- Website builders with premade templates simplify the design process and make web design approachable for small business owners
- Leave a lasting first impression with a value proposition and call to action on your homepage
- Optimizing your site for SEO can help lift your site in search rankings and drive traffic to your site
In today’s digitally connected world, every small business owner or startup benefits from an online presence, including a business website. A professional, informative website will draw in new customers to help you grow your business, making small business web design crucial to success.
It can be intimidating to design your own website, especially if you’re not a web designer who knows programming languages like HTML and CSS. But with the right tools, launching your small business website can be easier than you think.
Follow these five steps to learn how to build a site from scratch—without an expensive web design company or extensive development knowledge.
1. Choose a website builder
The first step in small business web design is choosing a website builder that works for you. While many small business owners have unique expertise in their field, they often lack the web development skill set needed to build a website from scratch. Thankfully, a range of tools and options exist to help you build your custom website—it all depends on your web design experience and budget.
Many business owners use a content management system (CMS) to build and manage their website. A CMS is a type of software that enables anyone to create, modify, and manage their websites without having extensive technical website design experience. These can come in handy especially when building e-commerce sites, which have many moving parts that are easier to manage with a content management system.
For those who don’t have the technical know-how to design a new website from scratch, some helpful options include:
- Flexible, user-friendly, and thousands of available plugins (customizable components) to customize your site. Also has extensive online support where you can post specific questions and have them answered by skilled technicians in no time. You’ll just need to manage and maintain the technical aspects of your site on your own.
- Price: Averages $11/month, depending on domain name, hosting, plugins, and security
- Offers an array of high-quality and beautifully designed site templates to choose from, but the design process isn’t as intuitive as other website builders.
- Price: From $12/month
- Over 500 templates to choose from; perhaps the easiest site builder for beginners and an ideal option for e-commerce sites, but advanced customization and editing tools are limited.
- Price: From $14/month
2. Pick a domain name
Deciding on the URL for your small business website is another crucial, early step. Known as a domain name, your website name is what your customers will type in to search for your website, so it should be short, memorable, and unique.
When choosing a domain name for your small business, use the following criteria:
- Keep it short. Short domain names are easier to remember and prevent misspellings.
- Use a “.com” extension. Since more than 50% of all domains across the web have “.com” extensions, search engines give higher rankings to these sites.
- Stick to the alphabet. Numbers, hyphens, and other symbols can be confusing and difficult to remember when promoting your domain name.
- Stay relevant. Make sure your domain name is relevant to your business or industry.
- Be memorable. Make sure your domain name is catchy enough to stick in the head of consumers.
Popular domain names may come at a higher price. Typically, generic domain names with geographic connotations—like ChicagoDentist.com—are more in demand. Make sure to check the availability and pricing of your desired domain name beforehand. Domain names generally cost between $2 and $20 per year.
3. Connect website hosting
Next, connect your domain name to a website hosting service to make your website fully functional. Website hosting enables people to see your website secure and live on the internet.
Most website builders give you hosting options with your monthly subscription, which simplifies the building process and makes it easier to take your site live.
4. Create your small business web design
To leave a great first impression, your professional website should have a polished design, simple navigation, and an intuitive user experience. It should be organized in a way that gives you the best chance of converting visitors into new customers.
Consider including the following individual pages on your site:
- Products or services
- About us
- Contact information
For the best user experience, focus on one call to action per page, which is the action you want the customer to take in that moment—like reading more about a specific product or filling out a contact form. The more choices a visitor has, the longer they’ll likely take to decide.
To extend the time of your visitors’ sessions, organize your content into digestible sections with subheads and bulleted lists. The easier your content is to read, the longer people will likely stay on your site.
Pro tip: Be sure your landing page—likely your home page—is set up to convert. Visitors should understand the value your business provides as soon as they land on your site. Include elements like:
- Your value proposition, a brief and punchy statement that tells visitors how your business can benefit them and why you’re different from competitors
- Design elements that are consistent with your brand, including your logo, color palette, typography, and more
- Impactful imagery; use pictures and graphics to tell the story of your business and build trust and authority
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5. Adjust site for search engine optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of adjusting your website to improve your rankings on search engines. As a small business owner, SEO should be a central component of your digital marketing strategy. The higher your website is listed on online search results, the more visitors you’ll receive to your site.
A few simple tweaks to your site can improve your rankings on search engine results pages. When populating your site with content, use keywords or phrases that are relevant to your industry and that people are actually searching.
You can use a free keyword research tool to find keywords that have high traffic in your area. For example, if you are marketing your landscaping company, use terms like “local lawn care” or “discount landscaping in Austin” to capture online users searching for this service in your area. Once you have your list of high-value keywords, incorporate them throughout your site.
Search engines also give preference to sites that display keywords in certain places of your site, including the following:
- Page title: This is what you name each page; it will show up as the title in search results as well as on the tab at the top of users’ browsers
- Web page URL: The URL is what users will type or see within their search bar in their browser
- Within the first 100 words of content: Include high-traffic keywords within the first 100 words of every page or article that’s featured on your site
Visitors also expect a website with fast load times, which you can maintain by minimizing the size of your images and compressing file sizes. Make use of a variety of free image compressing tools.
Take your small business to the next level
Designing a small business website may seem complicated, but with the right tools, it’s an attainable feat. With a strong domain name and small business web design, you can create a site that’s optimized for both SEO and your ideal customers.
Pro tip: Once you’ve launched your website, be sure to claim your free listing on Yelp and add your website to your Yelp Page. This will help generate more traffic to your website, and it’ll also give you another platform to market to potential customers.
To take your marketing strategy a step further, you can look into free online advertising ideas.
The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.