How To Design A Website For A Small Business
As a small business owner, you’ve probably researched all the reasons you need a website for your business.
You may also already know what your site should include: a mobile-friendly design, media elements that load quickly and look good, tools to help you get found in searches, social media tools, and tools to make selling online a snap.
But unless you’re in the website design business, you may not feel confident pulling these elements together on your own.
Today, we’ll cover the must-have elements of a good website for a small business and go over your options for creating those elements.
1. Overall Design or Template
The first and most important element for effective small business websites is a design that works well on all types of devices, especially smartphones. That’s because most online searches happen on mobile devices now, and Google is in the process of rolling out a new mobile-first index that will rank mobile-optimized sites higher in search results that websites that aren’t mobile-friendly.
For a small business website design that meets mobile-first standards, you can hire a designer, if you have the funds and the time to wait for a custom-built site. You can also shop around online for a mobile-optimized template you can adapt to your needs. Or you can use a website builder that comes with a library of mobile-friendly templates to ensure your site works well, even if you choose another look for it later on.
While you’re looking at mobile-friendly templates, keep in mind that there are certain pages and sections that customers expect to find on every business site. These include your home page, a contact page (although you should include contact information somewhere on each page of your business site), an about us page, a portfolio if you sell services, and an online shop page if you sell products. To simplify and speed up your site creation, look for a website builder that has pre-built pages and sections you can tailor to your business needs.
2. Multimedia Elements
These days, pictures are probably worth more than a thousand words, because smartphone users would rather browse images and watch videos than try to read lots of text on a tiny screen.
When they’re properly formatted, tagged, and optimized, images and videos can help your site rank higher in search results so more prospects come your way. And a custom favicon (that little image at the top of the browser tab, like the wee Snappy on the tab you’re reading right now) not only helps your business with branding but also makes it more useful as a bookmark or toolbar icon for your frequent customers.
You can find downloadable tools and WordPress plugins to help you with tasks like image optimization, schema markup, HD video embedding, favicon design, and more. If you decide to use a website builder, those tools will already be baked in and accessible in one place, ready to use.
3. Get Found and Track Your Performance
Images and mobile-friendliness aren’t the only elements your site needs to rank well in search results. There are a number of SEO best practices your business website should follow, like using the right keywords and other metadata to help local shoppers or prospective clients around the country find your business easily.
How will you know how well your SEO is working? That’s where Google Analytics comes in. Tracking the performance of your posts, social media campaigns, keyword search results, and more is critical to getting the most from your business website.
As with the other elements of your site, you can take on these tasks one by one, using resources like Google Analytics Academy to walk you through the steps you’ll need to follow. You can also find WordPress plugins to help you with SEO and analytics, or you can use a website builder to save time by providing all those tools.
4. Social Media Tools
Social media is important for reaching new customers, establishing your professional expertise or product awesomeness, and making sales.
Many small business owners start out ambitious and motivated and end up overwhelmed by their social media programs, because it can feel like a full-time job to manage your social media posts, comments, offers, and sales. It doesn’t have to be that much work.
To get the most from social media without focusing on it constantly, get the right tools. If you have the budget, you can hire a social media manager to handle your posts and responses for you. A less expensive option is to use a third-party tool like HootSuite or Buffer to post your content on your channels at pre-set times, although it will still be up to you to load those links into your schedule. There are also plugins that will optimize your website posts to display well on different social media platforms.
The simplest solution is to choose a website builder that gives you all the tools you need to handle your social media program. A good site builder will make it easy for site visitors to follow you, share your content, and buy your merchandise while they’re on Facebook.
5. E-commerce Tools
For online retailers, e-commerce tools are the main reason for having a website.
These include your online store, an inventory tracking system, an easy-to-use shopping cart, popular payment tools like PayPal and Square, and a way to run promotions with coupon codes. You can add the elements you’ll need one by one and follow the integration tutorials for each one, or you can use the suite of e-commerce tools provided by your website builder to get your shop up and running faster.
Design Your Small Business Website
Designing a website for a small business takes some time, research, and experimentation to get things set up just the way you want them. With an all-in-one service like the HostGator website builder, you can spend less time working on your small business website design and let it work smarter for you.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.