One of the most frequently asked (or most frequently avoided) questions for small business owners is:
“How do I build a website for my business?”
In a digital age (where your website is often your storefront), websites are imperative for a small business! But...
Too many small business owners focus on the technical aspect: trying to decide on a fancy Wordpress site, or wondering if a template site, like Wix or Squarespace or Strikingly will work. And if a template site, which of the hundreds of template sites to go with? The technical side is daunting! But the good news is, you don’t need to focus on the technical side.
You may not even need to invest in a $3,500 Wordpress site!
So in this article I’m going to break down:
The Pre-Website Questions to ensure you create the best website for your business.
The Process for Creating an effective website for your business.
What is the Immediate Goal for the Site?
Determining a goal for your site helps you decide what kind of site to get, and sets realistic expectations for your website.
This is the first question because it’s something I didn’t look at when I started my first website. I had these grandiose dreams of making six figures worth of sales off the site because people would “just find the site” and “fall in love” with the person represented there.
It rarely works like that, and it didn’t for me.
A good Sales Funnel, Social Media Strategy, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Strategy, Marketing Strategy, and Established Customer are crucial for a website to create that kind of income. And unless you are already making upwards of six figures in sales, your website won’t magically generate those kinds of sales. So set a realistic goal for your website that matches where you are at in your business.
Ask yourself questions like...
Is the website intended to be a placeholder like a storefront?
Are you planning to get tons of conversions from the site because you already have a customer base?
How will you Drive/Receive Traffic?
More than anything, this decision will help you to decide what kind of site you need.
If you are going to drive most of the traffic through ads, social media, and other formats that require hands-on work, stick with a template site if it’s your first site.
Especially if your site is simply a placeholder, legitimizing your business so people can find you online. This kind of site is not going to be receiving thousands of hits per day, so you don’t need to spend money on the power of a Wordpress coded site. Template sites are cheaper, easier to set up (My first website took me one evening to create on a template site… While working on a laptop!), and many of them are actually really great sites. My favorite template sites are Strikingly and Squarespace (Not a sponsor!) because they are powerful platforms that are easy to navigate but have a lot of tools that can help you convert visitors.
If you are going to use SEO strategies and an established sales funnel to drive traffic to the site, you’ll want a Wordpress or custom built site.
Especially if you’re planning to use the site to develop new clients and you have a flourishing, six figure business. Wordpress and custom sites are more expensive and require much more work (usually an ongoing web developer is needed with these sites). But if you already have plans for using SEO to drive traffic, then a Wordpress site is going to be more useful for you. Wordpress sites have a lot of power, and shine brightest by handling complicated and high traffic sites (Upwards of 1K hits per day).
Is this your First Site?
If this is your first site, I strongly recommend sticking with a template site and here’s why…
Wordpress sites are great, but they are a gigantic investment of time and cash. Minimally, they require around $3K to build, $50/month for hosting, and another $50 anytime you want to fix a typo or put up an announcement. If you’re just starting out in your business and with a website, you probably don’t need to be spending $3,000 on a website.
The great thing about template sites is that they are easy to use, cost effective, and can be easily customized to showcase exactly what you want in your business. If this is your first website, you don’t need a web developer!
Your website is most likely going to change regularly through your first few years of business to match the developments in your company. If you’re having to pay $50 every time you want to change something, you’ll quickly go in the hole for a website that is overpowered for where you’re at in your business.
The 4-Step Process for Creating Your Website
Step 1: Establish Your Goal & Ideal Traffic Flow
Before you even start thinking about the technical side of the website, you must have a clear goal in mind.
In other words, know what you want your website to help potential clients to do. Whether you want visitors to the site to fill out a contact form, make a purchase, or get a virtual tour of your business, you need to know how you want the website to guide them.
Quick Caveat: Even if the goal for your site is to collect contact forms, you can still have a product page. But your website will be geared toward guiding people to the contact form, not the products page.
Once you know what the goal of your website is, decide on the ideal traffic flow to that goal.
I.E., If people arrive on the homepage, where does the site need to guide them next in order to get them to fulfill your goal for the site?
Websites regularly struggle by continually trying to take visitors in different directions. When a homepage is pointing visitors to the About Us, Products, Locations, and Contact pages, they get confused and leave. Instead of pointing to every page, determine what pathway through your site will lead visitors to the goal you want them to reach.
Step 2: Outline the Site
Sit down with a pen and paper to write down what pages your site will need, and what kind of content needs to be showcased on each of those pages.
List out whatever information you think needs to be on the Homepage
About Us Page
List out whatever information you think needs to be on the About Us Page
Contact Us Page
List out whatever information you think needs to be on the Contact Us Page
If you’ve gone through step 1, step 2 is easier because you’ve already given yourself a guideline for what the site needs to include to achieve its goal.
In the same way that your college professor made you turn in an outline for your papers so that you could have a skeleton to work off of for your actual writing, this is going to be the written-down skeleton of the website. It is going to tell you what pages you need, and what needs to be included on each of those pages.
Step 3: Create the Content
Writing out all of the copy/written content of the site will make your life easier in the long-run.
If you’re trying to create the written content while also looking at what is aesthetically pleasing on the site, you’re trying to activate two separate sides of your brain at the same time. Is it doable? Absolutely. Is it harder than it needs to be? Absolutely!
To write out the content, look at what information each page on your site will need and write down what you want people to read in each section. Every single section.
E. G., If you’re selling jams and jellies, this is the time to write out descriptions for those jams and jellies. Go into detail about that Divine Blueberry Jam, with hints of cinnamon and vanilla. The same one that was slathered on thick crusted sourdough bread in the rolling hills of Tennessee.
This is the time to create rich copy that represents your marketing message and speaks directly to the customers.
Step 4: Start Building!
Now you’re going to actually build out the website. At this point, you have two options…
Option 1: Hire a Designer
Hiring a designer after completing steps 1-3 of this process streamlines the process and saves you cash.
Rather than having to come up with the layout and all the copy, your designer is simply inputting your website design and making it look great. It saves your designer the headache of potentially putting together something you don’t like and then perhaps having to start from scratch, and it saves you money on edits to the site.
Option 2: Build it Yourself
At this point you have all the information on what the site needs to look like and you’re simply inputting and designing aesthetics.
The great thing is that if you build it yourself, you can save money by simply having a graphic designer look it over and make tweaks after you’re done. This is the route that I most often choose because I can do the initial design, have a team member build out the majority of the site, and then bring in an excellent designer to fine-tune the layout and graphics.
If you decide to build it yourself, I strongly recommend a template site because you can often find a tutorial inside those sites for your website.
You probably don’t need a web developer!
I’m sure I just gave a lot of web developers a heart attack. But the truth is, most small business owners generally don’t need the power of an SEO Strategized Wordpress site and web developers will be happier working with companies that actually need their help.
Template sites do have purpose and a place, and there is nothing wrong with your first, second, or even fifth website being a template site.
About the Author:
Stephanie Scheller is a TED speaker, a two-time best-selling author and the founder of Grow Disrupt: a San Antonio based company dedicated to disrupting the way the world does business through training. In just under a decade, Stephanie has been behind the scenes with nearly 2500 small businesses. She has worked in groups and one-on-one to create total business transformation & help business owners live the life they got into business to create!