As a small business owner, you’re coming to the table with many talents.
Creating a website can seem like a daunting task to some — including many of the entrepreneurs we work with in Eastern Kentucky.
Folks tend to have a lot of expectations for what a website could be or should be. There’s a lot of information about this topic available, so it’s understandable if you’re overwhelmed as an entrepreneur.
Don’t worry — we’re here to make the website creation process easy for those considering entrepreneurship, have just launched a small business, or are in the early stages of growth.
The SOAR Innovation team put together this guide to help you create a simple business website. If you follow these steps, you can accomplish everything you need — no technical skills required.
Why is having a business website important?
Your website plays a significant role in your small business’ overall mix of owned media — the channels you use to connect with customers that you have total control over. Your website itself is your primary owned channel.
A website is also the place where you tie together the rest of your owned, earned, and paid media channels. Email marketing, social media, paid advertising — it all drives traffic back to your website.
Having a small business website is important for several other reasons:
- Your website grounds your marketing efforts. You’ll be reaching out to customers on social media, through digital advertising, and other ways. Each of your messages on these channels will have a call-to-action, which typically points back to your website to drive sales.
- A website can sell for you 24/7/365. If you integrate eCommerce capabilities, your customers can purchase from your website any time of day — even when you’re offline. Like an extension of your team, it’s always working for you.
- It connects you to your ideal customers. Your website will have answers to your customers’ questions. Your customers can quickly locate you if you set up your website according to search engine optimization (SEO) best practices.
- Establish your credibility. As a new company, you need to show you’re dependable — and your business is here to stay. Your website helps to prove that.
- A website helps you sell products, take orders, manage inventory, and more. Depending on the software you choose, your website might be able to integrate with other tools to make operations and sales tasks easier.
How to set up your business website
Follow these simple steps to get your simple business website up and running.
Step 1: Claim your domain and set up hosting
Your website domain name should closely match your business name. Use this free domain name generator to get started.
Once you select a domain name, you need to register it. Google Domains, GoDaddy, and WordPress are all reputable providers for this. They also let you check for what’s available and suggest alternatives if your first choice is already taken.
With a domain secured, the final piece is setting up website hosting. We recommend Bluehost as an affordable, well-respected service. You can also look at Amazon Web Hosting and WP Engine.
Step 2: Choose your content management platform (CMP)
A CMP is key to managing a website on your own. It allows you to create and maintain your website content, products, and customer check-out experience with (mostly) no technical background.
There are three main providers in this space that you should check out:
Wix provides a free website builder application with optional add-on services. SOAR Innovation recommends Wix due to its price and ease of use.
We can also help you set it up.
Pros: Price, design flexibility, plenty of eCommerce add-ons and integrations.
Cons: If design isn’t your strong suit, Wix might offer more options than you need.
Squarespace is known for its beautiful templates that make it easy to design a clean, modern website.
Pros: Best-in-class design templates, includes e-commerce integrations.
Cons: Costs run between $14-$49/month, depending on what you need.
WordPress is an industry-leading website platform. It offers the most customization of these options. It also may require significant technical expertise, depending on what you’re building.
Pros: Top-notch functionality and ability to tailor your website to your exact vision.
Cons: You may need to hire a marketing agency/web developer to use this platform to its fullest potential.
Step 3: Design your website
Steps 1 and 2 are pretty straightforward decisions. When it comes to design, that’s when it starts becoming slightly more complicated.
It doesn’t have to be, though.
You can use a tool like Themeforest to select a design template to install onto your website. The idea is to pick something that’s already done for you. From there, you can customize options as needed, such as fonts and colors, and add your logo.
Starting with a template cuts out half the work.
We’d highly recommend it instead of starting from scratch. It’s just not necessary at this stage of your business.
Step 4: Add your content and customize your website
This is when you take the time to settle in and make your website a true reflection of your business.
Be sure to invest in an appealing homepage. The majority of your web traffic will see it, so take the time to build one that you’re proud of.
You’ll need to create a navigation bar (the menu that runs along the top of the page). This is a map for your website visitor. It needs to be concise. You want users to make as few clicks as possible to achieve the end goal: purchasing a product, subscribing to updates, or requesting a demo.
Play around with the language you use, otherwise known as copy. Your copy should be clear and simple.
The fewer words it takes to get your point across, the better.
Finally, make sure your website is responsive to mobile devices, tablets, and screen sizes. All the providers we recommend include previews so you can see what your website looks like in different contexts.
Once you’ve made these updates, test it out with partners or even customers to make sure it’s user-friendly.
Pro tips for your website before launch
The steps above cover the basics for building your simple website.
These next steps are just as necessary. They’ll help you secure more customers, comply with privacy laws, and analyze performance for future website updates.
Pro-tip #1: Add an email signup form
Your contact database will (one day) be one of your greatest assets. Your website should be generating new contacts for your business to connect with via email.
You can do this by adding an email signup form to multiple locations on your website.
Check out Typeform for WordPress, the Wix AppMarket, or Squarespace Extensions to find out what’s available to you.
Pro tip #2: Incorporate SEO
SEO enables customers to find you online faster and easier. We recommend the Yoast SEO plugin for your website. It’s an affordable, DIY tool that helps you attract more organic traffic to your website.
Pro-tip #3: Hone in your privacy practices
Note you’ll probably need to spend some time customizing your policy to your processes and specific uses of collected personal data. If you have any doubts, contact a legal expert specializing in privacy law.
Finally, you’ll need to add a pop-up to your website that allows website visitors to opt-out of “cookies” — an online tracking system for internet users. Search your website provider’s app marketplace for a free or low-cost cookie banner service.
Pro-tip #4: Track progress with Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a powerful, free tool that every website owner needs to be using. It tracks visitors, how long they stayed on your website, the pages they visited, and where they exited.
You can install it quickly and easily.
In a future blog post, we’ll break down the best practices for Google Analytics so you can make the most of your website. For now, make sure to install it to start collecting data.
Conclusion: Launch your website
Before you launch, be sure to have a friend or two check it out. They should look for typos, broken links, and other little pieces that might get lost in the shuffle. The SOAR Innovation team can help you with this, too.
Once you complete these steps, you’re ready to launch.
Even if it’s only a few pages in the end, building a website based on this guide will drive traffic and sales for your small business.
Hopefully, these steps make the website creation process easier for you. The key is not to overthink it.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need help getting started, reach out to the SOAR Innovation team. It’s our job to help your small business succeed. One of our complimentary services is helping small businesses set up their own simple websites.
For more tips and tricks, download The Complete Guide to Entrepreneurship in Eastern Kentucky: Part 2. It lays out these steps in even more detail.
We can’t wait to see what you create.