How To Build A Website For A Small Business
If you’re a small business, you know that a website is a great way to reach your customers but coming up with a website that speaks to your business’s skills and specialties isn’t always a simple task. There are a number of things a small business website needs in order to successfully represent your business and give customers a place to learn more about you and contact you. When coming up with a concept for your site, it’s possible to fall into a lot of the traps that website design promises for the uninitiated. In order to avoid these traps, we have some guidelines that can help you get your website up and running without a hitch.
1. First Impressions: Making A Website That Fits Your Brand
An aspect of web design that is often easy for the small business owner to overlook is branding. Of course, you want a website that looks good, something modern and easy to use, but what does this mean for your customers? And how do you ensure it fits in with your brand, while not breaking other rules of website design?
Decide ahead of time how this website fits into your brand. If your brand is friendly and exciting, make sure your website is friendly and exciting—without detracting from the ease of use or navigation. Make it simple for your clients to reach their goal, whether that’s finding information about what you do, or quickly contacting you. Although the website has to fit your brand, it has to fit your consumers’ needs.
2. How Should Your Website Look?
Based on your branding and what you want the site to portray, you can plan the look of your site. Look at other sites that you like, and you can determine different elements you’d like to use in your site. You should have a professional designer help you with including the elements you need while keeping your site unique, modern and easy to use. Choose colours, images and styles to convey your brand.
Statistics show that 38 percent of visitors won’t engage with a website whose layout or content is unattractive. This is why it’s so important to make sure you have a good understanding of what you want and to use an intuitive design that people like and is easy for them to use.
Things to keep in mind:
- Your site should be fast and it should work on mobile
Sites that aren’t fast and accessible on mobile are sites that simply won’t get as many visits. Particularly for local businesses, mobile website design is important because people can look you up when they’re out and about, or simply browsing from their phone.
- It should be beautiful and easy to use
Your website has about 10 seconds to make a good impression. If you don’t make good use of it, potential clients will leave. That’s why it’s great to tell them you’re professional, organized and modern, all with one glance. This is where expert graphic design comes in.
- It should represent you and your brand
Your colours, your logo, and your general vibes should all be present on your website. Keep your brand consistent, and make people feel the same way entering your site that they do when they want into your store, or when they call you.
3. Write Content For Your Site Page By Page
Have you got a lot of information you think needs to go into the site, but you’re not sure where to put it? Or maybe you know you need a site, but don’t know what belongs where? A great solution for this confusing issue of content and what goes where is to look at other websites in your industry. Do they tend to include certain information on certain pages?
It’s not about copying your competitor’s sites, but it’s about determining what information you need to include and where it should go. A lot of clients come to us without any content for their site, and no idea what to include. On the flip side, we have a lot of clients who feel compelled to include every single unique selling point of their product or service in every possible space on the site; it’s great to have this passion, but a lot of information can be overwhelming to your clients and you really only have to convince each client once for each purchase. Your site content should help you do that. Here are our suggestions for the average small business website (this list doesn’t include e-commerce).
Designing Your Home Page
Your home page should give the client an overview of your business while strongly representing your brand. It should take no more than 3 clicks to navigate to every single page on your site from the home page, but ideally, it should only take a single click to get the client where they want to go.
The home page is a complicated page to write for because it needs to include a lot of your points but remain succinct. Important things to include on the home page are:
- easy access to contact information (an email submission form as well as your phone number)
- eye-catching imagery showcasing your work
- an outline of what you do and your services
- your portfolio and/or testimonials
- a good reason for them to contact you
Writing An About Page
Who are you and why do you do what you do? What makes you a great choice for your clients? It’s always a great idea to include a little bit of a backstory of your business and how it came to be. We’ve had clients tell us all about how their business started and why they were passionate about it, and although you may not find it interesting or remarkable, these are the stories people love to hear. Ultimately, it is the people behind your business that your clients choose because they believe they will get the best product or service from you.
Gathering Testimonials for Your Review Page
More testimonials? Yes! It’s always great to showcase why people like your business, and having a whole page dedicated to that is a great sign to prospective customers. If you’re interested in collecting more testimonials on your site, we can help you set up a form so you can collect and approve testimonials and customer feedback for your site.
Writing Your Services or Products Pages
You should have a page for each of your products and services. These pages will clearly define what you offer and how it will solve the customer’s problems. Check out one of our Service pages and you’ll find a few key elements about our services. Because we’re offering specific services that require a lot of client input, we tell our clients each of the following things:
- What the service is
- What they get out of the service
- The steps we take to provide the service and whatever we might need from them
- Our process and why it is effective
- A clear call to action
In order to sell our product, we always include the information our clients require to decide whether they need to contact us. Along with that information, we offer them a place where they can contact us either by filling in an online form or calling us.
Designing a Contact Page
The contact page is really simple. It’s just another place where people can reach out to you. You want to make it really easy for people to convert on your site, so providing a button to get to a contact form on each page is great, but it’s also important for people to land on your website and have access to a contact page where they can see all your contact information, including phone number, address, and of course your contact form. Different people will use your website in different ways. You must fulfil expectations so that people can find what they’re looking for wherever they’re looking for it.
Other optional pages you might want to include on your website are:
- A blog where you can update customers on things happening with your business, or in your industry. This is a great place to include news and keep your website up to date for SEO purposes.
- A chatbot. This isn’t really a page, but it is an important element of your site that you can include to make it easier for people to find information or to contact you.
4. Insert Content Into Your Site
Put all the content you wrote for each page into your site. Then the content will have to be styled into the site with your images, text, titles to fit into your overall website. When you’re doing this make sure that pages are laid out in such a way that it’s easy for your customers to read and digest the content. It also has to be attractive to them. The text should be broken up into manageable pieces. The contact information and menu should be easy to find right from the page. One of the most important things about design is meeting expectations. If someone clicks on your logo at the top left of your page, they probably expect to be taken to your home page. If nothing happens, they may get frustrated and close your website.
5. Get a Domain and Hosting
Make sure you’ve purchased a domain and have a reliable place to host the site so that once your site is live, you have a live URL and a place that will keep your site live and stable so that it is always ready when your customers are. A domain is the URL you need for your site. It should fit your branding as well, and if it’s available, it should be the name of your company.
You should also be mindful of the fact that there are multiple URL suffixes available for your company’s URL. So, for example, you could purchase “mywebsite.com”, but you should also make sure you have your bases covered by purchasing “mywebsite.ca”. That way, no one else can purchase it and try to sell it back to you for thousands of dollars.
6. Have Your Site Launched
You’ll need to double-check your site and make sure everything is ready. Ensure nothing is broken and that everything is in the correct place. It’s a good idea to also double check your content with a spell checker.
Unless you’re hosting your own site, you’ll need whoever is hosting your site to set it up on their server and launch the site. Test it once it’s live so that you’re sure everything is still working correctly.
7. Set Up Your SEO
Search Engine Optimization is an important part of any website. It not only helps you rank your site on Google and get more traffic for your site where you wouldn’t otherwise, but it also helps you to ensure your site fits in with Google’s best practices. When you can do that, then you are able to provide a better website for your clients. Google’s knows what people react positively to due to the millions of pieces of data that they have access to. Ensure you meet your customers’ needs by getting your site set up for SEO.
8. Keep Your Site Up To Date
Working on your site doesn’t end once it’s launched. After your site is initially set up, you’ll want to make sure it has all the security, usability and SEO features it needs as technology advances. SEO and digital marketing do advance pretty quickly, so it’s a good idea to make sure someone is on top of your site, aware of all the new updates as they become relevant. You also want to make sure you have new content relatively frequently and that old, dated statements don’t sit on your site for too long. For example, if you have industry statistics from 2017, you should probably update those now with 2019’s statistics if possible.
It may seem like a complicated process, but when you work with a professional web design company, they can help guide you along each of these steps. It’s also incredibly important to have a site that meets today’s users’ high standards, both for desktop and mobile. For 48% of people, a website’s design is the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business. Ensure your website makes you look modern, credible and professional. Ask us for more help with any of these steps to ensure your website is what you need to help your business make money.