Starting a new website project might seem simple, but it’s essential to understand that it’s quite an undertaking.
Creating a new website is a big project that involves multiple elements and individuals working together towards a common goal. This can often be daunting for business owners, but it shouldn’t be. Throw into the mix, people shouting about free or cheap websites for small businesses in local Facbook Groups every five minutes and as a small business owner, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
We’ve helped many businesses design, build and re-build their websites, so we wanted to spend some time taking a complicated process and boil it down to the most important parts. To help ease the process, this is our guide to affordable website design. It covers everything you need to know to get started, and by following our guidance, you’ll be well-positioned to seamlessly create an online presence you can be proud of.
What you need before you get started on your small business website design
Choosing a web design agency can be an important part when creating a website for your small business, but it isn’t the only way. Regardless of whether you decide to go it alone or work with a design company, there are some important parts you’ll want to know about.
Let’s explore some critical aspects you need to understand; these are like the cogs that make up a larger machine, regardless of whether you’re building an e-commerce site or a more traditional service-based brochure website, they’re all the same.
The technical parts you’ll need to get your business online
Here are some technical parts you’ll need to consider for your professional website or online store:
Your website’s domain is essentially its name and is used to identify your presence on the internet. It serves as the address visitors use to access your website, just like at www.google.com or at www.facebook.com.
Every website has one, and to get a domain name, you’ll need to first brainstorm and come up with a unique name to make your website stand out. Typically, using your business name followed by a relevant domain extension like .co.uk suffices. However, you can explore other domain extensions like .digital or many more.
It’s worth noting that every domain name on the internet is 100% unique, and you’ll need to register yours before use and then renew it annually. You can buy and register domains using sites like GoDaddy, Namecheap, and Google Domains. The annual subscription fee for your domain name will vary based on factors like its perceived popularity and history, ranging from pence to thousands of pounds.
A functional email may seem trivial at this point, but it can make a significant difference in the long run. It enables you to link all your various accounts with a single email address, avoiding confusion.
Although there are various types of email services to choose from, we highly recommend using GMail. Google emails are dependable and straightforward to set up, and they allow you to connect all Google products, including Google Analytics and Google Ads, which is a significant advantage later on down the line. Take our word for it, this part isn’t worth skipping.
Affordable web design; choosing the right hosting provider
To have your website accessible on the internet, a domain name alone is not sufficient. You also require a hosting provider that provides space and technology for your website to live and allow it to function. Essentially, a hosting provider is where your website lives.
Once you sign up with a hosting provider, you’ll have the space to store and publish your website’s content online. Additionally, the hosting provider guarantees that data is transmitted from your website to visitors’ browsers when they enter your domain online. Hosting providers have varying packages and costs, depending on your needs so it’s worthwhile exploring your options.
Most domain providers also offer hosting services, so getting both from one place is possible. There are a few different types of hosting to consider: shared hosting, cloud hosting and dedicated hosting.
Shared hosting offers multiple businesses the same resources and storage facility for their website content. This type of hosting is suitable for websites for small businesses, like personal blogs or sole trader sites. One benefit of shared hosting is its affordability. However, it can lead to slower website speed, especially during traffic spikes from other websites sharing the same resources.
Some recommended shared hosting providers include Krystal Hosting, Siteground, and Hostgator. Prices can start from as low as £1.99 per month.
Cloud hosting uses multiple virtual servers to host websites for users. This reduces the chances of all servers going down simultaneously. When one server experiences high traffic or issues, another server will take over, making it ideal for clients with multiple websites or large-scale eCommerce websites. Cloud hosting is typically more expensive than shared hosting.
Dedicated hosting provides a separate server for each website on the hosting platform, allowing you to personalise the hosting system, specifications, and environment. It’s ideal for large online shopping websites and other sites that attract high-traffic volumes. Dedicated hosting also offers additional professional support for its users, but it’s much more expensive than shared or cloud hosting. Before considering this type of hosting, it’s essential to have the technical knowledge and a large-scale website.
You’re probably thinking, what is an SSL certificate, well we’ve got you covered.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a technology that secures the internet connection between two systems. It ensures the safety of the data and information being shared and helps to prevent attacks from hackers or criminals. SSL certificates are essential to secure websites, especially if visitors need to input personal or sensitive details like card information, email addresses, etc. A secured website will display a green padlock on most browsers and “HTTPS://” instead of “HTTP://” in the URL. An average SSL certificate costs between £10 – £163 per year, depending on the site size.
Content Management System (CMS)
A Content Management System (CMS) is software that provides webmasters (sounds cool right?) with tools to create, edit, and publish web content without expert coding knowledge.
Occasionally called a website builder, a CMS also offers users tools to personalise their content when published online. CMS has two components: the content delivery application (CDA) and the content management application (CMA). CMS features include writing, revising, updating, and publishing content, plugins or bolt-on apps for different functionality, and design tools.
Some of the most popular CMS providers include:
- WordPress: This platform allows users to easily create and manage a website or blog. It’s one of the most popular CMS platforms globally, with millions of websites and blogs.
- Wix: Wix is a popular website tool that allows users to create and design their websites without coding knowledge, making them easy to use.
- Squarespace: Squarespace is a website platform with a sleek and modern design. It offers many templates and designs that are customisable to create professional-looking websites.
Find out more and simplify your small business website by choosing the right content management system.
The non-technical parts needed to build a website for your startup
In website design, it’s important to remember that non-technical aspects are just as crucial as the technical ones. A clear understanding of your business goals and purpose will help you create content that resonates with your audience.
Researching competitors and favourite websites can provide valuable insights into what functionalities your website will need. When analysing competitors’ websites, pay attention to the navigation layout, colours, fonts, and other design elements that could be useful for your website. However, it’s important to remember that inspiration from other websites should be aimed at promoting your business goals, not just following trends.
Your research and initial ideas should help guide the layout and style of your small business web project. When designing for small businesses in particular, it’s essential to consider elements such as already used colourways, think uniforms, existing materials and systems, as it might significantly impact the business’s overall feel, you should ensure your look and feel is consistent online and offline. Carefully selecting colours that complement your business and content can create a visually pleasing aesthetic and enhance user experience.
Additionally, specific colours can be more eye-catching than others, making them ideal for calls to action or other important elements. Experimenting with different colour schemes can help you find the perfect combination for your CMS-powered website.
When designing a website using a content management system (CMS), the choice of typography is crucial. The right font can enhance readability, while the wrong one can make the website look cluttered and difficult to navigate. Here are some essential factors to consider when selecting fonts for your CMS-based website:
The chosen font should be easily read, even in small sizes. Sans-serif fonts like Arial and Verdana are typically more readable than serif fonts like Times New Roman.
Besides being easy to read, the font should also be easy to identify. As a result, highly stylised or decorative fonts should generally be avoided.
It is crucial to select a font compatible with most web browsers, as not all browsers support all fonts. Commonly used fonts such as Arial, Verdana, or Times New Roman are usually the safest option.
Your website is an excellent opportunity to build your online branding by packaging your business and its products or services. However, branding encompasses more than just colourways and typography. It is your entire business’s identity, including the style of photos, videos, logos, illustrations, tone of voice, and more. As a result, spending some time thinking about how you want your business to be perceived online is worthwhile.
The content you need to create a website
Choosing the right content management system (CMS) can simplify a website for small businesses. Once that part is done, there are some more important considerations to remember.
One crucial aspect is determining your site’s content, overall structure and hierarchy to ensure that the CMS you choose support both your organisation and facilitates a useful navigation for your visitors.
It’s also essential to plan out the types of content you will include on your site, such as text content, images, video and more.
- Home Page: Your website’s home page is critical as it’s visitors’ first impression of your site. It should provide important information about your brand or business and use persuasive language to encourage visitors to take action. If you had one-page to sell your product or service, this is it.
- About Page: An About page should provide a brief and precise story that describes your business and include a picture of yourself or your team to help build trust with visitors.
- Contact Page: A Contact page is essential for visitors who may be interested in your offerings and want to get in touch. This page should contain all your contact details, including email, phone number, social media handles, and other relevant information.
- Services Page: The Services page(s) will vary depending on your business type. It should provide complete information about your offering, including quality pictures, descriptions, and other relevant conditions.
- Terms & Conditions: The Terms & Conditions page outlines visitors’ rules, regulations, and expected behaviour and establishes your authority as the site owner while preventing abuse.
Having worked with the team on a UK website build, maintenance and reporting, as well as regular mangement of Google Adwords, and an international SEO project for a global website, I couldn’t recommend enough. I’d recommend over many of the larger agencies I’ve used over the years.Gerry Johnstone, Service Express
No matter what kind of website you’re running, it’s common that additional features are necessary to achieve your goals. Here are where plugins, apps or add-ons come in. Each website platform will have their own, or you could have a developer create your own. For this part, we’re going to assume that you’ve chosen WordPress as your CMS.
For an online shop, consider using WooCommerce. To capture leads, WPForms or Contact Form 7 are excellent options that integrate with various other platforms.
Performance and Optimisation
Smooth website performance is essential for a positive user experience. Plugins like WP Smush reduce image file sizes, while Yoast SEO optimises content and metadata for search engines. You can use Google Analytics to track site success and consider a full Google Tag Manager implementation for full analytical benefits.
Keeping your website secure is crucial. Security add-ons like Wordfence and Sucuri offer malware scanning, blacklist monitoring, and firewall protection. They can block malicious traffic and limit access to your site, keeping it safe from harm.
We’ve compiled a list of questions small business owners might have but are afraid to ask about web development for small businesses.
Launching your website
With your website ready to go live, it’s highly recommended to test it thoroughly to ensure everything works as it should. You can also ask a few close friends or family members to test it out and give you feedback on any issues they encounter.
Dealing with Errors
It’s normal for websites to have minor errors after launching, but with an online platform and an easy-to-use content management system (CMS), you can quickly make any necessary amends in minutes (assuming it’s nothing major).
Submitting Your Website to Google
Informing Google about your new website is crucial for the indexing process. Set up Google Search Console and submit your website to begin crawling. This helps Google understand your business and deliver the best results to users.
Redesigning an Old Website
If you’re redesigning an old website, it’s crucial to point old pages to new ones to avoid any issues within Google.
Monitoring Website Performance
Tracking your new website’s performance and having time to analyse it is essential to ensure it meets the goals you initially set out. Use Google Analytics or other tools to understand what’s working and what isn’t, so you can make necessary changes.
With your stunning website now live, it’s now time to think about maintaining your online presence and ensuring that when potential customers come across it, there’s everything they need to turn from visitors into customers. Website care plans are a great way to go, but there are alternatives.
Whether you chose to go it alone with a drag and drop platform or purchase a website package from an agency or freelancer, the process to update your website might vary. Whether you need to add a new booking section or add new images to your new site, it’s essential to know how. That’s why ongoing support can make the whole process seamless.
With agencies, typically, they charge amends on an hourly basis, but that could vary wildly based on what your website needs but also the website design services that they offer, so to avoid a stressful experience, it’s useful to understand exactly what is and what isn’t included from the outset.
One way to understand this could be to request a website walkthrough once it’s complete so that you understand the UX from an editors perspective and know how to make changes and avoid a steep learning curve right when your business needs a quick turn-around.
So your website is live and has everything your business needs to smash it out of the park – the only thing missing now is new customers. Well, that’s where digital marketing can come in. If you’re an e-commerce website trying to drive online sales, you’ll need to consider these costs early on, however regardless of your setup, if you’re looking to grow your small business, it’s essential to know some of the levers or channels you can utilise to attract more potential clients or sales, we’ve listed some tactics below;
If you’re a business looking for a website design quote or would like to talk about how we might be able to help, then get in touch! Alternatively, look at our design portfolio or see what our clients say.
Speak with our team by booking a free consultation.