One in five businesses would benefit from a company website but don’t yet have one. Reasons range from a lack of knowledge, a lack of time and funds to set one up, to simply not knowing where to start.
If you're struggling to figure out how to build your own website, we're here to help. Read on for our simple step-by-step guide to create a site for your small business.
1. Define the goals of your website
Do you want to keep customers updated? Are you looking to fulfill orders online? The effort required and the complexity of your website will be determined by your objectives.
Think about whether you want to position your website as a blog, an e-commerce site, an entertainment site, or portfolio if you are a photographer, for example.
2. Choose a domain
Like your physical address, you need a virtual one. You can search for a web address – or domain name – online. It's as easy as typing "buy a domain name” into your search engine. Well-known web hosts where you can buy your domain include GoDaddy and Cloudnext.
Your domain name should be easy to remember and type by your customers. You will want to use a local .co.uk or .uk version if you’re selling or promoting your business primarily in the UK but consider also getting the .com version of your chosen domain if available, as it's the most commonly used extension. Buying both makes most sense as you can always redirect more than one domain name to the same website, so no matter which version people type in, they will still find you.
3. Pick a template builder
Now you have your domain name, it’s time for the building work to begin. There are plenty of easy-to-use software platforms you can use to build a website. Some of them are free, such as Wordpress, but requires HTML knowledge in order to customise a template to fit your business needs; you can also opt to purchase a professionally designed "theme". If you're a beginner, it might be useful to go with a provider like Wix, as it's very straightforward to use.
4. Grab their attention with good content
It takes only 0.05 seconds for someone to decide whether they like your site enough to stay, this part of the process is vital:
- Use pictures. Lots of them. Visitors spend an average of 5.94 seconds looking at your main homepage image. So make it worth their while. You should also compress images to increase the load speed of your website. The optimal page load time is three seconds and a one-second delay in webpage time equals a 7% reduction in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and 16% reduction in customer satisfaction.
- Include text, but make it minimal. Select a font that works for your business. For example, a technology company is unlikely to want an old-fashioned font. Another easy way to optimise your site is to break up large blocks of text with in-line links, calls to action and subheadings — making it easy for users to scan and read the content.
- Use videos where possible, as this will improve your website’s chances of getting organic traffic. Two in five companies get more web traffic from search than non-video users and companies using video enjoy 41% more web traffic from search than non-video users.
Not everyone will know your business when they arrive at your site, which means most visitors will need to know something about you. Prioritise the following pages:
- A homepage, where people will first land.
- An “About Us” page — what is your story?
- A products and services page, where you’ll describe what you do, and how you fulfil enquiries.
- A contact page — make sure customers know how to find you.
5. Test your design
Once everything’s in place, you’ll need to test if everything works. Make sure you check your website on on mobile, too: Google prioritises mobile-optimised sites, considering most people use smartphones now to access the web.
You might also want to consider applying Conversion Rate Optimisation techniques: read our guide on CRO to learn how it can improve the loading time of your website and suggest effective tweaks to generate more engagement time.
6. Launch your website
With testing complete, now you can release your hard work to the world. But before doing that, you’ll need to sync your domain name with your website template. Be patient with this, it can take anything from a few hours to a day or two.
In order to do this, type in the name of the company you bought your domain from, the name of the software, plus the words "sync my domain” – and you're officially live on the internet.
If you're looking for more tips like this, watch our bite-sized video tutorials created for small businesses, which covers everything from building authority on Google to executing a successful email marketing campaign.