How to Create a Business Website

Creating a business website

By Dan Barraclough


Anyone can learn how to create a business website in 2019. But how to create a business website that achieves a defined goal? That’s a whole different ball game.

The most successful business websites are products of hundreds of hours of professional web design expertise. In the past, you had to pay a premium for that; today, professional web design agencies can achieve excellent results for a fraction of the cost. There are even tools that let you build your own ecommerce website for less than the cost of a Netflix account.

Want a website that looks the part and anchors your online brand? You’re in the right place.

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How to create a business website

Good web design = great business

 

How to Create a Business Website: The Plan Stage

First things first, you should lay out what you want your users to do, or learn, when they visit your website. What you do once you’ve designed the website is entirely up to you.

Do you want to give them general information about your company? Or are you looking to set up a direct platform for ecommerce? It’s important to tailor your approach to the type of website you want to create.

Broadly speaking, business websites can be for informational or ecommerce purposes.

Informational Websites

A brilliant informational website will nail the nuts and bolts of what a business is about. Yours should tell users everything they could possibly want to know about your company, and then some. If there were any doubts in their minds about what you do and how you do it, your informational website should dispel them.

What’s it for?

The main purpose of an informational website is to communicate the core messages and unique selling points (USPs) of your company. What makes you better than the rest? What’s your track record of success? And why is the future bright for your business? Your website should clarify all of the above, and more.

It’s also a great place to wax lyrical about why your firm is the best in the business. If you can demonstrate a track record of success, you’re well on your way to stealing your competitors’ market share.

Who’s it for?

A well-designed informational site will attract prospective job applicants, investors, and interested members of the public.

Key Content

  • Mission and vision statements
  • Company history
  • Client/customer testimonials/case studies
  • Annual reports
  • Press coverage
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) stories
  • Careers information
  • Company blog
  • Contact details

Famous Example: GlaxoSmithKline

GSK’s global website is a labor of love. Colorful images and animations on the homepage scream ‘Click me!’, while articles about medical breakthroughs make for genuinely rewarding reading. It features responsive design to make sure navigating the site is equally intuitive on mobile and desktop screens. The site-wide search bar also deserves special mention for implementing autocomplete effectively – something that’s easier said than done.

GSK.com topped the Bowen Craggs Index of Online Excellence in 2019.

Ecommerce Websites

Effective ecommerce websites entice visitors to become customers. Design originality, though important, should take a backseat to simplicity, ease of use and brand credibility. That means web pages packed with persuasive copy, links to other relevant pages, trust signals galore, and more.

What’s it for?

The main purpose of a commercial website is to nudge and entice prospective customers to purchase products and/or services. By way of example, cast your mind back to the last thing you bought online. Which website did you buy it from? What brought you there in the first place? Did you Google a specific product, or did you head to the company homepage in search of special offers? Was it a pre-meditated purchase or an impulse buy? How long did you spend inputting your payment and shipping details?

These are all questions you should consider when you’re making an ecommerce website. The path to purchase should be smooth, short, and sweet.

Who’s it for?

Your target demographic. This could consist of anyone shopping for products in your niche, or a narrower subset of those people. They might already be familiar with your company, or they may never have heard of you. It’s up to your website to earn their trust and loyalty.

Key Content

  • Homepage
  • Product category pages
  • Individual product pages
  • ‘Special Offers’, ‘Best Sellers’ and ‘Featured Products’ sections
  • Customer login portal
  • Order status updates page
  • Customer support section
  • Returns and exchange policy section

Famous Example: Amazon

It’s Amazon’s world, and we’re all customers. Just when you think Amazon has perfected its user journey, they find a new way to keep customers buying. Thanks to personalized product recommendations and one-click ordering, your next purchase never feels more than a couple of clicks away. Meanwhile, uniformly laid out product pages make for a reassuringly familiar shopping across the site. They also leverage social proof, in the form of customer reviews, better than just about anyone.

▶ Read more: The Beginner’s Guide to Small Business Web Design

 

How to Create a Business Website: The Design/Development Stage

Note: In truth, designing a website and developing a website are two different (but related) endeavors. Professional web design firms cover both bases, which is why they’re grouped together here.

It’s time to turn all that planning into an actual working website. But how?

You can go down the professional route or the DIY route. There are pros and cons to each approach.

Professional Web Design

This method offers more creative control than using a DIY website builder. It can also result in a final product that most closely resembles what you had in mind. You’re not constrained by the capabilities of a particular website building software

With a great designer and a well-thought-out design brief, you’re all-but-guaranteed good results. However, a lot hinges on your ability to choose the right design experts and brief them about what you want. If you don’t communicate your project requirements clearly from the start, be prepared to pay more for extra design revisions.

DIY Web Design

Website builders like Wix, Shopify and BigCommerce make it easier than ever to start an online storefront. They’re designed to help you get set up in minutes rather than the days, weeks or even months a professional designer might spend perfecting your website.

The main downside of these tools is that they limit your control over the final product. Page layouts are restricted to those set in pre-made templates. With some website builders, this can lead to ‘sameyness’ across different websites using the same templates. You can pay a web developer to customize aspects of a template, but this somewhat negates the cost-effectiveness of the whole DIY approach.

▶ Read more: Ecommerce Design Trends 2019

 

How to Create a Business Website: The Run Stage

Running a website isn’t nearly as hard as running a business. However, like running a business, there are certain costs for keeping a website live and thriving.

Mobile Responsiveness

Responsive design is all about making websites look amazing on different screen sizes. It’s a fast-moving area of web development, thanks to an increasingly fragmented mobile market. The original iPhone had a 3.5in screen – the latest model measures more than 6in (diagonal), and some Android screens are even bigger. Throw in a dizzying range of tablets, notebooks and whatever this is, and that’s a lot of devices to design for.

Web design agencies stay abreast of the latest trends in consumer electronics and web standards. It’s a good idea to consult with a professional every 3-6 months to maintain the mobile-friendliness of your website and make any necessary adjustments.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of making sure your website is poised to pull visitors from Google. For smaller websites, it’s easy enough to carry out on-page SEO checks in-house. However, as your site swells in size, a job done properly becomes a job done professionally.

To make sure your site gets all the attention it deserves, investing in SEO expertise is key. It’s also part of the package offered by many web design firms, either as a one-off or an ongoing service.

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Digital Marketing

All businesses depend on marketing to drive fast growth. Digital marketing can close the gap with your competitors, and place your brand at the front of your customers’ minds.

Nowadays, digital marketing services are well within the reach of even the most cash-strapped start-ups. All you need is an idea of who you’d like to reach, and how much you’re willing to spend.

▶ Read more: Digital Marketing Services

Database Programming

Particularly for websites with e-commerce portals and membership login areas, you need to be able to update product descriptions and user details with ease. All of this information lives in databases that run behind the scenes of your website, and without a specialist to look after them, they can quickly get messy. Bringing backend web developers on board, either through an agency or in-house, is the simplest way to take care of ongoing database maintenance.

▶ Read more: How Much Does Website Maintenance Cost?

 

Next Steps

A world-class commercial website should convert at a higher clip than Steph Curry from the three-point line. Whether you came here to learn how to create a business website or supercharge an existing one, you can take yours to All-Star status with professional web design expertise. Simply fill out our short form to request free advice from top web design suppliers.

Dan Barraclough
Dan Barraclough
Dan’s a writer for Expert Market, specialising in a range of cool topics. He loves web design and all things UX, but also the hardware stuff like postage metres and photocopiers.
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