For a small business, a website isn’t just a digital listing. It’s a marketing tool, showcase and information kiosk all rolled into one. And a great website (usually created using the best website builder paired with the best web hosting service) attracts more eyeballs than any flyer, or advertisement in money saver pens or doodles. acrobat outside the chamber of commerce.
Apple, the local guitar teacher, the fruit cart by the bus stop: they all have websites. It’s nearly impossible for a business to exist, let alone thrive, without it.
If your small business needs a new website or doesn’t have one at all, here are 10 things you need to know to build it right and work hard for you, and see our list of the best website builders separately for you. small enterprises. providers and our list of the best small business web hosts.
1. Have a goal
Like any tool, your website has a purpose. Before starting any construction, make sure you know what it is.
Is it a platform to sell your handmade aprons? Is it a microphone to broadcast your status as a thought leader? Is there a way for customers to see your credentials?
And how will your website serve your customers, current and potential? What competitor sites are they visiting and what keywords are they using to find them?
Be precise ; quantify your needs. A targeted and purpose-built website will capture more customers than a hodgepodge of personal information.
2. Tell your friends away from your website
Don’t hire cousin Jodie or your best friend’s art school roommate to build your website. Cheap hires create cheap-looking websites, regardless of their intentions. Your website will (at the very least) be the face of your business. This is the last place you should cut corners.
Build the website yourself using the best website builder and web hosting tool available which are very affordable or hire a licensed professional web developer.
A freelancer will probably cost you around $1,000. A full-fledged agency a few thousand. A website can be expensive, but the investment is worth it.
3. Use a website builder
Of the platforms available, website builders will be the easiest to use. Popular website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly use pre-made templates and themes to simplify the creation process. If you can drag and drop, you can use a website builder.
There are also cheap website builder providers. Most require a subscription ranging from $8 to $20 per month, which includes hosting costs.
The downside of templates is their limited flexibility. Most services offer a wide selection of templates – including those that are industry-specific (retail, hospitality, etc.) – but you can rarely stray from the menu.
4. Use a CMS if you need customization
If you need a large, complex, multi-page site, use a content management system instead of a website builder. Although there is a learning curve with a CMS, it can provide the same flexibility and custom functionality that you would find in a site built from the ground up – without any hardcore coding.
If you want to hire a web developer down the line, consider using an open source CMS like WordPress or Joomla! Most developers are familiar with these two platforms and can easily manipulate a site created on them. A proprietary CMS, however, will force them to learn new code, which could slow their progress.
Open source will also give you access to thousands of community-created plugins and themes to add to your website (test them first to make sure they work). Just keep in mind that although WordPress and Joomla! are free, their plugins can cost between $20 and $200.
Unlike their Wix and Squarespace counterparts, websites built with a CMS will need a third party for hosting and email aliases. Fortunately, there are plenty of options, such as GoDaddy and Google Enterprise Apps, for such services.
5. It takes time
Building a website will be relatively easy, but it won’t be fast. Whether you DIY or hire a developer, a good website will take longer than you think.
That’s because the bottleneck isn’t in the build, it’s in the content generation. It will take time to set up even simple content like a photo or a “Welcome” blog post. And it should. There are no shortcuts to good content. Plan accordingly.
6. Keep it clean
Busy websites with pop-ups, autoplay music, and animated text will be visited for three seconds and then closed. Keep your customers reading with a neat and well-organized website.
Use headings, short paragraphs, and bullet points to highlight important information. And never let scrolling get out of hand. Short attention spans hate long sites.
Most importantly, entice visitors to click with powerful calls to action. Study what the competition offers – and how they offer it. “Click here for a free trial” is weak. You want clicks, not yawns.
7. Content is king
ABC: always be satisfied. Search engines love fresh, relevant content, and so do your customers. Regular updates are the best way to attract attention to your site.
But if you don’t have a plan to regularly update your Thoughts and Reflections section, don’t have one at all. Old blog posts and expired offers will make your business look bankrupt.
8. Mobile is a must
Most people now access the Internet through their mobile device. Google knows this, which is why a website’s mobile-friendliness affects its search rankings. Don’t cut your website at the knees. Make sure it loads well on phones and tablets.
If you don’t know how to activate mobile, there are many resources that can help you. Platforms like bMobilized Where DudaMobile will create a separate mobile site for you. And most CMS platforms have plugins that will “activate” a mobile theme if your website detects a mobile visitor.
9. SEO or other
Think of the search engine as the bus that new customers take to get around the Internet. If your website isn’t on the road, new customers will never know your business exists.
If your website plan includes good, constantly updated content and mobile compatibility, you’ll likely have a well-lit and easily visible bus stop.
You can improve it even more by entering descriptive keywords in your page URLs (name the page “about us” instead of “page 2”, for example) and by sharing links with other sites website. (Although you should do this sparingly and only with relevant websites. And forget about a “Links” page. Google will think it’s cheating.)
Also avoid redundancy. Pages without separate identities will compete with each other in search results. And finally, include a review section and encourage your customers to use it. Search engines will consider the amount of reviews your business receives when compiling their rankings.
Note that the algorithm governing the search will undoubtedly change. Keep up to date with the Google Webmaster Central Blog. As search criteria change, so should your website.
10. Use analytics from day one
Use performance tools like Google Analytics as soon as the website launches so you can immediately see what works and what doesn’t. More information will only help you make better decisions.
Data and Analytics (D&A) plays a critical role in improving the accuracy and efficiency of business decisions by expanding the information available to decision makers.