There are many things aunty Rona has taught us about the business website since she barged into our lives last year. Toilet paper is an important commodity and your Netflix password could be bartered for other valuables.
Most importantly, if you aren’t online, the fact of your existence might be in question. Seemingly overnight, businesses struggle with problems that had never been considered a possibility.
How to manage teams across diverse physical locations and conduct effective zoom calls? Eventually how to present themselves to their customers without the benefit of in-person communication.
The need for a business to have a beautiful and fully functional business website. It must therefore be emphasized in times like these.
A business website is your customer’s first interaction with your company- akin to a first date; It impedes the likelihood of future communication. Forget about third base; if you can’t make a great impression from the first encounter, you won’t even get past first base with your clients.
Whether yours is a brand new business or a seasoned market player, however, a great small business website is essential to your business’s future success. Still not convinced with the reasons to invest in a website for your small business.
RELATED: HOW TO BUILD A PERSONAL BRAND
Should you find that you belong in the same WhatsApp group with 2% of the population who don’t think setting up a website is as essential for the success of your business for making out to be.
Here are some real concrete reasons you might want to re-think your position for business
- The quality of your site often judges the credibility of your business. Have you ever visited a business website with jarring colors, pop- ads everywhere, poorly written content, and ugly fonts? How quick did you look for the exit…2 seconds? Less? A poorly designed business website reflects badly on your small business. Potential clients immediately assume the product/ service must be substandard if you put little effort into the site.
- An unpleasant website experience creates a similar effect in your customers’ minds, thereby affecting the potential growth of your business. Imagine visiting a restaurant with dirty plates, dirty linens, shoddily dressed waiting staff; what are the odds that you would agree to have a meal there? The analogy translates well to the online world; a potential customer will judge the likelihood of your product being of high quality based on their experience of your business website. If the website’s experience borders on traumatic, and eventually a potential customer will exit faster than you can spell your band name.
- Bygones are Bygones. In the cut-throat competitive world of online commerce, one negative experience is one too many. A customer will not return to a business website that induces a negative user experience. In this fast-paced internet world, you get only one shot for making the right impression; therefore, you ought to create a website for your small business that leaves your customers feeling like it’s new years eve.
What is your goal for business?
The first step in learning how to make a small business website begins with the most important question asked before embarking on any marketing campaign for your business.
At the core, that is what the website for your small business is a platform to help tell your story to the world and hopefully make you some money along the way.
Regardless of whether your business website aims to create an online presence for your existing business, increase sales revenues, dispense information about your products and services, or build an online community for your clients, it is crucial to have clear goals and a solid strategy to achieve them.
Here are a few marketing basics to keep in mind as you design and build your website;
- Make use of free offers, promotions, giveaways to drive traffic to your site and increase awareness for your business.
- Design custom landing pages for paid digital ads, such as Google Ads.
- Create call-to-action buttons such as “like”, “Share”, “contact us” that encourage engagement between your business and potential customers.
- Incorporate live chat to increase sales and customer service quality.
- Use data analytic tools to understand your target audience better.
- Include positive reviews from different platforms such as Yelp, Google Etc.
- Link your website to your other social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter Etc.
Select a website building platform for business
The first step to consider when building a website for your small business is to select from among the various website builders with platforms readily available on the market.
To a great extent, this step will depend on the purpose of your small business website. For example, are you looking to have an e-commerce store from which you can sell your products, or do you want to drive traffic to your physical location?
Are you a writer looking to put up your work in the form of a blog, or are you a creative, building an online portfolio?
What’s your budget?
All these questions would guide you in selecting the platform that would suit your specific business needs. With the advancement in technology, how to make a small business website doesn’t necessitate prior coding knowledge.
Some popular website builders include; Word press, Drumla, Joomla, Shopify, Webflow, Squarespace, Wix, Tumblr, Medium, Blogger Etc.
Depending on the website builder you choose, some features might be free and others you would pay for. The choice you make will eventually impact the business along with your goals in mind.
WordPress is one of the most popular site builders globally deserves special attention on this blog post. Started by Mike Little and Mike Mullenweg in 2003, WordPress made it easy for anyone to create a website or blog.
In creating WordPress, its founders made it easy for you to get a free website for your business. Setting up your WordPress website is very easy and anyone can do it but you might need an online business page.
All you need to do is download a copy from wordpress.org, have it installed on a hosting platform, or use the word press installation feature.
Whichever route you choose, WordPress is completely free. Word press was built for publishing, and therefore anyone can do it from an experienced developer to a novice with no prior coding knowledge.
WordPress offers hundreds of free themes making the entire process easier than parallel parking and its popularity to its high level of flexibility;
Also, WordPress comes with free themes and can be customized to suit one’s tastes or needs. Users can also buy WordPress themes created by the best designers all over the world.
It is also possible to increase the functionality of your WordPress blog by choosing from a long list of plug-ins that add features to the site. Third-party developers purchase WordPress and install it through the WordPress dashboard.
2. WordPress.org Vs WordPress.com
The differentiation between wordpress.org and wordpress.com lies in the fact that wordpress.org is the source for WordPress while wordpress.com is a third-party hosting solution.
WordPress.com site features are free to use, but users also have the liberty to upgrade to a premium version. WordPress.org enjoys relative flexibility whereas wordpress.com is limited to the site’s choice of themes. WordPress changed the online publishing world and challenged other developers to match its features toe-to-toe.
Despite this, WordPress remains the site developer of choice, with many of the world’s most renowned brands choosing to build their sites and blogs on WordPress. With all this in mind, WordPress remains one of the best sites to create a business website.
Choose a good E-Commerce platform for business
For a small business that plans on selling products/ services online, a good e-commerce platform is essential to ensuring a smooth and secure sales process. Popular e-commerce platforms offer some basic features for free and also allow users to upgrade their features at a fee.
This standalone e-commerce platform allows you to create your beautiful e-commerce store to support your small business operations and manage inventory, payments, and shipping.
Although being a standalone platform, it can be linked to your regular website built with WordPress, Drupal, Wix, Etc. Key features include; unlimited product listings, unlimited bandwidth, fraud analysis, reports, etc.
Additionally, you do not need to hire a developer to set up a Shopify store for your business. The tradeoff is giving up control and flexibility over your store compared to a different platform, like WooCommerce.
2. Shopify Plus
For a premium price above the regular Shopify offering, there is Shopify plus. This offers higher customization, increased staff accounts, and international e-commerce options and might be a better fit for a business with global ambitions.
One of the most popular e-commerce sites globally, WooCommerce can turn your WordPress site into an online store.
Its advantages include; many plug-ins available, can attach to a WordPress site, many free and premium theme options from which to choose. High capability and scalability for your growing small business needs, high customization to suit varying tastes.
Wix offers a level of flexibility and customization unmatched by other website builders. For a small business website with tremendous growth potential, this platform provides a wide range of solutions to suit your business needs.
5. Big Commerce
Bigcommerce eliminates the complexity experienced in building an e-commerce store on other sites. With features such as; many built-in sales features, zero transaction fees on any plan, it allows up to 600 different varieties per product.
This website builder offers powerful sales features that let you offer very detailed product descriptions for your business website. In addition, a drag and drop editor allows for easy customization of themes.
Platform is divided into Magento open-source which is a platform that allows you to build your e-commerce from scratch with basic capabilities. Magento commerce, a more robust e-commerce building platform with perks such as optimized cloud architecture and AI-powered merchandising and analytics.
When considering which website builder to use, it is crucial to take your time and weigh the pros and cons of each option as they will, in turn, influence the potential growth of your business.
Your analysis should include a comparison of features, performance reviews, design and theme specs, integrations to other sites using input data.
Like all your exes, all companies claim to be the best option for your small business and will require you to do some research to find “the one”.
Select your domain name. Your domain name could be compared to a marquee at the entrance of your physical store and business premises. It’s that bright neon-lit signpost that lets people know what they can expect to find inside.
It would be ideal for your domain name to be the same as your business name. If you find that you cannot think of a suitable domain name, great online resources can help you decide, such as Domain Wheel.
In selecting a good domain name, it would be good to keep a few pointers in mind
- Your domain name should be easy to spell.
- Keep short, silly! Unlike some things in life, the shorter, the sweeter! A long domain name might fall short (no pun intended) of your expectations when potential customers cannot seem to get it right!
- Your domain name should be broad enough to take the future growth of your business into account. But, on the other hand, you needn’t be too specific or narrow.
- Unlike your ex, it should be memorable. Your domain name should be relatively easy to remember.
- Your domain name should be SEO friendly, making it easy for your business to be ranked and recommended to potential customers.
Select your hosting provider
All your website files are stored on Web hosting. The websites on the internet must be hosted. Web hosting companies help store and serve websites.
The amount of space awarded on a server depends on the type of hosting selected. As long as you plan to create an online presence, you must have access to reliable hosting services.
There are different types of hosting plans offered to suits users with different hosting needs. After you purchase a domain name, you need hosting to store the files you upload on your website.
The same company can offer the Domain name and hosting making it easier to have their needs met. You may choose to buy your domain name and hosting from two different companies.
However, this will require you to edit the DNS settings of your domain name to direct it to your hosting provider. If you choose a different domain name and hosting provider, you don’t need to worry about that being an eternal decision.
Unlike in a marriage, you are free to change your hosting company or domain name provider if you find that you are not happy with the service provided. Suppose you decided to build your small business website through an all-in-one website builder. You are also spared the hustle of finding a company to handle your website hosting needs.
However, those who picked a WordPress platform will need secure, scalable website hosting with good support technology.
Hosting services can range from $2 to $100, depending on the kind of technology and support chosen. A few website hosting companies from which you can make your selection include; GoDaddy, DreamHost, Bluehost, InMotion, SiteGround.
Select a theme or template
Most website builders offer free themes that can instantly be used to create the ‘face’ of your small business website. Once you select a theme, you will immediately be able to customize it to your business taste. The theme chosen should resonate with the business brand promise and communicate it to site visitors.
For instance, a business selling wellness products should ideally select a theme with light colors, simple fonts, and beautifully layere menu options.
On the other hand, a business selling athletic gear might want to opt for more vibrant colors, attractive fonts, and pages full of highly engaging content. It should also easily translate across different devices such as laptops, tablets, and phones.
Create a beautiful user interface
Everything from the font you choose, colors, sounds, and graphics affect the feel of your business website, making it either a pleasant experience for your target audience or a nightmare. For example, you might have the most engaging content on the website for your small business.
Yet, a poor selection of these more delicate elements could be off-putting and thereby forcing your audience to have a lower interaction time with your business website.
A few suggestions to help you as you select from the myriad of options presented to you;l Select beautiful graphics and fonts that are easy to read.
- Your graphics should be compressed and optimized to allow for fast loading.
- Know your audience and then organize content in a way that makes it easy for them to find precisely what they are looking for on your business website.
- Consistency is key. Maintain consistency throughout your business website to communicate effectively about your brand and about the values your business adheres to.
- Your contact information should be easily accessible by any visitor of your business website.
Add content to your site
When thinking about how to make a small business website, content creation would be considered an essential part of your business website building process.
The content on these pages, the ease of navigation, and the quality of the material published will help drive more and more traffic to your business website and affect the google ratings your business website receives.
Your content must be created following the expectations of your target audience. The content on the website for your small business will be divided under the following headings;
The homepage is the first page your target audience will view when they visit your business website. Therefore, the layout ought to be beautiful, simple, concise, with easily legible fonts.
This page should give a short overview of your products or services and easily access other sections. This page gives visitors a snippet of what your business is all about.
2. Products/ Services page
This page displays the products/ services of your small business to your target audience. Detailed descriptions of what you have on offer should be included, and various ‘calls to action’ such as buy, order, request appointment etc.
For products displayed, images should be of high quality to inspire confidence in the brand. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
3. Contact page
Like it states, this page has all your small business contact information and might even include a side chat option to allow customers to get straight into your inbox.
In addition, some small business websites include a contact form that enables customers to write all their queries about a product or service quickly.
This is a recent feature of many websites and has increasingly become a mainstay of many websites operated by small businesses.
A blog allows you to communicate about new products/ services, offer “How- to’s”, advice columns, product reviews, and other interesting information to show your target audience that you are a credible source.
The relative ease of setting up and linking a WordPress blog to your main website builder has made word press a popular choice among those wishing to learn how to make a small business website.
Optimize for SEO
The website created for your business is now populated with exciting content, but your job is not yet entirely done. You must optimize your business website for search engines such as Google.
Search engine optimization improves your business website’s ranking against other similar business websites with equally compelling content.
It makes it easy for your target audience to reach you organically. Through the effective use of various SEO tools, your website could enjoy regular traffic that will positively influence the bottom line of your business.
Whatever your goals are, whether you want to direct foot traffic to your physical location, create brand awareness, or simply virtually link with your target audience, effective utilization of SEO strategies can ensure your business hits all its targets.
There are a few critical points to keep in mind when it comes to optimizing your small business website
- Use relevant keywords in your content. Keyword search is at the bedrock of SEO, and therefore to give special attention to this process. The keywords chosen ought to be relevant to the type of content your business specializes in, thereby making it easy for your small business website for ranking highly by search engine crawlers.
- You should consider optimizing your small business website to increase speed. For example, a website that takes ages to load would receive an unfavorable ranking.
- Your small business website design should easily translate across different devices. The content should remain organized and legible irrespective of the device used to consume it. Luckily for those in the process of learning how to make a small business website, most website builders have eased the process and have a “preview” option allowing you to view what your website would look like on different devices. For example, to set up a website for your small business on WordPress. This is to give a chance to see and experience their website across various devices.
- Include internal and external links throughout your page to allow for ease of navigation and increase the amount of time spent on your website.
- Use post names in their permalinks.
- Use social media platforms to link back to your website.
- Generate positive reviews online through different channels (Google, Facebook, Yelp Etc)
Publish your business website
Most website builders allow you to delay publishing your website until you have completed the entire process.
For others, the small business website is automatically published from the very beginning of the process.
It remains the same to the very end. Whichever the case, there are essential points to look out for before you ring the alarm and let the world know about the facelift your business just received;
- Cross-check the look of your website across different devices; desktop, tablet, and phone to ensure that it translates well.
- Edit content with a fine-tooth comb; colors, sounds, graphics, grammar. Like presenting a debutante to the world, everything must be perfect and in alignment with the brand promise of your business.
- Be careful to remove any filler content from your theme or template.
Incorporate the use of webmaster tools in business
There are valuable tools available on the internet to help you monitor and analyze your website traffic and thereby allow you to craft strategies to improve your site’s performance and increase visibility for your business.
In the fast-evolving world of consumer behavior, keeping abreast of these statistics can be the difference between a small business website that lies dormant with sporadic site visits and one that generates frequent and relevant traffic.
Google Analytics, Google search console, and Bing webmaster tools are some of the available trackers that we can use to monitor information such as;
- Daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly visits to your website.
- The number of views on each of your website pages.
- Bounce rate- The number of users that leave your website after viewing content on only one page.
- Average time spent on the website.
- Errors found by crawlers on your small business website.
- Broken links on the website designed for your business.
- Webpage download time.
- Other relevant information that can improve your SEO strategy.
Design and implement your website maintenance plan
Like most things in life, the website is built to maintain your small business through a well-thought-out strategy. Your website maintenance plan depends on many factors.
It is essential to keep your website alive and vibrant with both content and visitors to ensure that your business remains in the minds of both regular and potential customers.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while developing your small business website maintenance plan
- Use traffic data to better understand and appreciate the tastes of the audience your business wishes to target.
- Utilize webmaster tools data to help you detect any error emails in real-time and save your business from seeming unprofessional and incompetent.
- Regularly update all software.
- Run regular security scans to make sure your website has not been hacked or compromised in any way. A website hack could spell catastrophe for your business credibility and might even expose you to liability lawsuits.
- Constantly test different variations of your small business website to see if that affects the performance of the website. For example, to apply different themes or landing pages to see how your audience responds.
- Combine SEO with other online marketing tools to increase traffic to your business.
- Check out your competition and compare whether your small business website is up to par when stacked next to theirs.
- Ensure regular back up of your website content on different platforms to avoid a potential loss to the business.
Crafting a delightful small business website experience
The process of learning about building a website for your business does not end after the initial steps are followed – it must be thought of as an ever-evolving quest to create a delightful experience for your target audience.
Following this principle, designing the website with the user experience in mind, which achieves two goals simultaneously. It serves website visitors with a truly engaging experience while hitting revenue/visitor targets.
This can be considered the ‘pro’ level of website design because it places the target audience’s needs at the core and influencing all manner of decisions. There are a few basic principles to keep in mind when implementing this strategy;
1. Know your target audience intimately in business
A business would find it challenging to serve an audience it doesn’t know. You must know everything you can about your target audience; their tastes and preferences, pain points, what they value, what they want etc.
On collecting data through google analytical tools, questionnaires, and other data collection tools, you obtain unique insights used to build a website that will meet those needs strategically.
Your target audience uses information such as devices typically how they prefer, design colors and styles that most appeal to them will go a long way in creating a truly remarkable experience for website visitors.
2. Chart your user journey
Think of your user journey as the steps followed by site visitors as they navigate through your website.
From the moment they make initial contact through the landing page to the moment they follow through with the desired action, such as purchasing or booking an appointment. Everything on your website should naturally drive the user to their desired endpoint.
By collecting and analyzing data about your target audience, you can build a small business website that incorporates their preferences at each stage of their navigation process.
When learning about building a website for your business, an often-overlooked principle is to keep everything simple and easy to understand. When potential customers visit your website, they should find what they need quickly and easily. An overly complicated website design can create a negative impression in the user’s mind and might result in a quick exit.
4. Create a visual hierarchy
Creating a visual hierarchy allows for the most vital information at the top of your small business website, with less relevant information following an organized, sequential order. Organizing everything from text, images to video or audio content with this principle to create a pleasant experience for the user.
5. Design your website for mobile navigation
The smaller size compared to desktops, mobile phones pause a unique design challenge that must be considered when making design decisions. Your website must easily translate to a mobile interface without affecting how to consume your content. Until recently, one needed a qualified website developer to build a fully functional website for business and personal use.
However, with the advancement in technology, the advent of open-source software and increased competition, creating a website has been made easy enough that just about anybody can learn to create a website for their business.
There has never been a time in history where having a website was both as easy and as necessary as it is in this current time. With the help of the steps above, you too can have your small business website set up in no time.