How to create a business website

Whether you choose to use a website platform or get a website builder to create a professional website for your online store, you'll want it to generate your desired results. So follow these six steps for building an effective large or small business website.


Developing website goals

Before you create a website, plot out what you're hoping to achieve. How you design your site should be different based on the outcomes. For example, are you hoping to drive leads, convert prospects, educate, inspire, provide support and information to existing customers, or actively sell products and services online?

You can create your own website or use a free website builder such as WordPress. You can create a beautiful, professional WordPress website and choose a professional domain name, a hosting plan and start customising your pages. 

Use these tips to make sure your website and online store are on the right track.

Step 1. Match functionality with benefits

Define the core purpose of your business website and then match the benefits to a feature. For example, the core purpose of a restaurant website could be to take bookings. The advantage is making it easy for customers to explore the menu and find a day/time that suits them. A smooth booking and reminder option is the functionality.

Other tips:

  • Start with the foundations to create a website before adding advanced features like subscriptions, bookings and memberships. You might want to test how receptive your customers are before activating more features if you're going to offer something new.
  • If you plan to sell online, make sure you have a smooth supply and distribution process in place before your website goes live. If you're offering next-day delivery, test it before launching your website, especially if working with a third-party distributor.
  • Set up an automated email process for your online shop, covering order confirmation, invoice and receipt, shipping notifications and feedback requests.
  • Create pages that take little time for customers to find what they're looking for. Avoid overwhelming your customers with buttons to click or pages to open. Ideally, a customer should be able to complete a purchase in 2-3 clicks.
  • Most customers will decide within moments whether they want to browse and purchase on a website, so speed and performance are crucial in online stores.
  • To convert a visitor into a customer, you need to make it easy for them to pay online. Perhaps it's a button that says 'buy now', 'make an appointment' or 'contact us'.
  • Make sure your website has a user-friendly mobile version. On average, 8 out of 10 consumers will stop engaging with a site if its content doesn't display correctly on their mobile devices. A mobile site with a responsive web design that adapts depending on how people access the site is standard these days.
  • Add a search function so users can find what they want fast.

Step 2. Be consistent

Make sure every page of your website looks, sounds and feels the same. Always consider the website design, colours, font, tone of voice, imagery and videos you use. Ensure they're all consistent and complement your brand. Your website or online store might be the only place your customers interact with your business. Website builders offer attractive design themes to help maintain consistency.

It is also essential to update your site with new information and images regularly. For example, if you promise customers a monthly newsletter, make sure it gets sent every month.

Step 3. Adjust for search engine optimisation (SEO).

SEO tools can boost small businesses' web presence and website traffic. It involves adjustments to your website to get the highest possible ranking on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) when people type keywords or a search phrase into Google or other search engines.

This involves:

  • Changing text on your website to include selected keywords (words or phrases people are likely to use when searching for a business online, like yours.
  • Adding meta tags, titles and descriptions in the HTML code of your website. The meta description gives a brief outline of the web page content, and the meta keywords allow you to list the keywords relevant to that web page.
  • Adding relevant internal and external links.

Step 4. Consider search engine marketing (SEM)

Small business owners might want to consider Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising options like Google Ads. Rates and terms vary between search engines, but PPC advertising allows businesses to pay search engines to list relevant adverts.

Step 5. Use content marketing

Adding informative and useful web content will help your professional online presence (credibility, search, relevance, thought leadership, sharing, building communities and eventually, selling). Consider using a content management system (CMS) to update and maintain your content—no coding knowledge required. 

Content tips for small business websites:

  • Use quality photos, videos, and images for engagement and position how customers may want to learn about your business.
  • People don't usually read long paragraphs, so create mobile-friendly, scannable pages with regular sub-headings and bullets.
  • Make it relevant for the customer with how-to guides, project-planning templates and resources.
  • Keep it up to date to ensure it is accurate: your contact details, prices, opening times etc.
  • Use blogs or social media content.

Step 6. Test, track and change

Take time to review how well your site is performing.  

As your business grows, your web designer or web hosting provider should provide a site performance and analytics package that enables you to see how people use your website. You can also install a code on your web pages to make use of free analytics programs like Google Analytics which allows you to:

  • Track how many people visit your website and how long they stay.
  • Analyse new customers' paths when navigating your site and identify where people drop out of the purchasing process.
  • Discover how people find your site and which keywords are working.
  • See average order values and data about repeat visitors.

It is best to change or optimise one thing at a time on your site and then track your site's analytics to see whether it improves your statistics before moving on to the next change.

Next steps

  • The job isn't over once you've built your website. You also need to look after it. Set up a maintenance schedule for checking products are up to date, prices are correct, and external and internal links are still active.
  • Check your security setting and reports regularly to stay ahead of new threats.
  • Ensure your security and payment subscriptions and certificates are up to date.

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