Make a small business website
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Unleashing the full potential of your small business often requires a compelling online presence. However, you might be thinking, with tight budgets and no room for expensive web designers, how can you achieve this? We hear your concerns and we’re here to show you to make a small business website on your own.

Crafting your own business website is not as intimidating as it might seem. With an abundance of user-friendly, budget-conscious website builders at your disposal, even a beginner can create an attractive and effective website, no previous experience necessary.

In this article, we’ll guide you step-by-step through how to make a small business website in just nine easy steps. By the end, you’ll not only have a fantastic website but also have gained valuable skills that can save you money and add to your business prowess.

Ready to tap into your untapped potential? Let’s get started building your site today!

Here’s an overview of what we’re going to cover:

Pro tip:

Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to register for web hosting, make sure you take advantage of one of the Bluehost links sprinkled into this tutorial. Doing so means that two things will happen: (1) we’ll receive a small commission if you sign up through them, and (2) you will unlock a $2.75 discounted price with a free domain as well. This special reduced rate is not available if you go directly to the Bluehost website by typing it in your web browser (or via Google).

What to consider when making a small business website

When creating a website, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. You’ll need to consider your goals before you get started, so that you can implement design elements and tools to achieve your objectives.

For instance, a dentist’s office would need a completely different website than an architecture firm. Whether you want to inform visitors about a brick-and-mortar business or conduct sales online also significantly influences how your site should look.

When starting the process of making your small business site, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What information do you need to communicate to your site’s visitors?
  • What actions do you want visitors to take after they view your site (e.g., buy products online, come to your brick-and-mortar store, request a quote)?
  • How will you display your products or services?
  • Do you need an online portfolio of past work to demonstrate your value to potential clients or customers?

You should also think about the expected traffic to your website. If you want to sell products online, you may receive a lot more attention than a local business that relies on in-person sales. Your needs in this area will influence which platforms and hosting providers are suitable for your site.

How to make a small business website (in 9 easy steps)

Once you have a clear direction for your website’s goals, you can start digging into the process of designing and building it. Here are nine key steps to help you launch your business’ online presence:

Step 1: Choose your website building platform

When embarking on your journey to create a small business website, the first critical decision is choosing the right platform.

It’s similar to picking the foundation for your house; the better the foundation, the stronger and more customizable your structure. 🏠

WordPress stands tall as a leader in this field. Being open-source software, it’s completely free to use and powers 43.1% of all websites on the internet. It offers an astounding level of flexibility and scalability, with thousands of themes and plugins available that allow you to design and extend your site’s functionality to your heart’s content.

Quite frankly, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned web developer, WordPress offers a solution that can grow with your skills and business. 👍

However, alternatives such as Squarespace and Wix are worth mentioning, too. They provide user-friendly, drag-and-drop site builders that can be perfect for those who prefer a more guided, all-in-one solution. While these platforms may lack the customization freedom that WordPress offers, they still make creating a professional-looking site achievable.

In conclusion, while platforms like Squarespace and Wix are suitable for quick and simple websites, if you’re planning for growth and crave control over your site’s look and feel, WordPress is undoubtedly the best path to take.

👉 In the next section, we’ll show you how to use WordPress to set up your small business website from scratch.

Step 2: Pick your domain name

Your domain name should ideally align with your business name. If you’re unsure of which name you should choose, there are several online generators that can provide you with some inspiration, such as DomainWheel:

The DomainWheel domain name generator.

Here are some tips to take into account when deciding on your website address:

  • Make sure it’s easy to spell.
  • Keep it as short as possible.
  • Include keywords relevant to your business.

We also have some posts that go into more detail on choosing a domain name:

Don’t worry about purchasing your domain name yet – you’ll be able to register your domain name when you sign up for hosting (in the next step). Or, if you want to use a tool like Squarespace or Wix, you can also purchase your domain name through those tools.

Step 3: Find your hosting provider

If you decided to go with an all-in-one website builder, you can skip this step. WordPress users should keep reading.

There are several excellent beginner-friendly hosting companies you can consider. Our top pick is Bluehost, which is officially recommended by WordPress.org:

Bluehost

We recommend Bluehost for various reasons. For example, its hosting packages come with the following inclusions:

  • 24/7 customer service and support
  • A free SSL certificate
  • A free domain name for the first year of your plan
  • Access to a user-friendly dashboard
  • In-built security features
  • WordPress optimization features

The cheapest Basic plan starts at just $2.75 per month. This package is usually sufficient for small websites, but you can easily upgrade as your business grows.

Step 4: Install the WordPress software

Again, you can skip this step if you’d rather use an all-in-one website builder such as Squarespace. However, if you’d prefer to use WordPress and a hosting company, you’ll need to install the software to use the Content Management System (CMS).

Bluehost features an intuitive dashboard and one-click WordPress installation. If you opt for this hosting provider, you can install the WordPress software quickly and easily.

Go to your Bluehost dashboard and click on My Sites from the left-hand menu. Then, select Add Site > Create New Site from this page:

Installing WordPress with Bluehost.

You’ll now see the option to install WordPress or start working with Bluehost’s website builder. Click on Get started inside the WordPress box:

How to install WordPress with Bluehost.

You’ll now be prompted to enter a website name and tagline. When you’re ready, hit Next:

Creating a new site with Bluehost.

You’ll then need to enter your email address and create a password for the new WordPress site. Then, the installer will start downloading and installing the WordPress software.

When that process finishes, navigate to My Sites again. Hit Manage Site underneath your website name and then select Log in to WordPress:

Logging into WordPress with Bluehost.

This process may be different, depending on your chosen hosting provider. Therefore, we recommend referring to your host’s official documentation. You can also check out our official beginner’s guide on how to install WordPress on your site.

Step 5: Select a theme or template

WordPress and Squarespace offer tons of templates (or themes) that you can easily customize. Many of them are free to use, too.

In WordPress, you can access free theme options from your dashboard by navigating to Appearance > Themes:

Viewing free themes in the WordPress dashboard.

Once you Install and Activate the theme of your choice, you can customize it. Alternatively, you may want to consider a premium WordPress business theme like Neve Pro.

Neve comes loaded with over a hundred pre-built starter sites, including ones specifically made for various types of small businesses. Many of them are even available in the free version of Neve as well (the Pro-only ones are marked on the bottom right of each starter site):

The Neve theme starter sites library showing business website templates.

On the other hand, Squarespace lists all its templates directly on its site. You can preview each one and click on Start With This Design once you’re happy with your choice:

How to make a small business website with Squarespace starts with choosing a template.

Then, you’ll land straight in the editing area, where you can customize almost all your site’s elements. We recommend reviewing any changes on the front end to make sure that they look good.

Step 6: Install plugins, extensions, or apps

Plugins (in WordPress), extensions (in Squarespace), and apps (in Wix) can add new features to your website. Without these tools, you may struggle to get the most out of your small business site.

You can browse Squarespace extensions from its extensive library. With WordPress, you’ll have access to more than 60,000 plugins. Wix on the other hand offers a little over 500 apps on their app market.

With so many options available, it might be tempting to install as many plugins, extensions, or apps as you can. However, doing so could slow down your site and affect its performance.

Therefore, we recommend focusing on plugins/extensions that address the following areas:

  • Performance and optimization. Having a fast-loading website is an important goal for most website owners. As such, you may want to consider optimizing your site’s performance with caching and database optimization. The WP-Optimize plugin can handle all of those tasks. For best-in-class image optimization, check out Optimole.
  • Security. We recommend opting for a plugin that can protect your site against spam, hackers, and other malicious actors. For example, Sucuri Security is an excellent all-in-one solution that has a free and premium version.
  • Backups. Database and file backups are essential in case something goes wrong with your website. As such, you might consider using a plugin such as Updraft Plus to handle these critical tasks.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO can make your small business website more visible and help you attract new customers. We recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin to help with optimizing your content. It’s the most beginner-friendly choice. If you’re a little more tech savvy and would like some advanced options, then you could also try RankMath, which is a great Yoast alternative.
  • Ecommerce. If your small business has an online store, you’ll need an ecommerce plugin to handle your sales. WooCommerce is one of the best choices for a WordPress website. Here’s our guide on how to install WooCommerce and set it up properly.

When choosing plugins, extensions, or apps we recommend opting for tools with high ratings and regular updates. You can also read other users’ feedback to see if the tool will be suitable for your needs:

WooCommerce reviews.

You can refer to our guide on installing WordPress plugins. Alternatively, you can check out the reference material for installing extensions on Squarespace.

Step 7: Add your content

As you customize your website, you will likely want to add content almost immediately. Before you do that, it’s wise to have a rough structure in mind.

Most business websites will need the following:

  • Homepage. This will be the first thing many visitors see when they come to your site. It should give a short overview of your services. Furthermore, it should include clear navigation to other sections.
  • Products, Services, or Portfolio page. This is where you will showcase your work and describe what you have to offer customers or clients. Don’t forget to include calls-to-action.
  • About page. In this section, you’ll include your story or share information about your team. This helps build trust. Customers are more likely to do business with you if they see there are real humans working behind the scenes.
  • Contact page. Ideally, you’ll want to include a contact form and encourage customers to get in touch if they have questions. Make sure to also include links to your social media profiles.
  • Testimonials page. If you’re familiar with Dr. Robert Cialdini’s principles of influence, then you understand how much testimonials can boost your bottom line. Never underestimate the power of social proof.
  • FAQ page. Answering commonly asked questions not only alleviates some workload off of your support staff, but it also creates less buying friction for customers. You never know when a person is only one question away from making a purchase. If you have an answer ready for them, then you have a customer that might have otherwise left your website.
  • Blog. Although not a hard requirement, it’s strongly recommended to run a blog because they make an excellent content marketing tool. Plus they allow you to position yourself as an expert and thought leader in your industry or niche.

WordPress and popular website builders all enable you to easily create pages and add blog posts. Therefore, you have the freedom to curate your content as needed.

Step 8: Optimize your website for search engines

Once you have content available online, you still have to make sure people can find it. SEO is one strategy that can help with that.

SEO is the practice of refining your content so that it is more likely to rank high on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). There are a few key practices that you should keep in mind, such as:

  • Using appropriate keywords in your posts and pages
  • Optimizing your website for speed
  • Picking a responsive design so that your content works on all devices
  • Including internal and external links throughout your site
  • Using post names in their permalinks

If you chose WordPress as your website platform, you can install an SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO, which scans your content and suggests tips for improvement.

Some website builders offer similar tools. However, it’s always smart to follow this SEO checklist.

Step 9: Publish your website

Many website builders enable you to keep your site private while you’re building it, then publish it once it’s ready for visitors. With WordPress, your site will be visible to the public as soon as you’ve installed the software on your hosting account.

Regardless, before you start promoting your website, there are a few last-minute checks you might want to make:

  • Preview how your website will look on mobile devices to make sure it’s readable.
  • Read through your content to make sure everything is accurate.
  • Remove any filler content from your theme or template.

In order to start driving traffic to your new site, you might consider reaching out to existing customers to let them know you’re now online. You can also promote your website on social media or via email.

Small business website FAQ 🙋

What elements should a small business website include?

A small business website should include the following key elements:

  • Clear and compelling homepage: Introduce your business and highlight key offerings.
  • About Us page: Share information about your business, its history, mission, and values.
  • Products/Services page: Showcase your offerings with clear descriptions, images, and pricing if applicable.
  • Contact information: Include a contact page or section with your address, phone number, email, and social media links.
  • Testimonials or reviews: Display positive feedback from satisfied customers to build trust.
  • Call-to-action buttons: Encourage visitors to take specific actions like making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or contacting you.
  • Mobile responsiveness: Ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices for a seamless user experience.
  • Simple navigation: Make it easy for visitors to find information with clear menus and a logical site structure.
  • Visual appeal: Use high-quality images, a consistent color scheme, and a clean design to make your site visually appealing.
  • SEO optimization: Implement basic search engine optimization techniques to improve visibility on search engines.

Remember, these are just the essential elements. Depending on your business, you may need additional features or pages tailored to your specific needs.

Should a small business website have a blog?

Although it’s not an absolute requirement, there are lots of benefits to running a blog as part of your small business website.

First, it lets you create and share valuable content related to your industry, products, or services. This helps establish your business as a knowledgeable and authoritative source, attracting potential customers and building trust.

Furthermore, having a blog can contribute to search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Regularly updating your website with fresh, relevant content through a blog can positively impact your search engine rankings. Search engines value websites that consistently provide valuable content, potentially leading to increased organic traffic.

In addition, a blog provides an avenue for engagement and interaction with visitors. It allows them to leave comments, ask questions, and share their thoughts, fostering a sense of community and building relationships.

Lastly, blog posts can be broken down and repurposed as content for your social media channels, driving traffic to your small business website and increasing its visibility.

With all that said, it’s crucial to consider your resources and commitment before starting a blog. In today’s competitive blogging landscape consistency is key but consistency requires resources that you may or may not have – or that could be better utilized on other aspects of your business.

How much does it cost to maintain a website for a small business?

Maintaining a website for a small business incurs costs that can vary based on factors like the chosen platform and specific services needed. There is also the initial startup cost to consider, which will likely be different from the ongoing maintenance cost. Depending on the platform and provider you choose, the startup cost could actually be cheaper than the maintenance cost due to promotional rates for new customers.

Although the market is filled with a plethora of options for small business owners to build their online presence, three of the most popular ones are self-hosted WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace.

For WordPress, you’ll need to buy a domain name (~$10.00 to $15.00+ per year), sign up for a hosting plan (~$3.00+ per month), and possibly purchase a premium theme along with some premium plugins (~$10.00 to $150.00+ per year). Overall, your low-end baseline costs in the first year should be about $15.00. This figure will likely double in your second year, but it could be even more depending on the needs of your business (i.e., if you invest in a premium theme, upgrade to a dedicated server, etc).

For Wix, you’re looking at anywhere from $0 all the way to $159.00 per month. Squarespace will charge you from $16.00 to $65.00 per month. Since both Wix and Squarespace are designed to be “one stop shops”, you won’t need to pay anything extra for hosting. Domain names are also included in the price, but only if you pay up front for the year. You might also spend some additional money on Squarespace extensions or Wix apps (these are the equivalent of WordPress plugins).

Conclusion 🏁

An online presence is paramount if you want to reach a wider audience. Outsourcing web developers may not be within your budget if you’re a small business owner. Luckily, with beginner-friendly platforms such as WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix, you can build a website in no time and save some money in the process.

To recap, here’s how to make a small business website in nine steps:

  1. Choose your website building platform.
  2. Pick your domain name.
  3. Choose a hosting provider (we recommend Bluehost).
  4. Install the WordPress software.
  5. Select a theme or template (we recommend Neve).
  6. Install plugins or extensions.
  7. Add your content.
  8. Optimize your website for search engines.
  9. Publish your website.

💡 Don’t forget to take advantage of the exclusive Bluehost discount we set up for you, our readers, so you can lock in a preferred rate for your small business website and get a free domain name on top of it.

Do you have any questions about starting your small business website? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Dilli Raj Dhiktt
December 28, 2023 9:25 pm

Thanks your valuable information, I am thinking last 10 years to making my business website and mobile app, but still my mind has getting more opportunity for making it. and relising more idea’s.!

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