Explicit Instructions on How to Make a Website for a Small Business
You must be wondering how to create a small business website. Technically, it is easy. With the advanced contemporary technologies, you can even do it automatically.
Yet, if that is so simple, why is web design still considered a promising career path? Naturally, it takes more than uploading everything into one template to craft a convenient and converting platform. So, let’s see how you can overcome all the obstacles and get a fascinating site for your company with no experience or coding skills.
Table of Contents
Figuratively, you are building a virtual home for your company, and the process is pretty similar to the one that you would go through if you were moving into a new apartment:
- You have premises to store all your stuff (it is your hosting). Naturally, the more space you occupy, the more you pay for it.
- You get an address (it is your domain name). If you are at least vaguely familiar with how real-estate works, you can guess that some will be more prestigious and recognizable than others.
- Website builder equips you with the necessary tools to arrange, furnish, and decorate the place as you wish. Typically, you plan vital aspects like where the kitchen and bedroom will be or whether you want a bathtub or shower stall. It might be wise to apply the same principle here.
Thus, if you want to host your guests in a comfortable and pleasant place, it is better to approach the preparation process with the gravity it deserves. Here is the list of things that you need to possess or set up before you fully immerse into the process:
1. The basic concept of your vision
If you have the skills, you can just draw it. But if you do not, simply try to visualize the style and layout. Furthermore, you might want to make a list of pages, categories, and features that you wish to add.
Try to imagine a customer journey map and get a grasp of what they would want to find on your platform. Still, there is no need to get all wired up about the details. You can fix all aspects or make necessary changes along the way.
2. Materials you want to publish
The majority of people prefer to get information about the company they want to buy from online. Hence, this is in your best interests to provide them with all the data they might need. Make sure that you have prepared:
- Logo to make your brand more recognizable and visible. Usually, website builders have dedicated software for that. But if yours does not, you can use free solutions like Canva or Visme.
- Videos and images to create the right mood, instill trust, and provide visitors with the means to visualize using your product.
- Text materials to tell your story, explain major policies, and describe your products & services. The largest part of consumers is now purpose-driven. So, you might also consider elaborating on your firm’s mission and values.
3. Content Management System (CMS)
CMS is software that empowers you to manage content (e.g., create, edit, store, publish, etc.). Therefore, equipping you with the instruments to launch your website is just one of their functions. There are open-source solutions, such as WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal. They might be a bit complicated and usually require a download and installation.
However, if you are willing to sacrifice some of your creative freedom for a less demanding builder, you can go with cloud-based programs like Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly. Anyway, whichever CMS you pick, ensure that it matches these pivotal criteria:
- Suitable for beginners. Technically skilled or not, you should be able to get the desired outcome out of it.
- Affordable price. It should fit into your budget, and it has to match the available functions.
- An extensive set of templates and features. Sites can serve different purposes (e.g., blog, portfolio, online store, etc.). Therefore, you need to be able to tweak your navigation, elements, and layout to suit the preferred format.
- The software that will saturate your growing appetite. Anyway, it is better to start small and upgrade to an advanced version when needed.
- Approachable & reliable support. It might be challenging to deal with complex technical stuff on your own.
- Portable and granting you ownership of the site. You might be tempted to dismiss these aspects as technicalities. Yet, it is important to obtain guarantees that you have total control over your data and can effortlessly transfer it to another builder, if you choose to do so.
4. Hosting provider & domain name
Hosting is a place where your site’s data is stored, and a domain name is a URL that the users type into their browsers to get to you (e.g., claspo.io where ‘claspo’ is a domain name and ‘.io’ is a domain extension). Most modern CMS, including Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly, already incorporate domain and hosting in their pricing plans. Plus, many hosting providers developed their own integrated website builders, such as GoDaddy or HostGator. So, everything is connected.
Anyway, there is a multitude of designated platforms to choose from, such as Bluehost or SiteGround. Whichever you choose, make sure that, for a reasonable price, it presents you with everything you need in terms of storage space, domains, SSL certificates, and email addresses. As for domain names, try to invent something that correlates with your company, and is easy to type/remember. If you can, opt for a top-level domain (TLD) like .com, .net, .org, or .pro.
Do not miss a monetization opportunity. Hosting providers usually have generous referral/affiliate programs. You can easily generate some passive income by hiding your link as an honorary mention (e.g., ‘Hosted by Kinsta’).
5. Unlimited amount of imagination, a dash of technical expertise, and less than an hour of your spare time.
Now that you are all geared up, you can initiate the building process. Utilize your technical expertise to overcome any challenges that might arise in the execution phase. Remember, efficiency is key. With a well-structured plan, you should be able to achieve your goal.
Contemporary technologies are so sophisticated that you can use automated solutions to design your platform from scratch. These tools might limit your creativity, but they save you an insurmountable amount of time and effort. With builders like Jimbo or Wix, the creation process is truly effortless:
- Create an account.
- Complete a brief questionnaire with the data on your website.
- Export social media or other public info (optional).
- Select a theme.
- Add visual & text content (photo, video, descriptions, etc.).
- Enjoy a ready-to-go website. Edit it if needed.
In other cases, regardless of the software you choose, the fundamental algorithms will be pretty much identical (with minor differences):
- Download & install software/register an account.
- Choose a template/theme.
- Personalize & adjust it (upload logo, optimize layout, experiment with fonts and colors, etc.).
- Fill it with content (media, text, etc.).
- Broaden function set with additional tools (marketing, SEO, analytics, etc.).
- Launch it and wait for your first visitors.
Still, if you strive to craft a platform that suits all your demands without unnecessary complications and obstacles, you will need a more detailed explanation of the process. Let’s build a WordPress-based website because:
- This CMS is free and open-source.
- Its features and plugins permit the most nuanced customization.
- It has the largest community of users, supporters, and creators.
Retrieved from HRank
- You will still have to pay for hosting services and premium features/themes. Certain plugins can also cost you some money.
- You are the one who is responsible for updates & backups. But worry not, WordPress makes administering these procedures completely easy.
Now, let’s proceed with the creation process.
1. Get Your Hosting & Domain
WordPress is so popular that it offers integrations with almost every notorious hosting provider. For instance, you can pick WP Engine or Kinsta. Yet, the most intense partnership it has with Bluehost (automatic installation, updates, and drag-and-drop editor). Hence, let’s see how you can get an account there.
You can choose WordPress website builder or hosting. Let’s go with the latter option for this example:
- Point to the WordPress section in the navigation tab and click on the WordPress hosting.
- Select the plan that suits your requirements.
- Create a memorable and simple domain name.
- Check that the details of your deal are in order.
- Enter your payment information.
- After the purchase is complete, receive your credentials and log into your control panel.
2. Install WordPress
Thanks to the blossoming cooperation between software companies, the installation will be automatically initiated and completed after you click the ‘Log in to WordPress’ button. You do not need to go to your Bluehost account every time you want to access WordPress. You can get to your dashboard directly by typing yoursite.com/wp-admin/ into your browser.
3. Pick Up Vibrant & Functional Theme
At this stage, your website already exists. If you wish to look at it, choose the Start a WP Site section of the upper menu and click Visit Site.
This is the default design and layout of your platform. Of course, you have in mind something more functional and personalized. Thus, you need to select Appearance on your Dashboard and then go to Themes.
Here you will notice your current theme or other available options. As you can see, you also have the option to add themes. Some of them are free, while others require premium or paid access. To change the one you use, click the ‘Add new’ button.
You can find the template that suits your needs perfectly by applying the Feature filter. Now, you can see the themes that are the closest to the function set you seek. You can also simply browse the Featured, Popular, or Latest categories. As usual, if you like something, you can add it to your Favorites.
If you decide to go with the premium template, you should click Upload Theme. But if you opt for a free one, you can just click install on the preview. All the uploaded or installed themes will be stored in your Theme section. The one that you are using will be marked as Active.
4. Jazz It Up Using Editing & Settings
You can find the Customize button in the subsections of the Appearance category of the main menu or directly on the template. All the settings that you can adjust (keep in mind that they vary from theme to theme) are located in the right-side menu. Plus, you will see a small pencil (✎) symbol near the elements you can edit.
Generally, you will be able to add & edit essential components like title, tagline, icon, logo, layout, and pages for the navigation bar (you can also nest them) or creative nuances, such as background image, color scheme, and fonts. Moreover, you can control the site’s widgets (e.g., search) by creating or removing them. In case this interface is too daunting for you, you can install a customization plugin with a convenient drag-and-drop editor, like SeedProd.
Do not forget to check that you like the way your website looks on desktop, tablet, and mobile view. When you sense that your work here is done, tap the Publish/Saved button and hit the X icon to get back to the dashboard.
You can also fix the settings according to your preferences:
- In the General category, you can fill in the title and tagline if you have not done it in the Appearance section. You can also see your site’s URL, but you’d better not change it. If you want to enable registration for users, check the box near Membership. You can change the language and time zone of your platform if you need.
- In the Reading section, you can select a static display for your pages and choose your home page (you can also do it while customizing your theme). For search engine visibility, you might prefer to leave the checkbox in the end empty.
However, the majority of both desktop and mobile users admit that lack of proper website optimization is one of the most frustrating experiences they had with e-commerce. You might not have an online store, but usability is still a pivotal component to make visitors feel welcome. Hence, here are some tips you might find helpful while creating your platform:
- Generally, intuitive design means one with recognizable patterns. People can easily get frustrated when the store rearranges the products, and they end up in front of jars of pickles instead of bread. Of course, it does not mean that you should explain every tiny move or change. Yet, it implies that you should be thoughtful, empathic, and considerate while planning your layout.
- If you are trying to adapt your theme to the components/elements you need, you are doing it wrong. It is the template that should fit your purposes, not vice versa. Remember that ‘blueprint’ version that we started with? Now, you should opt for the variant that corresponds with it.
- Think of your site as a city map. Too many roads to take will make you feel lost and confused. You do not want visitors to get stuck wandering in loops, right?
- Traditionally, map keys are easily understandable and universal. When you see an airplane, you will guess that this is an airport. The same principle applies to icons.
- Should you pick an icon, text, or text + icon structure? Essentially, symbols that the public can easily guess do not call for an explanation and help you save some unoccupied space (e.g., settings, search, or email).
- Still, it is better to name complicated functions. Plus, unconventional images might add a nice personal touch to them.
- You need to aim at reducing steps, do not offer too many options or overwhelm viewers with content. Try to design concise forms. No more than 12–14 elements, separate pages for each stage, and a progress bar can help your customers not to lose patience in the process.
- Hiding complex navigation does not make your site user-friendly. Prioritize and make the most important categories visible or easily accessible. Smart categorization & advanced search are the best means to achieve it.
✎ Word of adviceGenerally, if you need to explain your site’s navigation or functions, you should reconsider your design choices. Still, you can use Claspo to build popup messages with instructions for your visitors. This way you can deliver the information in a stylish, brief, and unobtrusive manner. Plus, with Claspo, you can apply a variety of popup formats like lightboxes, slide-ins, sidebars, and floating bars to save your website’s space and optimize your layout (use a scroll or a click trigger for a more precise targeting).
- As statistics show, 63% of users check their privacy & security settings regularly, while only 46% of respondents approve of their data being used for personalization of their online experience. Therefore, the industry has been ‘buzzing’ about shifting to cookieless solutions. For instance, you can switch from a Data Management Platform (DMP) to a Customer Data Platform (CDP). In case, you cannot use non-cookie methods, install unobtrusive and explicit consent gathering forms via Claspo.
- Do not neglect mobile optimization. Always check how your website looks on desktop and mobile devices.
Do not get it twisted, this is advice for professionals or those who are willing to dive deep into the topic. For further enhanced customization, you can utilize advanced software like Bootstrap. It does require a fair amount of coding skills, but its selection of features, themes, patterns, and options might be worth it. After all, pandemics made shoppers more digitally savvy, so maybe you should support this tendency and upgrade your computer skills too.
4. Take a Break
Creating a website for a small business can be exhausting. Get some tea, do some exercises, and let your eyes rest. As soon as you get a second wind, go back to finish the project.
5. Bring It to Life with Content
Naturally, potential clients come to your website to obtain more information about you and your products or services. Thus, you need to fill your pages with materials:
- Go to Pages → All Pages → Edit.
- Enter or insert content in the blocks.
- Click on the plus (+) symbol when you want to add new paragraphs, headings, photos, videos, links, or other elements.
- Use the left-side menu to change the settings like color, font, margins, etc.
- Do not forget to press Update.
Remember to take care of the pages that appear when an error occurs or the site is under maintenance. There are many plugins developed for that purpose. For example, you can do it in SeedProd.
6. Expand Capabilities with Plugins
One of the most fascinating things about WordPress is that you can manage the entire functionality of your platform with plugins (e.g., create an e-commerce store, a scheduling calendar pattern, etc.):
- Go to Plugins → Installed Plugins. Use this section to activate, delete, or change settings of the ones that you already have.
- If you need to acquire another one, click the Add New button. Search for the one that meets your requirements. Do not forget to check the description, rating, and reviews. Press Install Now → Activate.
Here are some of the examples of the must-have plugins for a WordPress user:
- Contact form — WPForms.
- Google Analytics integration — MonsterInsights.
- Search engine optimization — All in One SEO & Yoast SEO.
- Security & backups — Sucuri & UpdraftPlus.
7. Test Your Site’s Usability
If you have someone who can test your website for bugs, errors, or inconveniences and then share their unbiased opinions, you should ask them to do it. In addition, for some elements, you can find specific analytical software (or a plugin). For instance, Claspo offers A/A (lift) or A/B (split) testings to determine on what pages and in which formats your popups perform best.
Sometimes it is more effective to just ask for the visitors’ opinions. You can use Claspo to build forms that gather feedback politely and friendly.
So, how to create websites for small businesses? Truth be told, it depends on a multitude of factors, including your skills, purposes, level of dedication, amount of spare time, and willingness to learn. You can opt for an automated or fully customizable solution. Just remember not to get discouraged when you face difficulties, contemporary software allows anyone to build a functional platform with no coding expertise.