Hi and welcome to our complete guide for creating a small business website. If you’ve never done it before, it can be a daunting task. Luckily we’ve made it as easy as possible to see if a business website is really right for you, how much it costs and how long it takes to get started.
The only thing to note is that for selling online we have a complete guide for creating an ecommerce.
So, let’s open with the big question:
1. Why does my small business need a website?
Well, it’s a bit like if we lived in the 1950s and you asked: why do I need a physical storefront to run my business? As you can imagine, having your name on a high street window has huge advantages, regardless of what kind of services you offer.
Now of course you could just rely on word of mouth from local clients and customers. But as a business owner, if you want to grow your company over time, a website -like a physical storefront- helps in a number of ways:
- It clearly shows what your business is about.
- It helps gain visibility and customers.
- It’s a great promotional tool, which can be easily shared.
- It allows you to engage with customers and clients.
- It makes your contact information available for people to find you.
- It lends credibility and makes you look professional.
- It allows you to sell goods directly online (when it is an ecommerce).
2. Ok I’m convinced! Now What?
Time to decide what kind of website you want. To make things simple, we have divided them into two categories: simple websites, and complex ones. Which one you need will greatly influence how expensive it is and how long it takes to build.
|Type of website||Simple||Complex|
|Number of pages||1 – 20||1 – 100|
|Templates||Ready-made. Limited customization options||Ready made or full customization available|
|Time frame to completion||3 – 7 days||Several weeks or even months|
|Budget (rough estimate)||$7.50 to 15 per month||$800 to $1,500 if you hire someone to do it. Plus per $6 to $25 month|
|Hosting||Included (Cloud hosting)||You need to buy your own web storage|
|Services you can use||Wix, Weebly, or Duda||WordPress, Drupal or Joomla|
As you can see, for the simple website category it is best to use a website builder such as Wix (see review), Weebly (see review) and Jimdo: These are great tools for simple informative websites. So a page that shows what you do and where to find you (although you can, of course, do a lot more too). They are quick to setup and extremely easy to use. They tend to be easier to manage because they let you buy a domain name, web hosting and professional email all in one place. Some of them even offer them as all-in-one packages. Duda (see review) even goes one step further and offers tools for multilingual websites.
Then you have other solutions for more complex projects. These are called Content Management Systems (CMS) and you might have heard of one called WordPress. They are best if you are building a serious website where you want full control of the look and style, the ability to scale over time, and other advanced options like multiple languages. They also require more technical knowledge – or at least enough free time to scan through all the community forums to find answers!
3. I have a list of things I really need for my website. Can I add them?
Technically, yes. But it might be easier and cheaper with some solutions than others. In any case, the most common must-haves for a business website are:
- your own domain name (e.g. www.your-biz.com)
- email accounts (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org)
- professional looking web designs
- SEO features (for better ranking with search engines)
- mobile-friendly templates
- contact forms
- email marketing options
- social media integration
- technical support
- option to add an online shop
Our overview of the main website building solutions below should give you a good idea of where to start.
4. What are the best website builders for small businesses?
Here we’ll show you a few of the most common alternatives to build a website with. As you’ll see they all have pros and cons.
Wix: The most popular website builder. The templates and designs look great, there are tons of them focused on various industries, and they give you greater customization options than Weebly. They are very business-oriented so they offer cool tools like Wix Bookings (to accept online appointments and bookings) or Wix Restaurants and Wix Hotels. Here again you can add your own domain name and pro email, but it costs extra. Read more about Wix in our review.
Weebly: Probably the easiest website builder thanks to its drag and drop system. The templates look clean and professional. You can customize them by changing the position of certain elements on your page, but you won’t have complete creative freedom there. You get a free domain name the first year. If you want a professional email address, you can get it through G Suite (Google’s business emails) but it costs extra. Find our review here.
Jimdo: A great all-in-one solution that is easy to use which includes an online store, blog and mobile app. Jimdo packages are decently-priced and the website building is done with responsive a web design that look good on every device. However, the number of available templates in this website builder is somewhat limited. You also lack in extra functions and add-ons because there is no official app store. For details about the pros and cons please take a look at our full Jimdo review.
WordPress: Best for complex websites of 20 pages or more (for example a multilingual website). The service is free, but you need to buy your own web hosting. It requires technical knowledge and doesn’t have official support. You have complete and unlimited customisation power if you spend some time learning how to install plugins and add-ons. But be aware that’s more difficult to use than a website builder, for example, no drag and drop features. Learn more about WordPress.
Small Business Example Websites
And we’ve also created a little graph to help you refine your choice:
5. What about the legal stuff?
Ok we’re not legal experts, so if this is a big deal for you, please make sure you consult a lawyer. But generally speaking, there are 3 things you need to do when creating your small business website:
- Register your business: The simplest form of business is the sole proprietorship, also known as sole trader. You need to be 18 years of age to do it.
- Give clear Terms and Conditions: This is where users can see what they must do and mustn’t do. It will generally detail: important keywords, user rights and responsibilities, use of the website, and more if you are creating an online store. While it may not be required by law, it can limit your liability should a website user take you to court.
6. Any other tips I can use?
Yes! While we specialise in helping people choose their perfect website building solutions, we’ve seen enough sites over the years to know what works and what doesn’t.
- Create a professional website that also stands out. If you do a minimum of research on your competitors, you will probably see a lot of business websites in certain fields look the same. It’s good practice to try and make yours pop a little!
- Branding is everything. And we don’t just mean having a cool slogan. You can really create a strong voice for your website by using high-quality images, good fonts and getting a professional logo made.
- Show your human side. A picture of you or your team goes a long way. Remember that you’re building trust with your users, and people like doing business with people, not anonymous brands.
- Offer quality content. Avoid empty business jargon and stock photos. It takes a bit of time and effort, but make sure you proofread your text and mix your media (using images, video, graphics etc.). Check out this copywriting guide for more information.
- Social media links and contact forms are always good. They create trust and let users communicate with you easily.
7. Oh, how do I attract visitors?
Good question. This is a vast topic with multiple answers. But generally speaking there are two ways to attract them to your small business website:
- Through paid traffic: this is where advertising comes into play. You can use AdWords, Facebook ads or similar marketing services.
- Through “organic traffic”: this is what people call it when visitors come from your social media page, a link in your marketing email or SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
And by the way, SEO is a big, big thing in website marketing, so make sure you check out our complete guide to make the most from it.
8. Thanks for all that! Anything else?
You’re welcome. And yes, if you want a more in-depth look, we have also written an ebook you can download here – for free.
If you still have questions about what is the best website builder for small businesses, leave us a comment and we’ll help you choose.
So thanks for reading and start building!