In this post, I’m going to share with you, my website checklist for small business. Outlining the steps involved in creating a website for your small business.
All businesses should have a website. Nowadays, people generally search on Google before going anywhere else. So it’s not only a necessity, but people expect every business to have a website. Having a website for your business helps creates trust, and confirms that you are a real business. If you don’t have a website, people may wonder whether you are a legitimate business or not.
Building a website for your business is a huge investment, so you should do your research.
So what are the steps?
One of the most confusing things to decide, is where to start? If you know nothing about building websites, then how would you know where to start?
These are some of the things you should think about
- What’s your budget?
- What software/platform should the website be built in?
- Will you be able to edit the site ongoing?
- Should you build the website yourself?
- Should you hire a web designer?
- What if you hire the wrong company?
- What should you have in your website?
- How will you market the website?
Let’s go through these questions to help you understand the process better. As they say, knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have about building a business website, the better!
I have often heard stories of people getting ripped off or paying thousands of dollars, and not getting the website they wanted!
Another major issue I hear about is when the web developer hired to do the job, creates a website, that can never be edited by the owner. So they either have to continue to pay the same developer very high fees to edit their site or rebuild the site again with someone else. This can be disheartening and costly for any small business owner. You need to be aware of this.
1. What’s your budget?
So this is the big question. This is something you need to work out based on what other things you need to spend money on to get your business going. This really depends on your finances and how much you want to invest.
What does a website cost?
These are some medium website costs. These costs vary depending on the company.
3 pages – around $600.
5 pages – around $900.
10 pages – around $1700.
20 + pages – anywhere from $2000-$5000.
So I would recommend allocating your budget first, then looking for a company that can work within your budget.
Also, make sure the web company outlines what ongoing costs are involved.
2. What software/platform should the website be built in?
OMG, I could write forever on this topic. My favourite choice, of course, would be WordPress. Only because I have been in the industry for a long time now. So have tried and tested many different types of web software.
WordPress is far by the best for price and scalability. Avoid having a website coded from scratch as this means it will always need to be coded ongoing. And this will be costly.
If you just want a simple information website then Wix or Squarespace is great! But be aware that if your website needs some type of complex feature or plugin, it may not be available in these platforms.
For example; I have a friend that had to go to the USA to get something coded for Squarespace and it cost a lot of time and money. Whereas in WordPress you can just find a plugin that will do the job without the outrageous price tag.
Questions to ask when choosing a platform for your website
- Can you do edits yourself if you choose to?
When your first starting out, you may not have the budget to get a developer to edit and manage your website. So make sure you choose a platform that is easy for you to make changes when you want to.
- Is the software easy to scale the website when your website grows?
For example; do they offer free or paid plugins/apps so you don’t need to code anything? Plugins allow you to grow your website with less expense. Some website builders do not have the capacity to add complex features or advanced functionality. So this means you would have to rebuild the entire website with another platform.
- If you need to move your website in the future to another platform, is this possible or will it be a costly experience?
For example; Joomla can migrate to WordPress quite easily with a plugin. But other software like Wix to WordPress is not compatible. Hence, you would have to rebuild the site from scratch.
- Does the software provide options to add SEO?
Some website software has minimal options for optimising for SEO. Hence make sure you research what SEO options are available.
- Does the software load fast or slow?
Are there options to make the site faster? That is; can you install a plugin or app to improve the speed? For example; Wix is known for having slow speeds in Australia. As their servers are not local and there’s not much you can do about this. With WordPress, you can tweak the speed by using a caching plugin.
Test your speed
One way to check the speed is to set up a test site. Then use this site to test the speed.
- Signup for a free account.
- In the account settings.
- Choose the country where your visitors come from.
- Test the site.
- It should be 3 seconds or under.
3. Will you be able to edit the site ongoing?
This is an important question to ask. If you are thinking of employing a web developer to build your site. Make sure you ask them if you will be able to make simple changes in your site if you want to.
I see this issue time and time again when a small business has paid out thousands of dollars and they come to me for training to learn how to edit the site. Only discovering that the site has been so customised or coded by the developer that they can’t edit the site at all. Only the developer can. Most often they have to rebuild the site. As they can’t afford the ongoing fees.
Make sure when doing your research that you ask how much the fee is if you want the developer to make edits for you. So you can budget this into your business.
Manly small businesses can’t afford to pay a couple of hundred dollars each time to make small text edits.
4. Should you build the website yourself?
This is possible these days with all the online website builders. But whether you should or not is another question. So let’s way up the pros and cons.
- Building your website will give you full control over your website.
- Learning from scratch will build up your skills, and can teach you how to maintain your site ongoing. Therefore not needing any services from a web designer until your business grows and you have more budget.
- If you don’t have a big budget, it may work out more cost-effective, just to get up a few pages to get started. The most important thing is to choose the right platform. One which can grow when your business does and allows you to edit the website if you need to. If you have just an information website then it doesn’t matter too much. But if you have a more complex site then this is an important factor to think about.
- Are you computer savvy enough to do the job?
Some people are great at whipping up a basic website with some of the online tools, like Wix or Squarespace. But others may spend weeks if not months trying to work it out. You also want to make sure the design of the website is professional and doesn’t look home-made.
- Is this worth your time?
When you could be spending your valuable time elsewhere in the business. For example; on marketing, which is another crucial part of any small business. Sometimes it’s better just to pay someone to do the job properly. Especially if you have a more complex website.
- Are you limited by the software?
If you start with software like Wix for example; then decide you need WordPress. Be aware that moving over from one platform to another may not be as easy as you think. Especially if you have already established Google rankings. Moving over your website can be more complex & costly than expected! So you should really research the most relevant software for your website before proceeding.
5. Should you hire a web designer?
Hiring a web designer can be a mammoth task, especially trying to find the best fit for your business. Make sure your budget isn’t the only thing you take into consideration.
Here are some important questions you should ask
- What software do they use? As we discussed above.
- Will you be able to do basic edits if you want to? As we discussed above.
- Can they easily expand the website if needed, preferably without coding?
For example; if they build the site in their own custom software, what are the costs involved if you need to expand the site in the future?
- Will the website be mobile friendly?
All websites need to look good & function properly on all mobile devices including phones, tablets & laptops. Otherwise, Google will not rank them as well. Make sure the web developer ensures your website will be mobile-friendly.
- Will the site be SEO ready or is this an extra cost?
SEO in layman’s terms is the process of making your site optimised for the user as well as the Search Engines.
Some developers may include some very basic SEO in their packages. But SEO is a big job, so this will most likely not have a great impact on your SEO. Ask about what SEO is included and if they offer SEO ongoing.
- Do they offer good support in a timely manner?
Good support is essential to ensure your website keeps functioning properly and also if you need something fixed in a hurry. Make sure you ask what support is offered and the costs involved. Additionally, check how long they take to respond to support requests.
- If they use their own custom software will it be a problem if you wish to move your website to another platform in the future?
Ask this question just in case, you ever need to move to another platform. I have heard stories about clients who basically had to start from scratch because the software used to build the site was not compatible with any other software.
These are all the things you need to be aware of when looking to hire a web developer or designer. Definitely do lots of research before signing up!
6. What if you hire the wrong company?
This can be a big issue if you don’t do your research before signing up. Furthermore, most importantly if you choose the right software/platform to build the site on, moving your site to another web company shouldn’t be an issue.
For example; if you get your site built in WordPress and it is not a customised theme/template. Moving it to someone else shouldn’t be a problem.
I would recommend when you pick your web developer to suggest to them to use one of the following WordPress themes. This will ensure anyone can edit the site ongoing and develop it further without issues.
WordPress Themes I recommend
Just make sure you check the following things before purchasing.
- Are there any bad reviews in the comments section.
- See how many sales they have. As this indicates how popular the theme is.
- Check how long it takes for the developer to respond to comments.
- What page builder and other plugins are included with the theme.
WP Bakery is the standard page builder included with these themes.
- Send your questions to the developer, to make sure they have all you need in the theme before buying it.
If you take the above steps to ensure you choose a compatible software and theme, moving your site in the future should not be an issue if required!
7. What should you have in your website?
Ok, so once you’ve asked all the important questions and chosen your web developer. The next major step is to decide what to include on your website.
The developer should guide you but these are the standard elements you should have in a professional website.
- A logo – to build brand recognition. Building a brand is very important. Check out this article – https://99designs.com.au/blog/tips/logo-importance/
- A colour palette – also to build your brand. Use this great website to help you choose a colour palette – https://mycolor.space/
- Important pages – Home, about, contact, privacy, terms, shipping and returns (if you have a shop), services or products, blog.
- About page – this page helps create trust. If the user can read a little bit about your history, education, team etc. They can see there is a real person or persons behind the business.
- Contact page – make sure you include the relevant contact details. Address, email, phone, ABN etc. Some users will not trust a website that has no contact details.
- Legal pages like privacy, shipping etc – also create trust and are useful to the user. This also makes the search engines happy!!
- A blog – adds fresh content to your site and keeps it active. Writing a blog has great benefits for SEO.
- Services or products – obviously you need these pages to tell users about your services or products.
- Images – are great to help break up text and make your site more visually appealing. Make sure you choose professional images. Bad images can make your site look horrible.
Your developer may supply images. If not you can source great images at a budget friendly price from canva.com.
- Choosing the right font – can have a big impact on your site. It can be the difference between and professional website and a not so professional site. Your developer should help out with this also. But you can always source font from the Internet or look at google.fonts.com to get ideas.
- Always make sure you have unique content. Never copy from other websites. Not even a little bit of text.
- Check spelling and grammar of all copy before sending to your developer to make sure there are no mistakes. Nothing looks more unprofessional than bad spelling. And often this can be missed.
- Social Media – all sites these days should have social media. For users to share your content and also for users to follow your profiles.
- Security – make sure you have a backup system in place. And some type of security. If your site is ever hacked, you need to have a backup ready to restore it asap. To ensure you don’t lose customers and any Google rankings.
8. How will you market the website?
Another major thing you will have to think about is how you will market your website.
Theses are some typical marketing strategies for your new site.
- Google – you can do this 2 ways.
- Organically – with SEO. SEO is search engine optimisation. Which can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to build up momentum. Especially if you have a new site.
- Google Ads – these can be quite expensive, so make sure you set a maximum budget per month. Be prepared to spend at least $500 per month. Google Ads can be quite effective if you get the right customers and make sales.
- Facebook Ads – this can be a budget-friendly way to market your new business. Again do your research on how to set up an ad and set a maximum budget. As you don’t want to waste money.
- Blog writing – writing useful content and sharing it on the Internet and Social Media is a great way to market your website for free. This may be the only option you have when first starting out if you have a low budget.
- Adding your business profile to online directories.
- Local directories like truelocal.com.au, hotfrog.com.au, yellowpages.com.au, whitepages.com.au etc.
- Industry-related directories.
- Bookmarking sites – like pinterest.com, reddit.com, quora.com, twitter.com. Check this site – https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/10-popular-social-bookmarking-websites/
- The old fashioned way of marketing can also be beneficial. That is; handing out flyers, brochures, business cards, going to networking meetings, talking to people.
Marketing can be hard at the beginning. But once you figure out what works for your business it shouldn’t take long before you have the right visitors coming to your website.
If you need help with SEO click to view our SEO training course.
To sum up
Setting up a small business website doesn’t have to be hard. If you follow some of our tips and research as much as you can as suggested above, the process should be a little easier.
If you need help with building a new website contact us. We also offer small business website packages that are suitable for all budgets. We design our websites in WordPress and use the Divi theme or purchased themes from ThemeForest. This guarantees you can edit your site whenever you want.
If you need help with building a website visit our small business website design page.
Written by Jodi Allbon 2019.