Small business websites
Table of contents
What is a small business website?
Small business websites represent small businesses. They need to be built affordably and yet to a high enough standard to be used as an efficient means of promotion.
More important than the look, is the content – because that’s how people are going to find you and then convince them to contact you.
What will a small business website do for my business?
- Drive enquiries to the business
- Build trust
- Play to the strengths of the small business
- Make the business look professional
- Give an overview of the products and services of the business
How can a website play to the strengths of a small business?
Small businesses may have a smaller marketing budget and less economy of scale than a large company but they have some advantages over them too.
When making a small business website, never copy what the larger players are doing. Their business model is completely different. Instead, a small business website should play to the strengths of the small business:
In the digital world, a small business can put its best foot forward.
Present yourself as approachable and real
Your website, just like your business should be friendly and approachable. Smaller businesses are often more personable.
You’re more likely to speak to the business owner or someone real and less likely to speak to a faceless call agent.
Show clear focus
Larger companies will have a wider business remit but a smaller business should focus on a niche. This may seem difficult, especially if the end goal is to serve everyone and do everything.
The passion and focus of the small business should come across. The website should express what makes the business
Share knowledge, expertise and passion
The small business has the personal touch. Think about the local butchers before they closed down by supermarkets.
It’s the same online. Small business are still under threat from larger companies that are cheaper. What they can’t do however, is share personal stories.
Whatever the business, from accountancy, to electricians, to pet food – what needs to come across is experience, expertise, passion. This is what clients are looking for.
Excel in customer service
Proving you’re an expert in customer service can be achieved by
- Being open and accessible
- Testimonials about service
- Answering online questions
- Helping people get what they need
How to make an affordable small business website
Use a page builder
Use tools that make building the website faster such as Elementor or Divi. This makes building a website easier but helps with website maintenance.
Use a theme
Themes are prebuilt website that take all the hard work of design and development out of the equation. They come with preset styles, colors, fonts and layout.
Themes that are compatible with page builders are the most flexible ones. If you need help choosing a theme.
Hire an affordable service web design agency
There are agencies that are expensive, there are agencies that are cheap. You’ll want one that is affordable. An affordable web agency is a worthwhile investment rather than a stop-gap solution.
Even if you decide to make the website yourself – It’s always good to have an agency help you out for the tricky bits.
Keep the website simple
Everyone wants a fancy website but what customers and Google care about is good content. That comes first. Spend your time getting that fixed, worry about the slick features later.
Small business website design
To design a small business website, these will be your top concerns:
Even though you have a theme, which will come with a template, you have to make sure the template matches the picture and text you can obtain.
Expect there to be some back and forth between theme, images and content until you can more or less visualize everything coming together.
While stock photography is a great option if you’re in a tight spot, you can’t fill your entire website with stock photography – since people won’t trust your business.
It’s often better to have a plain site with little to no images rather than big fake images. This may mean that you have to change the theme you chose.
Content for a small business is actually quite tricky. You should carry out a competitive analysis to get ideas on structure and topics. From that, you can overlay your own feeling and idea. Outright copying is not a good idea – but getting lots of inspiration makes sense.
A wireframe is the blueprint of a website. It’s the sketch that shows visually how everything is put together.
Wireframing isn’t always essential, particularly if you’re using a template as a guide, but for any website over 5 pages it can save in development time because there is a plan to refer to.
You can find out the benefits of our wireframing web design service.
Website Look and Feel
If your website is new you should think of your brand identity as a work in progress and all that is needed for now is a consistent look and feel.
You can start with a very simple color scheme and font. Starfish can help you with some light brand identity work to get you off in the right direction.
On the other hand, some small websites need to spend a lot of time and energy on their look.
If you’re a creating a B2C website, then you should allocate more time towards enhancing the visual appeal.
A minimalist approach is a good way to give your small business website a professional look and feel without too much effort. Use plenty of white space and keep the elements on the page to a minimum – also giving your website a speed advantage.
However, ideally you will be wanting to inject your small business website with personality and charisma – because being charming goes a long way.
Presenting your business online
What do people want to know about a small business that will make them contact you? This is what you need to be asking and then answering on your website.
Knowledge and expertise
Your first object, when presenting your business is showing that your business is helpful, trustworthy and knowledgeable.
Price is often a concern for customers. Say your price, don’t be afraid about competition finding out. Everyone’s business is different. Clients want to know if you’re in their price range.
You’re not famous, you can’t cruise by on your reputation alone. You need to prove that you’re a person, product or service that can be trusted.
Best ways to prove trust are
- Through impeccable website (I.e. no mistakes)
- Review, testimonials,
- Trust worthy content
- Not boasting
- Secure SSL symbol
The most important features of a small business website
With a small business website, you should avoid putting in too many features. Keep it simple, keep it affordable, keep it classy.
- Friendly clear information
- Clear contact information and contact form
- Consistent look and feel
Small Business Website marketing
Engaging in digital marketing activities after the website had been designed and developed is an absolute must.
Many small business websites get little to no visitors because they fail to work on promoting the website.
Unlike larger or more established business, smaller businesses cannot rely on companies searching for them by name.
Top Strategies for marketing a small business
- Social media marketing
- Facebook advertising
- Google My Business
- Blog posts (content marketing)
- Online directories
- Email marketing
A small business owner wears many hats and one of those must be sales and marketing. Anyone running a small business must understand the new world of promotion and sales.
Starfish has written a guide to promoting your business online. Here you will learn the general concepts and some context so you know what methods to apply to your business.
With a strong foundation on digital marketing everything will start to make more sense and you’ll really be able to take charge.
Small business website maintenance
How to look after your website
The best way to look after your website is regularly look at it. But unless you’re actively improving your website you may not notice when something goes wrong. This is why Starfish’s proactive maintenance service is helpful for small businesses.
Why do websites need maintenance?
Modern websites are more complicated than before because they do more than ever before. Websites have improved so much and have become so easy to modify and built, but in the process they have become more complicated. With this complication comes the need for more maintenance.
Yearly maintenance tasks
If you’re not looking after your website and you aren’t changing anything on the site, there will be little do on a monthly basis.
If your website is simple, you can even keep your website automatically updating itself but remember to keep a backup somewhere safe.
If you decide to a yearly maintenance, you should make a backup before:
- Updating major software components
- Testing your website on all browsers
- Performing speed tests
- Clearing down old photos, backups.
- An SEO spruce up
Monthly maintenance tasks
If you’re building a website because you want to promote your business and update its content from time to time, then you’ll need to also
- Maintain your website
- Keep improve your website
- Keep it running fast
- Keep it secure.