Follow our 8 simple steps to create a fully-functional website for your business
There was a time when it was rare for a business to have a website. Things may have changed over the years, but even until recently, having a business website built would have cost you a huge chunk of money. Now, we’re in an altogether better time for business websites: it’s easy to build a business website yourself, and you can pay just a few dollars a month to keep it live.
This means, of course, that not having a business website (or even just having a business website that’s not very good) is a huge disadvantage. But not to worry – this article will give you all the tools you need to create a website that looks great and works well, no matter your industry.
Here are the nine simple steps we’ll cover:
Create a Business Website in 8 Easy Steps
- Get a domain name
- Get a personalized business email address
- Choose a business website builder
- Pick a template
- Populate your business website with your content
- Add apps for extra functionality
- Optimize your site for search engines
- Publish!… Then monitor, adjust and update
Stick with us, and you could have a fully-functional website live in just a couple of hours. Sound good? Let’s get started.
A domain name is your website’s unique address.
While it is very common for businesses to have domain names that are the same as their business names (such as walmart.com), you can pick a domain name to include any text phrase you want, as long as it’s not already been taken.
For example, the domain name for our website is www.websitebuilderexpert.com. For businesses, it’s important to think about how your domain will be relevant to what you do. It’s the first contact a lot of people will have with your site, so make it count.
- The cost of buying a domain name
- The cost of keeping your domain name registered every year.
A domain name typically costs around $10 to $12 to purchase, and a similar amount to keep it registered in your name every year.
If someone already owns the domain name you want, you’ll need to select a different domain name, or it’s possible to reach out to the owner to buy it.
Here are some FAQs about domain names:
Q: Where can I buy a domain name?
Q: Where can I find out more about domain names? For example, how to pick, purchase and register my domain name?
A: Here is our comprehensive beginners guide to domain names. You’ll find everything you need to know about domain names here!
To make your business look more professional and established, you’ll need a custom business email address. For example, email@example.com instantly makes your business appear more established and credible than firstname.lastname@example.org.
The most common format for business email addresses actually uses your business domain name.
For example, our email address is email@example.com
Getting a custom business email address is quick, cheap, and fairly easy. Our recommendation is to use G Suite, which is powered by Google.
It’s basically Gmail for businesses, except you have a personalized email address. You get the user-friendly interface, reliability, and security of Gmail, with prices starting at $6 per month per email address.
Now, on to one of the most important steps: choosing your website builder!
It’s important to mention at this point that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to choosing the right business website builder. Different businesses will have vastly different needs – a trendy new restaurant, for example, will require something totally different from a small law firm.
That said, having tested over 50 website builders, we can confidently say that these are the top three platforms for building your business site. You can’t go far wrong if you pick any one of these options, but you can also check out our best website builders for business article for even more choice.
Best overall website builder
Wix is our easiest to use website builder, and the builder that users were most likely to recommend following our user testing. It’s the biggest website builder in the world, and comes with over 500 professionally-designed templates covering a huge array of industries.
Wix at a glance:
- Pricing: Free plan available, paid plans start at $3/month (billed annually)
- Design: Extensive collection of over 500 templates, covering pretty much every industry you can think of
- Features: Massive app market with over 260+ apps for adding niche functionality to your site
- Support: Includes phone, email, forum, help center
Who is Wix best for?
- If you need a lot of design help and guidance. Wix offers pre-populated template designs, so you can easily swap in your own business images and content without having to design your own layouts. And if you want Wix to build a website for you, you can use Wix ADI – this is an artificial intelligence design software that simply asks you what you like, then takes your ideas and builds a custom website design for you.
- If you need more flexible tools for a specialty business website. If you need an online booking/reservation app, music selling app, hotel booking app, restaurant/order takeout app, or different apps that add more practical functions to your website, Wix is a safe bet.
Find out more:
- Read our full Wix Review for a full breakdown of its features, prices, and more
Beautiful designs, and ideal for scaling your business
Squarespace is like the Apple of business website builders. It can help you create visually stunning, minimalistic business websites that can capture your visitors’ attention. It’s not quite as easy to get to grips with as Wix, but its award-winning templates are worth the slightly steeper learning curve.
Squarespace at a glance:
- Monthly Plans: Paid plans start at $12/month (billed annually). There’s no free plan, but you can take a 14-day free trial.
- Template Designs: Squarespace takes a ‘quality over quantity’ approach to template design, offering a curated selection of 60 templates across key industries.
- Features:No app market, but good quality inbuilt features (although less choice than with Wix)
- Support: Includes 24/7 email, live chat, help center
Who is Squarespace best for?
- If you want to create a visually stunning website for businesses in more creative industries, such as photography or design. You can see some examples here.
Find out more:
- Read our full Squarespace Review to learn more about what its got to offer
Great value for money
Weebly is an affordable, easy to use website builder. It’s not a big hitter when it comes to design, but it certainly delivers on features. If you’re after a cheap, no frills way to get online, this could be it.
Weebly at a glance:
- Pricing: Paid plans start at $12/month (billed annually). There’s no free plan, but you can take a 14-day free trial.
- Design: Squarespace takes a ‘quality over quantity’ approach to template design, offering a curated selection of 60 templates across key industries.
- Features:No app market, but good quality inbuilt features (although less choice than with Wix)
- Support: Includes 24/7 email, live chat, help center
Who is Weebly best for?
- If your business will rely on organic traffic. Weebly has the best SEO features and support available.
- If you’re working with a very low budget. Weebly has the cheapest paid plan of the three builders.
Find out more:
- Read our full Weebly Review to learn more about what its got to offer
WordPress.org is a content management system, or CMS. Website builders are an all-in-one package, and your website is hosted by the platform you choose to build with (e.g. Wix). With WordPress, or any other content management system, you arrange hosting yourself with a hosting provider.
WordPress.org is a really powerful and popular platform. If you hire a web designer, there’s a good chance this is the option they’ll reach for. It’s free to download, and offers the potential for complete customization.
But there’s a catch – while WordPress.org does offer complete customization, you won’t be able to achieve this unless you know how to code. This means the average person won’t be able to use it to its full potential; instead, you’ll have to stick quite closely to any template you choose to build from.
If you’re fairly tech confident and up for a challenge, WordPress.org could be an option to explore. If you’re new to building websites, you may well find it frustrating and limiting – which is why we’d generally recommend you try a website builder first.
Since this may be your first website (and potentially a new business), you will probably have no idea how your customers actually experience your brand, what they are interested in, and how they interact with your website.
In order to create a user-friendly website that caters to your specific customers, you’ll need real data.
Without this crucial information, splurging on a custom design – without fully understanding what your visitors are actually looking for, and how they interact with your website – can end up being a waste of money.
What’s more, website builders are so advanced these days that it just makes sense to try them out, before you commit to paying what will be comparatively a large amount with a web designer. You can generally do this for free, either with a free trial or a free plan. Simply put, you’ve got nothing to lose by giving website builders a go.
If this isn’t your first website, or you’ve found that a website builder doesn’t suit your needs, then hiring a designer to build your site could be a great option – but finding the right web designer is crucial.
To help with this, we’ve partnered with Expert Market, who can get you personalized quotes from a variety of reputable web designers. Just hit the button below to get started.
- Website Builder Comparison Chart: Side-by-side breakdown of website builders and their features.
- Quiz To Help You Find the Right Website Builder: 4 questions to guide you to the best website builder for you.
- Questions You Should Ask When Picking a Website Builder: Help simplify your decision-making process!
- Cost Guide – Detailed cost breakdown of using WordPress and drag-and-drop website builders
Now you’ve chosen your website builder, it’s time to pick your template. This is our favorite step, as it’s the first time you’ll get a real sense of how your business website could look.
Your template (or ‘theme’, as they’re sometimes called) will act as your design springboard.
If you build with Wix, you’ll have total freedom to customize this template however you want, which means – for better or worse – you could end up with something completely different to what you started with. Squarespace isn’t so keen to hand over the creative reins, so you’re a little more limited in how you can alter your template – but that’s no bad thing, given that Squarespace’s templates are award-winning. In terms of customization potential, Weebly sits somewhere in the middle.
Whichever builder you choose to create your business website with, it makes sense to start out with the template that most closely resembles your end goal. And whichever builder you go with, you won’t be short of options:
- Wix: Over 500 templates, with 156 classed as ‘Business’
- Squarespace: 60 templates, with 12 classed as ‘Professional Services’ and eight as ‘Local Business’
- Weebly: Over 50 templates, with 15 classed as ‘Business’
All builders categorize their templates by type, so heading to the ‘Business’ (or equivalent) section should be your first step.
You can preview each template, then pick one you like the look of and start editing. You can swap templates as many times as you like before publishing, so make sure you test out a few. Both Squarespace and Weebly also allow you to change your template after publishing, but this isn’t possible with Wix – so choose wisely!
When settling on a template for your own website, try to look beyond the more superficial details, like font, colors, and images. Whichever builder you use, this stuff will be really easy to switch out.
Instead, focus on the structure of the site, the layout of the pages, and the general ‘feel’: does the template feels modern and ‘edgy’, or more safe and traditional? Is it more ‘in your face’ or understated? Think about how this matches up with your brand identity.
- How to Choose Your Perfect Website Template Design – still on the fence? Check out this article!
- Collection of Free Website Templates – drag-and-drop web builders offer you a range of free templates to choose from. Check out some of the best here!
- How to Choose Your Perfect Website Template Design – a how-to guide that shares three simple rules to help you pick the right template design for your website.
By now, you should have experimented with a few different templates and settled on your final choice. Nice!
Now it’s time to make this generic template your own by swapping out all the placeholder content for yours, and adding any extra pages or sections.
In terms of pages, all business websites will need:
- A strong homepage. Visitors should be able to work out what you do quickly, and navigate to other sections smoothly.
- An informative ‘About Us’ page. Tell people your story, and add pictures of your team.
- A clear ‘Contact’ page. Customers need to know where they can find you, and how best to reach you.
Many businesses will also need:
- A products/services page. Talk about what you do best, and add images if you have them.
- A blog. This can help demonstrate your expertise, keep your site feeling fresh, and help your site perform well with search engines – but only if you can commit to posting to it fairly regularly.
How to design a winning homepage – what to include, and in what order.
How to write an About Us page – expert tips and examples to help your business sparkle.
Now is also a good time to check out the competition. What pages do you like on their website? Is there anything you’ve missed on yours? Any pitfalls you’re keen to avoid? Your website should look individual, yes – but it’s good to know what your customers will be expecting to find.
Some more helpful resources:
- How to Make a Logo in 1 Minute – Without Any Design Skills: Learn how you can create professional logos without using fancy (and complicated) image editors like Photoshop.
- Where to Find High-Quality Images for Your Website on the Cheap: Discover the top 5 resources where you can find beautiful images to boost the professionalism of your website
- How to Choose a Good Color Scheme For Your Website: Picking the right color scheme for your website can help brand your business, as well as influence your visitors’ psychology. Check out our guide on how to choose and use color.
- How to Pick the Perfect Font Style Design for your Website: Choosing the right font style design can hugely improve your overall website design, as well as improve your visitors’ experiences. Find out how to pick the right font for your website here.
- How to Use Video Background On Your Website: Adding a video background to your website can make it look trendy and professional, and “wow” your visitors. Find out how to add one, and learn more about the do’s and don’ts.
Now that you’ve sorted out your pages and populated them with your own content, it’s time to add in some extra features.
This is normally done through adding ‘apps’ from the builder’s own app market, although some only offer inbuilt features.
But what exactly do we mean by extra functionality? Here are some examples of handy apps and features that we think can work well for business websites:
- Forms – this gives your customers an alternative way to contact you, and helps you organize your enquiries. You can also encourage people to sign up for email communication.
- Social media integration – whether it’s in the form of buttons linking to your social accounts, an embedded Instagram gallery, or a live Twitter feed, there’s an app for that.
- Cookie alerts – be transparent with your visitors about how you’re using their data, and give them the option to change this.
- Live chat – another useful (and increasingly popular) way to connect with your customers in real time.
- Google Maps – an interactive map to help your customers find you.
- Customer testimonials – show customer comments and testimonials on your site. Adding social proof to your website will boost trust and conversions.
But this is really just the tip of the iceberg! All the examples we’ve linked above are from Wix, simply because it has one of the biggest app markets (with over 160 apps). This selection works across many different business types, but there’s also a bunch of industry-specific apps for more niche functionality – check out Wix Stores, Wix Bookings, Wix Restaurants, Wix Hotels and Wix Video as examples.
Earlier in this article, we briefly touched upon making your website appealing for Google, when we spoke about the benefits of adding a blog. Now, we’re going to take a much more detailed look at which SEO (Search Engine Optimization) measures you should be taking for your site, and why.
You see, it’s all very well and good having a beautiful website, and adding that all-important contact page to encourage your customers to connect with you. You can even add an interactive Google Map app that will lead them to your door. But if your customers never see your website because it never makes it to page one of the search engine results, then all your hard work will be in vain.
When you type a search term like ‘best brunch in Chicago’ into Google’s search bar, a complex algorithm decides on the results you’re presented with, and their order. This algorithm takes a huge number of factors into account (the number is thought to be higher than 200), but there are some simple steps you can take to make sure Google recognizes your website as relevant and useful for search terms that apply to your business:
- Make sure your site loads quickly
Users don’t like slow websites – the majority will abandon your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to fully render – and therefore neither does Google. Make sure you ‘compress’ any images you upload – this is an easy way to reduce file size in just a few seconds, without visually compromising image quality. Our favourite tool for this is kraken.io.
Run your page through a free page load speed tool (we like PageSpeed Insights by Google) to identify any problem areas.
- Don’t forget about mobile
More Google searches are now carried out via mobile than via desktop, so it’s crucial that your site reformats well for smaller screens. A ‘mini’ version of your desktop site won’t cut the mustard; elements and text will be too small, and Google will penalize you for the poor user experience. All the website builders we’ve included on this list have fully mobile-responsive templates, so should reformat automatically – just be sure to test this out before you hit publish.
- Use keywords (sparingly)
If you want to be found based on key terms, it makes sense to know what terms people are searching for, and to include them in your own content. You can use a free keyword finder like Google Ads Keyword Planner to identify particularly popular searches.
Going back to our brunch example, you might find that ‘best breakfast in Chicago’ has a measly search volume of 10 users per month, but ‘best brunch in Chicago’ is way more popular, with hundreds of monthly searches.
Once you’ve found a few popular (and relevant) key terms, it’s time to make sure they’re included within your content. Proceed with caution here; add too many mentions of these terms and your content will appear clunky, and Google will penalize you for ‘keyword stuffing’. If it feels too unnatural, just keep creating good content, and trust Google to join the dots – its algorithm is getting smarter literally every day!
We could go on for a long, long time about best SEO practices, but it’s important to know that all of Google’s ranking factors hinge on quality and user experience – so if you prioritize that, you can’t go too far wrong.
So you’ve followed our advice to the letter, and you now have a beautiful business website ready to send out into the world – kudos!
Give it one last preview – using the mobile, tablet, and desktop view, and on a variety of browsers – then hit publish. But before you tell the world and share it with your social media followers, get your friends and family on the case for some urgent user testing. You can check your site in preview mode all you want, but sometimes issues will only become apparent after you publish – and it’s better to get these ironed out as soon as possible.
Once you’re confident that everything’s working well, your friends and family are suitably impressed at your DIY website building skills, and your traffic is on its way from a slow trickle to a steady stream, it’s time to sit back, relax, and bask in your success…
…but not for too long! That’s because – we’re sorry to tell you – there’s simply no such thing as a ‘finished website’.
Not only do you need to keep on top of updates – uploading new blog posts, adding new projects or new services, updating your About Us page with new team members or achievements – but you need to monitor how people are using your site, and take steps to improve their experience.
There are three tools we’d recommend for this:
- Google Analytics
Firstly, be sure to link your site up with Google Analytics. This is a free tool, and the website builder you use will offer a guide to adding what’s known as a tracking ID to your site, so Google Analytics can start collecting data on how your site is being used.
You can use Google Analytics to find out:
- Who your audience is, i.e. their age, gender, and location
- Your most popular pages
- Which pages people spend a long time on, and which pages people ‘bounce’ straight off
You can use insights like these to make adjustments to your site, and to inform how you make content in the future.
This is a great tool for showing you how people are interacting with your site in a much more visual way. You can add Hotjar to specific pages to measure where people are clicking, and how far down they are scrolling.
We’d especially recommend using Hotjar to test your homepage. It’s a great way to identify points where the user is struggling. It might be that they’re expecting something to be clickable that isn’t, or are spending too long trying to navigate through an overly-complicated menu. You may find that your key content is buried too far down the page, and only a tiny percentage are scrolling far enough to interact with it.
Hotjar is free up to 2,000 page views per day, and then costs $29+ per month (with a free trial).
Once you’re getting a significant amount of traffic, think about signing up to Optimizely. This is a way to test the impact of changes to your site under ‘perfect test conditions’. You can use Optimizely to run what’s known as an ‘A/B test’, where half your audience is shown the original version of the page, and half are shown the updated one. You can then check which performs better against your chosen metric.
So, there we have it – the nine simple steps to creating a website for your business. Let’s recap them one last time:
Create a Business Website in 8 Easy Steps
- Get a domain name.
- Get a personalized business email address.
- Choose a business website builder.
- Pick a template.
- Populate your business website with your content.
- Add apps for extra functionality
- Optimize your site for search engines.
- Publish!… Then monitor, adjust and update.
Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a beautiful, practical website for your clients. If you’re finding this list a little daunting, keep in mind that most businesses will have a ‘publishable’ website after step five – so it’s fine to tackle steps six to eight a little further down the line.
Is there anything we can do to help with your business website building journey? Any advice we’ve missed? Do you have any top tips from going through the process yourself? Let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear from you!
How can I create a website for my business for free?
Most website builders have free plans, or at least free trials, that mean you can create a business website for nothing! However, free plans do come with restrictions that can be limiting for your business, for example, displaying adverts for your website builder on your site. This doesn’t give off a very professional image, but you can get rid of them by upgrading to a paid plan for a modest monthly fee.
Wix has a free plan that you can use for as long as you want. So if you’re set on creating a business website for free, give Wix a whirl!
How much does it cost to build a website for a small business?
You can technically create a small business website for free using a website builder free plan. However, in order to make a really professional looking business website, with a personal domain and free of adverts, costs start from around $5 a month.
Which website builder is best for business websites?
We recommend Wix as the best business website builder. It has fantastic features and is a really flexible and easy to use platform.
Which website builder is easiest to use?
How long does it take to create a business website?
You can create a business website in a matter of hours if you really want to! Yes – it really is that quick and easy!
Using a website builder means your business can have a brand spanking new, and professional looking, website in no time at all. We recommend allowing a day or two to really get your site up and running to a level you’re happy with.
Which is the cheapest website builder?
Wix and Weebly have free plans that you can use for as long as you like. To upgrade to their cheapest monthly plans, Wix starts at $5 a month, and Weebly at $8 a month. Check out our guide on the cheapest website builders for more information.
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