[social_warfare]

How to build a GREAT small business website

Building a great website is the single most important thing you can do for your Business. No one will come to your office or storefront any more without looking at your website first – except maybe for a very few businesses that rely solely on foot traffic. And even then, a great website with a strong web presence will perhaps double your business.

What this means is:

1) YOU WILL BE JUDGED by the quality of your website.

2) You have the opportunity with a great website to DRESS FOR SUCCESS.

With a great website, you can project a vision of what you want your business to be, not the reality of what it is at present. We are truly in the golden age of entrepreneurship. With tools like WordPress, Pay Per Click Advertising, Kickstarter and LegalZoom, a small company with 1-15 employees can compete with much, much larger businesses.

The bad news is that your homemade website or out of date, non mobile friendly* website probably isn’t going to cut it anymore. Fortunately a lot companies have risen up to provide tools for you to build a high-quality mobile friendly website on your own.

Of course we are a bit biased – nothing beats a custom website built by a talented web developer. So if any of this is challenging, hire a GOOD web developer so you can concentrate on what you do best. Running your business.

Nothing is more frustrating than working with a bad or unavailable web developer or struggling to understand the intricacies of HTML, Java Script and PHP. And even though it may seem expensive, building an amazing website will ALWAYS be significantly less expensive than building out an office space or storefront with a MUCH higher return on your investment.

But if your budget is tight, as it often is with small businesses or start-up nonprofits, here’s how to get started with no bullshit and just the essentials:

Use WordPress

Start with WordPress. WordPress is so popular and powerful that literally 1/2 of all web platforms online are running WordPress, including Time Magazine, the New Yorker, Sony Music and Disney.

TIP: Don’t use the basic templates that WordPress supplies. If money is tight, go to themeforest.net and buy a premium template for about $60. It will be the best money you ever spend. For another $20 they will even install it for you. Most web developers start with one of these premium templates anyway for projects under 50K as it is a quick way to get the basics out of the way and keep development costs down.

Do not cut corners on web hosting. For the needs of most small businesses hosting is VERY inexpensive (between $7 and $29 a month for small business plans).

TIP: Do not go for the cheapest option. Always opt for overkill when choosing a hosting plan. For literally a few dollars more each month this will ensure that if a blog decides to write an article about what you do you can take advantage of large spikes in traffic rather than get the dreaded “this site is temporarily unavailable” message.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Plugins

Probably the very best thing about word press are the plugins. Plugins allow you to add additional functions to your website. And since WordPress is so popular programmers have literally created millions of plugins that do just about anything that you could possibly want or need, including e-commerce, build forms, lead generation, Q&A forums, search engine optimizers and security monitoring. Most of them available for free.

TIP: Make sure to see how many installs have been made and read the comments. While there are a lot of great plug-ins out there, there are a lot of bad ones too.

Invest In Hosting

Do not cut corners on web hosting. For the needs of most small businesses hosting is VERY inexpensive (between $7 and $29 a month for small business plans).

TIP: Do not go for the cheapest option. Always opt for overkill when choosing a hosting plan. For literally a few dollars more each month this will ensure that if a blog decides to write an article about what you do you can take advantage of large spikes in traffic rather than get the dreaded “this site is temporarily unavailable” message.

*In 2015, Google announced that it will penalize non mobile friendly websites in their search rankings. **Wordpress is just one of the platforms out there. Others include Magento, Drupal, Squarespace, Shopify, Wix, Xcart, Big Commerce, Joomla and literally thousands of others. We build over 100 websites a year and have used all of the big platforms and many of the small ones. Some of these such as Magento and Drupal have specific uses in which they excel and may be preferable, but due to cost, features, limitations and complexity we do not recommend them for a do-it-yourself small business.