In the modern world of retail, consumers are increasingly driven to the internet in order to make informed decisions before buying.
In fact, according to Ge Capital Retail Bank, 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before purchasing.
What does this tell?
This means that having an effective web presence is essential for any business hoping to succeed in today’s digital marketplace.
Fortunately, creating a website for your small business doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive.
This beginner’s guide will provide you with all the necessary information and resources to start building your own website and expanding your reach.
Why should you bother to have a website for your small business?
a). Better online presence and credibility
Want to build credibility?
A website can be a great tool to help you build your brand and establish yourself as an authority in your industry.
A good website also gives potential customers confidence in your business, as they can easily find information about you and your services.
After all, people are more skeptical nowadays than before.
But a website gives you a chance to build something for yourself thanks to content.
Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to give your small business an online presence and show your worth.
This involves creating valuable content related to your industry that will be seen by potential customers, giving them more reasons to trust and use your services.
Such content could be anything from blog posts, videos, white papers, or even podcasts – anything that provides information on topics related to your business.
b). Increased customer reach and sales
Creating a website for your small business can bring unprecedented reach and sales to your customer base.
Not only does this open you up to the world of e-commerce, but it also makes it easier for potential customers to find you.
See, it’s not just about the website.
Its user-friendly features (we will dissect what that means later) will make it easier for more people to discover and purchase products from your business.
Search engine optimization (SEO) plays an important role in this endeavor, as using keywords related to what you offer can increase the chances of appearing on relevant search results pages.
c). Access to analytics to track website performance
Do you know who buys from you and why?
I bet you don’t have a clue!
Creating a website for your small business is not complete without analytics.
Access to analytics allows you to track the performance of your website and make necessary changes to increase its effectiveness in reaching potential customers.
Website analytics provide insight into user behavior, such as the average time spent on the site, pages viewed, and geographic location of visitors.
It also allows you to see which campaigns are generating traffic or conversions so that you can adjust them if needed.
Additionally, analytics provide data-driven insights into how people interact with different elements on your website such as buttons or popups.
And with this information at hand, you can further optimize your websites accordingly and ensure you are providing an effective experience for the users.
It’s like a snowball, feeds itself!
Taking advantage of analytics is key for any business looking to establish a successful online presence.
But it starts with having a website for your small business!
Heck, there are more benefits than I could fit in this guide.
But you get the point.
Key elements of a website
Before you can have a website, some building blocks are needed to put together something worthwhile.
What are those?
Domain name and hosting
A domain name is the web address (URL) visitors use to access your website.
The name identifies your business online, so it should be memorable and relevant to your products or services.
You will need to buy a domain name before launching your website—this usually costs around $10-15 per year.
The hosting service stores all of the web files needed for visitors to access and view your site.
You can get this from a web hosting provider, like Truehost Cloud.
A good host should provide reliable uptime, secure servers, and 24/7 customer support.
This also costs money, but the price tag varies from provider to provider.
Just to give you a taste, here is a comparison table for 3 major web hosting providers right now:
|Provider||Price of Starter Plan|
|Truehost Cloud||$1 per month|
|Hostinger||$2.99 per month|
|Bluehost||$2.95 per month|
Again, these are just their cheapest plans.
Website design and layout
Beyond a domain and hosting, you need to take care of the design and layout of your site.
It plays a key role in the customer journey, helping to create a good user experience and build trust with visitors.
Although it’s not always necessary to hire an experienced web designer to create your website, understanding the basics of website design can help you get the most out of your website.
The layout is how all the different elements on each page fit together.
This includes where text, images, videos, and other content should be positioned on the page for optimal impact and usability.
A great layout makes sure that all relevant information or call-to-action items are easy to find for users so that they don’t have any trouble navigating through your site.
Content creation and optimization
Now, once you have everything figured out, you need content creation.
This involves creating content such as blog posts, web pages, videos, and other digital materials that are designed to help attract visitors to your site and improve their experience while they are there.
Content should be optimized so that it can be easily found by search engines and rank higher on the search engine results page (SERP).
What’s more, content needs to be engaging enough to keep people on your site so they view additional pages.
In brief, you can start by researching topics related to your business or industry.
And then sit down and crank out original materials such as blog posts or videos about those topics.
To add icing, start optimizing the material with keywords relevant to what users might enter into a search engine when looking for information about your business or services.
You don’t want a ghost town, do you?
Functionality and user experience
When creating a website for your small business, you need to consider the functionality and user experience that it provides.
First, let’s address what this is.
Functionality and user experience refer to two different concepts that are intertwined:
- Functionality is the technical performance of the website (such as how quickly it loads)
- User experience encompasses all aspects of a person’s interaction with the website (including navigation, design, content and usability).
Now that we know what these terms mean, let’s discuss their role in your website.
How your customers interact with your site will shape their opinion of your business – so you want to ensure every page functions properly and looks good.
When it comes to functionality, pay close attention to factors like page loading speed and responsiveness across devices; if someone can’t access or use your site properly, chances are they’ll leave!
NOW, when you weave these pieces together, you end up with a shiny, new, functional website for your small business!
Choosing a domain name and web hosting provider
As we mentioned, your domain is vital to your website.
So is the hosting!
The name is the first impression customers will have of your brand, and it can be the difference between success and failure.
So, when selecting a domain name, you should consider how easy it is to remember, how relevant it is to your business, and if it’s available on all web hosting platforms for small businesses.
Choose something short and memorable that reflects your company’s values or mission statement.
Make sure that when customers search for your site online, they will be able to find you quickly.
In fact, take time to invest in an appropriate domain name to help create an effective online presence for your small business.
How to pick the right hosting provider for you
Once you have a domain, you need to get a ‘home’ for it.
That’s where web hosting comes in.
But as you can guess, there are way too many options.
How do you pick the best?
- Understand your website’s needs: Before you start looking, understand your website’s needs. Consider the type of website you want to create, the amount of traffic you expect to receive, and the resources your website requires. This will help you choose a web hosting plan that meets your website’s needs.
- Consider reliability and uptime: Look for a web hosting partner that offers reliable service and high uptime. Uptime is the percentage of time that your website is available and accessible to visitors. A web hosting provider with a high uptime percentage means that your website will be always available to visitors.
- Check for security measures: Your web host should offer strong security measures to protect your website and your visitors’ data. Look for web hosts that provide SSL certificates, firewalls, and regular backups.
- Evaluate customer support: Look for a web hosting provider that offers excellent customer support. You should be able to get in touch with their support team 24/7 through multiple channels, including phone, email, and chat. Check online reviews to see what other users have said about the provider’s customer support.
- Consider pricing and value for money: Look for a host that offers competitive pricing and good value for money. Compare the pricing and features of different web hosts to find the best deal.
- Look for scalability options: Your website may grow and require more resources as it becomes more popular. Choose a web hosting provider that offers scalability options, such as upgrading to a higher-level plan or adding resources to your current plan.
Choosing the right website builder or content management system
For the green ones, a CMS is actually a software application used to manage digital content that allows users to easily create and modify their own websites without any coding experience.
It is a tool you slap on top of all the jargon going on on your website to make it easy to manage everything from content to users.
Well, selecting the right CMS can be challenging, so you’ll want to consider factors such as ease of use, scalability, security, and cost before committing to one platform.
So, what options are available?
Overview of popular website builders and CMS options
There are several popular website builders and content management systems (CMS) available, each with their own features and benefits.
WordPress is one of the most commonly used CMS options.
It is open-source software and has many plugins available to customize its features.
And comes with a user-friendly interface that allows you to easily create pages and posts without coding knowledge.
Another popular option is Wix, which offers an easy drag-and-drop interface so you can quickly design your site’s layout and add content.
It also provides access to hundreds of professionally designed templates to help get you started.
Squarespace is another popular choice as it offers a wide range of tools for easily creating custom websites.
And if you are into eCommerce, Shopify is an e-commerce platform that is perfect for setting up an online store.
It provides an array of features to help you manage your store, including inventory management, payment processing, and customer service.
Comparison of features and pricing
When creating a website for your small business, compare various features and pricing packages.
Different platforms will offer different options in terms of what they can provide.
For example, some services may offer unlimited bandwidth while others may be more restrictive.
Not to mention, the cost of their plans varies widely between providers, so it’s important to research which option best fits your budget.
For instance, while WordPress is free, Shopify comes at a $24 a month for its basic plan.
Another factor to consider when comparing small business website creation tools is the design interface provided by each platform.
Some services may have simpler drag-and-drop editors than others, making it easier for beginners to get up and running quickly with their website design process.
Beyond that, there are often additional features such as analytics and SEO optimization that could be beneficial for any small business owner looking to maximize the potential of their online presence.
Finally, customer service and technical support is also critical aspect to consider when shopping for a web hosting service.
Review reviews and ensure that the provider’s customer service is responsive and helpful.
Many services will also offer 24/7 technical support which can be helpful in case of any problems.
Website design and layout
Once you’ve secured the right platform to build a website for your small business, role your sleeves because it is about to get real😁!
Let’s work on how your site will look.
Choosing the right template or theme
The first rule is to make your website as effective and user-friendly as possible.
One way to achieve this is to pick the right template or theme for your website.
See, finding the best template for small business website design can be difficult with so many options available.
However, it is worth investing time in researching templates to ensure your site looks professional and attractive.
A template/theme is a pre-made website you can plug into your own and customize it to fit your needs.
They already have everything including files such as images, fonts, and content.
All you have to do is tweak a little to reflect your taste.
When selecting a template, look for one that suits the tone of your business and complements your content.
Consider aspects such as font size, color schemes, layout, and imagery when evaluating different templates.
If you want to customize elements on your own without coding knowledge then look out for themes that offer easy customization options like drag-and-drop tools.
If you picked WordPress, you can easily browse through their official themes repository.
Inside, you will find lots of both free and premium themes.
Yes, you can choose to pay for a theme!
Best practices for user experience (UX) design
As you go about customizing your website, keep in mind the user experience (UX).
According to studies, nearly 8 in 10 customers would stop engaging with content that doesn’t display well on their device🤯.
UX design focuses on the most effective and efficient way to help visitors navigate your website and find what they are looking for.
Here are some best practices for better and smooth UX design:
First, create an intuitive navigation structure that makes sense for users.
Navigation bars should be placed in the same place across all pages of the website, so visitors can easily switch between categories or pages.
Keep menus short with understandable labels that accurately describe where each link leads.
Second, make sure your website is responsive to different screen sizes and devices.
Responsive web design automatically adjusts content elements depending on browser size or device used by the visitor.
This ensures visitors have a great experience whether using a mobile device or desktop computer.
Third, create a clear and concise hierarchy of information.
Your homepage should clearly display what your business is about, followed by a description of your products/services, and then contact information.
Also break up content into easily digestible chunks, such as short paragraphs and bullet points.
Finally, use visuals to help guide visitors.
Use images, videos, and other visuals to help explain complex concepts.
Additionally, use visuals to grab attention, highlight important information, and break up large chunks of text.
But as you do that; 39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load!
Optimize your images to load well on all devices.
Creating content for your website
Content is the food for your website.
Without it, your visitors will come, but never return😬!
Tips for creating quality content
Creating quality content for your website is essential for drawing in customers and keeping them engaged.
As a small business owner, you should strive to post content that accurately represents your brand and provides value to your target audience.
Here are some tips to help you create high-quality content:
Begin by researching the topics that interest your target audience.
Make sure that the content you produce is relevant and helpful to them.
You can stay up-to-date with industry trends by subscribing to relevant publications or websites, following influencers on social media, and attending events or conferences related to the field.
Make sure that all of the information in your posts is accurate and reliable.
And when quoting outside sources, be sure to include citations for credibility.
If you go for the long-form content, break up your paragraphs with headings and subheadings to make it easier for readers to follow along.
Again, don’t forget to include visuals such as images and videos to help keep readers engaged and make your content more visually appealing.
Finally, always proofread and edit your content to ensure that it is free of typos and grammatical errors.
Remember you are building credibility here.
Grammar issues won’t look good next to your name, does it?
Importance of search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential factor in the success of a small business website.
According to BrightEdge, 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
As such, properly optimizing a website for search engines will improve visibility, boost organic traffic, and ultimately lead to increased sales.
Website optimization for search engines should be a priority when creating a website for a small business.
Have an SEO strategy in place from the start as SEO can take time to deliver results.
Your aim should be the #1 result for a target keyword.
After all, the top-ranking page only gets the most search traffic 49% of the time. (Ahrefs)
When optimizing a website for search engines, focus on keywords that are relevant to your business and target audience.
These keywords should appear in key places such as titles, headings, and paragraphs throughout the website content.
It is necessary to ensure that all images used on your site contain proper alt tags so search engine crawlers can find them.
Adding functionality to your website
Up to this point, your small business website should be up and running.
You’ve even uploaded a few content here and there.
And start seeing some traffic spikes.
There are a ton of customization options for your site such as contact forms, e-commerce capabilities, and social media integration.
You can add a shop section to your website.
For instance, if you are using WordPress, just download and install WooCommerce plugin.
This is the ultimate eCommerce tool you can use to turn your website into a vibrant online store.
Furthermore, include e-commerce capabilities to accept payments online and provide customers with a convenient shopping experience.
This can be done through plugins or integrations with third-party payment gateways such as PayPal or Stripe, allowing customers to make purchases directly from the website without having to redirect them elsewhere.
And there are other automation tools you can add to your website to improve its functionality.
Launching your website
Your site is ready for the world!
Launching the website can be daunting, but following best practices will help ensure a successful launch.
Before you do, ensure that the design is intuitive and easy to navigate; include clear calls-to-action to encourage users to take action on your site; and ensure all contact information is up-to-date and easily accessible from any page.
It’s time to promote it!
- Create a Facebook page and other social media accounts for your business and share content from your website.
- Create an email newsletter to update customers about your business and services regularly.
- Reach out to influencers and content creators to promote your website and services.
Maintaining and updating your website
Whether you’re just starting your small business website or have had one in place for a while, keeping your site up to date is essential.
Not only should you regularly update the content on your pages, but also make sure any features are working correctly and all technology is current.
Here are some tips:
First, create a checklist of what needs to be done regularly such as checking broken links, making sure images are displaying properly, and reviewing analytics data.
This will help ensure that everything is running smoothly and no aspects of the site are being neglected.
Keep an eye out for new web technologies that could improve the functionality or appearance of your site and consider implementing them as needed.
Second, regularly update your content.
Add new pages as needed, check for spelling and grammar errors, and make sure all the information is up-to-date.
This will help keep visitors engaged and ensure your site is providing the most accurate information.
Third, consider investing in a website maintenance plan.
This could involve a hosting service that provides regular backups and security updates or hiring a web development team to handle ongoing maintenance issues.
Finally, remember to monitor your website’s performance.
Regularly review analytics data to determine what’s working and what’s not, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
By following these tips, you can ensure your website is up-to-date and running smoothly.
Regular maintenance and updates will help keep visitors coming back and improve your overall online presence.
In conclusion, creating a website for small business owners can be daunting.
However, with the right knowledge and guidance, anyone can do it!
This beginner’s guide has provided key insights about how to make a website for small businesses.
First, decide on the purpose of the site and then create an online presence by registering your domain name and choosing a hosting provider.
Secondly, design elements must be carefully considered in order to create an attractive and user-friendly website.
Finally, various options are available when building your site – from using content management systems like WordPress or hiring a web designer.
As a small business owners, take advantage of this opportunity to connect with their customers through websites.