Regardless of what product or service you are offering, your small business needs a website. A web presence informs your audience of your business, explains the value you provide through your business, boosts brand recognition, and drives sales. Today’s consumers rely on the internet to find out business information like your location, operating hours, and what you have to offer. If you are a small business owner looking to build a website from scratch or improve your existing website, here is a step-by-step guide on how to create a successful website.
Step 1: Determine the primary function of your website
A website serves several purposes, and you must know what purpose you want yours to serve before you start building it. Some functions a website can fulfil are:
- Promoting your products
- Distinguishing your business from competitors
- Serving as an e-commerce platform
- Convincing website visitors to invest in your service
- Engaging people in conversations on why your company matters
- For business-to-business marketing and communication
The purpose of your website will determine its layout, content, and other features.
No matter what the primary focus of your website is, visitors must be able to achieve it as they navigate through your website.
Step 2: Choose a website building platform
If this is the first time you are building a website, consider choosing a user-friendly solution that does not require you to have any coding knowledge. Some great website builder options for small businesses are hosted website builders like Squarespace and Wix. Other website builders that you might want to consider are:
- Weebly: a budget-friendly website builder
- GoDaddy: great for business owners who want to get online quickly
- Duda: a good option if you prefer the ease of use over personalization and branding
- Site123: best if you are not looking forward to creating a website
- Jimdo Creator: easy to use but lacks good features
Step 3: Choose a relevant domain name
Your website’s domain name is also your website’s address – the URL that you will share across your social media channels and with potential clients.
Here are some tips to come up with the best domain name:
- Try to keep the domain name short and avoid nonsensical names
- For the sake of clarity, avoid using acronyms, numbers, hyphens, and abbreviations
- Ensure the domain name is easy to spell
- Make your domain name memorable and catchy so that visitors will remember it
- Check if the domain name is available
- Ensure the URL is SEO-friendly
- Consider adding the location of your business to the domain name
Ensure the price is right for you if you need to buy the domain name. Also, consider the annual registration cost of retaining your domain.
Step 4: Choose a hosting provider
All websites need a web host. A web host is a server that stores your data that is accessible to the public at any time.
Hosting your own website is an option but can work out to be very expensive. Consider choosing an external host.
A shared web host is cheaper; however, you will share the server with other websites. A dedicated web host costs more but will mean you won’t be competing with other websites that could drastically reduce the speed it takes to load each page. A third option is a virtual private server (VPS) that offers you the benefits of both shared and dedicated web hosts.
Step 5: Choose a theme or template
When choosing a theme or template for your website, there are a couple of do’s and don’ts to consider:
- Make a list of all the features you would like to have ahead of time.
- Don’t choose a theme that is cluttered with features. While a feature-rich theme is nice to have, it can severely affect your site’s performance.
- Choose a responsive theme so your website can be used on multiple devices. The menus and widgets on responsive themes make it easy to navigate your website even on a mobile device.
- The visual appearance of your website is critical, so choose your colour theme wisely. You could go with a colour scheme similar to your company’s logo; or, if you have no particular preference, choose light colours over dark colours.
Step 6: Create pages and add content
Create relevant pages for your website. The basic pages you will require are a home page, testimonials page, one page for each of your products and/or services, a ‘contact us’ page, blog, and an ‘about us’ page.
Ensure you have at least one ‘call to action’(CTA) placed strategically on each page. The must match the content on each specific page.
Some important tips are:
- Avoid stock images as they are often considered cheesy
- Provide vital and relevant information about your business on the homepage
- Use relevant keywords
- Consider mentioning important information, like your business insurance, on at least one of your business pages
Step 7: Test your website
Test your website before you publish your website.
- Go through each page carefully and ensure all the links, hyperlinks, and CTAs are working properly
- Check your content for errors
- Ensure your website works well on a variety of browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari
- Ensure that your website displays correctly on tablets and smartphones.
Building your small business’s website can be both interesting and exciting. Once your website is up and running, ensure it is maintained regularly. Keep your site updated with new and fresh content. Finally, promote your new website on social media, through email campaigns, and any other marketing strategy that you use, and watch the traffic come in. Do you know why social media is essential for your business?