How to Create a Website for Small Business or Freelancer Step by StepAugust 11th, 2020
- What can a website do for your business?
- Why do you need to have a business website?
- How much does a website cost?
- Step 1: Expectations and goals
- Step 2: Basic planning
- Step 3: Design
- Step 4: Content and Multimedia
- Step 5: Promotion
What can a website do for your business?
A website is the visible face of your company. Even for physical businesses, without a website, you lose the opportunity to “show up” when someone is looking online for the product or service you offer. Your customer can also recommend you to a friend who immediately checks you online. If you don’t have a website or have an unprofessional one, you might lose this potential customer.
Despite this, a good number of freelancers and small companies still do not have a website. According to Eurostat figures, 3 out of 10 companies with more than 10 employees do not have a website. For micro-businesses with less than 10 employees, this number is even higher.
Until recently, if you wanted to have a website for your company you needed a good amount of time or money. You had to choose between subcontracting a designer or spending time on internet forums learning what it takes to make a web on your own.
Today, there are website builders that make it possible to have a business website quickly and with a minimum investment. In this step-by-step guide, we will show you the most efficient way to create your business website with Webnode.
Why do you need to have a business website?
Every website is made up of 3 elements. Hosting, a domain name and a content manager. Additionally, you can also create your own email account.
- Hosting: The web server where the files that make up your website are placed.
- Domain name: The name of your website. It allows visitors to easily find the server where your website is located. (For example www.mybusinesswebsite.com)
- Content Management System: It is a tool to design your web and upload your content.
- Professional Email: This allows you to have your domain name in the email address instead of Gmail or other similar services. (For example firstname.lastname@example.org)
Usually, each of these elements must be contracted separately. One of the reasons why Webnode simplifies the process of creating your website is that it includes everything in one place.
In addition, you can be sure that the three elements are compatible with each other and no prior knowledge is required to configure them. As there is nothing to install, you only need a web browser to create and update your company’s website.
How much does a website cost?
The cost of a website can vary greatly depending on the characteristics of the website and how you decide to make it.
Firstly, the hosting and the domain are fixed costs that you pay annually:
- You can find domains between $10-$15 a year. If you want a domain with a special extension (e.g. .consulting, .contractors, .tech) it can be more expensive.
- The prices of the hosting vary according to their characteristics. For a small company website, it can be between $60-$90 per year.
Hiring someone to create your website is usually a one-time payment. For a small website without an online store, the costs are usually:
- Custom design: A 100% unique design can cost between $1500 and $3000. Depending on the number of hours of the designer.
- Adapted design: If you don’t need a unique design, you can buy a predefined template and ask a designer to adapt it to your taste. The cost of design and adaptation can be between $700 and $1200.
- Content (photos and text): Depending on the amount of content, a small website with 5 main pages at $60 per hour can cost around $500.
Adding up all the costs, hiring someone to design your website usually costs between $770 and $1,305 for an adapted design and between $1570 to $3,105 for a unique design. You should also think about the content itself. It can cost about $500.
If you use a web editor like Webnode, you will only have fixed costs. The price range is between $70 and $235. The higher range offers features like multiple languages or user registration.
In summary, a simple professional website with 5 main pages costs on average $1037 with custom design and $2337 if you want a custom design. With a web editor, the average cost is 150$ per year. Approximately 86% less.
You can also hire someone to make your website using a website builder. In this case, you can have the best of both worlds. A professional design created with Webnode and professional content (photos and images) at a lower cost than hiring someone to create your website from scratch.
Is it possible to create a website for my company for free?
Some online website builders offer the possibility to create web pages for free. You can use the editor and publish your site free of charge. This is the case of Webnode.
However, as hosting and the domain name are a cost for these companies, your website is hosted with space limitations and with a shared domain name. For example www.yourbusinesswebsite.webnode.com
Having a professional website without a domain name gives a somewhat unprofessional image. Think about it. Why would anyone bet on your company if you don’t even do it? With Webnode, you can use your own domain name from $3.95 per month.
Having your own domain name will also help your position in the search results. You won’t have to worry about someone else getting your company name before you do. For any business, it is a minimal but very important investment.
Step 1: Expectations and goals
Before you start trying out the different tools on the internet, take a few minutes to think about the following areas, it will save you a lot of time later on.
What do you hope to achieve with your website?
What is the purpose of your website? In general, there are 3 scenarios:
- Support my physical business with an online presence in case my customers are searching for me on the internet.
- Get new customers that are looking for products or services you offer.
- Sell products or services on the Internet.
If you choose the first point, the main goal of your website will be to show your business information (opening hours, location, contact details…) and perhaps a small presentation of your products.
If you want to get new customers, the goal of your website will be promotion. You need a good presentation of what you can do and contact forms to be able to get inquiries from potential customers.
Finally, to sell online you need a system to receive payments and manage orders. The product pages will be very important for the final goal.
It’s important to have the right expectations. >The good news is that you can adapt your website as your goals change. You can start with a basic website, then incorporate a blog or more pages to promote specific services. You can also add a store to sell your products online.
Step 2: Basic planning
The more time you spend on planning the more time you will save later.
Once you have defined the main goal of your website, it will be much easier to know what you need to pay attention to and how to organize the structure of your website.
Take paper and pencil and draw the general structure of your website. It doesn’t need to be too detailed.
To get a clearer picture, you can visit your competitors’ websites and look for common elements. Do you think something could be better? This is your opportunity to improve it on your own website.
The ideal structure of your website should be something like this:
The structure follows a clear hierarchy from the home page to the most specific pages. Some pages of your website such as the contact page will not need sub-pages. Follow these tips when planning the structure of your website
- Reduce the number of clicks needed to reach the most important parts of your website. As a rule of thumb, it should be possible to reach all the pages of your site in less than 3 clicks.
- Keep the number of main pages below 7. If you need subcategories, balance the number within each category.
- The simpler the better. It’s easier to scroll down than to search within a complicated menu. If you find yourself adding sub-sub-categories, you probably have made things too complicated.
Once the structure is clear, you can also plan how to place content within the most important pages of your site. You don’t need to be too detailed; titles, image and text sections are more than enough.
- Each page must have only one goal, all elements on the page must be oriented to make visitors achieve this goal.
- Put the most important things at the top of each page.
- If you want the visitor to do something on that page (fill out a form, click a button, buy…) include a “call to action” at both the beginning and end of the page.
Step 3: Design
The time has come to start working with the online tool.
Visit the Webnode portal and click start. After you fill in your credentials, you will see a series of predefined templates that you can use for building your website. Look for those that are similar to your drawings. You can filter by category and search for templates made for your field.
Don’t worry if there isn’t an exact template you want or if your business category is missing. All elements of each template can be customized to achieve your desired structure and look.
One of the benefits of using templates for your business website is that they have been created by professional designers. It’s professional know-how that you don’t have to pay for. You can simply put in your content and rely on the design and usability of the website. This way, you will have a fully functional website ready in an afternoon.
Do you want to customize the website to fit your brand image? No problem, the following tips will help you achieve a professional result:
- Less is more: A simple design works better. Limiting the number of elements on the page makes it easier to focus the visitor’s attention to where it matters most. Especially on the pages where you want the visitor to do something (fill out a form, join your mailing list, make a purchase…)
- Visual hierarchy: If all the elements of a page have the same visual weight, it will be difficult to guide the user’s attention. The most important elements should have more prominence (be bigger, be at the top of the page, have more contrast to the background of the page …)
- Text color and typography: Be careful with the typography and color of your texts. It should be easy to read and have enough contrast to the background of the page
- “Above the fold”: This is the area that appears on the screen without the need to scroll. If you want your visitors to see something, make sure you place it in this area. Most visitors don’t scroll to the bottom of each page. Keep this in mind when creating your website.
- Visual aids: You can use small clues to draw attention to “call to actions”, forms or buttons. Arrows or pictures of people looking at where you want your visitors to look at work very well.
Step 4: Content and Multimedia
Once you have chosen a template it is time to add your content. This is the most important part of every website because it attracts visitors and makes them stay on your website. Your website ranking is also based on your content to a great extent.
In the first step of this article, you decided what is the goal of your website. According to your choice, you must now stress different parts.
- If your goal is to give information to your current clients, the main thing will be contact information, a small presentation of your products/services and perhaps a reservation form.
- If you want to get new customers your content should be focused on promotion. Explain in a persuasive way what you do and why you are better than your competition. The presentation of your products and services will be the most important part of your website.
- To sell online you need to pay special attention to product pages. Don’t forget to build trust with reviews from satisfied customers.
Reading on the internet is not the same as reading a book. People rather glance at the content quickly and skim through it to find the most important or interesting parts. This forces us to write a little differently.
As with the design, the simpler the better. Use short words and phrases. Avoid paragraphs that are too long and that can overwhelm the reader.
Speak to the reader directly rather than using impersonal phrases. Highlight important ideas using different text formats such as bold or italics.
Since internet connections are faster, web pages have reduced the amount of text and they rely heavily on photos and videos.
Choose the images for your website carefully. If you can afford it, use professional photos. Poor quality images harm the impression of your business.
Alternatively, you can look for good quality images in image banks. Webnode website builder includes a large collection of photos that you can use on your website for free. If you use stock images, avoid those that are used on many other pages and give a false impression.
A good practice is to include photos of your team on the contact page. This makes your company look more approachable and real.
Video is a great way to present a product or service. Just like pictures, it requires a certain quality to leave a good impression.
The placement of your video is also important. If it is a short video that presents your company or product, put it at the top of the page. Longer videos with additional information are better placed at the bottom of the page.
You can put a video in the background of a page. This can have a great impact if done well. If you want to use a video background as a background, choose a good quality one that is suitable for looping (equal beginning and end).
Since May 2018, it is necessary to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations. This basically means that you need to ask your visitors’ permission to save their data when they visit your website or fill in a form.
Webnode allows you to do this by placing a cookie bar and a consent field to your forms. If you need to, you can implement other third-party solutions through widgets (small pieces of code that you can add to your website to have specific functions)
Don’t forget to include other legal texts such as sale conditions with your company details. Besides it being a requirement, the mere presence of these pages helps to build trust among your visitors.
Contact your lawyer for more details on the information you should include in these legal pages.
Step 5: Promotion
If your goal is to get new customers or sell online, your work has just started. You will need to promote your website.
In general, there are 2 ways to promote a website to get visitors interested in your products/services. PPC (Pay per click) or SEO (Search engine optimization).
- PPC: Place your website among the paid results of Google or Bing when visitors search for your product/service.
- SEO: Create the content on the topics your customers are looking for and offer your products later.
These two ways are not exclusive. While PPC gives immediate results, SEO takes time. If you have a budget, it is advisable to start with a PPC campaign while you work on the SEO of your website. This way, you can bring visitors to your website right from the start.
If you create a PPC campaign, use the pages of your site focused on your goal (get a potential customer to contact you or purchase something). You can also create specific pages for your PPC campaign that don’t have to be available in the menu of your website.
To get traffic through SEO, you need to create quality content. The best way is to include a blog on your website and write regularly. With Webnode, you can add a blog to your website at any point.
The plan is to answer the questions that your potential customers may have so that they already know your business when they buy. For example, a company that sells gardening tools can create a blog with tips on maintaining gardens or choosing a mower.
Although maintaining a blog requires a certain commitment, it is a source of free visits that you cannot afford to miss. Learn more about optimizing your website in the SEO guide.
Do you have more questions about how to create a professional website? Webnode’s design and marketing experts will help you solve it.