As the world transitions to digital, building a website for your small business becomes a crucial component to success. Businesses can convey their unique value proposition, connect with a like-minded community, and encourage sales with a properly designed website. Unfortunately, as a small business owner, you’ve likely become very familiar with your budget, finding yourself with little wiggle room to outsource certain tasks, such as designing a website.
Perceived complexity is where beginner-friendly website builders come into play. Many providers enable business owners to create a beautiful website with a user-friendly design and fast web hosting despite having limited experience and funds.
This article breaks down each step into a simple explanation of how to help business owners get started.
Hone in on your purpose
Most businesses maintain a website that provides information about their company offerings and, when applicable, acts as a gateway to conduct online sales. Therefore, without doing too much digging, a website visitor should be able to find information about what your company does, either by reading it directly on your home page or in an about us section. The about us section should be accessible through links in your main and footer navigation as a rule of thumb.
The thought process behind presenting the purpose should consider the user journey as they enter your website. Without too much thinking, a user should find out what your business is trying to accomplish and enable them to achieve exactly what they set out to in their visit. The more difficult this process is, the more likely they will leave your website unsatisfied.
Additionally, websites tend to be visual, meaning that all graphics and images used should showcase the purpose of your business. Cohesive imagery ensures that website owners paint a clear picture for their website visitors.
Select a domain name
One of the most make-or-break features of your website is the domain. Your domain allows visitors to access a website and becomes crucial to its rankability. Therefore, many small business owners will take this opportunity to expose the internet to their brand name, which is often more memorable than using a string of generic keywords. Branded domains often include original words such as “Bing” or “Google” or using an interesting word from a Thesaurus or Dictionary. Regardless of what you decide, business owners are encouraged to stick to 6-14 characters in their name. Website owners must review their names for copyright violations with these guidelines in place.
In addition to the domain name, users must also consider what extension they would use. Most domains will use the “.com” extension, making it an easy choice and offering the most familiarity to website visitors. However, many websites have been successful with a “.net” or “.org” extension. These choices are all well utilized and offer advantages over a one-off extension such as “.community” or “.space.”
When the time comes for website owners to make the decision, users can often register in the same place they do their hosting (note: see step to follow).
Choose a secure web host
With a thought process to guide development, business owners must then get into more technical details, including selecting a web host. Each website requires a host, a server that stores all relevant data for public access. Options vary from a shared model that distributes resources among websites to private options with dedicated services. Although each hosting model has pros and cons, most small business owners will opt for an external host in a shared environment since it is more cost-effective. Only after your website grows and begins seeing an uptick in traffic will these ones typically transition to a private host. Private hosts typically come at a premium cost, although they provide greater performance.
Next, website owners are encouraged to compare the offerings of different providers by looking at security features, the presence of SSL certificates, customer service and support, and optimization features that can alleviate some of the unknowns of managing a first website.
Build your pages
After your website has a place to live, you can begin populating it with content. A standard website will contain multiple pages in addition to your home page. Among the most common include:
● About Us
● Products/Services/Offering Description (this may include a combination of text and quality images)
● Meet the Team
● Contact Us
● Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
● Portfolio (such as in the case of a Photography, Videography, Copywriting or another creative offering)
Regardless of what pages you decide to include, each page must support the overall goal of your website and a call to action button such as “sign up,” “contact us,” or “learn more.”
All websites should also include a contact us page that gives users a direct link to your business. This page might contain details such as a phone number, email address and physical address, if applicable.
Making it live
When your content starts coming together, it can be easy to make it live right away. However, industry experts will agree that some testing will be needed beforehand. Testing includes viewing your content on browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari and going through each page on your website to ensure they appear as intended.
Optimize your website
Once your content is ready for the world to see, business owners must do their part to make their website searchable by Google. To ensure that your website’s content is indexed properly, business owners can ensure two things. First, their website can load in two seconds or less. Typically internet visitors will leave your website if the content takes too long to load. Secondly, with more visitors using their mobile devices, it is important to make sure your content is easily readable on these devices.
Some website platforms further simplify this process through SEO plugins, which may scan through existing content and make suggestions for improvement.
As a recap, getting your small business website up and running can be distilled into six key steps. They are:
- Determining the focus of your small business’ website
- Choosing a simple domain name
- Deciding as to which web host your business will use
- Populating your website with content
- Testing your website and making it live
- Optimizing your content for continued conversions