How To Create A Small Business Website That Stands Out

If you own a business and don’t have a website yet, then you should really consider building one. The truth of the matter is that you can’t afford not to have one. According to many surveys, more than 81% of customers look online before making a purchase. So it is a simple equation, if you are not online then you’re losing on a lot of new business to your competitors.  Let’s face it, you probably use the internet to find out more information about various businesses too, right?

Creating a website is a necessity for small businesses, entrepreneurs, home-based business regardless of your other marketing methods. Enabling your customers to learn more about you or find you through a Google search is key to growing a business.

Gone are the days when you can only rely on word-of-mouth or having your business listed in the Yellow Pages. While some of these old methods can be effective to a certain extent, having a proper website is much more effective at attracting new customers. Your website can easily help you get more customers throughout all stages of the acquisition cycle, such as when someone:

  • Retrieves your contact information to reach out to you
  • Wants to learn more about your business and what you offer
  • Performs a search on Google and finds you

The situations on how you can benefit from having a business website are endless.

You already have a million things on your to-do list and adding a website creation to the list can be overwhelming. We know that building a new website for your business can be a daunting process, particularly without technical expertise and a potentially expensive one if you don’t have the right information. This is why we created this guide to show you what you need to get started in building your business website.

Are Online Website Builders A Good Choice?

The best way to build a small business website varies from business to business. There are a lot of options out there and they all have their own sets of pros and cons.

So, what’s the best place to start when looking to build your company and establish yourself as a formidable leader in your space?

Website builders are one of the popular options. They are a cheap way to build a website that doesn’t require coding skills. They are usually visual templates that are easy to use but they have a set of cons (more on that in a minute).

They offer a variety of templates for a range of different industries. You just need to pick the one you like and add your own text and images. You are not starting from a blank slate which makes it very easy to get a website up in no time. They are usually geared towards people who need a portfolio site, associations, photographers, and other similar business.

Also, there is no such thing as a perfect website builder for every business if you’re looking to make a website. Some website builders will work better for some people and for some they’ll not be a viable option. Website builders like Wix and Weebly are a decent option for new entrepreneurs looking to get skin in the game without breaking the bank. They are also a viable option for businesses in the startup and beta-testing phase.

website builders

When searching for the best website builder, you want to find a balance – the software that has a broad set of functionalities but is also easy to use. A good website builder offers a variety of website templates, offers a shopping cart service if you are selling products online, provides a domain name, has responsive templates, and has a good pricing structure.

As with everything, there are cons associated with them that you need to know before you sign up for any of them.

The first issue is that you do not own your website. No matter if you go with Weebly, Wix, Squarespace or whichever software, you cannot take your website with you because it’ll not work outside of their platform. You simply don’t own the website code, content, or the website itself. If you leave, then you have nothing to show for and you’ll have to start from scratch which will be very time and resource consuming. Some platforms even take the ownership of the domain name and basically force you to transfer it to their domain registrar.

All platforms also have very limited compatibility with 3rd party plugins. Plugins are used for promotions, website maintenance, and adding features. You will need a plugin to integrate important functionalities like email marketing, social media, customer feedback, referrals, and so on. Due to the proprietary nature of website builders, you are limited to only plugins that are available on the platform. This can severely limit your ability to add new and important functionalities to your website.

These platforms offer premade starter templates that provide a starting point for the website but are often outdated or broken. Often, there are issues within their templates that can cause problems with your website. What’s worse is that there is simply no way for you (or anyone else) to know this ahead of time

website builder starter kit

All online website builders have poor SEO capabilities. It is very common for them to be unstructured and have messy code which is damaging to your on-page SEO (which is critical if you want to rank high in Google). One of the main drawbacks of those platforms is that you don’t have control of the code, just design. Google prefers websites that are organised well in a certain hierarchy and following Google’s rules is key to ranking high on the first page of search results. SEO is definitely the biggest downfall of website builders.

Yes, some of them offer SEO basics but that’s pretty much it. Not only are these websites full of bloated and outdated code that you can’t optimise or change, but you also can’t add a plethora of important SEO things that are needed to help your website rank well.

Branding is such an important aspect of the business so you simply can not afford to go with suboptimal solutions and hope that it’ll be just enough to get by.

Overall, online website builders are not very suitable for any professional business. Business websites need to have proper SEO coding, professional features, and quality design because first impressions last. No one will ever visit your website again if you have a cheap looking design with limited functions (or if they can not Google it in the first place!).

Are There Better Options Out There?

But what if you need more help? What if you want to avoid all the cons of website builders but you don’t want to learn how to code?

When it comes to creating and managing new websites, WordPress is everyone’s go-to tool. WordPress was created over fifteen years ago as a platform for publishing content but its now so much more. From small blogging sites to the biggest online corporations and retailers, WordPress powers a diverse range of websites. It has rightfully earned the title as the most capable CMS (content management system) ever created.

The task of having to build an entire website from scratch for your business is a little daunting (especially if you don’t have experience with design and development).

small business website

By getting experts to design your website, you are capitalising on the expertise of the team building the site for you. They will advise you on the optimal solution for your website and how to make sure it will advance your business. That way you don’t need any technical skills and you only need to know what you want to be built.

Your business is very specific in what it does and your website should be similar. When a visitor comes, they should be guided towards a specific outcome. An experienced designer will be able to pick your main goal and write a plan that puts everything in perspective. A good website should represent your business accurately because every business is specific and has a different personality. Your website should subscribe to the same vibe as your business and the right web design agency will be able to achieve this for you.

A good website should be an effective sales tool as well. The website should be able to guide visitors through all of the steps towards purchasing your products or services. Even if a visitor is reading an article on your website, they should be able to find your products with ease. A good web designer will create a website that is not just nice to look at, but rather one that will actually sell your products or services to all visitors that land there.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Pre-Built Themes And Custom Design?

If you go with WordPress, you’ll have access to many pre-built themes made by various developers. Some are decent, while others fall short. Your website is a representation of your business so you’ll need to select the best option here.

Pre-built WordPress themes are affordable so why not always use them? Well, there are several considerations to keep in mind. Firstly, businesses need the flexibility to change their design at a moments notice and to make it their own. Third party themes make it difficult to alter their default design. Themes are designed to fit into a small number of scenarios and your businesses’ needs weren’t on their mind. Any attempts to altering the pre-built theme will result in poor usability, crippled layout, and huge compromises. With all pre-built themes, it’s difficult to truly make it your own and you just wind up wanting to use a feature that is not there or wanting to make a change that would fit your business.

Another drawback of pre-built themes and websites is the bloat – theme development companies that are selling these themes at a high-volume need to add features that don’t matter to you. This adds unnecessary bloat and slows your website down. On the other hand, when you use a professional agency to build a custom theme, they’ll make sure that only the features you need will be implemented. This will result in a faster website and we’ve already talked about how Google rewards faster websites.

Clean code is very important for the functionality and performance of your site, not to mention it affects how Google looks at your website. While some pre-built themes look good on the surface, most don’t look great under the hood. Theme developers get away with this because their buyers are people who are not likely to spot bad code.

A custom WordPress website is a great investment for your business. In 2018, it’s not enough to just have a website but rather it needs to be well designed, user-friendly, and constantly updated. Companies that don’t follow this rule are losing a lot of business – research shows that 38% of people will completely stop engaging with a website if the layout or content is unattractive.

Having a custom design is a great way to distinguish yourself and build a lot of value while pre-built themes have cookie-cutter designs that do not use any originality in the design. The more attractive the pre-built theme is, the more likely that tens of thousands of other websites have purchase the same one. Also, while there are some industry-specific themes out there, they still are not as specific to your business as they should be.

A custom WordPress website is one of the best ways to get a step ahead of the competition. You are offering similar services or products as your competitors so having a great website is a great way to separate yourself in the eyes of potential customers. A good design is proven to establish more trust in the mind of consumers. Having a custom theme will give you a professional image and everyone knows that first impressions are everything. Overall, having a custom WordPress website designed by a professional agency will allow you to have exactly the website you want and that can react to changes in your business.

The Key Elements Of A Small Business Website

A small business website can have a lot of different elements and traits, but to be a successful one it should check off the following elements. WordPress ticks all of these boxes as it comes with a very clean code that is built on a modern platform.

 

Website Speed

Human attention span is getting shorter each year, but what does this mean for you as a website owner? You have little time to convince potential customers to stay on your website and a slow website means that they will potentially leave before it even loads. On the internet, just fractions of a second can make the difference between a sale and disappointed visitor.

Website speed has a direct influence on conversion rates, chances of a visitor returning, and customer satisfaction levels.

Not only that, but Google is penalising slower websites and pushing them down in the search results! That means that your site’s speed has a direct effect on SEO and it could lead to losing new customers from impatience and reduced rankings in Google.

 

Cross Browser Compatibility

If a website is not properly coded (or if you use online website builders), then cross browser compatibility will be an issue. This means that your website won’t work with certain browsers. Not only that but certain elements may behave in an abrupt manner which will lead to a bad user experience. When a website is fully cross browser compatible, then it’ll look the same way in all the popular web browser without any errors.

Having a website properly custom designed in WordPress means that it’ll be cross browser compatible. Every browser will render pages differently, so it’s important to make sure your site will work the same in your visitor’s browser of choice.

 

Mobile Responsiveness

Not everyone is aware that mobile traffic surpassed that of desktop computers. Even though you might only use a desktop computer to access your website, it doesn’t mean that your users do the same.

Also, Google is penalising websites that are not mobile-friendly and will rank them lower on their search result pages. With WordPress, your website will be fully accessible on smartphones and tablets since the theme will be responsive. WordPress is perfectly prepared to thrive in this mobile era because the software is built on technology that modern mobile devices have no problem with.

mobile responsiveness

Security

One of the reasons why WordPress is so beloved and popular are the security measures the developers take to ensure that sites stay safe. WordPress is constantly updated along with its plug-ins, ensuring that any security holes are patched right away.

The makers of WordPress do everything possible to make the platform as safe as possible. In fact, they are employing top 25 security experts whose job is to keep the platform safe, and they are doing that in cooperation with leading hosting companies and security researchers. Their expert team constantly monitors any incoming issues and are pushing out security patches if necessary. This combined with having a good web designer and developer working on your website will reduce all security risks to a bare minimum.

 

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

Just creating a website is not enough to make it stand out and be found on Google. You want as many eyes as possible on your website and there are a lot of ways to drive traffic to your site but SEO is one of the most effective.

In order to rank it on the first page of search results, you’ll need to implement SEO practices. Fortunately, WordPress is the perfect platform for SEO and Google loves it. Even out of the box WordPress is very SEO friendly and search engines like Google tend to rank websites that use WordPress higher than those that don’t. The reason why is that its framework makes it easy for Google’s spiders to crawl it and index your pages so they are listed on Google.

By choosing to go with WordPress for your website, you are making a great choice from an SEO perspective and that is crucial to ensure the success of your business.

Conclusion

One of the hardest things about launching a new website is choosing the web design agency. With so many agencies out there, it can be a daunting task to figure out which one to go for, especially because the future of your business depends on your choice. Having a bad or cheap looking website will reflect poorly on your business so you want to avoid that.

To design and build a proper custom website requires web design agencies to possess a broad range of skills. They need to know how to build a website that supports your business goals and that requires an understanding of digital marketing, SEO, business strategy, user experience, and great design. The agency you choose needs to have proven knowledge in these areas, along with a long track record of applying these skills.

Look at their past clients and portfolio. Every established web design agency will plenty of previous clients. Their portfolio should give you a clear picture of whether they pay attention to development and design, or if their services are complete or not. Make sure to find an agency with a solid portfolio and who’s work is done having client’s needs in mind.