It’s easy to create a low-cost website that lets you communicate with customers and sell products or services. To build a great website, purchase a domain name and hosting, create content, and then use a website builder to customize your design and publish it. Business websites are essential to remaining competitive in today’s market.
Bluehost offers all the tools you need to get started building your website. Their small business hosting plans start at $2.95 per month and offer 50GB of website storage, a free domain name, an SSL certificate for website security, one-click WordPress installations, and five professional email addresses. Click here to get started with Bluehost.
Table of Contents: Creating a Business Website
How to Make a Business Website in 5 Steps
Step 1: Register Your Website’s Domain Name
A domain name is the name and address of your website, such as www.yourbusiness.com. To check if your business’ name is available, enter it into the domain search tool below, powered by Bluehost. If you are taken straight to the registration page, your name is available. If you’re notified the domain isn’t available, adjust the name to find one that isn’t taken.
If the .com version of your business name is available, consider using it for your website over other common extensions like .net or .org. It’s best to use a .com extension because people tend to search for and trust a .com business site first when looking for information or products online. For more tips, read our guide on choosing a domain name.
After you’ve found your domain name, you can also sign up for hosting. Bluehost typically charges $7.99 per month for hosting, but Fit Small Business readers pay only $2.95 per month for domain registration, website hosting, and a custom small business email. Click here to learn more.
Step 2: Choose Your Hosting Provider & Platform
Once you’ve chosen a domain, the next step is to decide where to host your website. A host is the service that actually stores your website and transmits it to online visitors. In our experience, the two best host platforms are Bluehost and Squarespace.
Uses: Serves a huge range of businesses; templates for almost every industry
Uses: Simple informational websites, light blogging, and ecommerce capability
Bluehost is the most versatile hosting option and the one that delivers the most value. You can register your domain (as described above), host your website, access a WordPress site builder, and get a business email address for just $2.95 per month. Click here to check out Bluehost’s hosting plans.
Squarespace is a more user-friendly host and drag-and-drop website builder that offers more personalized customer support. This can make it a better option for less tech-savvy users who only need a simple website and want to build it on a platform other than WordPress. However, the price tag for the first-tier plan is $12 per month. Get started with Squarespace.
Now let’s explore each of these options in more detail:
Option 1: Create a WordPress Website Using Bluehost
If you are a little more tech-savvy and want access to unlimited features and functionality, WordPress is the way to go. Some web hosting providers, such as Bluehost, offer a WordPress website when you sign up for their $2.95 web hosting package.
Keep in mind, however, that WordPress is an intermediate website builder. You won’t need any programming knowledge, but you will need to familiarize yourself with their back-end. Unlike Squarespace, which lets you edit the website just by dragging and dropping elements, WordPress has a more complex editing menu. Learn more about the platform’s interface and how to use it by reading our article on how to make a WordPress website.
Option 2: Use a Website Builder like Squarespace
At $12 per month for its first-tier plan, Squarespace is a host and website builder in one that utilizes drag-and-drop interfaces, templates, and plugins or integrations that make it easy to design a custom website. For small business owners who are short on time and are less technologically advanced but are willing to pay a little bit more, we recommend using Squarespace.
Begin by choosing a template. Then, set your universal site design settings (like colors and fonts) and add and edit your own pages and content blocks. The editing process in Squarespace is very intuitive. If you’ve ever used Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, you’ll easily grasp the tool. Add elements by dragging them from the sidebar, adjust the size by dragging from a corner, and change the text by double-clicking within the text box.
It’s also easy to add interactive features to your website. Squarespace allows users to add Google Maps, quizzes, YouTube and Vimeo videos, web forms, polls and surveys, and more. This can make your website more functional, help your customers engage with your business, and share your content on social media.
Additional Option for Ecommerce Websites
If the primary purpose of your website is to sell products, you may want to choose a solution that specializes in creating an online store. BigCommerce is ecommerce software that helps you to create and manage your online store, sell your products, and market your business. It costs $29.99 per month and you can even use their free trial, no credit card required. Click here to get started.
Which Web Hosting Software is Right For You?
Step 3: Create Your Website Content
Website content is the copy you write for the pages on your website. Business websites work best when they’re simple, clear, and easy to navigate, with straightforward text and a single call to action on each page. Business websites also tend to have five essential pages, including home, products (or services), about us, blog, and contact us pages. As you create these pages, make sure they are optimized for mobile devices.
Create Your Content
To begin, write out the copy and select images you want to include on your home, product or services, about us, and contact pages. In addition, draft out some initial content to publish on your blog.
- Homepage: On the homepage, you should include the name of your business, where you’re located, and a simple pitch that includes a few lines about what makes you unique and why customers should choose your business.
- Products or services: This page should offer details about the products you sell or services you provide. Spend one to five sentences describing each type of product or service you offer and then list their prices.
- About us: Provide your company background and list organizational memberships like the Better Business Bureau. Also include customer testimonials; these help your company build more trust and credibility.
- Blog: To start a blog, create an editorial calendar to determine the blog content that will help you connect with your customers and community. Then, write the content you want to appear on your blog when you launch your website.
- Contact us: Your address, email, phone number, the hours you are open for business, and links to any social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook should appear on this page. You should also embed a Google Map, if applicable.
“People want websites that make content easily accessible. People say easy navigation is the most useful website feature, so businesses should include intuitive and functional navigation tools on their website. These can include clearly labeled toolbars, a home page button, and a search feature. People become frustrated when it’s too difficult to maneuver between pages, so make sure all elements are functional by testing for quality assurance before the website launches.”
— Kelsey McKeon, Content Writer, Clutch
Ensure Your Website Is Mobile-optimized
A mobile-optimized website adjusts to mobile devices by altering the layout for smaller screens, making it attractive and user-friendly. More than half of customers browse from their smartphones instead of a computer, so it’s imperative as a small business owner that your website is mobile-friendly.
The good news is most of the top web builders, including Squarespace and WordPress, automatically create mobile-optimized websites for you. Known as “responsive,” these websites can detect the type of device visitors are using and automatically adjust the layout to give them an ideal experience.
It’s usually a good idea to make some additional adjustments to your mobile site. An embedded Google Maps widget is also key for customers who are browsing on-the-go so they can quickly and effortlessly navigate to your store. Additionally, click-to-call buttons are especially helpful if you want mobile visitors to dial your business by simply clicking on your phone number.
Your mobile website should also make your call to action a central focus, whether that’s getting users to call your business, fill out a contact form, join a mailing list, or make an online order. Remove any excessive details that might make that more difficult.
Step 4: Design a Logo
The colors, font, and style of your logo will affect the design of your website. This is because you want a consistent theme between your logo and web pages. If you already have a logo that you are using in the offline world, then perfect. Find the digital file, or create a high-resolution scan to use on your website.
If you need a logo, or want to upgrade from your existing design, consider hiring a professional graphic designer from a site like Fiverr.com. There, you can find a freelancer to complete one-off projects. Logo design starts at $5 and you may have to wait a couple of weeks to get your logo, or for around $20, you can often get it within a week. Open a Fiverr account, find a highly rated designer or a “Top-Rated Seller” with a portfolio you like, then reach out.
Step 5: Design Your Website
To design a website, envision and plan how your site will be laid out, including the colors, fonts, images, page structures, interactive features, copy, and graphics. Decide how you will create clear site navigation, place effective call to action buttons, ensure your site loads quickly, and keep it scannable. It takes less than three seconds for someone to decide whether to stay or leave once they enter your website, so it is imperative that you make a good first impression.
Map Out Your Website
Before you design your website, map it out. To do so, decide how your site’s content will be arranged, where call to action buttons are necessary to ensure visitors take desired actions, what steps you’ll take to ensure your site loads quickly for visitors, and how you will use whitespace to keep from overwhelming visitors.
Here are a few tips to ensure your website design offers a great experience:
- Have clear navigation: You want people who visit your site to instantly know what your business is about and where to go to learn about your products or services, find pricing, contact a representative, or make a purchase. If your site is not clear, people will get frustrated and leave.
- Use call to action buttons: Implementing buttons with clear actions will immediately attract the user’s eye. This helps you to lead the person to take your desired action.
- Make sure your site loads quickly: People are impatient, and if your site takes even a fraction of a second too long to load, people will give up and look elsewhere. Make sure your web host provider, like Bluehost, has fast load times.
- Keep it minimal: Don’t overdo it with the design and definitely don’t feel like you need to cover every square inch with information or a design. White space is your friend. By keeping the look minimal, you can focus attention on the things that you want people to really pay attention to.
Choose Resources to Design Your Website
There are many ways you can design your site. This includes outsourcing to freelance platforms or agencies, using do-it-yourself design tools, and leveraging website builders. While each has its advantages, the cost differences can be significant.
Here are the top ways to design your website:
Hire a Designer on Fiverr ($75 to $500)
If you’d like a simple website with text, photos, a basic online store, and standard three to five pages, you can find a website designer on Fiverr. For a really good website designer with a 4.5- to 5-star rating, expect to pay between $75 and $500, depending on the freelancer and their experience.
Simply open an account on Fiverr.com and search for “website designer” using the search bar. Some providers specialize in WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace websites, so be sure you know what platform you’d like to use before looking for your freelancer. See below for the type of business each website builder is best suited for.
Hire a Professional Designer With Hibu ($400)
Hibu is a digital marketing agency that focuses on small business website design, search engine optimization (SEO), advertising, search marketing, and social media. They offer a great value: complete website design starting at $400, plus SEO maintenance of that site for as little as $100 a month. This means they will help you keep your site ranking in Google search engine result pages (SERPs).
When you work with Hibu, they assign your business a dedicated digital specialist to work one-on-one with you. First, they assess how your business performs online (social media, local listings, and more) and then give you improvement recommendations, including the creation of a website if you don’t already have one. You can connect with a Hibu representative for a no-obligation consultation before moving forward with your dedicated marketing specialist.
Design a Website Yourself Using a Website Builder ($0 to $20)
Website builders offer intuitive design tools to create a website even without coding skills. Many of them have drag-and-drop editors, so you just have to point and drag elements like text boxes and images where you want them. They’re made for small businesses wanting to design a professional website in under an hour, and cost around anywhere from nothing to $20 per month, depending on the provider and the hosting plan you choose.
“If you plan to outsource your website, make sure you have access to it in case you need to make changes. Many of our clients have had their websites held hostage and charged exorbitant fees to make simple edits after a design has been approved. Control your digital assets by requesting account passwords for everything if you want to avoid this.”
— Tom J. Cameron, President, Digital Pudding, Inc.
Small Business Website Costs
You should expect to pay between $3 and $20 per month to build your own website. Costs you should plan for include purchasing a website domain, either paying to use a website builder or CMS, and the costs of hosting plans. For cheaper site builders, consider web hosting packages that include all of the above elements.
Here are the main costs you should consider when building a small business website:
Website Domain Costs
While some small businesses use a free subdomain (like www.yoursite.wordpress.com) that includes the name of another business in it, we recommend you purchase a custom domain that only represents your business (like www.yoursite.com). While you could pay between $10 and $20 per month to lease a domain for your company website, you could also get a free website domain by purchasing a web hosting plan that includes one.
Website Builder Costs
Small businesses often begin building a business using website builders like Squarespace or Weebly. Some of these website builders require you to pay for hosting and a website, both offered on the same platform. For example, for $12 per month, Squarespace offers hosting plans that give you a drag-and-drop website builder, a free domain name, unlimited storage, and website hosting.
Content Management Systems (CMS) Costs
Content management systems (CMSs) like WordPress offer plans that allow you to create a WordPress website, and provide web hosting, a free domain, and bandwidth. You can then use drag-and-drop builder plugins to make web design easy. However, their plans are expensive compared to third-party hosting plans. For example, WordPress’ professional hosting plans start at $8 per month, compared to Bluehost’s, which offers these features for $2.95 per month.
To save money, you could purchase hosting for a WordPress website from a third-party hosting provider. For example, you could sign up with Bluehost for website hosting at just $2.95 per month. This plan also comes with a free domain name, five email addresses that match your domain (@yourdomain.com), 50 GB of storage, and one-click WordPress installations.
Web Hosting Costs
Many web hosts include the elements above, like site builders and domains, as part of their packages. For instance, Bluehost hosting includes a domain, email, and more in their packages, while platforms like Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace offer hosting, a domain, and intuitive web builders in their higher-tier plans (usually $10 to 15 per month).
3 Best Domain Name Registration Services for 2019
A domain name is made up of three parts: a business or website name, a dot or period, and an extension like “com.” Domain name registrars give you the tools to search for and choose an available domain name and to own it for a set period of time, usually a year. Among the top domain name registrars for 2019 are Bluehost, HostGator, and GoDaddy.
Here is a deeper look at the top three domain name registrars of 2019:
5 Best Web Hosting Providers for 2019
Web hosting providers store your website files and allow visitors to access them online. Without web hosting, your domain name (www.fitsmallbusiness.com, for example) would lead nowhere. Different web hosting providers have unique packages with web hosting, plus features like a certain amount of storage, website builders, domain names, emails, and more.
Here are the top five web hosting providers in 2019:
4 Best Website Builders for 2019
A small business website builder offers website editing tools and templates that allow small businesses to build a website, even without coding skills or expert developers on staff. Choosing a website builder should not be taken lightly, as each has strengths that complement unique business needs.
Here are the best small business website builders for 2019:
4 Best Website Design Companies 2019
The best website design companies have proven their quality and success via customer reviews, testimonials, and examples of the websites they’ve built. They also work closely with brands to understand their goals, then design sites around those goals to ensure customers will engage with and buy their products and services. We reviewed over 30 top website design companies to find the top four.
Here are the top four website design companies for small businesses:
Small Business Website Design Examples 2019
The best websites offer a memorable and often inspiring user experience via design, layout, color schemes, images, fonts, and more. Today, small businesses can compete by creating a comprehensive visitor experience via code-free and affordable website builders like Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, and more.
Here’s a closer look at our picks for best small website design:
1. Klara Kelly: Made With Weebly
Klara Kelly doesn’t just run a website; they support a cause via their small business. Specializing in headbands for women and girl athletes, their “Make a Wish” tab features their “Make a Wish” collection, of which a portion of the profits go to granting critically ill children their primary and sometimes last wishes.
To attract traffic to their website and cause, they offer a simple and intuitive user experience with clear call to action buttons displayed prominently (like “Shop the Collection”) on their home and product pages. All site images are authentic and inspiring, featuring women and girls excelling in athletics. Overall, users enjoy a smooth onsite experience with few frustrations and leave with inspiration to better themselves and those around them.
2. The Tea Story: Made With Wix
The Tea Story website tells a story in which the visitor is the main character and can create their own experience. With a simple five-page website design, nothing distracts website visitors from the relaxing experience offered by a warm, exotic cup of tea. Each keepsake container of tea is labeled with “The Tea Story” and offers a customized luxury experience for the buyer, with names like Peach Paradise and Lavender Parfait.
Their website design echoes their vintage-style floral tea containers with the same pastel color palette so visitors feel they’re digitally opening their own container of tea to reveal the “me time” experience possibilities. Their testimonials slider further entices visitors to give into a “me time” experience, with brand devotees praising the experience they enjoy with each cup.
3. Slow Travel Magazine: Made With Squarespace
Made with Squarespace, the Slow Travel Magazine website teaches people how to get off the beaten path on treks abroad by eating at small local hubs, visiting little-known spots, and interacting with locals in their own language. On the home page, an interactive gallery allows you to click on high-resolution images of travel adventures to enlarge them. Then, you can learn more about their context by reading a pop-up text overlay.
Throughout their website, there are photo stories filled with full-page images that immerse website visitors in foreign lands, helping them to see each country or region as the locals would. The website’s blog is story after story of tourist accounts of exploring the nooks and crannies of foreign lands. But, it goes further by making photos the center of each blog and using added commentary to provide context for each photo.
5 Pro Tips on How to Make a Website for Small Businesses
Building a website is more than just throwing up a page with your contact information. It must provide an appealing visitor experience that performs well in search engine results pages (SERPs), like Google. For this, you need the right tools and the right perspective. That’s why we asked the pros for their tips on how to create a website.
Here are the top five small business website design tips from the pros:
Small Business Website Glossary 2019
When you build a website, you will run into a lot of specialized languages that can be confusing, including “website builder,” “website hosting,” “domain names,” and more. This glossary will help you make sense of the language used to describe the process and tools to start a website.
Here are a few key terms you’ll run into for learning how to create a website:
- Website builders: Website builders are a suite of tools that allow people to design and launch a website without coding skills. Tools include website templates and drag-and-drop or navigation-based menu design tools for optimizing website layout, colors, fonts, images, images, and more.
- Website hosting: Website hosting providers sell room on their servers (large, centralized computers) to store your website files, where website visitors can then access them via your domain name (www.mywebsite.com, for example).
- Domain registration: Domain registration is the process of registering (or renting) your website’s domain name so you have the exclusive right to use it for your business. You can purchase a domain name from a domain name registrar like Bluehost.
- Domain name: A domain name is a business’ website address. It includes three parts: a website name, a dot (or period), and an extension (.com, or .net, for example). Collectively, these components look something like yoursite.com or www.yoursite.com.
- Subdomain: A subdomain is an internet domain name that is part of a larger or primary domain. For example, WordPress offers free subdomains you can use to create a free website. Their primary domain is WordPress.com. A subdomain would be mywebsite.wordpress.com.
- Landing page: Landing pages are a single web page on a website that’s set up to offer information about a single product or service.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a website?
A website is a central location where a collection of related pages are published online. In a business scenario, these pages usually serve the collective purpose of marketing the business’ products or services. This content is listed online under a domain (www.businessname.com, for example).
How can I make a website for free?
Many website builders offer the ability to create a website for free by using a subdomain. For example, Weebly allows you to create a website for free using one of their subdomains. Simply sign up for Weebly, pick a website subdomain, customize it with a drag-and-drop editor, and publish it. Other website builders offering free websites via a subdomain include WordPress.com and Wix.
How much does it cost to create a website for your business?
If you purchase hosting through a hosting provider like Bluehost, you can access all the tools to create a small business website for under $3 per month. To create a website, you must choose a hosting provider and register a domain, and then you can use a website builder to design your website, even without coding skills. Prices vary depending on where you purchase web hosting and a domain name, what website builder you use, and if you hire a professional designer.
Is a website domain name better than a subdomain?
Many people wonder if they should register for a website domain (www.yourname.com) or use a free subdomain (yourname.wordpress.com). A custom domain isn’t diluted or controlled by association with another brand (like WordPress in our subdomain example). It offers a professional image, a more memorable name, and a site that’s taken seriously as a business asset.
That said, some professional bloggers or early-stage entrepreneurs working on a non-existent budget can easily start with a free subdomain to ensure they have a web presence. However, it’s best for these businesses to upgrade to a domain name as soon as financially possible.
Bottom Line: Creating a Website for Your Business
To make a website for your small business, you must choose and register your website domain, choose a web hosting provider and package, plan how your website and logo will be designed, and then design your actual site. Many resources help you do this, including professional designers, web hosting providers, and website builders. When done successfully, a website can grow traffic, brand awareness, and sales.
For just $2.95 per month, Bluehost provides a full suite of tools and services to help you build your own site, including a free domain name, a WordPress website with a no-coding-necessary website builder, and website storage. Click here to begin building your website in less than an hour.