Up until about a decade ago, building a business website was an arduous task that required an eye for design and a lot of technical know-how. Today, numerous all-in-one DIY solutions exist to help even non-tech savvy business owners build a beautiful site, complete with built-in analytics, in just a few minutes.
Despite this access to free and affordable website builders, Inc.com reported that nearly half of U.S. small business owners in 2016 still don't have a business website, and one in five said it's not in the company's short-term future.
If you fall into this 20 percent, you're missing out on a big opportunity. A nonexistent (or even outdated) website can really put small businesses behind the competition, said Lulu Chang, a member of the communication team at popular website builder Squarespace. [See Related Story: How to Use Squarespace to Build a Website for Your Business]
"Given that 85 percent of consumers use the Internet to find local businesses, maintaining a polished and professional digital presence is crucial to getting customers through the door," said Chang, citing a survey published on the Yelp Blog for Business Owners. "Moreover, a website is a fantastic way to make a lasting first impression and also key to building credibility. Without a website, customers will have difficulty staying up to date on company announcements and getting in touch with business owners and staff."
Chang offered six simple tips for small business owners who are looking to create their first website.
Pick a template. No graphic design experience? No problem. Most DIY website builders offer some basic tried-and-true templates you can customize. Try to pick a template based on its design, not the images or copy in the demo content, Chang said. View some of Squarespace's templates here.
Create a great logo. Chang noted the importance of a unique logo that differentiates your brand from competitors. If you need ideas, you always can hire a designer.
Create a cohesive look. Try to think of a word or two that summarizes the look and feel of your site, Chang said. Reflect that through complementary fonts, colors and images.
Use high-quality imagery. Crisp, clear, high-resolution photos will highlight your products and attract customers, Chang said.
List key information clearly. Chang reminded business owners to highlight the major facts about your business, and make them are easily available on your website. What products are you selling? What services do you provide? Where are you located? What are your hours? Anticipate these questions and display this information in a clean, sleek way.
Make sure you can be reached. Communication is key to building a business, so be sure to have a way for your customers to contact you. Chang advised adding a contact form so visitors can easily submit questions and inquiries.
Ready to get started on your business website? Our guide covers a few more basics you'll need to know.