3 Steps to Building an Outstanding Small Business Website
As a small business owner, you’ll understand how important it is to reach your ideal customer and spread the word about your brand. Although you might still rely on word-of-mouth or traditional advertising in some cases, you need to face facts: in the digital age, those goals are essentially impossible to achieve without a great website.
There’s a lot of conjecture about what makes a website great. But most agree that the best small business websites provide a positive user experience and instantly communicate what a consumer needs to know about the organization in question.
And while every business might follow a different process when designing their website, there are some universal steps that need to be included. We’re outlining just three of those steps below. If you keep these in mind when building your small business website, you’ll be well on your way to capturing the attention of your target customers.
Secure the Right Web Domain
The first step in building any website is to secure your domain. Your domain refers to your website address (or URL). For many businesses, it might make sense for your domain name to be exactly the same as your business name with a “.com” added at the end. However, with so many websites in existence, it may not always be possible — particularly if there are other businesses that share a similar name to yours!
You’ll need to, therefore, do some research before selecting your domain. You’ll need to determine whether your first (or second or third) choice is even available, which you can do through a web domain search or hosting website. You can also conduct a search through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which can give you a good idea of whether you might have to settle for a different domain.
As a general rule, you should keep your domain on the simple side and refrain from using hyphens and numbers. It’s typically better to stick to a .com, rather than a .net or .co. Above all else, make sure that the domain is relatively short, easy to spell, and makes sense for your business.
Pick the Best Platforms
Now that you’ve purchased your domain, it’s time to select the right platforms for hosting and content management.
Web hosting services provide the ability for your site to actually be accessed by others on the internet; they basically keep all of your website’s files on a server so that visitors can view everything your site has to offer. In some cases, you may be able to obtain hosting services through your domain name provider, but it may behoove you to research other options. Hosting can come with a wide range of costs, depending on the plan you choose and the capacity you need. Generally, cheaper options will come with caveats, like sharing server resources with other customers or limited support.
You’ll also need to choose your content management system, or CMS. A CMS is a program or application that’s used to design and create your website content. Platforms like WordPress, Strikingly, Squarespace, Wix, and Drupal all fall under the CMS category. The option you choose should provide you with the ability to make changes as needed, as well as obtain support and web security. Keep in mind that your CMS may also provide hosting services and domain acquisition services. While it’s not always possible (or recommended) to take a one-stop-shop approach, it may be an option worth exploring for the sake of simplicity.
Work With the Pros
Now it’s time to move onto the actual design phase. Although there are ways to DIY your own website, these options typically aren’t recommended. They typically produce very basic websites that may not be easy to optimize or create to reflect your brand. Your small business deserves a site that’s truly unique and that will help you make an impact in search results.
That’s why it’s best to work with a web designer or developer who understands your brand and your goals. They may even have connections with a graphic designer, white label SEO company reseller program, or branding expert to help ensure your website and overall identity will attract your ideal customer.
Ideally, you’ll want to work with a web designer or developer who can code a functional and aesthetically pleasing site for you that features compelling images, a speedy user experience, and all the information both customers and search engines will need. It’s a good idea to evaluate candidates using previous work (particularly if they’ve worked with other clients in a similar industry) and to ask them about their process, approach to ongoing support, costs, and timeline before signing a contract. Be sure to read online reviews, as well!
After finding the right domain, platforms, and designer for your needs, you can get to work on designing a great website for your business. While this process will require some time, it’s well worth the investment for the sake of your continued business growth.