It'll take less than an hour and tke no coding knowledge
Many small business owners know the importance of a website, but don't know where to start. It can be quite daunting with all the different website builders and other gadgets for building websites on the web.
That's why I'm here to walk you through the steps to setting up your website as a small business for little to no cost in 3 easy steps This will take you no more than an hour for a professional website.
1. Choose your host
All websites need a host, - it's what keeps the website on the web. There are 2 main things to look for in a host: price, features and overall ease of access. Let's take a look at these.
Here are 3 hosts ranked by their features and price:
Cheapest web host. 1 click Wordpress install gives you access to thousabnds of templetes, comes with free email and domain.Go to site
Slighly pricier, but 20x faster than other hosts with free "secure padlock" SSL protection and unlimited bandwidth.Go to site
Extremly easy drag and drop set up. Can be used for ecommerce, as well as blogging. Thousands of templates to choose from.Go to site
Bluehost is extremely versatile and has been praised for it's high performance and low cost. You can build websites with it's many templates and 1 click Wordpress installation. For $2.95 per month, you can get your website, business email, and domain all in one package. Talk about a sweet deal! Check out some of their plans here.
InMotion is only slightly more expensive at $3.99/month. But includes a free SSL certificate with its purchase. This is the green "secure" padlock that displays on some sites. InMotion also has free SSD storage, making your site 20x faster than other hosts, as well as giving you unlimited bandwidth and email storage. Check out their plans here.
Weebly Comes with a heftier price tag at $12/month, but offers ecommerce capability and exstremely easy drag and droip interface. Although Bluehost doesn't require any coding, it still needs some skill to make the website look good. With Weebly, this is much faster and simpler. Check out their plans here.
2. Using your host
Once you've chosen and signed up for one of the hosts, it is important ot learn more about using them and getting an idea of how you site is going to look.
Here are 2 ways you can go about using either Bluehost and InMotion, or Weebly.
1. Use Bluehost or InMotion
If you know a little more about technology you can go this route. Just sign up with Bluehost or InMotion start designing. Bluehost allows you to directly access Wordpress, but InMotion uses a simpler versionof Wordpress called Boldgrid
- Bluehost has a great 10 parts series on how to use Wordpress to create a stunning site.
Learn how to set up a Bluehost website
- InMotion has a much simpler interface, you can learn all you need from this video
Learn how to set up an InMotion website
On the other hand, you can also manually install Wordpress for free and have more control, but you'll have to be much more tech savvy, and a small amount of coding knowledge is required.
2. Use Weebly
Weebly a much simpler and easier to amke a website with. Their drag and drop interface is dead simple, even complete beginners can pick it up and start designing. Weebly also has much more customizability than other website builders, as well as more templates.
Forms, images, text, headers, and layout are all simplifed using Weebly, it's like editing a Microsoft Word Document. Here's a few stunning templates from Weebly:
3. Design your website
Now comes the exciting part: actually designing your website! Here's a short guide on how your website should look.
Your homepage should have most of your info. This means your customers can easily access all the important info such as about us, contact and location without going to other pages.
It's also important to include lots of relevent info, this will help your website rank on Google and help your customers understand your website better. Too many small business owners nowadays have a few blocks of text on their website and call it day.
Lastly, consider the call to action in the homepage, this is extremely important if you're selling something online, but is also highly relevant for other small businesses.
An example of a good and bad homepage, can you guess which one is which?
Services & Products Page
This is the second most crucial part of your website because this is where the customer takes action. A call to action is a must, and good images of the product or services are also very important.
Consider these examples of a bad product page and a good one:
Which one are you more likely to trust?
3. About Us Page
It is important to have an about us page to build rapport with your customers. As a small business, you're not going for a corporate ultra professional feel. You want a closer personal connection with your customers. So it is better to put your name and face in the about us page and your storefront to build trust. Do not put stock photos here, geniune photos taken by you are always better, even if they're a little lower quality than stock photos.
What you don't want is an about us page that feels like just another page to sell your service or products. Here are some examples:
Good About Us
Car Fix Auto began in 2005. After working for multiple dealers and auto repair shops, the owner, John McNealson, started Car Fix Auto. After many days and nights of hard work, what began as a small humble shop has grown to what you see today.
We work synergistically at Car Fix Auto to provide an astaounding experience to our customers. We do oil changes, tire replacements, and inspections. Our customers matter to us the most, so come on in today and get 10% off all repairs!
You may think to put your call to action in the about us page, but it may drive customers off as seeming desperate and needy.
4. Contact Us Page
Although you can place your contact info around other parts of your website, (for example, embedding it in the header and footer) it is still important to have a contact page.
This page should be simple and straightforward, design matters less, and utility matters more. You can have a contact form, but it's not nessecary. Putting down an email and a phone number is the most important part, (especially if you're a service business that gets customers through calls.)
Lastly, you'll want to have a map embedded on your page, as well as address and postal code. Google maps now costs money, so you are better off using Waze.
85% of customers think your website should look better or the same on a mobile phone than a computer. Google also ranks you higher if your site is mobile friendly. So looking good on a mobile phone is very important for your website.
Although all of the website builder/hosts listed above will come with mobile friendly templates, be careful of ones that do not. One example would be Wix, although it's a great website builder, it is not mobile friendly.
What does a mobile friendly website look like?
Here are some examples:
Take a look at the website on the right, can you see all of the text? Now take a look at the one on the left.
A mobile friendly website will resize when the screen shrinks. If the text becomes hard to read or is out of view, your website is not mobile friendly.
Is That All?
Yep, pretty much. You won't really need other pages unless you have some extra info you feel doesn't belong in any other pages. You might want an FAQ or frequently asked questions page. Another one would be a product or service specific page, it's not good for navigation if you fit everything in the products and services page, so it is good to have specific pages for each product or service
An example would be an auto repair shop having a page for general services, but also having a specific page for tire services because it might be too messy to include everything in general services.
Optional - Logo Design
Although you may not want to look over this, it is not a crucial part of setting up a good small business website. You probably already have a logo, if not, here is a short guide on how to get one.
Use a logo maker
Logojoy allows you to make stunning logos for free in minutes. Just select a couple of characteristics you like and it will pop a logo out for you. Near the end, when it displays all the possible logos, pick one and use the snipping tool on your computer to take a screenshot, you now have your logo!
If you're more tech savvy and want more control with how your logo looks, you can use Canva. This is also free program for beginner and expert designers alike. There are so many resources in Canva, so the possibilites are endless. You can even create posters and infographics with it.
Hire a logo designer on Fiverr
If you really don't want ot spend the time to do a logo yourself, or feel you don't have the expertise to design one, you can go on sites like Upwork or Fiverr to get your logo done. A really good logo will typically cost between $60 to $200.
I woudn't suggest this, but if you have the money to spend, it's not a bad deal.
You can set up a professional website in less than an hour with this guide. Whether you choose Bluehost's cheap price and easy website building for $2.95/month, InMotion's slightly higher price at $3.99/month for speed, or decide to pay a little more for Weebly's ecommerce and extrmely simple interface at $12/month, you will have made a step in the right direction to building a website that attracts customers and presents a glowing reputation for your business.
About Richard Gao
Richard is the owner and operator of Etchedy. His knowledge of web design and computers allows him to take up any web design challenge. Whenever there's a call or email, Richard is the one to answer your questions