If you are a small business owner or a marketing agency expert, you will always be asking yourself "How do I promote and increase sales of the business?". Today, the answer often involves websites. Websites are widely used to promote one’s business. Almost every successful and the well-known company has a website. Think of a big brand, corporation, or even a clothing company you know. Google their name. They probably have a website, right? That's the online face of their business—and in a world where people are more active "online" than "off," that face is essential to business success.

There are several reasons for having a business website—providing crucial information about your products/services to potential buyers, the location of the stores, communicating to the market about your latest marketing campaign, and more. So your business clients definitely need a website in order to keep their head above the water.

A website is considered to be a very effective tool to connect your business with the potential customer. For that reason, the first task of a newly established business's marketing team would be to set up a website. The average revenue for a small business is $3.6 million, but the average revenue for a small business with a website is $5.03 million (Source).

However, setting up a business website from scratch is easier said than done. Even for digital marketing agencies, building an effective website fast is not an easy thing to do.

In light of all these, here are 10 steps to answer your question "How to set up a website for small businesses"!


Table of Contents

1. Domain Selection and Registration
2. Select A Trusted Hosting Provider
3. Find a great Content Management System
4. Use WordPress as your CMS
5. Plan Your Content Strategically
6. Your Business Philosophies, Value, and Mission
7. Design Your Website
8. Avoiding Errors—Technological Errors
9. Avoiding Errors—Clerical Errors
10. Full Website Setup and Launch
Conclusion


1. Domain Selection and Registration

In short, registering a domain name can enhance the credibility of your website on the Internet. At the same time, your domain name can help build up your brand identity.

top tld usage stats

Your domain is like your street address on the internet, and you can’t get visitors or create a website without a domain! A good domain name is the first step to gain brand trust which will lead to higher conversion (sales).

When registering your main domain, I would also recommend that you register all the related domain extensions (.net, .org etc). This will protect your own brand identity from other parties who want to copy yours. Therefore, I will say choosing and registering a domain name for your website is the single most important thing to start with.

How to Register a Domain

There are many domain registrar companies available where you can buy your preferable domain. For example, GoDaddy is one of them. You can go to their website and check a domain name’s availability in their Domain Name Search column.

After selecting a domain name that is available for use, you can follow the procedure listed out in the website to register it—it is just as easy as flipping your hand.

Note: Godaddy offers up to 70% discount to register the related domains when purchasing a new domain.

2. Select A Trusted Hosting Provider

After buying a domain name for your website, you’ll need a hosting service to host your website. Hosting determines where your website really sits on the internet. Where are your website files living for people to access them through the internet? A hosting service provider will give you a virtual space to upload your files, bandwidth to load your website every time a visitor arrives on your site, and many other things. Check out the image below to see how hosting works.

how web hosting works, hosting processes

Image Source: Whoishostingthis

Choosing a hosting provider can be a difficult task. You will need to consider and balance between the services they provide as well as the costs they charge. The key things to look for a good hosting are: bandwidth, SSD storage, domain uptime, backup system, server response time and cost.

Usually, the costs hosting provider charges will be a monthly payment, so it will be a long-term stable expense.

For fast, secure, reliable Google cloud-based hosting services, check out Vendasta's Website Pro.

Which Website Hosting Option To Choose For Small Business Websites

You’ll find hundreds of hosting providers if you just simply just “hosting service” in Google. But the question is who do you trust? And which one is ultimately beneficial for you?

In this case, I would recommend Website Pro for hosting your business clients' websites. Obviously, I’m a little biased here, but the reason I’m suggesting it here is that Website Pro is specifically built for small business websites. Managing website hosting, Cpanel, and FTP is a complex job. And for a digital agency with dozens of websites to manage, it's a nightmare. That's the real beauty of Website Pro. All the complex management is taken care of by our in-house support team, so you can focus on-site building.

It is also powered by Google Cloud Platform which makes it more powerful. Thus your website will be lightning fast. Plus, I haven’t seen any other hosting option that fast with unlimited SSD and database storage.

3. Find a great Content Management System

A lot of you may be wondering: what is a content management system (CMS)? A CMS is a web application that can help you with the creation, editing, and management of digital content. Different CMS have quite varying features, but most of them will include web-based publishing, content format management, media library and usage, plugins/add-ons, and much more function.

In short, a CMS serves as the backbone for you to create a website and publish content effectively.

Importance of Using a Content Management System

There are couple of reasons why you will need to install a CMS. The very first is that a good CMS will help you to manage your full website. It’s far easier to create, publish, and remove a page via CMS than manually editing your website code. Most of the CMS options also create SEO-friendly static URLs automatically (Learn more about static URL here).

Plus, many of the most popular CMS  support thousands of themes and plugins which will help you to create a unified look and feel for your online brand, and make your website user experience more pleasant and streamlined for conversion.

Suggested Reading: No Devs Necessary: Why You Need a White Label Website Builder

4. Use WordPress as your CMS

Ok, so, which CMS should I use? This is a good question, but potentially a tough one to answer. After all, you only need one CMS, but there is a swamp full for you to choose from. To name a few, there's WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Wix, Weebly, Medium, and Tumblr.

cms usage statistics

Our personal recommendation is also the most popular—WordPress. 74.6 Million Sites Depend on WordPress (ManageWP). This is often regarded as one of the best CMS options available in the market (both the Vendasta blog and main website are hosted on WordPress!). It is very easy to use—and this is important if you are not an expert on creating websites, or want to create fast effective websites for your clients. The learning curve for WordPress website management is very easy, and you'll get used to its interface and be able to make quick changes to your clients' websites in no time.

WordPress also has tons of plugins that allow you to collect, analyze, and use your business website’s statistics. This is particularly important for a business, as after interpreting the data, you have can reveal a lot about your market and industry.

Make Your Site Mobile Friendly

The icing on the cake of WordPress is that it is mobile-ready, and you can easily optimize your website to have AMP pages through WordPress plugin. Many people nowadays may surf the net using their phones instead of using laptops or a PC computer. As of today, 50% of online shopping is done on a mobile device (Website Stats). So, if your website does not support using phones, then it will be a huge pity as it means loss of huge potential traffic, sales, and reputation. Therefore, I am sure that you will be happy using WordPress as your CMS.

Select A Good Theme

To set up your website in WordPress, you will need a theme. Selecting a good theme may be one of the very few decisions for you to make at the early stages. Typical CMS options provide many themes for you to choose from. It's easy to find a theme that has easy customization options to really make the site your own and avoid the struggle of making manual code changes. Although, you may feel like having a theme related to the business.

Your theme choice is all up to you—after all, the content and the smooth operation of the website is more important than the theme right?

Resource: The best place o find premium WordPress theme is ThemeForest

5. Plan Your Content Strategically

After getting the necessary systems and domain name, you can actually start designing your website! The first thing you will need to decide on is what content to add in your website.

Imagine if there was a website with an overload of information and paragraphs upon paragraphs of words and text. How would you feel? Bored or even headachey,  right? That’s the point.

Do not just include everything about your businesses on your website. While it is called a small business website, you should know that its size should also be small, and more importantly, user-friendly.

An ideal small business website needs to be down to earth and enough user-friendly so that the local customers will feel free to engage and convert. Therefore, do not bother to write 1000 words service description and jam your homepage with texts. It may be cruel, but you need to know that actually, no one is interested in it.

What should you include on your website?

content strategy

There are several items that you basically must include on the website, like what your business is about and what products you are offering. The trick here is that you need to remember that the aim of the small business website is to catch the attention of a user and turn them into your customers. Therefore, you NEED to put things that will interest customers on the website, and place it in the center of your webpage so they can see it.

Ask yourself: which products are the most interesting or which one is the key service that represents your company? Make sure that messaging is loud and clear, front and center, so it's the first impression the users get of your business. (And make sure it isn't just a pushy sales pitch, either!)

Suggested Reading: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Landing Page

You must also include important technical information about your business, and by that, I mean how customers can contact you. Assume that you successfully capture their attention and they want to either purchase your products or just contact you to ask for more details about the plan. To do so, they will need the essential information to find you, or else all your effort will be spoiled. Therefore, include a clear section of "Contact Us" or "Contact information" in the website so that the customers can make follow-up actions.

6. Your Business Philosophies, Value, and Mission

business philosophy, mission and goalApart from your brand name and logo, perhaps the next things that can be used to distinguish you from other competitors will be your mission and the core philosophies of your business. What does your brand stand for? That crucial "heart" of the business is what consumers can connect with and become not only new customers but brand advocates for you.

A study from Xero found that “20% of the pages we assessed still left us with no idea what the business does”. So, you need to include your philosophies, values, and beliefs in the website because the market needs to know it. Knowing the positioning of your company can help customers make the tough decision of which brand to choose from.

At the same time, your business values or the missions of your company can also help you with developing your brand identity. This again is a branding thing, and this will affect how the market sees you as. For example, do you consider yourself as a provider of high-quality products of the industry? Or that you focus on the lower-end of the spectrum and provides the product with low costs? Or are you ambitious enough to say that you will satisfy both?

Related Reading: How to Sell Website Services to Local Businesses

You actually need to have one focused business philosophy, whether it's customer services, or product, or costs, or something else. And then you will need to communicate it well to the customers. What is a good way to communicate it to the customers? Well, we are talking about ways to set up a business website from scratch, so use your website!

On a lot of business websites, the company will have a separate section for their business ideas so that customers can fully understand what the company is doing and planning to do. If you do not want to create a separate webpage for that, you can alternatively include it in the "About Us" section. That works too.

7. Design Your Website

Now is the time to let your inner artist (or hired designer) loose! It is the moment for you to utilize your artistic talents and really design the website. We're talking about creativity, which means that there is no fixed formula for creating a beautiful site that your target audience will connect with. Why not? Beauty is subjective! A study shows that website credibility is judged 75% on the site’s overall design.

However, you will need to know that the main purpose of the website is not to show off your artistic talent, but to communicate information of the small business to the public—unless of course, if your business is related to fashion or design, then a nicely designed website will give viewers confidence on your skills.

Related Post: Website Content 101: Why Ugly Websites Finish Last

Which Color To Choose For Your Branding?

beautiful web design color

Image Source: Onextrapixel

You can start by coming up with a theme for your small business website. The proper theme customization will help you set the framework of the design of your website. Do some research and try to understand the taste of your audience. Then design your wordpress website accordingly.

For example, if your philosophy is that you pay attention to the corporate responsibility of the business, then you may use warmer colors to indicate the loving and caring nature of the company. On the other hand, if you want to tell customers that you are fashionable and chic, a black or bold background color may serve the purpose well.

There is just no shortcut to understanding your user’s taste. So, all you require is research, trial, and errors. Do A/B testing and try different versions of the design. Then asks your partners, staff, or friends to provide feedback. Collect the feedback from users and then make refinements to the website. This may mean a long time is needed, but the time will be worth it to create the perfect website for your user base.

Suggested Reading: A Beginner's Guide To AB Testing

8. Avoiding Errors—Technical Errors

This can be hard if you are a novice, but you must try your very best to avoid technical errors with your website. This is because viewers will quit visiting your website if they land on a faulty page, or experience technical issues while exploring what your business has to offer.

There are mainly two types of problems or errors that I am talking about.

The first one is technological errors of your website. For example, when they click on the section of "products" and nothing happens with no redirection (no link). Or when they click on "About us" and it takes them to a 404 page. This is a coding error in your website and this can be easily made, but of course if can also easily be fixed.

The second type of error is the clerical error, which I will cover in the next section.

One of the most common occasions for this type of error is at the language column. While a lot of small business websites allow users to change the language of the website so that they can cater the needs of more customers of different places, the options or buttons do not always work. And sometimes, it just shows half of the page as translated. Which can be frustrating for a user and that’s not a good sign for your business.

Suggested Reading: Speed Kills: How to Audit and Improve Your Website’s Speed and Performance

How to find out all these errors?

Again, you will need a couple of trials to make sure that all the web pages, buttons, and intended functions are working properly. Most of the time, manual checking and auditing is enough for a small website. But if your website is big enough and you need to scale the auditing process, I would recommend trying WebCEO and ScreamingFrog.

9. Avoiding Errors—Clerical Errors

Another type of silly errors are the clerical errors—be it typos, spelling mistakes, or grammatical errors. The implication of this is that the creator of the website and the business itself is not willing to spend the time to proofread or edit the content. If this is the case, then how can you persuade them that you will pay enough attention to cater for their needs? At the same time, you will be seen as an unprofessional business, and your brand and goodwill will be negatively affected. Therefore, these types of errors matter.

The way to eradicate this trouble is, of course, proofread and proofread, but how can you do it effectively? You should be hesitant to rely solely on yourself to proofread your website content. This is because all of us have the blind spot that we cannot detect, so I would recommend you to pass the content around for your teammates to proofread so that all the mistakes and problems can be revealed.

You can also use Grammarly— it’ll proofread your writing in real-time. I would recommend you to purchase the premium membership as you can also use it on other occasions for your business, like replying to important business emails or creating new written content.

While there are a lot of methods, there is only one goal—to be 100% sure that your website is free of silly mistakes.

10. Full Website Setup and Launch

website launch, launch new website

Image source: dbifarm

Yes, you’ve guessed it right. We've finally arrived at the final step, which is to launch your website! Before you finally make your website public, as I have said many times before, run through the website several times to see that all the functions and areas are working as intended. And I mean all of the websites. Please do not just test the home and service pages where you think most viewers will visit, but ignore the others. You need to test each and every single webpage on your website to make sure that they are totally free of error. Again, the differences between good and bad small business websites lie in the details.

After several testing and if you are satisfied with your website, then BINGO—it is good to go!


Conclusion

The steps to create a good business website may be complicated, and you may be tired of all working tediously through them. But you need to remember the importance of such a website to your business—it will promote your brand identities and attract customers—and more importantly, it is nearly free except the hosting fee! What is better than that if you can get more people to know about you by nearly spending nothing?

After reading this article, I hope you will have a clearer picture of how to create the best small business website from scratch, and I am confident that if you follow the steps properly, your business website will be a successful one.

If you're building websites for your small business clients, grab our 10 step bulletproof workflow to get started successfully.

If you have any question, ask me in the comment section below. I’d love to know your new website journey.