Have a Clear Goal
Every small business website is different because every one serves a different purpose. If you want your first business website to be a portal for people to buy products, you need to build it around that goal. If you want it to provide information and entice potential clients to call you, you have to build it with that goal in mind. A website without a clear purpose will only cost you time and money while providing little, if any, benefit.
Write Your Own Content
Before getting started with building your first business website, you should decide, at least in basic terms, what you want it to say. Even if you plan to hire someone to edit or polish it, you know the basic message of your company more than anyone else will.
State Your Purpose Clearly and Quickly
You do, however, want to make sure that the written content of your website isn’t too long-winded. Website visitors don’t often spend a lot of time reading through pages of content just to find basic information. So make sure that the important points about your company and its offerings are very clear and easy for visitors to find.
Tell Customers What You Can Do for Them
It can also help to try reading your content as a potential visitor. A common pitfall is a tendency to focus on what business do, rather than what benefit it can provide to customers or clients.
Utilize Calls to Action
Another way to make your goals very clear to visitors is to utilize calls to action. Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? If so, add a form on your main page. Do you want them to shop through your new collection of products? Tell them so.
Develop a Page Hierarchy
Almost all business websites include at least a few different pages. You might choose to go with a very simple format, including a home page, about page and contact page. Or you might want different pages for your different services, with a main services page that offers a general overview. That’s something you should decide on, or at least consider, before building or hiring someone to build your site.
Own Your Domain
Purchase an actual domain name. Some providers offer free ones that come with extensions. But yourbusiness.com tends to be more professional and easy to remember than yourbusiness.wordpress.com.
Choose a Reliable Host
There are also plenty of different hosting platforms available. We recommend and mainly work with WordPress, which is a great scalable and customizable option. But there are others that you can look into based on the needs for your particular website.
Consider Future Growth
However, if you plan or hope to grow your business quickly, think carefully before choosing a low-cost platform aimed at very small sites. Platforms like Wix and Squarespace can work great for businesses that plan to stay relatively small and use just a few features. But if you ever outgrow them, transferring all of your site content to a new host can be a pain…
Get a Designer You Admire
If you are going to hire someone to create your first business website, choose someone who you think fits the style of your business. One of the best ways to do this is to look at those sites that you admire and see who’s responsible for the design.
Seek Samples and References
Once you have a few names to consider, take a look at their other work and don’t be afraid to ask for references.
Consider the Project’s Scale
However, even if you’ve found some sites you like, they might not have many elements that would be applicable to your own website project. When looking for examples, you should take into account the scale of the project along with the actual design elements. You don’t want to choose a designer based on their work with huge brands that have hundreds of website pages if your project is very small and basic.
Add a Face
One of the common elements of many popular small business websites is a photo of the founder or the team.
Tell a Personal Story
Another way to make people feel more connected to your business through your website is to tell your story.
Set Up Easy Contact
With very limited exceptions, every business website, no matter the type or size, should include contact information. This can be an email address, phone number, address, social accounts, or all of the above. The more ways you give people to contact you, the more likely they are to feel comfortable reaching out.
Always Include a Contact Form
When deciding which types of contact information to provide, a contact form should always be included. Sometimes people are looking to get in touch but they don’t have access to their main email program or just can’t click on your email link for whatever reason. A contact form makes it easy for people to send a message no matter where they are or what kind of device they are using.
Keep Design Elements Simple
Don’t go too crazy with different design elements. Stick with a few colors or textures and don’t add too many different fonts or type sizes.
Make Text Easy-to-Read
Since the text of your site is likely what’s providing most of the relevant information to your visitors, it’s important that they can actually read it. Basic typefaces, like those that your designer or theme are likely to suggest, are best for readability. So don’t go changing all of your fonts to fancy lettering just because you think it looks cool.
Add Valuable Images
Visuals like images can also go a long way for adding interest to your first business website. Some ideas for relevant images include team photos, examples of your work, and even relevant stock images.
Avoid Cheap Stock Photography
However, an overwhelming amount of stock photography won’t really add anything to your first business website. So if you’re not willing to make a small investment in good images, it might be best to just skip it.
Include Customer Testimonials
Customer testimonials can be another great element of a lot of business sites. If your business is brand new, work on getting some quality testimonials first, rather than just publishing bland, generic recommendations. But even a few text blocks from customers can help build your credibility.
Scout Good Images
Including images with those testimonials can increase their prevalence on your site even more. But you might have to work on getting the best images possible.
Add Video Elements When Possible
You can also add video testimonials or other types of video content to your first business website if it’s relevant to your message and high quality.
Insist on a Mobile Site
But no matter what type of content you decide to include on your website, make sure that the site itself is responsive or mobile friendly. Having a site that isn’t mobile optimized can drive away customers, hurt your SEO and look unprofessional.
SEO is a concept you’ll have to keep in mind throughout the entirety of running your website. Your designer should be able to help with the basics at first. But over time you’ll likely want to educate yourself about some of the concepts so that people can easily find you online.
Learn as You Go
Once your first business website is live, the process is far from over. You’ve made a great first step. But a company’s website is never really complete. Add or change elements as your business grows and changes. Adapt to things like SEO and mobile designs. And always remember to keep your customers’ needs and wants in mind when it comes to your first business website.