In the age of information, the internet has completely uprooted the traditional ways of doing business. What does this mean for business owners? An online presence is essential and therefore all businesses need to have a website. If you’re a small business, you need to increase visibility, traffic, and online sales to keep up with the competition. And while creating a small business website and running all the backend analytics to succeed may seem intimidating, that’s where using a website builder and focusing on the essentials can help.
To walk you through the process of creating a business website and the must-haves, below you’ll find:
- The essentials of a 5-page website layout
- The 5 supporting aspects of a successful website
The essentials of a 5-page website layout
Websites don’t have to be complicated. In fact, they shouldn’t be. A clear, user-friendly layout is a major player in what makes a good website, well, good. Distinguishing between the must-have elements and the extra fluff will help you bring your small business online with ease — just be sure to include these 5 essential page features.
1. Greet customers with a Home page
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, right? This saying rings true even in our virtual lives.
Per your website, this first impression is your Home page.
Here, you can have an introductory blurb that is the equivalent of a real-life hello. Use this opportunity to write something that truly represents your business’ personality and the mission of your brand. Let visitors know what you have to offer and why it’s unique. Keep it short and sweet, ranging from a sentence to a small paragraph — and let images or videos do the rest of the talking.
Think of a Home page as a customer service representative, but digital. Your Home page works for you and welcomes people in with a greeting, but mainly leads customers to whatever it is they’re looking for.
Create a sense of flow, like the entrance of a physical store. They can continue browsing on their own, knowing that if they ever get lost, they can return here and be directed elsewhere.
2. Sell products or services through your eCommerce page
Having an online store is one of the main reasons why many small businesses create a website in the first place.
Creating a space for customers to view and purchase goods and services without ever stepping foot in an actual store is the future of business. With the ecommerce tools of a website builder, create a professionally-designed store layout with ease.
To do this, you’ll need to upload product photos and descriptions. From there, your customers will be able to checkout securely with their credit cards or through payment services like PayPal, Stripe, and Mollie. While the only real maintenance required is updating your inventory, there are plenty of opportunities for managing your online store, such as:
- Offering digital product downloads
- Running promotions like discounts or free shipping with coupon codes
- Getting real-time shipping rates from major carriers based on individual orders
- Searching through transactional emails to find order confirmations, shipping confirmations, or order cancellations
- Looking over total orders and trends in sales with visual aids
- Understand your visitors and view top customers and sources of traffic with website tracking
The beauty of ecommerce is that many of these tools aren’t readily available (or even possible) to integrate into an in-person business.
3. Let customers “see behind the curtain” with an About page
Customers love to know who and what they’re supporting when it comes to a brand. This is true more so with younger generations — Millennials and Gen Zers.
An About page is the perfect place to put a face (or faces) to a brand name, reminding your customers of the human aspect of your small business. It’s your chance to build a sense of trust with potential customers by sharing your backstory, showcasing your personality, and weaving in extra proof of credibility through accomplishments or customer reviews.
It’s also a good place to throw in some pictures of where your products are made, events where your services have taken place, and the people behind the brand, including you.
4. Share your creativity and knowledge through a Blog page
Having a blog as part of your website means creating a space for regularly updated content. If you want to write about your day-to-day processes, by all means. If you would rather use the opportunity to spark thought leadership within your industry, there’s no better format. Whatever you choose, just remember that each new blog post is another opportunity to share your business with the world.
Choosing relevant topics to write about and adding posts to your site frequently does more than show your customers you care, it shows search engines you’re worth noticing. If you have a growing readership that is always catching up with your fresh content, Google and Bing will take notice, leading to many positive benefits:
- The more content you post, the more opportunities to show up in the search engine.
- The larger audience will grant you domain authority, which essentially helps your site appear above competitors on search results.
- A loyal readership will translate to a loyal customer base if you offer the same professionalism in your products (which you do, of course!).
Essentially, having a blog on your website is like free advertising. Fresh content makes your site appear more relevant, which increases its visibility, number of visitors, and in turn, sales.
5. Encourage visitors to get in touch with a Contact page
Having a Contact page brings your company website down to earth. It establishes that you’re easily reachable through multiple avenues. On this page you could include:
- Hours of operation
- Phone number
- Email address
- Social media links
Another option is to create a contact form that acts as both a communication system and a way to capture customer email addresses.
For example: Say you’ve created a website and added a contact form, email subscription box, and a pop-up offering a visitor a coupon in exchange for their email. A person visits your site but ultimately doesn’t buy anything. Instead, they go to your Contact page to ask you a question about a product. In filling out your contact form, they provide their email, which makes them a part of your contact list. Whenever you put out a newsletter, send updates about your blog, or promote an upcoming sale, that visitor gets a little reminder of your business in their inbox. One day, they get an email about some newly released products and decide to make a purchase.
While the sale isn’t immediate, this demonstrates the idea behind email list building and newsletters.
The 5 supporting aspects of a successful website
In order for those 5 major pages to be as effective as possible, there are 5 additional supporting aspects to disperse throughout your site. They aren’t page-specific. Instead, they act as the glue holding together your small business’ online presence. These include:
- An easy, catchy domain name
- Logos that make an impression
- User-friendly web design
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Website security
Many website builders include tools and technology that do the heavy lifting for you.
1. An easy, catchy domain name
Picking a domain name that’s memorable and easy to spell is a great way for your website to stick in your visitors’ minds. Additionally, having a registered domain name that aligns with your brand will increase your business’ credibility. While going through the registration process independently can be tricky, Constant Contact allows you to streamline your efforts by purchasing a domain name through them.
Here are some essential features included in domain set up via the website builder:
- Free domain privacy to hide your personal details
- A professional email address through G Suite that matches your domain name
- Auto-renewal of your domain name to avoid it from being released and obtained by someone else
2. Logos that make an impression
Every business needs a logo, but coming up with a design yourself can be challenging. Wondering how to create a logo? Thankfully, you don’t need design skills to make one with a website builder. All you need to do is enter your brand name, and your slogan if you have one, and our A.I.-powered logo maker will generate hundreds of personalized logos within seconds.
The key to creating a good logo is:
- Customizing – Customize colors, fonts, and icons within your logo until you feel it truly represents your brand.
Once you finalize a logo that truly represents your brand, you can purchase and download your logo design in multiple high-resolution file types. You’ll then be able to use your downloaded logo for other forms of marketing like T-shirts and tote bags to add to your ecommerce inventory.
3. User-friendly web design
Creating a business website is a huge achievement and a guaranteed boost to your brand, but in order to capitalize on the increased traffic, the pages need to be optimized for users. Including a search bar for easy navigation, for example, will help your website be user-friendly.
This is most acutely felt on the ecommerce page. If the platform isn’t user-friendly, customers could end up frustrated and not buy anything.
The biggest user-friendly small business website design you should capitalize on is making your website mobile-responsive. Built-in responsive website design adjusts your layouts, text, and images automatically to any screen size, making your website look great no matter what device it’s visited from.
Today, the majority of website traffic comes through mobile devices and tablets so it is important that your website is mobile-responsive.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is likely the most intimidating part of building a website. But it’s also one of the essential features behind users finding your website. SEO is a collection of methods that help optimize a website to appear in search engines.
With the help of our built-in website SEO tools, you can optimize your website without a marketing or technical background. Through the integrated tools, learn about and optimize your site for:
- Keywords and key phrases that are relevant to your business
- Performance metrics
For some basics to guide your start into the world of SEO (without overloading you), follow these SEO tips:
- Write long-form blog content when possible. This is seen as favorable to search engines.
- Give SEO titles and descriptions to each of your website pages so Google users can view what the page is about before clicking on the site.
- Think of (or do keyword research for) keywords and phrases to add to your pages to match common search terms related to your industry.
- Add unique images and assign them “alt tags,” meaning text that tells Google what a picture is about.
- If you have a Google Analytics account, add your Google Search Console tracking code to your analytics dashboard to stay up-to-date on your SEO performance.
- Consider using Google My Business integration tools to manage how local searches and reviews portray your business.
5. Website security
Security is always a concern for customers making online purchases. For new small businesses entering the world of ecommerce, this concern is always doubled.
For the benefit of both your customer and your business, website security measures should be a priority. A Secure Socket Layer, or SSL encryption, establishes a safe website — usually indicated by a green padlock in the left corner of your address bar (or a URL that says HTTPS instead of HTTP). When data passes between computers without the proper safety measures, both people are left at risk. Having an SSL certificate keeps your website safe, in addition to other benefits, like:
- Helping your pages appear more in search engine queries
- Increasing your credibility
- Helping your web pages load quicker
Check to see if your website comes with an SSL certificate.
Start your virtual small business today
Now that you know the essentials of how to create a business website and all the supporting aspects, you’re ready to take your company online. And remember, there’s no need to wonder how much it costs to build a website for a small business. Just follow these easy steps to get started on building your website:
- Create your 5 main pages with Constant Contact’s A.I.-driven website builder
- Create a logo with our logo maker
- Register a custom domain name
- Optimize your content for search engines
You don’t need to build your website from scratch when you create a website with Constant Contact. We do the hard work for you—all you need to do is pick the elements that best suit your business. By starting with the essentials, go from zero online presence to being optimized for search engines in no time.