Having a professional business website is crucial in order to establish credibility and trust with potential customers in 2023. However, creating an effective yet easy-to-manage website can be challenging, especially if you don’t have a background in web design.
This comprehensive guide will teach you how to create a gorgeous, user-friendly website for your business, even if you don’t have any coding or design experience. You’ll learn how to:
- Choose the right platform for your needs
- Pick an intuitive template and aesthetically-pleasing design
- Make your site fast, mobile responsive, and search engine friendly
- Create compelling content that engages visitors
- Add ecommerce capabilities, forms, popups, and other conversion tools
- Maintain and update your site easily over time
So if you want to build an impressive web presence that looks like you hired a professional agency, read on. By the end, you’ll have the blueprint to launch a stunning website that drives results for your business this year and beyond.
The first step is selecting the right website builder for your specific needs. You essentially have three options:
Dedicated website building platforms: These are services like Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, or WordPress.com that allow you to create a website using their proprietary editors and tools. They handle hosting and provide themes, ecommerce features, forms, and more.
Open-source WordPress + web hosting: You can build a WordPress site on Bluehost, SiteGround, or a similar web host. This is more flexible but requires setting up and maintaining the WordPress software yourself.
Hiring a web development agency: If you have a larger budget, you can hire a web design firm to custom code and optimize a site for you. However, this costs significantly more.
|drag and drop builder, great templates, built-in ecommerce
|lack of flexibility, must use Wix domain
|$14 – $39 per month
|elegant templates, powerful design tools, integrated ecommerce
|pricier, limited code customization
|$12 – $40 per month
|easy to edit, abundant free features
|lack of control for developers
|free – $30 per month
|CMS capabilities, large free tier
|less creative freedom
|free – $45 per month
|bloggers / publishers
|open source flexibility, unlimited customization potential
|requires more technical skill
|$2.75 – $7.99 per month
|advanced users with coding skills
As you can see, the major trade-off is between ease of use and creative flexibility.
Beginners tend to prefer Wix or Squarespace for their intuitive drag and drop builders and professionally designed templates. But advanced WordPress users value open source CMS flexibility to deeply customize sites.
For most small businesses, I recommend starting with Wix or Squarespace. Their balanced blend of usability and customizability makes it easy to create a beautiful website.
Weebly is also user-friendly for simple sites, while WordPress.com offers CMS capabilities if you’re running a content-heavy site. Open source WordPress provides maximum control, but you’ll need developer skills.
As you evaluate options, keep these factors in mind:
- What’s your budget? WordPress and Squarespace are among the pricier options. Wix and Weebly offer free tiers.
- How tech savvy are you? The learning curve is steeper for self-hosted WordPress.
- What site features do you need? Consider ecommerce needs, form requirements, blogging capabilities, etc.
- What control do you want over design? WordPress offers endless customization potential.
- How will you manage updates? Self-hosted WordPress requires maintaining plugins, core software etc.
- Do you plan to expand functionality down the road? Choose a scalable platform that supports add-ons and features like membership portals as needed.
Think about your unique situation and priorities. Combine that with the pros and cons above to decide which website builder makes the most sense for you.
Once you’ve chosen your platform, the next step is browsing the template and theme options to find an aesthetic design.
Each builder provides hundreds of professionally designed templates spanning industries and styles. Here’s how to select one that suits your brand:
What emotions and ideas do you want your website design and visual theme to convey? Some examples of brand personalities websites can portray:
- Modern and sophisticated
- Playful and inventive
- Rugged and outdoorsy
- Classic and elegant
Also factor in your personal aesthetic preferences around colors, fonts, imagery etc. Identify sites or brands that appeal to you visually so you have some style inspiration.
Most website builders categorize templates and themes by business niche to make finding an applicable design simple.
For instance, Wix has sections tailored to restaurants, fashion brands, photographers, online courses etc. Search for your specific industry to evaluate on-theme layouts.
Ensure any template you choose is mobile responsive out of the box. This means the design automatically adapts across screen sizes to accommodate both desktop and smartphone visitors.
Mobile optimization is vital — over 50% of web traffic now comes from smartphones. Thankfully, responsiveness comes standard with modern templates.
At the end of the day, compelling web design boils down to choosing a template you find personally captivating based on colors, fonts, use of space etc.
The visual appeal of the template you select sets the tone for your entire site. So pick something eye catching and on brand that wows you.
While keeping your industry and target audience in mind, don’t hesitate to think outside the box either. Distinctive websites that break the mold tend to perform well.
Follow this process to land on the perfect template for showcasing your business or brand online.
Beyond aesthetics, you also need to consider technical website factors like speed, SEO, and responsiveness to ensure a positive user experience.
Thankfully, modern website builders make it easy to launch sites that are optimized “under the hood”. Here’s a quick overview:
Site speed measures how quickly your pages load. Faster sites earn higher visitor satisfaction and search engine rankings.
Follow these tips to accelerate your website performance:
- Compress images: Shrink image file sizes without losing quality using compression tools.
- Minify CSS/JS: Cut down code files for crisper page loading.
- Browser caching: Store static assets in visitors’ browsers for less re-downloading .
- Use content delivery networks (CDN): Serve site files from distributed geographic servers to display pages instantly.
- Lazy load: Only load assets like videos when scrolled into view to reduce initial load times.
Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress handle these optimizations for you automatically with premium plans.
SEO makes your site discoverable to prospective customers searching for relevant topics in engines like Google.
Onpage SEO best practices modern platforms incorporate:
- Responsive mobile design
- SSL security to serve pages over https
- Quick page speed scores
- ALT text for informative image descriptions
- Strong metadata like H1 tags and meta descriptions
- Sitemaps and robots.txt: Let search engine crawlers index new content
The right template and platform technology empowers your website to rank prominently organically.
As over 50% of web traffic comes from smartphones in 2023, ensuring a positive mobile UX is mandatory.
Mobile responsive behavior means your site adapts seamlessly across desktop and smartphone screen sizes. Images, menus, and text effortlessly rearrange.
Virtually all modern templates from leading website builders now come mobile responsive out of the box. So responsiveness is easily achievable.
Follow the steps above to guarantee your website speed, findability, and mobile-friendliness.
Visually stunning web design provides the scaffolding to showcase compelling content that engages visitors and brings your brand story to life.
But actually sitting down to produce website copy can be daunting. Here are some best practices to help:
Uncover terms and questions your audience is asking around your products or services using tools like:
Optimizing your content for keywords drives organic traffic by targeting user search intent.
Organize your website into logical sections and categories around services, products, resources, company details, contact info etc.
Break down disparate topics that make sense to guide visitors seamlessly through your content and key site sections. Clean IA directly shapes and enhances user experience.
Avoid overly self-promotional copy that focuses exclusively on product features or business achievements.
Instead, emphasize real benefits your offerings provide like saving time, relieving headaches, improving productivity etc. Communicate concrete value.
Determine the style and tone your website content should inherit to match your brand identity. Is your voice:
Mimic how you speak to customers to cut through the noise. Develop messaging only your business could own.
Chunk content into easy to scan sections with descriptive headlines and subheaders.
Use numbered/bulleted lists for key takeaways. Bold key terminology. Include ample paragraph line breaks.
Web visitors don’t read—they scan. So enhanced scannability boosts comprehension and retention.
Relevant photos, illustrations, infographics, videos, and audio clips amplified with captions blend visual storytelling into your content.
Visuals make copy more interesting while improving information retention compared to text alone.
By providing immense value driven by audience needs, your website content entices visitors to buy from you, sign up for your email list, or set up a sales call.
Use this strategic process to craft standout copy that fuels your online success.
Beyond informational pages, most business websites aim to generate leads and sales. That means effectively guiding web traffic into your sales funnel using conversion tools.
Here are some of the most effective website add-ons for capturing leads:
Dedicated pages featuring focused offers or free content upgrades convert at higher rates than busy homepage designs.
An attorney offers a free guide to download called “The 5 Biggest Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Accident Claim” in exchange for an email signup.
A cleaning service creates a savings coupon page for booking first time appointments. Visitors exchange contact info to receive the exclusive discount code.
Invite website visitors to join your mailing list. Offering free, valuable content in exchange for an email demonstrates value and earns permission to market to subscribers.
Email also drives repeat traffic as you promote new content to list members.
Service businesses like salons, clinics, coaches, and agencies can embed booking calendars allowing website visitors to schedule appointments 24/7.
This removes friction, provides availability transparency, and develops instant rapport.
Obviously any business selling online needs full featured shopping cart functionality baked into their website.
Graphics-rich product pages with sorting/filtering capacbilities, integrated payment processing, and streamlined checkout help you sell directly.
Testimonials, customer logos, and reviews establish credibility that you have happy existing buyers.
Sprinkling this “social proof” across your website, especially on product/service pages, gives visitors the confidence to purchase.
Interactive chat windows where website visitors exchange messages with automated bots offer personal custom support.
Chatbots capture contact info to fuel sales while answering common questions to facilitate buying decisions 24/7.
Take advantage of features your website platform offers out of the box or add on relevant apps and integrations from their marketplace to maximize conversions.
An effective website requires ongoing management and refresh. As your business evolves, you need to be able to easily edit pages, write new blog content, swap designs, and add functionality.
Thankfully, the top website builders make upkeep simple even without technical skills:
Wix and Squarespace provide intuitive drag and drop on-page editors. Change text, swap images, implement color palette updates and more in real time visually.
Weebly lets you edit site section blocks inline right on your live pages by hovering over elements.
WordPress empowers updating content and functionality through a centralized backend dashboard. Manage plugins, apply themes, and publish blog posts all from your admin account.
All platforms also offer extensive technical support resources like step-by-step articles and video tutorials for reference if you ever feel stuck.
Some other website maintenance tips:
- Test across devices: Ensure updates appear properly on both desktop and smartphones.
- Monitor speed: Check site performance metrics monthly and troubleshoot lags.
- Back up files: Avoid losing work by exporting copies of site data periodically.
- Renew domains annually: Remember to extend your URL registration with your registrar.
- Install security: Ongoing updates, firewalls, and malware scans protect from threats.
By investing just small amounts of regular time into managing your website, you can ensure it accurately reflects your brand and offerings for prospects to discover.
Still have some lingering questions around launching the perfect small business website? Here are answers to some FAQs:
Basic websites start as cheap as $6 per month on a user-friendly platform like Weebly. Mid-tier websites with advanced functionality like ecommerce cost $25 – $60+ per month for the site builder subscription on Squarespace or Wix. High-end custom WordPress sites can cost over $100 per month factoring development agency fees and web hosting bills.
With drag and drop site builders, starting from a polished template allows launching professional quality websites in under 1 hour without needing to code. Building from scratch allows endless refinement but typically websites take between 1 week and 1 month if working on it consistently.
No! Services like Wix, Squarespace and Weebly offer drag and drop editors and pre-made templates allowing launching beautiful websites with no coding required. WordPress site development does benefit from HTML/CSS knowledge for advanced customization, however.
Most effective small business websites have between 10 – 20 pages on average. This allows room for all important content around services, products, contact info, team bios, plus resources like blog and news articles. Avoid creating too many navigational sub-categories though as simplicity wins for usability.
Yes, technically you can launch free websites on a subdomain URL using zero-cost site builders like Wix or Weebly. The tradeoff is limited storage, bandwidth, and lack of capability to use a custom domain name. Their free plans work for very basic online presences but paid plans unlock better performance and features.
I hope this complete guide provided an actional blueprint to get your impressive business website live! Let me know if you have any other questions.