Don’t get overwhelmed by the details. For small business owners, it’s common to not know how to create a website. You have to focus on managing the company and providing expertise in your trade.
However, there are steps to prepare for the best web development experience and results possible— and it’s easier than you might think.
A new web build is an exciting journey and can provide marketing opportunities, especially for small business owners. It’s an extension of your brand, mission, and products/services, which is crucial in an evolving and competitive digital marketplace. Consumers today expect a solid first impression before buying, and your website might be their first experience with your brand.
Whether you’re utilizing a web designer and want to educate yourself or considering DIY, here’s a complete guide to small business website development in just 11 steps.
Must-Have Details to Gather Before Your Website Build
Before building a website, it’s practical to gather business details first to determine the type of site you need. For example, small e-commerce brands can benefit from creating a Shopify website. Shopify’s features include mobile-friendly product page design templates and payment gateways that are designed for e-commerce businesses. Company details, such as how many products or services you offer, also determine the website size you need.
Here’s a pre-website build checklist to help guide you before development:
- Web Hosting: Pick a domain name (website name/address) and register it with a web hosting provider.
- Web Designer: Who is responsible for the web build and design?
- Website CMS: Which CMS (content management system) platform will you use? Ex: Shopify, WordPress, HubSpot, etc.
- Company Brand: What are your branding guidelines? Gather your brand colors, fonts, logo files, visual do’s/don’ts, content rules, and reference sites for design inspiration.
- Website Trends: Research current web design trends to ensure your site meets new consumer demands and search engine algorithm updates.
- Site Maintenance: How committed are you to maintaining and updating your website as needed? Who is responsible for this?
- Web Content: Do you have current marketing collateral? Are you committed to creating unique content for your website?
- Website SEO: Do you know how to properly optimize your website for search engines and keep up with competitor SEO rankings?
- Website UX (User Experience): Can users quickly navigate your website and not feel overly spammed?
While this may seem like a long or detailed checklist, it’s worth it. The more you prepare before a website build, the better the process is. Simply gather this information into designated folders and your web developer will have everything they need. It also eliminates the need for further back-and-forth on missed items.
How to Build a Website for Your Small Business in 11 Steps
Now that you know the information needed before a web build, we’ll explain how exactly a website is created. From design inspiration references to domain name registration, here’s how to build a website for your small business in 11 steps.
1. Identify Your Target Audience to Understand Your Traffic Sources
Do you know who your ideal customer is? Understanding your target audience is crucial to web builds because it should be designed with them in mind.
Dive deeper into your buyer personas. Address their common questions and challenges so you can provide related and specific solutions through your website. This way, you can drive potential traffic with more qualified leads since you understand what influences their online behavior.
Define your business goals for your website. Whether it’s selling products or offering services, identifying your target audience is the foundation of creating a successful website. It determines how you’ll connect and persuade them to engage with your site.
Certainly, don’t copy what your competitors are doing with their websites. Avoid using the same color scheme, exact layout, and images. However, it’s beneficial to have visual inspirations for how you want your website to look. This way your developer understands the creative design and structural direction you’d like to incorporate.
Researching your competition is also an effective marketing strategy to uncover missed opportunities in their web design. For example, if you’re a boutique e-commerce brand and discover that your competitors don’t utilize one-click checkouts, this can be a great opportunity to provide a better online shopping experience.
One-click checkouts can increase transactions by 25.8% since customers aren’t burdened to create an account before buying— resulting in reduced abandoned carts and checkouts. Finding ways to make your website look and perform better is key to outdoing the competition and prioritizing your products or services.
A domain name is more the name of your website address. It represents your brand and determines how users feel about your business based on a name alone. Domain names also cannot be changed or modified once you register them. For these reasons, it’s critical to select a domain name that accurately represents your company’s identity, mission, and values.
Consider the following when picking a brandable domain name:
- Make it simple, short, and impactful: Make a memorable and brandable domain name under 15 characters.
- Aim for a “.com” TLD when possible: Top-level domains (TLDs), like “.shop” for e-commerce brands or “.org” for non-profits, can be suitable options if “.com” is taken.
- Avoid long or hard-to-pronounce words: Prevent users from misspelling your website or making it harder to find.
- Don’t include slang, numbers, or hyphens: Focus on a seamless user experience so consumers can access your site easily.
If you need inspiration, there are domain name generators, like Shopify and Wix, where all you need to do is enter a keyword, and creative options are prompted. However, you must ensure that a domain name hasn’t been taken by checking if it’s registered online.
Now that you have a domain name in mind, the next step is registering it so you own the copyrights and trademarks. But before you do, confirm it’s available by checking its registration. A common source to verify if a domain is already registered is through domain name search tools like GoDaddy or ICANN.
There are options if you want a domain name that’s registered:
- Buy it from the owner: If the brand is inactive, has a dated website, and has no social media presence, there’s a chance the owner might accept an offer.
- Use different TLDs: If “.com” is taken, try registering with “.shop,” “.co,” and other authoritative TLDs.
- Consider name variations: Brainstorm other creative versions of the domain name you want. Make them specific to your niche to avoid duplication.
Once you verify a domain name isn’t registered, it’s available for purchase. Popular website hosting platforms, such as BlueHost and Hostinger, offer tools that automatically register domain names for you.
|Domain Hosting||Content Hosting|
|Website address||Website CMS (content management system)|
|Domain names cannot be changed||Edit content without markup or programming|
|Hostinger, SiteGround, BlueHost||WordPress, Drupal, PrestaShop|
Some hosting platforms, like GoDaddy and Squarespace, also provide CMS systems. It may be a beneficial option to consolidate your website marketing services, especially if you don’t know how to build a website. Ensure you compare all options that are best for your needs and budget.
5. Choose Your Content Hosting Platform for Simple Content Management
In addition to a domain hosting provider, you’ll also need a content hosting provider—also known as a CMS (content management system). The difference between domain vs. content hosting is their functionalities and customization.
A domain hosting provider hosts your website on a server to function properly. While you can change hosting providers, domain names cannot be changed or modified once registered.
A content hosting provider stores your website’s content and shares its files, and hyperlinks pages. Its purpose is to give website owners easy access to edit their content without the need for marking up or programming languages.
Each content hosting site has various capabilities, plugin updates on their platform, monthly/yearly fees, and more. So, when picking a content hosting site, consider the must-have functionalities that are key to your business, like simple SEO plug-in integration or user-friendly blog management.
6. Create a Skeleton of Your Site for Streamlined Web Development
A skeleton is a visual roadmap of what your website design will look like. The purpose of site skeletons is to streamline the development process so business owners can see how exactly their website will be laid out. It helps with revisions or new design changes before placing it on the content hosting platform.
Here’s what you should consider when reviewing your site skeleton:
- Do you have an eye-catching homepage that quickly explains what you do as a company?
- Is your branding clear?
- Are the products/services you provide easy to find, read, and clear?
- How much content do you have that will be displayed throughout the site?
- Do you have testimonials, FAQs, press releases, or blogs you want to feature?
- How will a customer/client contact you?
While website updates are doable after launch, having a preview design through skeletons can reduce the need for more revisions before content uploading.
7. Optimize Your Website for Search Engines and Online Visibility
After finalizing your small business web design, the next step is to ensure search engines can effectively find and store it through off-page, on-page, and technical SEO. If search engines like Google can’t discover (crawl) and store (index) your website in their database, it’s virtually invisible to users online.
Some ways to optimize your web pages and drive traffic to your site include:
- Use a mobile-first approach to your design and site responsiveness
- Index all web pages in Google Search Console for indexing and crawling (off-page SEO)
- Invest in technical SEO with fast loading times and site breadcrumbs for easy navigation
- Implement on-page SEO by writing optimized page titles with target keywords
In addition to visibility and traffic, website optimization is crucial to keep up with your competition. By maintaining best SEO practices, you can promote competitiveness by ranking for similar keywords while building your online presence.
Business websites that rank at the top of their niche’s SERPs (search engine results page) generate a 39.8% CTR (click-through rate), while second ranks receive 18.7% and third at 10.2%. Optimizing your website isn’t only for search visibility and keyword rankings. It’s also an effective SEO strategy to increase engagement and leads.
Every website needs content. Whether you’re repurposing old marketing collateral or writing unique content, each web page needs written text and visuals. This includes home pages, product/service descriptions, graphics, page headers, and blogs. After creating and reviewing your content to ensure it aligns with your brand and business, place it throughout your website. Remember to optimize your content to ensure search engines and users can discover it.
9. Review Your Website on Mobile and Desktop for a Better User Experience (UX)
Check your website multiple times across several devices, including mobile and desktop. Review the site layout on your computer, phone, and tablet to ensure easy navigation and strong user experience (UX).
UX is the user’s overall experience when interacting with a website or application. It plays a critical role in maintaining customer satisfaction and may push potential new ones away. If not, it’s considered in your site design.
For example, conversion rates drop an average of 4.42% for each additional second of page load time. If your site has slow web response rates, low-quality images, or irrelevant content, these are signs of poor UX design. Websites with strong UX design can increase conversion rates up to 400% because they’re designed to be simple to navigate and easily accessible.
Some ways to improve UX design for small business web development include:
- Create Flowcharts: Use these visuals in your site’s skeleton to decide how users will interact with your site for the optimal experience.
- Conduct Interface Tests: Gather data on the experience quality of your site and compare the effectiveness compared to other user interfaces.
- Create User Surveys: After launch, chat with potential and existing users of your system to gain feedback for UX improvements.
Before launch, get a close friend, colleague, or relative to view the staging link on their devices and provide feedback. Getting a fresh perspective can uncover UX design issues you may thought were working but are invisible to the user.
Once everything is reviewed, added, and to your liking, click that “Publish” button! Congratulate yourself or your team for this major business accomplishment. After launch, it’s essential to monitor your new website to ensure it’s running smoothly.
Here’s a post-website launch checklist to help guide you:
- Submit your site to Google Search Console for indexing and crawling
- Monitor your site in Google Search Console for any design errors, like duplicate pages or broken links
- Setup Google Analytics with your site to monitor its performance and gain valuable data
- Spread the word on social media as part of your off-page SEO strategy
Regular updates are an ongoing process after you build a website for your business. From content marketing to structural improvements for UX, a site launch isn’t the end of the process but the beginning of a new chapter.
All websites will have regular maintenance, including plug-ins, platform updates, backups, product/service changes, etc. However, if a consumer finds a business with a website that seems outdated, has broken links, or slow loading, they’ll most likely move on to another competitor. Keeping your website regularly maintained is easier than a complete revamp.
Let Website & SEO Experts Handle Your Website Build for You
With these steps, you can streamline your small business web design. But as a business owner, we understand if you don’t know how to build a website— and you shouldn’t have to.
Professional web developers have expertise in custom mobile-responsive design and plugin integration that you can’t do on your own or as easily. They can create unique site features to make your brand stand out and ensure its structure meets search performance requirements.
At Reach Marketing Pro, we’re a full-service digital marketing agency and can guide you every step of the way. From website design concepts, content creation, monthly site updates, and SEO optimization, we help ensure our clients are successful in providing the best user experience for potential and returning customers.
Skip the hassle of creating a website and let our SEO and web development team do it for you. Our developers provide superior design, webmaster services, and site management to handle all of your website’s needs. This way you can focus on what you do best, your trade.
Contact us to kick off your new website journey today!