When it comes to small business being available to your customers in a digital world is not an option anymore, but an essential part of your business success. That means having a website!

“A website matters because your potential customers are online searching for your services or products 24 / 7. If you’re not online you’re missing opportunity. If you do have a website it needs to be listed in those search results. A well-designed and informative website can make all the difference in generating new leads and sales even when the business owner is off the clock,” says Kori Ashton, Founder and President of MaxCRO.

Significant Benefits of a Website

  • A well-designed website gives you increased visibility and accessibility. Think about it. No matter where your business is located, customers can find you any time they wish.  A website ensures your market potential is not limited by distance or time of day. This is especially important if your business does not have a physical storefront.
  • A well-designed website can help you establish your brand and build credibility with customers. Your website is a wonderful opportunity to tell people your story, and WHY you are in business. It’s a reflection of you. Use your website to engage people and offer them the opportunity to understand your business philosophy.
  • Your website can be interactive. It’s a portal in which you can talk to customers AND they can talk to you. Customers may engage with you by asking simple questions or placing orders. This communication can take place through contact forms, email, or even live chats that provide a wonderful opportunity for your potential customers to exchange valuable ideas and information.
  • Your website is not only a place to drive sales, but also a place where your customers can discover special offers, unique products that you are making available for a limited time, or special services. Your website is the central place for your customers to go to discover what is special about your business that separates you from the competition.
  • It has been said that sometimes it’s not the problem, but HOW YOU HANDLE THE PROBLEM that is important to your customers. Your website can be a critical source of value for your customers if it provides top-tier customer service. Your customers will appreciate a robust FAQ section that will answer even the most detailed questions about your business. Having good customer service email addresses or forms available for your customers is key to your success. Remember, once customers reach out to you via your website, it’s critical to respond back in a timely fashion.

How to Begin

  • Website goals: “Will you need to sell products directly on your website? Will you need to have a blog, a video or photo gallery, or an event calendar?  You can make a list of things you’d like to have and even review some competitors’ sites to gain inspiration.” says Kori Ashton.
  • Build It Yourself: There are a lot of options out there where you can build a simple website for free. However, we think it’s important that you know that the “free lunch” method can also be the most time-consuming and challenging option. WordPress and Google provide free website-building options. The only thing you’ll need to start is your imagination!
  • Use a Website Builder. There are also a range of affordable website-building options such as Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, and GoDaddy. These companies provide a range of design options that vary in price depending on how sophisticated you want your website to be. They offer templates and tools that make it easy to create a professional-looking website without any coding knowledge.
  • Hire a web designer. The costs of hiring a web designer and developer can vary depending on who you hire and the kind of website you want for your business. When you partner with a web designer, we recommend you hire an ally who can provide sound feedback and meet the deadline for your web project.

How to Get a Domain Name

When you type in the web address for your favorite website, that’s a domain name. It is what people will type into their browsers to visit your website. It’s important to choose a domain name that is related to your business or service and easy to remember.  Common extensions for websites are .com, .net, and .org. Other extension types are becoming more common such as .digital or .arts. There is typically a cost to secure a domain name and that price varies depending on the popularity of the words you use in your domain name.

Keys to website success

When you design your website make sure it is easy to navigate. Remember, your customer wants information, order forms, or answers to product questions. Make sure the clickable links and pages on your website are clear to your customers, and that your website is useful for customers and not a source of frustration.

Links should be clearly labeled. Be sure that when a customer or potential customer clicks on that link, it takes them to the exact content they are expecting to see.

“Make sure the content you provide is as straightforward as you can make it so that customers understand your service or products. Never sacrifice clarity with cleverness,” said kreativhouse marketing Founder Charles Schwabe.

Consistency is key. Keeping colors, pictures, content, and fonts consistent will keep your website easy to recognize and your customers informed about your culture and products, as they navigate your website.

Our hope is that this guide helps to get you started with your website journey and that the results lead to great success for your small business.