In this day and age, it’s no longer practical to run a business without an online presence, even brick & mortar businesses. More and more are turning to the web for lead generation/service booking or direct sales online, known as eCommerce. It’s equally important to create a business website in order to stay relevant while increasing visibility.
Local businesses such as dentists or lawyers can really benefit from even a simple website with basic details about their company and services. This makes it easier for potential clients to find them and more likely to get in touch. With less people wanting to talk on the phone, a simple contact form on your site can increase the likelihood of someone making an appointment or requesting a quote.
Retail stores can also take advantage of having a website and offer products for sale online. There is certainly more that goes into an eCommerce site or one tailored for services, but it can definitely pay huge dividends. Taking a retail store online increases the footprint from local sales to potentially worldwide sales.
How to Create a Business Website
The quickest route from wanting a website to actually having the final product is through using an experienced web development and design agency that knows the process and has the experience. There are “drag & drop” style web builders for those who want to do it on their own, but they lack the flexibility required to create something unique and they can also be quite complicated to use. Additionally, having a lowbrow cookie cutter appearance (theme) will degrade the value of your brand and bring the product or service quality down.
We strongly suggest you invest a little of your budget towards a decent website, as it will act as a face of your brand for your customers and the entire internet to see. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s worth considering the amount of time that would be drawn away from the business while attempting to self build a site (opportunity costs). Ultimately it can save some stress by working with a professional and the final product will almost always be better.
Website Problems Small Businesses Face
For those who are thinking of building a website on their own, let’s think about some of the common website problems that a small business owner can face. Unless your company is tech focused, odds are that a lack of specific experience with the platform and general web-building will be your biggest hurdle. From HTML to website hosting, there is a lot that goes into the design and development of a site.
Then you need to consider the ongoing maintenance associated with running a website, which can take up a lot of valuable time. Another issue can be the budget, and since it’s new territory, forecasting costs may not come easy. It’s never fun to come up short on cash when the finish line is in sight, as that can be very disheartening.
Lack of Technical Knowledge
The most obvious hurdle when building a website is lacking the knowledge for the technical skills or knowledge required to build one. This should make sense, considering that web programmers go to school for 4+ years and then typically intern for another 2-4 years before really grasping the skill of coding, and even longer to master that skill set. In fact, many web programmers have been using code since they were in middle school.
Little Budget for a Website
Money is always a factor somewhere throughout the process of building and growing a small business. If your website requires a unique design with loads of functionality, it can be very expensive to build a site (over $20,000). On the other hand, the DYI options are enticing, but they often lead to lackluster results and you never truly attain your original vision for the website, as you’ll frequently find yourself “settling”. So if you have the available funds, working with a company dedicated to web development and design is an investment into the future that is worth seriously considering.
Finding the Best Web Design Company for You
If you decide to choose a website design agency, the next step is finding the best firm to bring your vision to a reality and at a reasonable price. Ideally, it’s advantageous to find a full-service web development and marketing company that can handle every aspect from launching your site to managing it to promoting it once live. An all-in-one package means a more consistent final product than trying to piece something together across multiple agencies who may maintain different visions.
After you find the potential firm(s) that you could work with, start doing some research. Find the companies up on Yelp and similar review sites to get a sense of their past work. Sort with the lowest rated ones on top, so as to analyze the worst situations first. And look for responses from the business to get an idea of how they handle adversity.
Create a Business Website for Small Businesses
Just because you’re classified as a “small” business doesn’t mean you can’t dream big! With that being said, keep in mind that the more features a website has, the longer it’ll take to launch. The price will also likely go up with the increase in functionality, so try to limit any unnecessary upgrades when possible.
What Do You Need In a Website?
When you create a business website, it generally serves one of two purposes; 1) provide information about a company or 2) offer products/services for sale (eCommerce). Information based websites are easier to get up and running, but they still have their basic challenges. Required functionality such as email address capture, pop-up alerts and on-site chat all need to be integrated with your website to make the site serve it’s desired purpose.
An eComm site will require a payment processor as well a CMS (Content Management System) platform that can list products for sale and a shopping cart system. These types of websites are considerably more daunting when it comes to building and we strongly advise using an experienced professional or fim to build.
Get a Domain Name
If your business name is unique, this should be pretty straightforward. Barring that it’s not too long, simply use this as your domain name. Just know that shorter URL’s are generally better for SEO (search engine optimization) so avoid a domain over 14 characters if you can. Plus it’s easier to remember when the domain is not very lengthy.
More commonly named businesses may have to get creative when choosing their domain name. Perhaps some form of an acronym or other abbreviation to mix things up. Keeping the length in mind, aim to keep it as close to the business name as possible and always use a .com (versus a .net or similar).
Build the Web Pages
A homepage is the obvious starting point of any website and from there, a virtually endless amount of pages can be created. An eCommerce site will likely have far more pages than a lead generation or service oriented one because of the products. Having said that, it’s not always the case though, as there are definitely single product retail sites that are essentially a few pages.of information. But generally speaking, there are various brands on a retail site which break down into product pages. Depending on the amount of brands and how many individual items you offer, there could potentially be thousands of pages. That’s a lot to handle without an army of employees or some external help to organize and execute all of that product onboarding and maintaining.
If the site is intended to provide company information and capture emails through a contact form, it shouldn’t require many pages. Consider your industry to determine what pages might be specific to your site. A restaurant for example may want a page specifically for taking reservations. Then there are the standard ones such as About Us and Contact Us that you’ll find on nearly every website.
Test and Launch Your New Website
Once the website design and development is finalized, is it time to launch? Not quite. It’s crucial to put the site through extensive testing before going live to the public.There is nothing more embarrassing than having a client point out an error or a bug on your website. It can tarnish a brand.
When working with an experienced developer or firm, they’ll ensure that everything is thoroughly reviewed before the launch. No stone will go unturned, including the more technical stones that you may not have known about. This is a huge benefit for utilizing a professional service.
Digital Marketing Challenges of a Small Business
With the site fully tested and pushed live, it’s time to start promoting so your customer base is aware of the launch. If your company has an existing list of email addresses, that is a great place to begin. Take advantage of all available resources first as a cost effective way to get your marketing started.
Google Ads is an excellent avenue to quickly get your business in front of a larger audience. Anyone can sign up, but it’s very easy to throw away money if you’re not familiar with the platform and how to maximize ad spend. When dialed in properly, specifically targeting keywords and locations mean that you’re only reaching leads who are seeking out your products or services. And that’s money well spent.
Managing a Website and Running a Business
So now that you’ve learned how to create a business website, what’s next? The process of designing, developing and launching your site is not the end, but really the beginning. There will be ongoing optimizations and content updates to keep the information relevant. Creating a calendar will help with planning for the future while providing a system to stay on track.
The daily management of a website can be a full time job, which can be a lot to handle alongside running a business. Don’t let the day-to-day slip by shifting all of your attention to the website. To get the most of this new investment, we recommend working with a website management service. Focus on business growth while your website essentially runs itself.