dedicated hosting costs significantly more. It means that you get your private server and won’t have to compete with other sites that could drag down your speed. Here are some other things you should know about small business website hosting.
We are big fans of WPEngine. We recommend our friends in Austin highly to anyone looking for speed and dependability. But they are not the cheapest out there. We understand that your small business needs to save money. The folks at Siteground, BlueHost, and InMotion provide excellent service at a more affordable rate.
Step 4 – Build your Pages
Before you can start building your small business website, you need to determine which contact management system (CMS) you want to use. We recommend and use WordPress ourselves, and there are many benefits to having a WordPress business website. But there are other CMS to compare. Just be sure to consider your future needs as well as your current budget.
A useful small business website consists of more than just a home or landing page. You need to create multiple pages dedicated to different aspects of your business. Potential pages include a detailed catalog of your products or services, information about your business and team, the story behind why you are in business, or a blog section for company updates.
Focus on SEO
SEO should always be part of your small business website creation. Building relevant keywords into your content from the very first phases of your website, and having a strong focus on SEO from website launch will help you generate traffic early on.
A contact page, your customers’ direct link to you, is an absolute must. Be sure to include as much information as possible (phone number, email address, and physical location if applicable). We recommend getting a box at a UPS Store in your neighborhood. It not only gives you a real street address; they also sign for packages.
Special Hint: Never, ever, list your home address on your website. No, never! Not even if your world HQ is your spare bedroom or garage. It makes you look unprofessional, and you make it easy for unhappy customers to find you.
Don’t Overlook Your Branding
Having a compelling brand identity is essential in 2021. If you don’t already have a brand identity, consider hiring a brand designer or agency. They can create a logo to use on your website, business cards, and social media profiles. A professional logo will help your clients identify your company quickly and easily on the web.
Here are a few essential tips to help you create dynamic, content-rich pages for your small business website:
Be clear about what your business does.
Distill what your business does into a clear, concise statement and lead with that. Visitors should understand what you do within seconds of landing on your home or landing page. A few well-written pages are more effective than dozens of poorly written ones. In the impatient mobile age, you need to be quick!
“In 2018, the average human had an attention span of 7.1 seconds, two seconds less than a goldfish!”
Place strategic calls to action
Call-to-action buttons tend to perform best if placed where visitors also find the information they need. Do not place your calls to action throughout the site and on every landing page and blog post. Take a more strategic approach and put the button at the point where the visitor is prepared to make a decision.
For example, if you have a page describing your products or services, you can place a “Buy” button or quote request form at the bottom. We recommend using something more original than the conventional “Buy Now!” or “Request Quote!” Our current favorite is “Don’t Press This!”
Avoid stock photos
Cheesy stock photography is the quickest way to turn a great site into a mediocre one. It is always best to use a picture of your actual team or office. If that is not an option, at least select images that reflect your product, service, or location. And you should engage a professional photographer to get some photos of your business, team, and location as soon as possible.
Here are some detailed steps for establishing a successful business website.
Step 5 – Set up your Payment System
If this does not apply to you, skip ahead to the next step. Have a quick doppio while the rest of us catch up!
Companies that want to offer the option to pay online will need to integrate electronic payment systems into their websites. Mention this to your web designer at the beginning of your project.
You can create this functionality through third-party e-commerce applications such as WooCommerce or Shopify, and a payment gateway like Stripe, Square, or PayPal.
Step 6 – Test and Launch your Website
Before you announce that your site is live on the worldwide interweb, make sure it works on all major browsers. View it on Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. Click through each page and feature on every browser to ensure a hassle-free user experience. Creating a great user experience will take some time. Still, the effort you put in now will save future complaints from visitors who can’t access certain features.
You can use online applications like Responsinator to see what your small business website looks like on a variety of mobile devices. These are not simple screenshots, but live views of your site on devices ranging from “Crappy Android” (for an old small-screen phone) to the latest version of the iPad.
We also recommend that you implement a web analytics program like Google Analytics on your website right away. Your web designer or agency can help you with that. Setting this up before the site is live can iron out any issues and coordinate a proper setup.
Once your new website is live, you can monitor page performance and determine the reasons why a page is successful or unsuccessful based on your analytics.
Step 7 – Promote your Website on Social Media and Search Engines
Submitting your website to major search engines will help direct potential leads to your page. So will deploying a robust search engine optimization (SEO) strategy across your site. Defining title tags, alt tags, meta-descriptions, and uniform resource is an essential part of that.
Be sure to use links relevant to your company and aspects of your industry. Relevancy will help ensure that you rank correctly in search engines for the products or services you’re trying to market. Here are some additional tips for creating SEO-friendly links.
If your small business doesn’t already have profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you need to stay after class! Just kidding, but you need to claim and optimize your social profiles, and include links to these profiles on your home page. Social media is the best way to increase your audience reach and alert customers and clients about what’s going on with your company.
Step 8 – Maintain your Website
We like to tell clients that small business website creation is a lot like having a kid. It takes a while, hurts a little (or a lot depending on the circumstances), and costs real money. And the parent (client) is usually happy once it’s all over. And then you wake up and realize you now have to care for your child (creation.) It’s the same for your small business website.
Staying relevant is just as important as being on the web in the first place, so update your website frequently with blog posts on current industry events, new products, and offers, and company news to keep visitors returning to the site. It also helps to regularly or as available, add new images, testimonials, case studies, and videos to your small business website.
You need to make sure that you are using the latest versions of your CMS, any extensions, or plugins. Your e-commerce cart, the payment gateway, and a host of other essential things need to be checked and maintained regularly. Suppose you can’t delegate the task to a trusted employee. In that case, you should see if your web agency or hosting provider offers a business website maintenance plan.
Step 9 – Stay Ahead of the Curve
We always recommend that you stay current, or at least as much as possible, on current web design trends and options. Take a look at what your competitors are doing to give you ideas for future additions.
We have added everything from appointment scheduling, virtual product tours, catering forms, insurance quote requests, camera feeds, reservation systems, and store locators. We are still working on the drone-based content delivery system, sorry!
So keep in touch with your web designer and agency. Ask them if they can keep you in the loop regarding technology or applications that may apply to your business. If they are anything like the highly caffeinated agency, they will be happy to help you push the envelope.
Starting Your Small Business Website Creation
Starting a website for your small business should be a no-brainer! Yet it seems to be a major stumbling point for many small businesses. We can understand that. Many times owners tried on their own, or with a low-cost alternative like Wix or Weebly, and got stuck. Or instead of hiring a dependable web designer or agency, they select the “Cheap dude from Craigslist” and get burned.
An Investment in Your Business
But there is no way around it; you need a small business website. A website is a cost-effective investment in your small business. It will help you establish credibility and reach a broader customer base than you ever could through traditional marketing techniques.
Keep your website updated with fresh, current content, and be quick to address technical issues. You’ll never have to worry about “not existing” with your current and future clients.
We hope that our guide to small business website creation gives you some concrete ideas. If you follow these nine steps, you will avoid many common small business website mistakes. And you will find that getting your small business website is much less scary than you think. Maybe you just need somebody to take you by the hand. We are here to help.
Do You Need Help Building a Small Business Website?
Here at PixoLabo, we offer a full range of mobile-first business website consulting and design services for small businesses, including custom web design and development, e-commerce solutions, search engine optimization, brand design, and WordPress optimization.
Feel free to reach out to us, and our team will be happy to help you get a website that will support your short and long-term business objectives.
How did Building Your Small Business Website Go for You?
Do you have anything to add to our guide to small business website creation? Please leave your comments below so our audience can benefit as well, and grab our feed, so you don’t miss our next post! And help your audience get the business website they need by sharing our small business website creation guide with them!
Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!
By Gregor Saita
Co-Founder / CXO