Starting a business can be scary.
When I decided that I wanted to start my own online retail store, I picked the name, designed the logo, and then thought, “well… now what?”
There are so many factors to consider when creating your business website, from deciding which website builder is best for your business to worrying about how much it will cost to bring your website to life. It can be very frustrating and overwhelming if you don’t know where to start.
But creating your business website doesn’t have to be stressful. Really! We’re here to help demystify online marketing for your small business, starting with the central hub of your online presence: Your website.
How to create a small business website
First of all, kudos for recognizing that your small business needs a website. After all, your customers are expecting you to have a website and many of your competitors probably already have one. In this day and age, not having a website can lead your prospective customers to wonder if your business even actually exists.
And before we get into the action items, let me start by saying, “You can do this!” Seriously, if you’re looking for that final push, well… here it is.
In addition to creating a website for my own side hustle, I also recently worked with Dawn, the owner of La Provence, to update her small business website. I’ll share some of the tips and tricks we used for her site too.
Here are the things you need to consider when creating your small business website:
1. Decide which website builder is best for your small business website
There are many website builders out there that can help you get your website online. Some depend on a basic understanding of code and design while others, take care of that for you.
2. Buy a domain name
If you want to gain credibility online and show customers you’re the real deal, your business needs a domain name. Having your own domain name protects your brand and also helps you rank higher in search results.
Think of your domain name as the web version of your street address. It’s how people will find you on the internet.
So, what should your domain be? When purchasing your domain name, try to keep it as simple and relevant to your business as possible. Make sure that it fits your business, is easy to find, and hopefully easy to remember so customers will keep coming back (and even tell their friends!)
There are some things to avoid when choosing your domain name, such as numbers, hyphens, and abbreviations. And, of course, it’s always important to make sure your desired domain is available for purchase! There’s nothing worse than getting your heart set on a domain name, or even going so far as to grab all of the usernames for this domain name on social media, only to find out that it’s taken already.
For Dawn, her website had long been known as www.laprov.com and we didn’t want to lose that recognition and power in search engine ranking. For that reason, we simply moved her domain over to her new site. However, we did also purchase a secondary domain name, www.laprovencerockport.com, to redirect to her main site as well.
Once you’ve purchased your domain name, it’s time to move on to the next step.
3. Design a logo
If you don’t have one already, now would be a great time to create a logo for your business.
Your logo is one of the most important parts of your brand’s visual identity. It provides a visual and virtual representation of your business. Whether it’s on your website, social media, signage in your store, employee uniforms or more, it is often the way customers are easily able to identify that something is related to your company.
If you already have a logo for your business, now would be a great time to gather all of the files into one place for ease of use.
4. Create your website content
When people visit your website, they are looking for answers to their questions. Your website should have at least three pages: a homepage, your About page, and a Contact page.
Think of the homepage as the front door of your website. This is where you get to make a good first impression and showcase what your product or service is all about. Remember — people don’t have a lot of time, and opinions about your website are made in only 0.05 seconds (!!!) so keep it clear and concise.
An important question to keep in mind when creating your homepage is “who is it for?” This applies not only to your site but to your business in general. If you serve a specific group or industry, make sure that it is apparent on your homepage. You can convey this via imagery or text (or preferably, both).
Finally, make it clear what you want your visitors to do next. Are you trying to drive sales, get them to call you, or sign up for your email list? Your homepage shouldn’t be the last page they visit or the last step your visitors take.
For La Provence’s website, sales are the main goal. As a result, we focused most of the buttons on driving traffic to the online shop. The homepage outlines what La Provence is, what they offer, and what sets them apart from their competitors. Plus, the imagery helps bring the quaint, whimsy of the physical store onto her website.
Your About page
Every small business owner has a story. Why did you get started? What problem are you trying to solve? Why is your business important to you? Your About page is where you should tell this story.
Talking about yourself can feel awkward or forced sometimes. However, sharing your small business story helps potential customers or supporters learn about you in a way they may not have a chance to otherwise. It tells them why they should care about what you do and what makes your business different from all the rest.
Be sure to share photos and videos too, if you have them. Despite being a familiar face here at the Constant Contact office, Dawn at La Provence isn’t a big fan of being photographed or sharing pictures of herself. While we recommend having a picture of you and your team on your About page, we opted to showcase La Provence’s iconic front door instead. Alongside the image, Dawn shares the background story of how the shop got started, how she became the owner, and where you can find the shop.
Your Contact page
There is really only one reason for a Contact page: to allow your customers to get in touch with you. It’s important to be clear on what the visitor should expect when they contact you. When will you get back to them? What are you hoping they’ll submit? What information is important for them to include in their message?
It’s a good idea to also include information regarding where customers can find you and when they can reach you. While most people will likely take advantage of your contact form, some people may need an immediate answer and would prefer to call or visit you instead. Including your address, hours, and phone number on this page will help ease that process.
5. Test your site before promoting it
It’s always a good idea to get a trusted second opinion.
When you’re working on something for your business, it’s easy to overlook things that may seem obvious to you but aren’t as clear to someone who is just learning about your company. Showing your site to a trusted confidant and asking them to click around it is a great way to gather information on how someone may move around your site and which things they may get stuck on.
For example, when we were working on Dawn’s website, we realized that while some of her repeat customers may know what “Le Cadeaux Melamine” is, new customers who are looking for beautiful French plates may not think to click on that. For this reason, we used the store category feature to nest these products under a “For the Kitchen & Home” heading, allowing them to be discovered by new customers and repeat customers alike. Things like this can be easy to overlook when you don’t test your site first.
6. Get your new site out to the world
It’s finally time. The moment has come.
You have to click publish.
I know, I know — It’s scary. But think about how amazing it is that your customers will be able to see your beautiful new website no matter what device they are using. They will be able to make purchases from your small business even when your door is locked and you’re fast asleep at home. You can literally start making money while you’re dreaming.
Once you are comfortable with your new site, it’s time to get it out to the world. Clicking publish isn’t the final step. After all, you want people to know about your new website, right?
Once your website is live, it’s time to tell people about it. Consider sending an email to your contacts announcing your new website and share a post about it on your social media accounts. Scream it from the rooftops — just maybe not literally.
7. Maintain your small business website regularly
Now that your website is published and has been revealed to the world, you need to make sure you are properly maintaining your website. Have your hours changed due to the season? Are you offering new products or services this month? Do you have a new promotion going on? All of these things would be reasons to update your website.
Want to take your small business website to the next level?
There is always room for improvement. Learn more about A Mobile-Responsive Website’s Role in Your Marketing Strategy.