If you’ve ever tried to create a small business website, this post will mean more to you because you know the struggle is real. But whether you’re new to this or not, you’ll walk away feeling like not only can you create a business website, but that you can do it in as little as 15 minutes! No joke.
We timed ourselves using our DIY business website builder and were able to create a website that fast. We’ll get to all that fun stuff later, but first wanted to give all you small business owners out there some basic pointers on what goes into creating a business website. That way you’ll be prepared when it comes time to create your own.
We’ll also look at some ways to get a domain and hosting for free and the advantages of having a website in the first place! Read on to learn more and get motivated to put together the easiest website for your small business in record time.
Website Basics for Small Business
Ok, so you have 15 minutes to create a business website, now what? We’ll walk you through do-it-yourself website builders in the next section, but before we get to that, let’s think through what your website should include. Let’s talk website content and website design basics.
The Basics of Website Content
Every small business website should have at least a home page and a page with contact information and directions to your physical business location (if you have one). Having other sections on your website, like an About Us page, can help visitors get a better sense of what your business does and why. People love a good story and enjoy supporting small businesses who share their history and values with the community.
Businesses also typically add pages to explain each product or service they provide. A website can have as many or as few pages as you want it to have, depending on your business needs.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the most important aspects of your website:
Your navigation menu helps visitors move back and forth between the pages on your site. You can position your menu really anywhere on the page, but it’s most commonly displayed across the top.
You can assist your visitors with additional navigation buttons, like arrows or page numbers.
You need clean, compelling marketing copy for your website explaining what you do in a clear, concise fashion. It’s a good idea to optimize your copy with keywords about your business so search engines can understand what you do.
- Contact Information
It’s essential to include your company’s contact information on your website, not only for customers but also for search engines. Place contact information at the top of your home page, or add it as a footer to every page on your site. You can even include a dedicated Contact Us page that includes not only your phone number, email and address, but also a map, a contact form or even a list of specific contacts within your company.
The Basics of Website Design
Humans are visual creatures. So it makes sense that your website should be visually pleasing and follow the basic principles of design. According to academic studies, 75% of people judge a business’ credibility on their website design and 94% of a company’s’ first impressions are design-related. Following basic web design guidelines can help turn your website visitors into customers.
Your branding should be consistent across all aspects of your business, from your storefront to your website. Your website should strongly reflect your distinctive visual branding so customers recognize you right away. Include your logo and brand colors on your website, as well as photos of yourself, your products and your location.
If you haven’t decided on your brand palette yet, find colors that complement your logo or business sign, or pick colors that compliment your products (think of wood products for example). Keep your palette simple so your website doesn’t become too color-laden and visually cluttered. Just like when you’re redesigning a room and choose a palette of colors for your walls, trim, furniture, carpets, and fabrics, you need a palette for your website to bring it all together. To get inspiration, build a palette using the free tools at Paletton or Coolors, or look at those created by the community at ColourLovers.
Aside from these basics, small business owners have to unify design elements and arrange them in a visually pleasing way. Here are a few additional considerations for website design:
Typography, or the style and arrangement of typefaces or fonts, conveys the personality of your company. For example, a small, creative graphic design company would probably choose a different set of fonts than an accounting firm or a Fortune 500 company. Google Fonts has a nice gallery to pick the combination that works best for your site. You can also conduct a Google search for font combinations to learn how top designers mix and match fonts. Remember to choose fonts that are legible and not overly stylized, and use a maximum of two or three in total.
A customer’s first impression of your website determines whether they stay or go. In fact, customers decide in as little as 1/20 of a second whether to keep browsing or click away. For your first small business website, you should probably choose a simple layout and a small number of pages. You can always expand on your core design later as your small business grows.
Try to use images with a common style so they communicate a unified visual message. If you have a logo, don’t forget to incorporate it into your website design and across your marketing materials. You can use your high-quality own photos (a home photography set up can go a long way) or stock photos you can download or purchase online.
How to Create a Small Business Website for Free Using a DIY Website Builder
You’re busy managing a successful small business, but you also know you need the time to ensure your website has all the basics we just discussed. That’s where a DIY Website Builder comes in.
A website builder is a user-friendly tool that allows anyone to build a simple website in as little as 15 minutes. Website builders put the power of website creation into the small business owner’s hands. You don’t need to have advanced programming knowledge – you don’t need to have any programming knowledge.
Website builders are meant to be intuitive and easy to use since they are typically intended for individuals with little website design or development experience. The best part is that many website builders are free, allowing small business owners to create unique websites from pre-designed templates.
Free Website Builder Templates
Free website builder templates give you the tools to create a small business website without paying for expensive themes or custom web design. Templates provided inside DIY website builders are typically easy to use and personalize. Look for free website builder templates that include:
- Many color choices
- Clear navigation
- Beautiful images
- Effective copy placement
- Customizable elements
- Responsive design
Get a Free Domain Too
A domain is the address your customers type in their browsers to get to your website. It’s kind of like a virtual binder of all of your website pages. Every page you publish becomes part of your unique domain.
Choosing the right domain name is just as important as picking the right name for your business. It can include:
- Your personal name or company name
- A name identifying an important product
- Your location
For example, a plumber in Seattle might use the domain name Seattleplumber.com instead of using a business name
- A unique domain extension
For example, a café can add .coffee to the end of their domain, or a realtor can use .forsale as an extension
Once you settle on a name, and you know it’s available, it’s a good idea to buy your domain name plus multiple extensions. If you own Chicagorestaurant.com. ChicagoRestaurant.food, and ChicagoRestaurant.pizza, for example, you can redirect each domain to the same website. This practice prevents customer confusion in case you and another local business have a similar domain name. It also prevents a competitor from impersonating your domain and luring customers away from you.
Ok so back to the free stuff. You can get a free domain with some website builders and we’ll get back to that in just a second, but first…
How to Get Free Hosting
Once you have a domain and create a free website for your small business, you’ll need a place to host it. Websites are housed on a server, which allows multiple visitors to access them at once. Some small business owners purchase their own servers, but it’s much easier to host your website online with a reputable hosting company. They take care of keeping your website up and running and fix any technical support issues you encounter. Many hosting companies provide value-added services, such as branded email addresses incorporating your new domain name. That’s another freebie that you can get with certain website builders – free email for your small business!
Is Anything Really Free?
The answer to this is unfortunately no. Website builders that are free will charge users for hosting, domains and/or email, etc. Similarly, website builders that are available for a low monthly charge (in the range of $7 USD per month), tend to offer free domains and hosting to small business owners.
There are pros and cons to each arrangement, so you have to see what’s right for you. Perhaps purchasing your domain outside the website builder will be really expensive in your particular case. But again, since domain and hosting costs can fluctuate depending on a user’s needs, it can be case by case.
Our DIY website builder works on a low monthly charge, as described above. It provides users with free website design templates, free hosting and a free domain. In addition to those freebies, there’s also a website builder for ecommerce, where you can display your products online, process transactions securely, and track sales within one system. Let’s take a look at the basic DIY website builder and…drumroll…how we used it to create a website in record time (Guinness World Records, are you listening?).
We Timed It! How We Created a Small Business Website in Just 15 Minutes
While we can’t speak for every DIY website builder, ours has a plethora of modern, professional website design layouts that are appropriate for small businesses. The comprehensive, exclusive template library contains over 2,500 designs for business websites. Then it only takes minutes to simply drop in your own personal elements.
Take all the copy and images you prepared offline into the website builder… and you’re done! You can use our library of stock photos or your own uploaded photos. When you type your copy, it appears in a pre-installed font combination reflecting your brand’s personality.
Let’s take a look inside the website builder to see how it works.
To get the ball rolling, first enter your business type. On the next page, enter your business name, email address and phone number.
What sections are you hoping to include in your website? From an About Us to a Media section, you can help your customers get all the information they need and delight them at the same time. You don’t have to add all the available sections, but you can if you like!
Now we’re getting into the fun part! Choose a basic theme for your new website. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure, you can change your theme later. All themes are customizable with colors, images, fonts and more.
Time to choose a look for the top portion of your website. This is your chance to make a great first impression with your visitors.
As you scroll down, you’ll be able to choose a look and feel for all the sections you decided on earlier. These are customizable as well (more on that in the next steps).
You’ve decided on the format of your website, but what’s next? Follow along with the website builder guide to learn where you can edit your theme, undo an action, publish your page or talk to our website experts.
The foundation is in place, now it’s time to make this website your own! Take as little or as much time as you need to go through each section and add your brand colors, product images, testimonials, multimedia and more.
Our website builder has a built-in media library filled with free stock images, so don’t fret if you don’t have any images of your own yet!
Website done in 15 minutes flat! Can you believe it? Anyone who says they can’t build a website is fibbing because we just proved how easy and fast it really is. An easy DIY website builder is the best way to get unstuck with your website, as Barry Moltz would say. He used our website builder to create this professional website in under an hour: www.areubusy.com
Of course, you can keep on customizing your website as little or as much as you’d like! Have monthly specials? It’s easy to update your website. Want to add new images? Simply drag and drop them in.
After creating your website, register your preferred domain name and host your site with Web.com. You get instant email addresses in addition to hassle-free hosting for your website. As your website grows more popular, you can take advantage of all that comes with it!
Benefits & Advantages of a Website for Small Business
Over half of small businesses still haven’t created a website. Business owners worry about the expense and technical challenges of building and maintaining a website. Designing your small business website can seem overwhelming when you have no experience with coding or designing websites. Fortunately, it’s never been easier or more affordable to build one.
Even if all your traditional business has come from a brick-and-mortar store or from events like trade shows, fairs, and festivals, you can no longer afford to ignore the importance of having a small business website. Today’s customers don’t look in the phone book or read about companies through ads in newspapers. They use tools like Google to search for local businesses.
Without a website, you’re saying “goodbye” to every business opportunity that comes from an online search. And that’s a lot of opportunity: 75% of local searches become in-store visits within 24 hours. If they can’t find your small business website online, they’ll look for someone else.
The best business websites become online storefronts, like a branch of your business that’s open 24/7. Even when you’ve closed your business for the day, your website keeps working around the clock.
When you have a website, you can also start using affordable advertising tools to promote your business. If you have a website, you can promote it in your store, on the radio, via email marketing, on social media and in all of your print and other local marketing materials. A website gives you a chance to attract customers from all over the world.
From professional and affordable website designs to having a business email, small business owners gain a lot from DIY website builders and from having a website in the first place!
But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s a sample of our website builder reviews from small business owners who successfully created a website with our website builder:
So there you have it. If you haven’t already now is the time! After all, you only need 15 minutes to get started.