It's no longer feasible to run a business, even a brick-and-mortar one, without a web presence. Consumers turn to the internet for everything from pro
It’s no longer feasible to run a business, even a brick-and-mortar one, without a web presence. Consumers turn to the internet for everything from product research to location and operating hours. Having even a simple website that’s well-designed can give you an edge in your field, and if you have products to sell, your site can open up new markets and expand your business cheaply and easily.
Website design software has evolved so it’s easier to use now more than ever. You don’t need to know coding to develop an attractive and functional site. No matter what program you use, there are basic rules and tips that will give your website a professional look, make it easy to find, and show your company in the best light.
1. Determine the primary purpose of your website
A business website generally serves as a space to provide general information about your company or a direct platform for e-commerce. Regardless of whether you create a simple website that tells a little about your company or a more complex e-commerce site, the most important thing you must do is say, on the home page in plain terms, what your company does. Do not make customers root around to discover if your company can do what they need.
2. Decide your domain name
Your domain name is one of the most important features of your website. It’s the URL you’ll be sharing with your current and potential clients and promoting on social media. Therefore, you want it to be descriptive and easy to remember and type in. Try to keep it short, and steer clear of abbreviations, acronyms and numbers if possible, to avoid customer confusion.
You also need to decide your top-level domain, or TLD. This is the suffix at the end of your domain name, such as .com, .net or .biz. However, nontraditional TLD names have grown in recent years. While these can be descriptive, .com is still the default. Read our article on choosing a nontraditional TLD for more information.
Once you’ve selected your domain name, you’ll need to confirm its availability and purchase it through a domain registrar. Don’t forget to check copyrights to make sure you’re not infringing on anyone else’s protected name with your website. If your preferred URL is already taken, you can call the company and ask to buy it from them.
3. Choose a web host
Every website needs a “host,” a server where all of the data is stored for the public to access at all times. As a small business, hosting your own website is simply too large an expense, so you’ll need to select an external host.
Depending on your budget, you can follow two different routes. A shared web host, the least-expensive option, means you’ll share a server with other sites. Dedicated hosting costs significantly more, but it means that you get your own private server and won’t have to compete with other sites that could drag down your speed. For help choosing a web hosting service, visit our buyer’s guide.
4. Build your pages
A good website is more than a static home page. You’ll want to create multiple pages dedicated to different aspects of your business, such as a detailed catalog of your products or services, or a blog section for company updates. As for your overall website, you want to be sure each page supports the primary goal of the website, has a clear purpose and includes a call to action (e.g., learn more, sign up, contact us or buy this).
A contact page, your customers’ direct link to you, is one of the most important sections of a website, so make sure you include as much information as you can (phone number, email address and physical location, if applicable). It’s also a good idea to include information about the founding team or staff on an “About” page to help customers put real names and faces to your brand.
If your business doesn’t already have a logo, hire a graphic designer or create a logo yourself to use on your website, business cards and social media profiles. This will help your clients identify your company quickly and easily on the web.
Be clear about what your business does. Distill what your business does into a clear, concise statement and lead with that. Visitors should be able to understand what you do within seconds of landing on your home page. A few well-written pages are more effective than dozens of poorly written ones.
Place strategic calls to action. Call-to-action buttons tend to perform best when they match the information on the page. For example, a “Buy Now” button makes sense on a product page, but not on the About page. Rather a “Contact us to learn more” might be more appropriate. Likewise, a page listing customer reviews might have a button that takes the reader to the available plans and pricing.