Suppose you’ve just opened a new business, and you want to get the word out to potential customers and inform them about your products. You may already have social media pages, but what about your own platform?
That’s where making a website for your small business comes in.
As a small business owner, you know a website is an effective tool for promoting your products and services. But hiring a pro developer to build an eCommerce platform for you can be pricey.
To save on development costs, you can build your own website. In this tutorial, we’ll show you how. Read on to learn what type of website you need, the pages to include and the steps involved in building a small business website.
Which type of website is best for a small business?
The right type of website will depend on your unique business needs, goals, target market, products and budget.
Suppose you run a small affiliate marketing business. You’ll approach web design a bit differently from someone who runs a small shop selling custom ornaments. While you’ll both have business websites, their designs and purposes will differ.
You can choose from a variety of website types for your business. Here are five common examples:
An eCommerce site enables you to sell products directly to your target audience. Customers can select and pay for items from your website without visiting a physical store.
Unlike an eCommerce website, a brochure website doesn’t allow customers to make a purchase. Instead, it displays compelling media and text. You can use a brochure website to advertise your products and services.
If you own a professional service business, you may want a portfolio website. It lets you display your completed projects and showcase your skills and expertise to customers.
With this type of website, you can publish informal articles about your products and services. You also can write about special offers and news regarding your business or industry. You also can add a blog section to another type of website.
Similar to a brochure website, this standalone webpage advertises or markets a product, service or business. Clicking on an ad often redirects customers to a landing page. Other types of websites can include landing pages.
Before starting a new business website, there are some checkpoints to pass. These actions are essential, and skipping them may cost you later.
Before building a small business website, you must understand who it’s for. That’s your target audience. Defining your target audience also ties into your initial business strategy and the products or services you offer.
For instance, if you’re an affiliate marketer, you want a business website that appeals to readers in search of the products you endorse.
Ideally, your target audience will have unique features, such as their age, gender, location and income level. The more niche your audience is, the more targeted your website design will be.
What are your competitors and industry leaders doing? Competitor research can be a valuable tool in choosing a website design. Observing other businesses in your space can help you identify what works and give you new ideas to try out.
If everyone in your niche uses specific website design principles and features, you can use them as inspiration. Then, you can put your own twist on these ideas to make your website stand out from the competition.
How much do you want to spend on your website? When creating your design budget, ensure you identify all the critical features and functionality your website needs. Then, allocate sufficient resources for web development so you’re happy with the end product.
The good news is you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to have an amazing website.
Doing this ahead of time also allows you to brainstorm and test out ideas of what content your website should have. You can include images, text, video, audio or any other media that make your webpages interactive.
Speaking of webpages, what pages should your business website include?
This page is the default front page of your website. When a user clicks on a link to your website, this likely is the first page they’ll see.
The homepage is like the cover page and table of contents of a book. It offers an overview of the website and links to get to different pages.
You should include the following in your homepage content:
- Your logo and branding information.
- Headlines and subheadings.
- Social proof and social media icons.
- Calls to action.
From the About page, customers can learn about your business and its operations. This page displays the history of your business and the journey from its origins to its current state.
You can use this page to discuss your mission, vision, values and customer segment. This page also gives you a chance to tell a story to help you connect with and relate to prospective customers.
A Contact page allows current and prospective customers to reach out to you. It also displays your business address if you have a physical location. If you don’t, you can include your general location.
You can set up the page in multiple ways, depending on the contact methods you offer.
Include a contact form that users can fill out if they need your feedback or help. You can also display your business phone number, fax, email address and social media pages. You could even offer a live chat feature with help from a chatbot, like Tidio.
Your website will need dedicated product pages if you run an online store. These pages show the full details of each item, including images, features and variations. They may also include product descriptions, testimonials and comparisons.
Including an “add to cart” button on your product pages makes online sales seamless. Once a customer finds something they like, they can buy it almost instantly.
Your business website may need a blog page where you provide commentary on your business, customers, products and other topics. Blogs allow your customers to interact with your business. They can comment, like and share your blog posts on social media.
Moreover, this page will require frequent updates to keep your audience engaged.
How to build a small business website
- Choose a hosting plan and custom domain name for your business.
- Install WordPress on your server.
- Install a WordPress theme template.
- Install WordPress plugins.
- Test the website for functionality.
- Add content to pages.
- Optimize for search engines.
- Make sure your website is secure.
- Publish and market your business website.
A hosting plan gives you access to servers and hardware that stores all your important files and data. A domain name is the web address customers use to access your website from a web browser.
So, how do you choose a hosting service?
First, ensure accessing the control panel of your hosting plan is straightforward. That way, you can set up your website with ease.
Also, ensure the hosting company offers excellent customer support. That way, you can easily get help if you experience any challenges with your new setup. For example, you can contact Bluehost via phone, live chat, email and social media.
Other factors you should check include storage space and bandwidth limits. You should consider if the web host offers important security features, like distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) protection and a content delivery network (CDN). Also, you may want to check the host’s load speeds, which can affect your search engine performance.
As for your domain name, choose one that matches your business name and customers can remember. Keep it unique, professional and short, avoiding unnecessary hyphens and numbers.
WordPress has multiple benefits, including drag-and-drop functionality. These four key reasons make it ideal for businesses:
- Price: The WordPress core software is free. There are no extra fees besides your domain and hosting for your business site.
- Ease of use: WordPress is straightforward and user-friendly, even for beginners. You can set it up in minutes and have your website running quickly.
- Responsiveness: WordPress builds responsive websites. Your customers can access your website from any computer or mobile device, regardless of its screen size.
- Functionality: WordPress offers regular updates and thousands of apps and plugins that enhance its functionality.
Bluehost offers one-click WordPress installation, which does the heavy lifting for you. Once installed, you’ll have a basic WordPress website ready to go. All you need to do now is customize it.
One massive advantage of WordPress is the thousands of theme options for your new website. You can select a free or paid theme from the WordPress theme repository or purchase a premium theme from a third-party platform.
You can even design a custom theme template with all the necessary elements and features if you have an internal web developer.
When evaluating website templates, ensure their layouts and features meet your business requirements. Select a theme that supports your brand colors, fonts and typography. These visual elements are critical to your website’s look.
Also, ensure the theme supports all the page types necessary for your website.
WordPress plugins are add-ons that enhance the functionality of your website. You can use plugins to introduce features unavailable in the WordPress core files. For instance, you can add social media icons, embed videos, add contact forms and assess your analytics using plugins.
WordPress has thousands of free and proprietary plugins for different purposes. Depending on your business strategy, here are some plugins you may consider:
- WooCommerce: Converts your WordPress website into an eCommerce store.
- HubSpot CRM: Can help you manage customer relationships, live chat and digital marketing campaigns.
- AIOSEO: Offers several search engine optimization (SEO) tools.
- Google Analytics: Monitors your traffic, conversions, sales and other user metrics.
- WordFence: Offers website firewall and user security, including two-factor authentication (2FA).
Once you’ve installed and activated the plugins, you can run various tests to see how well your website performs. This ensures your website works as prescribed, giving users the desired experience.
Some examples of tests you can run include:
- Usability test: This test checks for the functionality of buttons, links and menus. Running it on several pages ensures users can easily navigate your website.
- Security test: With this test, you ensure users can’t gain unauthorized access to restricted files and website assets. You can use it to test the security of your logins from brute-force attacks, injection attacks and other vulnerabilities.
- Compatibility test: This test ensures your website is accessible to users across different browsers and operating systems.
- Performance test: This test ensures your website responds as fast as expected.
If you encounter problems during any of these tests, troubleshoot them before proceeding.
Upload the content you generated earlier and populate your website. Add video, images and text to the appropriate pages. If you have a blog, you can add the first post and schedule future posts to save you time later.
If you have an eCommerce website, add products to your product pages and get them ready for sales. Also, ensure your Contact page has updated information so customers can reach out when needed.
When you optimize your website for search engines, you increase its visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs). As a result, potential customers searching for content using your keywords will be able to find you more easily.
You can improve your website’s SEO and online presence in several ways, including:
- Adding internal and external links to your content.
- Submitting a sitemap to Google.
- Using relevant keywords.
- Giving each page a unique descriptive title.
- Using alt text on images and other media.
- Compressing images to help your website load faster.
Ensure your website employs security features that protect it from online threats. As mentioned above, you can use WordFence or another plugin to secure your website from attempted hacks, spam and malicious attacks.
You can also use an SSL certificate to secure access to your website. If you’re using Bluehost’s hosting services, you’ll enjoy a free SSL certificate for your first year.
Once you’re done setting up your website, you can publish it online. Now, your website is in the public domain, and users can visit by typing in your domain name or finding you on a search engine.
You can interact with users through social media links, contact forms and blog posts. You also can use paid ads and various free marketing tactics to expand your reach to new customers and drive traffic to your website.
The ease of use that WordPress offers makes it the best website builder for your business website. Using this step-by-step guide, you can build an exceptional website from scratch without hiring a developer.
Looking for a robust and reliable hosting partner? Check out Bluehost’s WordPress hosting plans. We offer a free SSL and domain name for your first full year and a variety of powerful features to help get your new website off the ground.
FAQs about making a small business website
Depending on your strategy and resources, building a small business website from scratch can take anywhere between two and five months. But with WordPress, it can take you a few hours to a few days.
The cost of building your website will depend on whether you do it yourself or hire external help. However, it may range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. If you hire an agency to build a website, it may cost you anywhere between $2,000 and $20,000.
There are plenty of benefits to building a small business website. It can:
● Showcase your products and services.
● Help you build credibility and trust.
● Enhance customer engagement.
● Increase your visibility online.
● Offer a competitive advantage.
● Give you insight into your audience.
● Let you sell your products or services online.