In today's digital world, a website is often where many small businesses start. One becomes increasingly aware of the need for a company website, no matter if it has just gotten into the market or has been a part of it for decades.
A study run by Connect 4 Consulting confirms this. It states that: "The takeaway here is that websites are still relevant in 2020 and will continue to be relevant for years to come. There is no other communication medium that gives you as much control over your content and message as a website." That is to say, even if your company already has a presence on social media, it still does not allow you to communicate as clearly as having your dedicated website.
Not to mention, people aren't going to stores as much as they used to. "Window Shopping" has turned into online shopping. Your average shopper is likely to look up your website before they ever step foot in your store, or pick your competitor because their online presence is stronger.
However, just because you are aware of how important having a website for your small business is, it does not mean you know how to make one for yourself, which is where this article comes into play.
Here you will find a detailed guide on building a website for your small business, from the correct mindset to all the tools that come into play in its creation.
The first thing that is universally present in every business website is a purpose. Whether its goal is to sell more products, display a menu, or give more information to prospective clients, your website is there to accomplish something.
If you already have a business, you probably already have a really good idea of what this purpose is. It's more often than not what your business's purpose is. Your website is just making it easier for you to fulfill that purpose.
If you haven't started a business yet or are in the beginning stages, this is a great time to start identifying your purpose.
Some of the most popular website formats are:
Online Store: If your business focuses on selling your products or someone else's, a website is a great way to expand your store's reach by making it possible for people to order from you.
Not only does that mean that you can have clients that live further away from you, but you will also add a level of convenience that will make purchasing from you that bit more compelling concerning your competition.
After the chaos of 2020, many businesses that hadn't adopted an online store struggled. The small companies that could quickly convert to an online store, or already supplemented their physical store with a virtual one could prosper. Therefore, we recommend having the infrastructure to launch an online store if the need arises quickly.
Company Blog: Sometimes, the best way to establish a solid relationship with potential customers is to let them in on what you've been up to lately. Case studies, webinars, blogs, and newsletters can all help you build trust and thought leadership.
A company blog is also an excellent way to let your clients know about special discounts and other purchase opportunities that may be interesting to them. Consultants and service-based companies have historically benefited from these types of sites the most.
Business Card: One of the most effective uses for your website is a gateway through which customers can know about your services, pricing, and how to contact you.
As we have said in a previous blog, business cards are dying. A website is an excellent opportunity to continue an elevator pitch and build trust. Another great benefit of a website, unlike a business card, is that you can run ads to it.
This website is best paired with a company blog updating customers and establishing the company as a thought leader in the space. After all, getting someone to your website is one thing; providing a visitor value is a whole new level.
Portfolio: If your business delivers custom products or services of any kind, your website is a perfect place to display your best success cases for prospective customers. From house painting to sculpting and anything in between, you only stand to gain by showing the world what you can do.
A rule of thumb, whether you're a marketing agency or a painter, providing case studies and examples of your work are going to help close a deal. People don't trust easily, make it easier on them by offering proof of your work.
A domain host is where all the pages that compose your website are stored. Most web hosting services charge a yearly fee for this, along with different benefits. If a website were a house, this would be the land it stands on.
Although all hosting services have their ups and downs, these are the one that managed to stand out in the market:
- Bluehost: Is the best hosting platform if you are a beginner.
- Dreamhost: Has the most affordable monthly plans.
- WP Engine: Best Managed WordPress Hosting.
- SiteGround: Has the best Customer Service.
The key to choosing the best website host for you is to take a critical look at the benefits that each package offers and select the one with the most features you will use.
A domain is the address people will type in their internet browser's header bar to access your website. It will be the primary way through which they find and access it.
If your website is a house and your host is the land, this is the address you put on the front door.
Therefore, it needs to be something simple and easy to remember, while being original to the point where it doesn't get lost in the multitude of other domains.
It is a common practice for your domain name to be the same your company, but it can be any phrase or word combination you want, as long as it is not already taken.
Most, if not all, one and two-word domain names are taken or held hostage by those seeking to profit from them. Don't let this deter you. Keep brainstorming different wants to make your domain name memorable and short while still staying true to your companies name.
The main thing you need to keep in mind when choosing a domain name is how it relates to and tells people about your business.
There are also two main costs related to your domain, those being:
Now that you have the name and address for your site, it's time to add some much-needed content to it, decide on its visual identity, and implement all the features it is going to need.
All these things may be done through a good website builder, but there are dozens on the internet. Here is a list of all the best-rated website builders and why you may want to choose each of them:
Wix: Wix is one of the most popular website builders out there, especially among those that are not specialized in web design and need a cheaper, yet high-quality solution.
Its interface is straightforward and user-friendly, with over 500 populated templates to choose from and personalize to your liking.
It also offers the most support for specialized business features like reservations, booking, and product catalogs, making it extremely flexible for different commercial needs.
Squarespace: A close competitor to Wix, Squarespace offers many of the same features while specializing in cosmetically appealing websites.
Websites done through Squarespace will often be extremely slick and minimalistic, giving off an appearance of absolute professionalism.
A good way for one to compare Squarespace to Wix is that they are equivalent to Apple and Microsoft respectively; one offers amazing presentation and design, but fewer choices, while the other has more options with a more straightforward design.
WordPress: The main advantage that WordPress is the flexibility of the platform. WordPress is its services are completely free and come with a very simple, one-click hosting plan. You can also upgrade to a premium version of WordPress that offers more features.
You are also given the freedom to pick from a variety of premium themes, designed around the function your site will have, be it a blog, online store, or anything else.
The real flexibility comes from your ability to custom code a website to fit your specific needs. It is also the most popular web builder in the world, which means you'll always be able to find a developer to help you.
WordPress also has a search engine optimization advantage due to its flexibility.
WordPress's downside is that there is a steep learning curve to get the full benefits from it. Most business owners elect to pay someone to build a custom website rather than spend the time learning the platform. Still, the benefits of WordPress and an SEO optimized site usually far outweigh the costs.
As for the SEO part, whenever a content maker is preparing a new post, article, or review, their first step will always be researching the topic, mostly through search engines.
By improving your ranking in SERPs, you increase the possibility of being quoted in other sites' content, which will likely come with a backlink with your domain as a source.
You also have the possibility of contacting the people behind your favorite domains and arranging a mutual promotion deal, where both sides compromise to backlink to each other.
Giving your website a unique look means more than just adding some pretty pictures. It means shaping what your customers are going to feel when they first lay eyes upon it.
That is to say, your website's visual identity is yet another aspect of your business that may make the difference between winning a client over or having him leave after just a few seconds of access. A good website design tends to need three things:
A friendly interface: When accessing a website, people tend to be turned away if they can't easily find what they are looking for. This means you'll have to keep in mind what is the main thing people will be looking for on your website and make sure they can find it as soon as it loads in.
The Right Colors: The colors you use to represent your brand online are often going to tell people all that they need to know about your business, so be sure to use a color-scheme that better represents your brand's identity. Darker and more neutral colors are often the best to give out an elegant atmosphere to your business, while colors like yellow and orange may give a more "homely" tone. Be sure to pick a color scheme that matches the image you are trying to project to your customers.
The Right Features: Finally, you need to make sure that your website has features that match the service you're offering. A hotel may want to offer its prospective clients an option for making an online reservation, while a restaurant may want to display a digital menu for people to peruse. Having the right features means customers will know exactly what to expect of you, which in turn will make it more likely for them to actually pick you and not the competition.
Creating a website can be a scary step for a small business due to all the money and know-how that becomes necessary to create and maintain one.
That being said, what you actually get in return for taking this step is well worth this investment as it enables your business to reach out of your neighborhood, or even your city, and find new and exciting opportunities.
The best part is, you don't even have to be an expert if you are willing to hire competent people like Small Business Mentor to guide you through this exciting enterprise!