For customers in the digital age, the front page of your website is more important than the front door of your store. Whatever industry you're in, it's vital to create a business website that connects with visitors if you want to convert them into regular customers.
Fortunately, you don't have to be the most tech-savvy person around to create a successful website. In this guide, we'll show you how to create an engaging business website that reflects your brand and helps you turn clicks into revenue.
Before you begin, consider your purpose
If you own a business, chances are that you could benefit from a small business website. But do you know what the purpose of your business site will be?
For online retailers, the answer is simple: Your business website allows you to operate your online store and connect customers to your products. For other small businesses, a website can serve a variety of purposes.
You can use small business websites to:
- Provide information about your products or services
- Publish your menu
- Give customers driving directions to your retail location
- Create blog posts, tutorials, and other educational content
- Allow customers to contact you directly or connect via social media
- Showcase positive customer reviews
In many cases, your small business website will serve multiple functions, which is part of the benefit of operating your own site. But before you start building your site, you'll want to decide precisely what you want your website to do so that you can create a website that meets your objectives.
How to build your own website
Once you've clarified your goals, you'll be better prepared to design a small business website that fits your brand and fulfils your mission. Thanks to modern digital tools, you can create a beautifully designed business website in as little as an afternoon. Here's how to get it done:
How to make a website
- Select a domain name
Your domain name, or website address, is how your customers will find you online. Your company name is often an obvious choice, as it will help your customers associate your domain name with your brand.
Of course, with so many online businesses, there's a chance your preferred domain name is already taken. You can check the availability of any domain name by visiting a domain registrar, such as Domain.com.
Try modifying it slightly if you can't use your company name as your domain name. Instead of "smithwebdesign.com," try "smithwebdesignUSA.com" or something similar.
Your domain name should also help you get recognized by search engines. That means that customers searching for a particular product or service can be directed to your website for their needs.
- Select the right web hosting provider
A web host refers to the server where your small business website will be located. You'll connect your domain name with the hosting provider. When visitors visit your website address, they access the website stored on the server of the hosting company.
There are two general types of web hosting plans. Shared hosting is the cheapest type, but it means that you'll be sharing a server with other business websites. Unfortunately, this can negatively impact your site speed and cause visitors to bounce away if a page fails to load.
Some companies offer free hosting, but you may have to display ads on your site for other products in return.
On the other hand, dedicated hosting ensures that your small business website gets its own private server. This type of hosting plan can cost considerably more (roughly $100 or more a month), but you'll sidestep the issues associated with shared hosting.
Beyond this, you'll want to find a hosting plan that provides adequate security, speed, and storage space. Your hosting provider will likely offer tiered plans based on the performance and storage you need. It's a good idea to select a hosting company that can grow with your business.
Consider selecting a hosting plan from one of these top providers:
Additionally, some website builders will provide you with a hosting account as part of their services, so you might be able to jump straight to the next step if this is the case.
- Choose the right website building platform
Next, you'll want to find the right website building platform. A website builder allows you to create a website from start to finish. The best website builders can be used without writing a single line of code.
Your website builder will also double as your content management system. This allows you to create and publish digital content, ranging from individual web pages to blog posts and other web content.
- Choose the right eCommerce platform
If you run an online business, you'll want to choose an eCommerce platform that allows your customers to pay online. There are many eCommerce companies to choose from, including:
- Business Squarespace
You can integrate these services into your eCommerce site by installing an eCommerce plugin directly through your website. This will allow you to receive money online and sell your products through third-party solutions.
- Build your website
You can now use your website builder to actually create pages for your website. For most business websites, this will include such pages as:
- A home page
- An "About Us" page
- A product page
- A contact page
- A blog or company news page
Make sure to include high-quality images and graphics to make your website look professional. You can find free stock images at sites like Unsplash.com, though if you have any images of your actual business, these would also be ideal.
Your contact page should have a clear, easy-to-use contact form so customers can get in touch with you if they have any questions or problems. Consider adding social media integration to help connect visitors to your other channels, which can broaden your online presence even further.
- Optimize your content for modern search engines
After your small business website is up and running, you'll need to ensure everyone can easily find it. Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about using the right keywords so that your website can appear at the top of search engine results pages.
What does this mean exactly? Your website will more easily be found in search engines when you:
- Use the right keywords in your posts and pages
- Ensure your site speed is optimal
- Use responsive website design so your site looks great on mobile devices
- Use internal and external links in your posts and content
For example, if you run a hair salon in Pasadena, CA, you'll want to use words like "hair salon" and your location throughout your website to help search engine users find you.
Some website builders provide search engine optimization (SEO) tools to help with this. Webmaster tools like Google Analytics can help you evaluate how many users visit your pages and how your site performs in search engine results. This can help you make any necessary adjustments if your content needs a boost.
- Maintain your website
After your initial website launch, you'll need to regularly maintain your small business website. Make sure you have the latest version of your web builder tool. Publish content regularly to keep your webpage fresh and engaging. You'll also need to eliminate broken links that can negatively impact site performance and cause visitors to bounce off your page.
It's also a good idea to regularly refine your content so that you rank highly in search engines when users search for a particular keyword or a business type. Your website design process will therefore be a routine. You'll need to consistently refine your finished product again and again as your small business grows and evolves.
Best website builders of 2022
Choosing a website builder for your small business website might seem a little confusing. Here are some of the best website builders on the market today.
WordPress website builder
There's a reason why so many small business owners are WordPress users. A WordPress site is simple to design and maintain. Getting started is simple thanks to one-click WordPress installation. And because it is so popular, it's easy to install plugins to increase the versatility of your WordPress website, too.
Because WordPress is so popular, however, it's a common target for hackers. These security concerns can be minimized by properly maintaining your WordPress site.
Drupal is similar to WordPress, offering a simple user interface and a fair degree of flexibility. Unfortunately, it doesn't have as many plugin options or other features, which makes it a weaker choice for website design compared to other industry leaders.
Squarespace provides an easy-to-use content solution, known for its drag and drop interface for blog and content creation. It allows you to conduct business online and even gives you a free domain name to use for your business.
However, Squarespace might be a bit limiting for some users, who may prefer the customizations and tools offered by other platforms.
Wix also features a drag and drop functionality to build your small business website, streamlining the website creation process so that you can create a website quickly.
Unfortunately, you'll be a bit stuck once your website is completed. With Wix, you'll have to completely rebuild your website if you want to change the way it's designed, which makes it harder to make adjustments on the go.
Frequently asked questions
Some web design elements are up to you, but you might still have questions about how to create a successful business website. Here are the most common questions we hear.
Most modern website builders are so simple that anyone can design a professional website without coding knowledge. At the same time, some website builders like WordPress can be customized if you can implement some basic CSS.
The cost of your website will depend on many factors, all of which individually contribute to your final cost. These factors include:
- Your domain name
- Your web hosting plan
- SSL certificate
- Content management system/website builder
Therefore, the final cost can range between $2000 and $10,000, with additional fees needed to maintain specific applications and plugins. It's no wonder that many small businesses have come to rely on the all-in-one solutions offered by companies like Invoice2go!
The design process depends on the number of pages you choose to publish and the amount of content you're choosing to post online. User-friendly website builders can let you generate a website extremely quickly. However, you can always go back later to add additional content, edit your pages, and optimize your pages for an enhanced user experience.
Generally, though, building a website yourself will take less time than relying on a web design agency. When you use a website builder, you can create a site at your own pace, allowing you to publish your content quickly.