Small business owners have a lot to deal with. No matter the day, you can pretty much count on an overwhelming to-do list.
When it comes to building and maintaining a website for your small business, it’s hard to know how to fit it all in. You know you need one—no small business can get by these days without a website.
But how are you supposed to find the time to get it done, or the budget to hire someone to do it?
It doesn’t have to take as long as you may think. Small business owners can get a website ready and online with little effort by choosing a website builder.
Why Small Businesses Should Use a Website Builder
For small businesses with limited time and budget, a website builder is the best choice to start enjoying the benefits a website brings. There are a few solid reasons to go with a website builder:
- It’s fast. If you don’t have a website up yet, then you should prioritize getting one up fast. A small business website makes it easier for people to find you and gives you legitimacy in the eyes of potential customers. The longer you wait, the more business you’ll lose. With a good website builder, you can potentially have your website ready in a matter of days, or even hours.
- It’s easy. You don’t have to learn to code or spend time training on how to use complicated software. The right website builder will be intuitive enough that you can figure it out as you go. And in addition to making the initial website creation process easier, a website builder makes ongoing maintenance easy as well. When you need to make updates to your site (and you will), each little tweak will be quick and easy.
- It’s affordable. While a good website builder will cost you money, the cost is much less than what you would spend on hiring a professional website designer to build a website. And you won’t have to worry about hiring someone to help you make changes down the line because you don’t know how.
- It’s effective. The best website builders supply a large number of templates that are designed to meet website best practices. That makes it easy for you to build a website that adheres to the general advice on what works well on the web, without having to learn it all yourself. And even with starting from a template, you can make all the changes you need to make sure your website is uniquely yours and does a good job of selling your business to your visitors.
Once you’ve decided that a website builder is the right choice for you, it’s time to find the best website builder for your business needs.
What to Look for in a Small Business Website Builder
With quite a few website builders on the market, you have to figure out which ones provide the features and functionality you need. Many options make it hard to move your website to a new builder once you’ve created it, so it’s important to make the right choice early on.
For a small business website, there are a few main features you should look for in your website builder.
Part of what makes website builders so easy to use is that you start with a template. By having a basic design and website structure in place, you don’t have to start from scratch, just make changes to what’s there to create something new. The process of building your website will be easier if you’re able to start with a template that comes close to what you want your website to look like.
Make sure you go with a website builder that offers a lot of templates—at least 100. Finding one you really like will save you work and time once you start customizing it.
Some website builders (especially free or low-cost ones) won’t allow you to remove the website builder’s branding from your site. That might not be a problem for personal websites, but for a business website, it makes you look unprofessional and distracts from your own branding. When your visitors see a logo, you want it to be yours.
Another good way to differentiate your website’s brand is to include a favicon on your website. These are the little images that show up in the browser tab when your website is open, next to your page’s title.
This gives your site a little extra branding and makes it easier for visitors to find your site amongst their open tabs or in their bookmarks. Try to find a website builder that allows the option to add your own favicon and makes it easy to do so.
The scary part of getting a website for your small business is security concerns. We’re all used to hearing stories about high-profile security breaches. The last thing you want is for your business to be at the center of a story like that.
A good website builder will help you set up the necessary security precautions you need to keep your business and your customers safe. In particular, look for the option to easily get an SSL certificate and install compatible security software.
You can’t ignore the prominence of mobile. People now use their mobile devices to access the web more often than their computers. If you build a website that doesn’t work well on mobile, a good portion of your visitors won’t be able to use it (and won’t become customers).
A good website builder has to make it easy for you to create a website that will work just as well on mobile devices as it does on a full-size computer. Look for a website builder that has responsive options or, even better, responsive templates so you can start with a mobile-friendly structure and not have to do anything special to get there.
Many online marketing strategies include video and audio media. If there’s any chance you’ll be using video or audio on your website—now or ever—then you want a website builder that will make it easy to add media files and embed video on your pages.
Check what kind of media features your website builder has before committing.
Building a new website is just the first step. Once your website is live, you want to track how people find and interact with it to gain an understanding of what’s working and how to improve your results over time.
Find out what kind of analytics your website builder will provide and if it allows you to connect the builder dashboard to Google Analytics. The easier it is to see how your website is performing, the easier it will be to make the kind of updates that help you earn more visitors and new business.
If you’ve ever had a computer crash, then you know how important backups are. Even though website builders make creating your website easy, it doesn’t mean you want to have to do it all over again. Manual backups can protect you some, but automated website backups mean you never have to worry about remembering to back your site up yourself. No matter what happens, you’ll always have a recent version of your site you can access and restore as needed.
Find a website builder that offers automated backups to make your life easier and your site safer.
Imagine finally getting your website out there, only for no one to find it. With as crowded as the web is today, that’s a real possibility. One of the best strategies you have to make sure people actually show up to the small business website you create is SEO (search engine optimization).
While there’s a lot to doing good SEO for a new website, one of the first parts is optimizing your individual pages for the primary keywords you want to rank for. A website builder that includes SEO features will make customizing the most important parts of the page for SEO a lot easier so you can get an edge in the search engines from day one.
Not all small business websites will need this in a website builder, but if you want to sell items through your website, then it’s a necessity. eCommerce software allows you to list products on your website, provide a checkout process, and securely accept payments online. If you’ll need these features, prioritize finding a website builder that offers eCommerce options so adding them onto your website will be a simple task.
The Best Website Builder for Your Small Business
Don’t drag your feet on building a website for your small business. The benefits it will bring far outweigh the time and expense involved in getting started, especially when that time and expense is cut down by using a good website builder to get your business online fast.
HostGator’s website builder not only provides everything mentioned in this post, but it also comes with free website hosting, saving you a little extra on the whole deal.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.