It’s easy to create a low-cost website that lets you communicate with customers and sell products or services. Building a great business website involves purchasing a domain name and hosting, creating content, and then using a website builder to customize your design and publish. Business websites are essential to remaining competitive in today’s market.
Read below to make your 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 and see 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.
After you’ve found your domain name, you can also sign up for hosting. Bluehost typically charges $7.99/month, but Fit Small Business readers pay only $2.95/month for domain registration, website hosting, and a custom small business email. Click here to learn more.
Tips for Choosing Business Website Domains
Here are the best practices for finding an available domain name that fits your brand:
- Add Search Keywords – Domain names are important for search engines like Google. Consider including words that people are likely to use when searching for your business. For example, “ProStarLawncare” is probably better than “ProStar.”
- Avoid Random Symbols or Punctuation – Domain names should be easy to pronounce and remember. Keep your name as short as possible and avoid punctuation like dashes.
- Use Location Keywords – Use location keywords to find a unique URL. If all desired domains are taken, add your city/area name to the domain. For example, a company called Smith Plumbers based in Albany, NY, could try www.smithplumbersalbany.com.
If you still need help choosing a domain name, see our Top 25 Domain Name Tips from the Pros.
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 Weebly.
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 web builder, and get a business email address for just $2.95/month. Click here to check out Bluehost’s hosting plans.
Weebly 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 is $5/month, and this doesn’t include a domain or email account. Get started for free.
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 free WordPress website when you sign up for their $2.95 web hosting package.
Just bear in mind: 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 Weebly, which lets you edit the website just by dragging and dropping elements, WordPress has a more complex edit menu.
To help, we’ve written a few guides and recorded some videos (both below) that explain how to create a WordPress website using Bluehost from start to finish. If you follow one of our guides and use our theme, you should get most of the work done in less than an hour.
Check out the following WordPress guides for how to make a website. For each of these, we use Bluehost, which gives you a WordPress website, domain, and business email for just $2.95/month:
- How to Make a Website for Business + Video (with business template)
- How to Start a Website for Restaurants + Video (with restaurant template)
- How to Make a Website for a Salon + Video (with salon template)
You can also get started by reading our guide on How to Make a WordPress Website.
Option 2: Use a Website Builder like Weebly
At $5/month, Weebly is a host and website builder that utilizes drag-and-drop interfaces, templates, and plug-ins or apps 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 Weebly.
With Weebly, you start by choosing a template, then customize by adding your own pages, text, and images, and changing colors and fonts.
The editing process in Weebly 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 text by double-clicking within the text box.
It’s also easy to add interactive features to your website. Weebly has click-to-add options for Google Maps, quizzes, YouTube/Vimeo embeds, 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.
For more information, check out our article on how to build a website using Weebly.
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 an ecommerce software that helps you to create and manage your online store, sell your products, and market your business. It costs $29.99/month and you can even use their free trial, no credit card required.
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.
To begin, write out the copy and images you want to include on the following:
- 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/or 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 – Create an editorial calendar to determine the blog content that will help you connect with your customers and community.
- 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 to make 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 Weebly 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 shift the content to give them an ideal experience.
That said, even if your website is responsive, it’s usually a good idea to make some additional adjustments to your mobile site. Your mobile website should 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.
Click-to-call buttons are especially helpful if you want mobile visitors to dial your business. This is a button that, when clicked from a mobile phone, automatically populates your business’ phone number into the visitor’s phone dial pad. An embedded Google Maps widget is also key for customers who are browsing on-the-go so they can quickly and effortlessly access navigation to your store.
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 do not already have a logo, or want to upgrade from your existing design, there are three key ways to create one.
Design a Logo Yourself
There are a few logo design software platforms you can use to design your own logo. Try Tailor Brands if you want an easy way to create an appealing logo. Once you create your logo, you can subscribe and gain access to branding features, including seasonal logos, branded social media posts, branded landing pages, print-based design files, and more. You can try it for free, and if you find a perfect design, you can subscribe starting at $2.99.
A Tailor Brands logo on multiple products
Hire a Project-Based Designer
Fiverr.com is a site where businesses can hire a freelancer to complete one-off projects. On this platform, logo design starts at $5. If you use the $5 option, you may have to wait a couple of weeks to get your logo. For around $20, you can often get it within a week. Open a Fiverr account, then find a 4.5- to 5-star designer (at least) or a “Top-Rated Seller” with a portfolio you like, then reach out.
Use a Logo Design Agency
Logo design agencies handle all aspects of logo design, from conception through initial designing, editing, and eventual completion. DesignBro, for example, a leading design firm, runs contests among top-rated designers to compete for your logo design. Clients often begin receiving designs within 24 hours.
Prices start at $199 for three suggested designs and run to $479 for 10 top designs to choose from. Work directly with designers and request unlimited revisions until you’re happy. Final designs are sent in print and digital formats (pdf, .jpg, .png) with a legal copyright for the design in your name.
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. It’s been shown that it takes someone less than three seconds to decide whether to stay or leave once they hit your website, so it is imperative that you make a good first impression.
Here are a few tips to ensure your website design is up to par:
- 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.
3 Ways 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.
Here are the top ways to design your website:
Hire a Designer on Fiverr ($75 – $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 his/her experience.
Simply open an account and search for “website designer” using the search bar. Some providers specialize in WordPress, Wix, or Weebly 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 results 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 a website if you don’t already have one. If not, Hibu can research your target customers to design your website around their needs. This helps your business actually convert visitors into buyers.
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
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 $5/month.
“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.
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:
For a more in-depth domain name registrar comparison, read our 6 Best Domain Name Registrars 2019 buyer’s guide.
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 building, domain names, emails, and more.
Here are the top 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:
For a more in-depth comparison, read our Six Best Website Builders 2019: Reviews & Pricing Guide.
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, Weebly, and more.
Here’s a closer look at our picks for best small website design examples:
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.
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 slider further entices visitors to give into a “me time” experience, with brand fans praising the experience they enjoy with each cup.
Pro Tips: How to Make a Website for Small Businesses
Building a website is more than just throwing up something 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. We asked the pros for their tips on how to create a website, and here’s what they had to say:
Small Business Website Glossary 2019
When you build a website, you will run into a lot of specialized language 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 Builder – 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 further 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 – Instead of a string of numbers in an IP address, a domain name converts your IP address into a name people can remember to access your website online, like www.fitsmallbusiness.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.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Can I Make a Website for Free?
Many website builders offer the ability to create a website through them 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.
There are even some free domain options. However, many of these options are less than desirable when compared to more reputable paid services like Bluehost or Weebly. For more information, read our article on the best free web hosting services.
How Much Does It Cost to Create a Website for Your Business?
To create a website, you must first 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 can vary depending on where you purchase web hosting, a domain name, what website builder you use, and if you hire a professional designer.
However, if you purchase them all together via a web hosting provider like Bluehost, expect prices to start at $2.95/month when billed annually. To learn more about the costs involved when creating your website, view our complete guide to website costs.
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 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.
How Can I Get a Small Business Email Address that Matches My Website Domain?
When you set up your web hosting with Bluehost, you also get a free business email with it. Once logged into your Bluehost account, click the “Hosting” menu and then the “Email” submenu.
From there, click on “Email accounts,” then on “Create an email account.” Enter your preferred email address prefix (before the @ symbol), then select the domain you want it to represent from the drop-down menu. Create a password, set your storage limit, and click “Create.” For more information, read our article on how to get a free business email address.
Bottom Line: How to Start a Website
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 tools help you do this, including outsourcing platforms or agencies, web hosting providers, and website builders. When done successfully, a website can grow traffic, brand awareness, and sales.
For most small businesses, time and budget constraints mean a DIY route is the best way to go. For just $2.95/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 web hosting. Click here to begin building your website in less than an hour.