How to Create a Website for Your Business

Learn what you need to build and maintain your site, and discover how to design it for your customers.

How to Create a Website for Your Business Illustration

According to small business industry statistics, over 19.1 million small businesses in the United States have websites. That’s less than 64% of the small businesses in the U.S., meaning that more than 10 million don’t have a website yet.

Some business owners may be reluctant to create a website because they’re doing fine without one, or because they think the process would be too time-consuming and confusing. Others may consider hiring a digital agency to handle their website, but this can be expensive in terms of long-term maintenance.

But building a website doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive, or time-consuming. And no matter what your business offers, adding a website to your marketing strategy can open many doors. It’s achievable with some planning.

This article will dig into how to get a domain name (that’s your web “address”), how to choose a provider to host your site, what you need to build and maintain a site, and how to design it to meet customers’ needs. You’ll also learn what to include on your website and how it can grow and change alongside your small business.

Getting started on your website

Small business website design only requires a few key building blocks:

  • A domain name
  • A hosting service
  • A website template that suits your business
  • A payment service if you’re making an e-commerce site

Domain name

Your domain name is what people type in their address bar when they’re trying to visit your site. For example, “mailchimp.com,” “wikipedia.org,” and “irs.gov” are all domain names. Ideally, your domain name should include some or all of your business name to make it easy for customers to remember.

However, the domain name you want might not be available if someone else has already registered it. For example, if your business’s name is Tom’s Hardware, you wouldn’t be able to use the domain name “tomshardware.com” because it’s already taken.

One easy workaround is to change the suffix at the end of your domain name. That’s the “.com,” “.net,” “.org,” or other letters at the end of your domain. For example, while “tomshardware.com” is taken, “tomshardware.biz” might be available. Another option is to add something to the domain name. If your business is a brick-and-mortar shop, you might add its location: “tomshardwareboston.com.”

Where can you buy a domain name?

You buy a domain name from a domain name registrar, a company that sells and registers domain names, ensuring that you and no one else owns it. Many of these companies can also host your website, give you branded email, and offer marketing tools. Some of the most popular companies selling domain names include:

  • Mailchimp.com
  • GoDaddy.com
  • Domain.com
  • Namecheap.com
  • Name.com
  • Domains.google
  • Dynadot.com
  • NameSilo.com

You can go to any of these sites and easily buy a domain name. Once you make the purchase, the name is yours and yours alone. Note that you don’t have to use it to build a website right away because you own the name as long as you continue to pay the registration fee.

Hosting service

A hosting service is a company you use to put your website online. They “host” your site by providing a place for it to reside on the internet.

A hosting site sells you the space you need for your site on a web server. A web server refers to the computer software and hardware that store your content and deliver it to your browser when you type in a web address. The pages, images, videos, features, and apps on your site all require storage space. You should try to keep the amount of storage each page needs relatively small so users with slow internet connections don’t have to wait a long time for them to load.

If you purchased a plan with 10MB of storage and kept each page to 100 KB, you could have 100 pages on your website. Most services offer an option to upgrade later if you need more space.

Some of the top hosting services include:

  • Mailchimp.com
  • GoDaddy.com
  • Bluehost.com
  • OVH.com
  • Hetzner.com
  • Namecheap.com
  • Ionos.com
  • LiquidWeb.com
  • SiteGround.com

Bandwidth

Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that’s passed to and from your website. Bandwidth is consumed as visitors access your website content. Your hosting service provides this bandwidth so that users can have a smooth, efficient, and enjoyable experience.

Most small businesses don’t need more than around 5GB per month of bandwidth. That gives you enough space to accommodate around 20,000 visitors a month, with each one visiting 5 pages on your site.

Choosing a hosting provider

If you check out different hosting providers, you may find that their fees are either close or identical, especially for their baseline services. Therefore, choosing a hosting provider will come down to the features you need. Some considerations may include:

  • Maximum storage space
  • Bandwidth
  • Complimentary features such as SEO tools
  • The number of domains and subdomains you’re allowed to have
  • Email accounts
  • Tech support

If all you need is a relatively simple site to feature your products or services, give customers a chance to engage with your business, and reinforce your brand identity, you may find that the baseline features of many hosting providers are more than enough. In that case, the ease of the site design process could be your deciding factor.

Web template

For most people, a web template is all they need to design their own site. A web template comes with everything you need to set up your site except the content. Many templates even have images that work with your small business, so all you have to do is enter the words. Designing a site using a web template is straightforward. Each template has fields where you enter text. For example, you can input your business’s:

  • Name
  • Slogan
  • Mission statement
  • History and “About Us” information
  • Description of services
  • Lists of credentials
  • People and organizations you’ve worked with

Because there are so many templates available, you may find one that lets you enter all this information and more. If not, most hosting providers make it easy to create your own sections to accommodate the specific needs of your business.

Payment service

As you look into how to make a business website, you may, like many business owners, consider building an e-commerce site. E-commerce lets you sell products and services online, allowing customers to pay using a credit card, bank account information, or a payment service like PayPal or Stripe.

Many website templates include the infrastructure for e-commerce. In that case, you can build your site using a template that has e-commerce features and connect your payment solution. For a service like PayPal, you’ll enter your login credentials and confirm that PayPal will accept payment from your target market. (Not all payment services are available in every country.)

When you set up an e-commerce solution, it’s also important to consider how much it will cost per transaction. It’s usually a small percentage of the total. This will vary depending on the e-commerce provider and where you and your customers live. The prices of your goods or services should accommodate the added cost of e-commerce transactions.

If you use Mailchimp, it’s easy to set up your e-commerce website. It’s free to create a store—you only pay when you make a sale. All payments for stores built with Mailchimp are processed using Stripe.

Bonus features and add-ons

The simplest websites only need a domain name, a hosting service, and a template to get up and running. But depending on the nature of your small business, you may want to consider other features to enhance the experience for your visitors and even make more money on your site. Some of the most popular features include:

  • Contact forms so customers can get in touch with you
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) tools, which help your site appear higher in search engines
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) systems to keep track of customers and their information
  • Membership add-ons, which make it possible to charge users to access exclusive content like e-books, software, or courses you’ve designed
  • Landing page builders that give you an attractive standalone page to welcome visitors using strategic images, video, or other on-brand content
  • Appointment management systems, which let customers book a time slot for your services directly from your website

Some web hosting companies will offer features like these for an extra fee per month; others may offer them for free. Either way, you don’t have to shop for a separate provider—simply select the package with the features you want.

Building, expanding, and maintaining your website

Website builders

If you know what you want and are short on time, you may want to choose a hosting provider with a straightforward site design process. Some providers allow you to enter information about your business and then they automatically create the basic structure of your site for you. However, these kinds of sites may not have a lot of flexibility and might require significantly more work later to get them to align with your specific needs.

Other providers may have certain styles of templates that resonate with your creative vision for your business. You may also find a hosting provider that has a lot of templates with simple, user-friendly layouts.

If your focus will be e-commerce, you may want a site that includes elements like built-in shopping cart features, a CRM system, and a content management system (CMS) that makes it easy to add images and videos of your products to your site.

What to include on your website

What you need to include on your public-facing website (and what you need to have behind the scenes) will vary based on the nature of your business, but some features apply to the vast majority of business websites.

  • A navigation bar that makes it easy to go from one page to the next
  • A customer review section, which encourages meaningful customer engagement
  • Buttons to link to your business’s social media accounts
  • A simple content management system that makes it easy to add, remove, or replace content
  • Security features, especially if you’ll be taking payments
  • A search function so users can find articles and items they’re interested in
  • Pages that describe new products or services in detail if you have an e-commerce site
  • A mobile-friendly web template

Meet your customers’ needs

One of the easiest ways to design a website for your small business is to use what works—avoid the temptation to reinvent the wheel. Find a company with a similar product or service as yours and a high page rank in search engines. Take note of what they do and incorporate elements of their approach in yours.

In addition, pay attention to what your target audience likes. You’ll also want to think about their ideal purchasing experience. Do they need pages with dozens of thumbnails of items, or relatively few images but with more detail?

For any business website, you’ll want to put your most engaging content on the first page. This may include blog posts, features of your product or service, or attractive images. You can use analytics to find out which content your customers interact with most frequently. Featuring this content on the first page increases engagement and saves potential customers from having to click around to find it.

Emphasize the qualities that make your business unique

Even if your layout and features are inspired by the successful sites of your competitors, you’ll want to put the factors that make you different front and center.

The things that set your business apart from others should, ideally, be found within the first 2 “folds” (where the page ends on the user’s screen) of your homepage. If you place what makes your business unique in the first 2 folds, your customers are within at most one swipe of seeing what sets you apart from your competitors. You could emphasize:

  • Unique products (even if they’re not your biggest sellers)
  • Outstanding features or services, such as free delivery or 24/7 availability
  • Employees and partners who contribute to the personality of the business

When it’s appropriate and you have a strong photo, let an image that represents your unique offerings lead the way. Images will grab your visitors’ attention and help convey the distinctive value of what you offer.

Expand your site as your business grows

As your business grows, you may need to add new features to your site to sustain and support the growth. Some of these could include:

  • A more feature-rich e-commerce solution, such as one that gives detailed buyer analytics to help you better understand your customers and inform an SEO strategy to gain more customers
  • A more in-depth blog section, perhaps organized according to the topics of the blog posts
  • More bandwidth or space as you accommodate an increased number of visitors and a larger volume of content

Maintain your website

Once you’ve created a website for your small business, you’ll need to maintain it. Some of the things you’ll want to do regularly, say, on a quarterly or annual basis, include:

  • Update your content to satisfy both customers and search engines.
  • Adjust your design to replace any outdated features or branding details.
  • Periodically check the security provisions of your hosting service to ensure your site doesn’t have any vulnerabilities.

Localize your website

There are several services that can localize your small business website, showing content customized according to the locations of your visitors or that of your business. These are typically incorporated using widgets. For example, Facebook uses a widget to display reviews of businesses near their users. However, a lot more is possible. For example, you can present customized content such as:

  • The languages commonly used in different locations
  • Calling options that take into account each visitor’s location
  • Search features that change results according to where the user is

Bringing your small business to the web

Now that you know that it’s really pretty easy to build a website, and that it’s a great marketing tool, you should check out what Mailchimp has to offer. With Mailchimp, you get an all-in-one Marketing Platform that lets you create your website, sell your products or services, and build your brand all in one place. You can track engagement with your site’s content and then target potential customers with personalized email campaigns. You also have the ability to reach new customers using social media marketing, customized landing pages, and more.

Get started for free today.

Share This Article