Today, having a great business website is one of the fastest ways to grow your brand.
A solid website can transform your small business by making it easier to connect with potential customers while increasing your authority and credibility at the same time.
But creating a website for your business involves a lot of work. The goal is to craft an experience that appeals directly to your audience’s specific needs.
Luckily, the wide range of business website templates and user-friendly content management systems available online make designing a high-quality website that accurately reflects your brand’s identity easier than ever.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know to build an effective website for your business – from the technical aspects of web hosting to the creative process of designing website pages that engage and inform.
Why Is Having A Business Website Important?
In the digital age, a business website is the foundation of your online identity. A well-built website is a powerful tool that helps you establish credibility, build trust, and engage with potential clients.
For both small businesses and large enterprises, a website is one of the most direct ways to reach new customers and maintain relationships with existing ones. It’s where you showcase your brand, your values, and what sets you apart from the competition.
Before You Start Building…
Before diving into website creation, set yourself up for success with proper planning.
Start by defining the purpose of your website.
Do you want to sell products, provide services, share valuable information, or both? Understanding your goals helps you select the right website builder, templates, and a content strategy that works.
Next, consider who you want to interact with your website.
Who are your potential customers? What are their needs and preferences? Write your answers down and use them to guide your website’s design and content.
Then, think about your website’s structure before you start building. Plan the main sections and pages you’ll need, such as a home page, about section, contact page, product or service listings, and a blog.
Choose The Right Domain Name
The name of your website is an integral part of your brand’s identity. It should be easy to remember, pronounce, and spell.
If possible, it’s best to choose a domain name (or website URL) that’s short, relevant to your business, and free of hyphens and numbers.
The perfect domain name reflects your business name and the services you offer so that it’s easier to help potential customers find and remember your brand.
When selecting a domain name, think about your home page. Use a top-level domain (TLD) that aligns with your business and ends in something like .com, .net, or .biz.
To be clear, .com is generally the best option because it’s the “default” — it reduces the amount of things your customers need to remember about you. If you have a fancy ending to your domain, how many people will actually remember it?
If you’re still in the “naming” phase of starting your business, try to account for available domain names. For example, you might really like the name “ClearBrand” but clearbrand.com is already taken… so consider a different name for your business that has a .com domain that’s available.
We know that there will be some disagreement over this idea. And that’s okay! You might do it differently, but this is how we’d do it if we were starting from scratch.
If your desired domain is taken, try searching for variations or using a domain registrar’s suggestions. And keep in mind that some website builders offer a free domain name for the first year as part of their package, which can be a cost-effective option for small business owners looking to start with low costs.
Remember, your domain name sets the tone for your site. Choosing the right name is the first step in creating a memorable and accessible online presence that attracts new customers.
Tips For Selecting The Perfect Domain Name
1. Keep It Short And Memorable
A domain name should be easy to remember, pronounce, and spell. No complex or lengthy names. These make it easy to add typos, which means visitors may not arrive at the intended destination.
2. Include Keywords
Incorporate keywords related to your business or industry. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner and SEMRush to research the type of language you should be using for landing pages and blog posts. This boosts SEO to keep you visible on search engines and immediately tells visitors what your site is about.
3. Avoid Numbers And Hyphens
Using weird characters in your domain can be just as confusing as long, complex words. These should be avoided because they’re often misunderstood when sharing your domain name out loud.
4. Choose The Right Domain Extension
While .com is the most recognized, other extensions like .co, .io, .net, .org, or industry-specific ones like .store for an online store, can also be effective. Depending on what you’re doing, some domain endings may be more suitable than others.
5. Check Availability
Before you go full-steam-ahead, run a quick search to make sure the domain you’d like to use for your site is actually available. If it’s already taken, either come up with some variations or check for a domain with a different ending.
6. Think Long-Term
Choose a domain name that will grow with your business and won’t become outdated as your business evolves.
7. Ensure It’s Unique
Your domain should stand out and not be easily confused with other websites, especially competitors’. If you want a domain that’s already been purchased, it’s a good idea to spend extra time brainstorming alternative options.
Know Your Audience
Understanding your target audience is also important when it comes to generating leads and closing sales.
That doesn’t necessarily mean targeting your web content towards people who fit a certain profile – instead, it means understanding their motivations.
What is your customer looking for? What language goes through their head when they’re confronted with a problem you can help them solve?
The answers to these questions can inform decisions while writing content for your landing pages and blogs. By thinking and communicating in the same terms as your customers, you make it easier for them to trust you (and, as a result, easier for them to buy from you).
Tailor your website to meet customer needs and expectations by using language that connects your customer’s pain points to the solutions you provide.
Create A Sitemap And Write Content
Creating a sitemap is another key step in the planning phase.
A sitemap is essentially an outline of your website’s structure. It lists all the main pages and subpages to create a clear roadmap of the content your site will contain.
Starting with a pre-planned sitemap is helpful whether you’re building your website alone or with the help of a web developer. The content of your website can inform design decisions and make it easier to keep a consistent theme and tone across all pages. A well-organized sitemap also helps search engines crawl your website more effectively, which can improve your visibility in search results.
Choose A Website Builder
Choosing the right platform to build your website is crucial for both its functionality and ease of maintenance. Some builders are easy to use, but limit options for customization. Others are a bit more complex to use but make up for it by offering insane levels of customization. Below are the factors you should consider when choosing a builder.
1. Ease of Use
Most casual users prefer tools with an intuitive interface. Many providers like Wix and SquareSpace offer a drag-and-drop editor that makes it easy to create a website without any coding experience at all.
2. Templates and Customization
A good platform offers a variety of business website templates that are customizable. These templates should be responsive to mobile devices to keep your site looking great on all screens, regardless of which size or device type your users have.
3. SEO and Social Media Integration
The platform should facilitate search engine optimization by allowing you to add relevant keywords and meta tags easily. Integration with social media platforms is also a great feature to look for if your goal is to take maximum advantage of your online presence.
4. E-commerce Capabilities
Any business planning to sell products or services should choose a platform that supports online payments, multiple pages for product listings, and has options for an efficient online store.
5. Web Hosting
Some platforms offer bundled services, including web hosting. These tend to be a bit more expensive, but they are great options for business owners who want to focus on building the site itself instead of spending time working out technical details. Choose a hosting company or provider known for reliability, good customer service, and uptime.
6. Support and Scalability
Every business needs a platform that offers strong customer support and the ability to scale as your business grows. This includes adding more pages, content, and potentially complex features like email marketing integration.
Consider the costs associated with the platform. Some offer free website builders with basic features, which can be a great starting point for small businesses.
There are numerous website builders and hosting providers available, each offering a range of features to suit different business needs. Here are some of our favorites at ClearBrand.
1. WordPress With The Divi Theme From Elegant Themes
Divi is known for its visual drag-and-drop builder, making it an excellent choice for those who prefer a more visual approach to website design. It offers a wide range of customization options with a vast array of templates. Divi is particularly favored for its flexibility and the ability to create highly customized designs without needing to write code.
Webflow stands out for its advanced design capabilities and the level of control it offers over website design. It’s a bit more technical than some other builders but provides the power and flexibility of front-end coding without actually requiring you to write code. Webflow is ideal for designers looking for detailed design control and those who want to implement complex, responsive websites.
Wix is widely popular due to its ease of use and a vast library of templates. It’s a great choice for small businesses and individuals looking to build a professional website without requiring a lot of technical knowledge. Wix offers a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface and a range of features, including e-commerce capabilities and SEO tools.
Known for its sleek templates and sophisticated design capabilities, SquareSpace is a favorite among creatives and small business owners. It offers a range of design options, is easy to use, and includes features like e-commerce support, blogging, and good SEO capabilities.
If your primary focus is creating an online store, Shopify is a top recommendation. It’s specifically designed for e-commerce and offers a range of features to manage and grow an online business, including inventory management, payment processing, and marketing tools.
Use Effective Web Design Practices
Effective web design is about creating a user experience that’s intuitive, engaging, and aligned with your business goals.
Effective web design blends clean visuals with practical navigation to make sure that your site is appealing, functional, and accessible. A well-designed website has all of the following.
1. User-Friendly Navigation
Users should be able to easily and quickly find what they need without getting confused. This means your website needs a clear menu, logical page hierarchy, and for larger sites, a search bar.
2. Responsive Design
Today, the vast majority of web traffic comes from mobile devices. This is why it’s important to make sure your website performs well on all screen sizes. Responsive design ensures that your site looks and works well, whether users come to visit on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone.
3. Fast Loading Times
Speed is essential. Nobody wants to sit in front of a blank screen that takes 20 seconds to load, just so that they can read a blog post. Keeping loading times quick improves user experience and helps when it comes to search engine rankings.
4. Consistent Branding
Your website should reflect your brand’s identity on every page. Consistent use of colors, fonts, and style sets a professional tone and enhances brand recognition. If you don’t have a consistent and recognizable design scheme across your site, it’s easy for users to get confused about which page they’re on.
5. Accessible to All Users
Ensure your website is usable for people with disabilities, including those using screen readers or other assistive technologies. Keeping your website easy-to-read and accessible for different people also helps your site rank higher on search engines.
6. Search Engine Optimisation
Incorporate SEO practices while writing landing page and blog content to improve visibility in search results. Use relevant keywords, optimize meta tags, and ensure all content is high-quality and valuable. Online tools like Surfer SEO, Google Keyword Planner, and SEMRush make optimization simple and straightforward.
7. Clear Calls to Action (CTAs)
Guide your visitors to take action, whether it’s making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or contacting you for more information. If your site contains pages that don’t contain a call to action, you may as well remove them – they’re not helping progress people along the customer journey!
Create And Use Custom Templates
Website templates are a great starting point for business owners who lack design experience, but customizing them to fit your business is key to standing out. Here’s how to effectively customize templates.
1. Choose the Right Template
Start with a template that closely aligns with your business needs and brand style. Look for layout, features, and design elements that suit your industry and target audience.
2. Customize the Layout
Adjust the layout to suit your content. Do it yourself or hire a web developer to help. Add, remove, or rearrange elements to ensure the flow and structure make sense in relation to the products and services you have to offer.
3. Incorporate Brand Elements
Use your brand’s color scheme, fonts, and logo throughout your website. Consistent branding across all pages strengthens your professional image and helps customers understand who and what they’re looking at.
4. Optimize for SEO
Adjust the template to be SEO-friendly by including relevant keywords, optimizing images for fast loading times, and ensuring each template is mobile-responsive. When creating blog templates, add space for photos, videos, and links. Perform keyword research before you start writing to be sure each page is focused on one or two main ideas.
Write Engaging Content
The content on your website is arguably the most important factor for engaging visitors and converting them into customers. Here’s how to create content that captivates and converts.
1. Understand Your Audience
Tailor your content to the interests, needs, and language of your target audience. Personalization makes content more relatable and engaging. Learn more about how to define and understand your target audience here.
2. Quality Over Quantity
Focus on creating high-quality, informative, and relevant content. Avoid overwhelming visitors with too much information on a single page. Remember, they’re not on your site to learn about you – they’re there to learn about what you offer.
3. Use Engaging Headlines With SEO Keywords
Captivating headlines grab attention and encourage visitors to read further, and using the right terms can help your webpages rank higher on search engines like Google.
4. Incorporate Multimedia
Use images, videos, and infographics to break up text and provide users with more than one way to engage with content. Keep your content high-quality by looking at examples from competitors, and finding ways you can build upon or improve them.
5. Clear And Concise Writing
Use simple, punchy language that’s easy to understand. Break text into small paragraphs and use bullet points for easy scanning.
6. Include Calls-To-Action (CTAs)
Encourage visitors to take action, such as subscribing to a newsletter, downloading a guide, or making a purchase. If there’s no reason to put a CTA on a page, it likely doesn’t need to be in your site.
7. Update Regularly
Keep your content fresh and updated. Regularly adding new content keeps your site relevant, improves your domain authority, and helps with SEO.
Optimize Content for Search Engines (SEO)
SEO is an important component of any website strategy that can make the difference between whether or not users find your website. It involves optimizing your pages to rank higher in search engine results, making them more visible to potential customers. Here are key areas to focus on for SEO:
1. Keyword Optimization
Include relevant keywords in your content, titles, meta descriptions, and URLs to improve your site’s visibility on search engines. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner and SEMRush to find terms that relate to the products and services you sell.
2. Quality Content
As mentioned earlier, high-quality, relevant content is favored by search engines and helps improve rankings. Don’t write content purely for the sake of writing content. It needs to be targeted and relevant to search results. Before writing anything at all, research competitors and find the areas their content falls short. Write your own to fill the gap and provide additional value to readers.
3. Fast Loading Speed
Optimize your website’s loading speed by choosing a reliable web hosting company or hosting provider and optimizing images and scripts.
4. Secure Website Address
Use HTTPS to keep connections to your website secure.
5. Optimize for Local SEO
If you run a small business website, local SEO is crucial. Include location-based keywords and list your business on local directories. Create a Google Business Profile to help your site appear first when local customers search for services like yours.
6. Use of Alt Text for Images
Describe your images with relevant alt text. This improves accessibility for users with disabilities and provides context to search engines.
7. Build a Network of Backlinks
Get backlinks from reputable websites to enhance your website’s authority and help Google place you at the top of relevant searches.
Focusing on creating quality content, employing effective content creation strategies, and optimizing your website for search engines sets the foundation for a website that both looks great, performs well, and grows fast.
Keep Your Website Mobile-Friendly
In an era where smartphones are ubiquitous, having a mobile-friendly website is no longer optional; it’s essential. A mobile-friendly, or responsive, website adjusts seamlessly to the screen size of various devices, providing an optimal viewing experience for users. Here’s why it’s so important.
1. Increased Traffic from Mobile Users
The majority of web traffic comes from mobile devices. A mobile-friendly site caters to a vast audience and makes it easier for anyone to navigate your website on the go.
2. Enhanced SEO Ranking
Search engines like Google prioritize mobile-friendly websites in their search results, recognizing their importance in providing a positive user experience.
3. Higher Conversion Rates
A site that performs well on mobile is more likely to engage visitors and convert them into customers or subscribers.
Test and Enhancing Mobile Responsiveness
Keeping your website mobile-responsive means both testing and performing ongoing enhancements. Here’s what you can do to make sure your site performs well on mobile devices.
1. Use Responsive Templates
Choose a business website template that is inherently mobile-friendly. Many template-based website builders and free website builders offer responsive designs.
2. Test on Multiple Devices
Regularly test your website on various mobile devices to ensure consistent performance and appearance.
3. Optimize Images and Media
Check that images and media content load quickly and display correctly on different mobile devices.
4. Simplify Navigation
Streamline your site’s navigation for mobile users. Large, easy-to-click buttons and a simplified menu are fantastic ways to keep the mobile experience seamless.
5. Minimize Text Input
Reduce the amount of required text input if your website contains forms and fillable fields. As a user, less typing means less resistance when it comes to making a purchase.
Use Analytics To Track Performance
Website analytics provide invaluable insights into your site’s performance, user behavior, and areas for improvement. By analyzing data, you can easily make data-driven decisions that make your website more effective.
Understanding your analytics is key to making informed decisions that align with your business goals. Here’s how analytics can help you understand where your website needs to improve.
1. Monitor Traffic Sources
Keeping a close eye on traffic sources helps you understand where your visitors are coming from – be it search engines, social media, or direct visits. If one page has significantly more traffic than another, it probably means the low-traffic pages have room for improvement. Consider refining the content of low-traffic landing pages by identifying what makes your high-traffic landing pages work so well, then applying similar techniques to pages that need improvement.
2. Analyze User Behavior
Track which pages your visitors spend the most time on, and which pages have the highest bounce rates. This information can offer insight into which of your services are most appealing to buyers.
3. Identify Device Usage
Determine whether most of your traffic comes from mobile devices or desktops, and optimize accordingly.
4. Evaluate Conversion Rates
Assess which pages lead to the most conversions, such as sales, sign-ups, or contact form submissions.
5. Assess Content Relevance and Quality
Ensure your website content is engaging, informative, and updated regularly with fresh content. High-quality content targeted toward terms users are searching for keeps your site live and dynamic.
6. Set and Track Goals
Establish specific objectives, like increasing traffic or improving conversion rates, and use analytics to track your progress.
Find Out What Works
To create a successful website, you’ve got to understand which elements contribute to a site’s effectiveness. That means that business owners must go beyond looking at just content, and also focus on design aspects that might affect the user experience.
Above, we focused on monitoring analytics to help you refine content. Here is what to consider when your goal is to improve the user experience.
1. Evaluate Website Design
A well-designed website uses readable fonts, a logical layout, and a color scheme that reflects the brand. Check if your design aligns with these principles.
2. Review Navigation and User Experience
Important pages should be easy to access. Internal links should guide users through your site, while external links should lead to relevant, authoritative sources.
3. Check Mobile Responsiveness
With many users accessing websites on mobile devices, ensure your site is mobile-friendly. If visitors can’t make a purchase with ease, they simply won’t make a purchase!
4. Analyze Loading Speed
A fast-loading website hosted with a reliable provider delivers a better user experience and is viewed favorably by search engines.
5. Monitor SEO Performance
6. Track User Engagement
Use analytics to see how users interact with your site. Look at metrics like page views, bounce rate, and average time spent on different pages within the site. Use this information to identify features they love (or hate) and edit your pages accordingly.
Learn from Real-Life Examples
One of the best ways to improve your website is to learn from successful real-life examples. Study competitors and other businesses known for their effectiveness, design, and content strategy.
1. Analyze Competitors
Look at websites of successful competitors. Note what they do well and how they engage their audience. What elements can you use on your own website?
2. Explore Various Industries
Don’t limit your analysis to your industry. Broadening your scope can provide fresh perspectives and innovative ideas. If you can adapt your offer to a specific industry and build a landing page for it, it’s likely to perform better than a page that tries to attempt to all industries.
3. Note Design Elements
Observe the use of colors, fonts, and layout. How do these elements contribute to the overall user experience? Do they make it easy to read and navigate, or does using the site seem complicated for no apparent reason?
4. Content Strategy
Examine how these sites handle their content. Look at their blog posts, videos, and how they present information. As you write your own content, look for ways to improve upon the work of your competitors.
Pay attention to features like search bars, contact forms, and e-commerce elements. How do these features enhance functionality and user experience?
6. Innovation And Trends
Notice any innovative trends that your competitors have adopted on their own sites. This could include interactive elements, animation, or unique navigation styles.
By analyzing what works and learning from real-life examples, you gain valuable insights that can be applied to your own website. This process helps to identify successful strategies and avoid common pitfalls, so your website works as well as it looks.
Troubleshoot Common Website Problems and Solutions
Even the best websites can encounter problems. Understanding common issues and knowing how to solve them is key to maintaining a smooth, efficient online presence. Some of the most common problems we see when clients come to us for a new website are listed below, along with solutions.
1. Slow Loading Speeds
Fast loading speeds are crucial for user experience and SEO. Optimize image sizes, minimize the use of heavy scripts, and choose a reliable web host service provider to keep your site running fast.
2. Broken Links
Regularly check and fix both internal and external links. Click through your website and make sure all links are functional. Broken links can negatively impact user experience, and search engines like Google view them negatively.
3. Outdated Content
Keep your content fresh and relevant to what you do. Regular updates are key to engaging visitors and improving search engine rankings.
4. Poor Mobile Responsiveness
Most traffic comes from mobile devices. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile users, you’re losing out on opportunities. Use a template-based website builder that offers responsive design options so your site is accessible and functional on all devices.
5. Security Issues
Poor security puts both user and business data at risk. Use standard security measures like SSL certificates, regular software updates, and secure hosting to protect your site and users. If your site uses plugins, check them for updates on a regular basis.
When to Seek Professional Help
You can handle many aspects of website management with a free website builder or by following guides, but there are times when seeking professional help may be a better option.
1. Complex Technical Issues
If you’re facing persistent technical issues that are beyond your expertise, it’s time to consult a web developer or IT specialist. Changing settings without experience can lead to broken features or site downtime.
2. Major Redesigns
For significant redesigns or when adding complex features, professional designers and developers can ensure the work is done efficiently and correctly.
3. SEO and Marketing
Professionals can offer advanced strategies and insights into SEO and digital marketing, which might be beyond the scope of basic tools and knowledge. If you’ve seen a slowdown in traffic despite regularly posting new blogs, it’s worth reaching out to a marketing agency that specializes in content strategy and SEO services.
4. Legal Compliance
For legal matters like privacy policies, terms of service, or accessibility compliance, it’s wise to consult legal professionals. Otherwise, you may be on the hook for unseen liabilities.
By addressing common website problems, knowing when to seek professional help, and taking steps to future-proof your website, you ensure that your site remains an effective and valuable asset for your business.
Start Building Your Own Website Today
Building a business website is a lot of hard work. It’s a journey that requires creativity, strategy, and technical savvy, and every step in the process is pivotal to shaping your online identity.
Remember, your website is an evolving entity. There’s always room for improvement! It requires regular updates, regular new content, and ongoing optimization to stay relevant, effective, and at the top of search engines like Google.
While tools and platforms can make the process of building a business website easier, your brand’s unique voice and clear presentation are what really make it stand out.
Still need help building your website? Speak with a ClearBrand marketing specialist to learn how we can help you create a site that sells.