Web Design

7 Steps to Make a Small Business Website

16 December 2023 Maxence Pezzetta

All businesses need a website, and owners of small or medium businesses will find that they need to get involved in the process of building one. Whether you choose to use a freelancer, a web agency, or to do it yourself, building a website for your small or medium business will take some of your time as well.

With this in mind, you can set up a step-by-step website-building strategy. Whether it’s the site structure, the content or the design, there are certain phases that you just cannot skip. Of course, there is more to web design than a quick list of tasks, but you’re more likely to succeed if you have a firm grasp of the basics. Let’s take an overall look at how to create a website for an SMB.

Step 1: Planning and site structure

When you create a website, the first step after choosing your domain name is to define the site structure. This includes defining the number of pages and how the user will navigate between these pages.

What is a website tree structure?

The tree structure of a website is established on a Word or Photoshop document before you build your website. It is a visual representation of the overall architecture of your site.

Your site structure should make it easy for users to navigate between site pages by offering them quick, intuitive ways to get from place to place on the site. The goal is to make it easy for users to access what they are looking for.

To conceptualize an effective site tree, you will have to analyze and organize the contents of your website. Go ahead and get inspired by your competitors’ sites. For many entrepreneurs, this step is not always easy to complete, as it requires a detailed analysis and refined distillation of the information and options you want to present to your users. Many business owners turn to professionals at a web agency for guidance at this stage.

Determining the purpose of your website

There are simple questions you can ask to define the objectives of your SME web marketing strategy. Clear goals will help you choose what type of website to create. This is important because the website tree structure will differ depending on the type of website you are building:

  • Showcase website: This type of business website will present what your SME does, your products and/or your services. It will help you get new contacts, develop a good reputation and gain credibility. It is mainly a communication tool, not a sales tool.
  • E-commerce website: This type of business website is an online store where users can buy products and services. The user can place an order in a product catalogue and pay using a secure payment system. An e-commerce site will enable your company to cover a much wider geographical area that a physical store and therefore increase your number of customers and your turnover.

Take SEO into account in the tree structure

When you establish your tree structure, you should already be thinking about SEO. The structure of your site must respect certain rules so that it can be clearly identified by search engines and easily classified in search results.

To do this, you will have to think about keywords, URLs and the internal linking of your site.

Keep in mind that the easier it is to navigate your site, the better impact it will have on your SEO, since site rank is affected strongly by user experience.

Step 2: Choosing a platform and theme (design)

You have several options when it comes to choosing the right platform for your website, each with its own advantages and limitations. Choose a tool that not only meets your needs right now, but can also adapt as your business grows.

Here is an overview of the main content management systems (CMS) that small and medium businesses can use to build a website, with an overview of their features:

  • WordPress: This CMS is extremely versatile and can be used to build a wide range of sites, from personal blogs to complex business sites. It is particularly recommended for SMBs that want total control and the ability to fully customize their site.
  • Shopify: Specifically developed for e-commercesites, Shopify stands out for offering a complete set of tools for managing online stores. Its ready-to-use templates make it possible for entrepreneurs to put a site in place, making it a popular choice.
  • Wix: This platform is perfect for beginners or those looking to quickly set up a visually appealing site without having to use extensive technical skills. Wix offers a simple and intuitive user interface that’s ideal for building simple but stylish websites.
  • Squarespace: Known for its refined and professional designs, Squarespace offers an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface. This platform is a go-to choice for creators, small businesses, and bloggers who want a site that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
  • Magento: Designed for larger businesses with more complex e-commerce needs, Magento stands out for its flexibility. This CMS offers various options for customization and integration and it a great choice for those whose online stores have specific requirements.

Step 3: SEO Optimization

The SEO optimization of a site must be done before it is launched. This step will maximize the online visibility of your website and involves researching relevant keywords, developing an on-site and off-site SEO strategy and creating relevant content.

Choose your keywords

From the start of your website design, keyword research will allow you to optimize all the pages of your site and begin with a solid foundation.

Keywords must be related to the services your company offers. To avoid repetition and overoptimization, remember to search for synonyms and related words, and don’t neglect long tail keywords. When users search, they more commonly enter a short sentence than a single keyword.

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On-site and off-site SEO

On-site SEO focuses on improving internal elements of your website, such as meta tags, URLs, and internal linking, which will in turn improve site readability and indexing by search engines. On-site optimization helps make a site's content more relevant and accessible to users.

Off-site SEO is more focused on external strategies, including the development of quality backlinks from other websites. Backlinks help to increase a site's authority and reputation, and contribute to higher rankings in search results and increased visibility on the web.

Why content is important to bots

The higher the quality of your site content, the more likely you are to rank high in search results. Content is very important when designing a website, and you should think about site content even before imagining the website design so you can be sure you’ll be able to accommodate your plans.

Building a site is like creating a shape (such as the design of a vase) which is designed to hold specific contents (the flowers), and not the other way around. In general, for both blog posts and service or product pages, it is recommended to include texts of at least 500 words and write optimized meta titles and meta descriptions.

Think carefully in advance about any graphs or images you want to insert, and remember to name files appropriately in order to make the most of each element on your site.

Step 4: Adding features and automation

Your website should be easy to navigate no matter which CMS you choose.

Adding features like e-commerce solutions and forms can significantly improve your site’s user experience and boost the performance of your business online. Some features make online transactions smoother, allow you to gather useful information about your website performance, and also engage customers.

Platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce (for WordPress) are your best choice for adding features that improve e-commerce usability. These solutions offer a user-friendly interface for managing online stores, tracking orders, and interacting with customers. For forms, tools like Google Forms or JotForm are handy for collecting information and interacting effectively with customers.

You can also automate certain tasks, like managing orders or responding to customer queries, which will significantly reduce your workload and improve operational efficiency. These automation processes help optimize site management and allow you to focus on more strategic aspects of your business.

Step 5: Responsive design and testing

In a digital world where mobile devices dominate, it's important to make sure your website is fully responsive. This means that it needs to fit into and perform well on a variety of screen sizes, from smartphones to tablets and desktops. 

This step involves designing an interface that automatically reacts and resizes your site elements to provide a seamless user experience regardless of the device being used. You should also compress the images on your site to avoid excessive page load time, which can hurt user experience and SEO. Images should be between 500 KB and 1 MB for an optimal balance between quality and performance. We recommend using Gtmetrix and PageSpeed Insights to check the loading time of your pages.

In addition to being responsive, your website should be tested for other factors that affect functionality and performance. These tests are designed to detect and fix any potential issues so that your site will continue to run smoothly, offer a flawless user experience, and deliver fast load times.

Step 6: Security, launch and promotion

Setting up an SSL certificate will help keep your website secure. This certificate encrypts sensitive data, including payment information, to keep it confidential. It’s worth noting that sites without an SSL certificate are often marked as not secure by modern browsers, which can turn away visitors and negatively impact users’ trust.

Also, before launching your new website, make sure that it complies with legal regulations like Bill 25. Remember to create a privacy policy to establish trust with online users and secure a strong base for your digital presence.

Once site security has been verified and your website has been launched, you have a perfect opportunity to initiate a targeted digital marketing strategy. Use email marketing, social media advertising, Google Ads, or affiliate marketing tactics to bring potential customers to your site. Digital marketing efforts will contribute to increased visibility and better brand recognition, which can eventually lead to customer loyalty.

Step 7: Continued maintenance and improvement

Having a website is a constant maintenance job. SMBs should plan for regular site maintenance and anticipate making constant updates to keep their website functioning properly and securely. Preventative measures will help avoid technical malfunctions and keep your site up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends.

In addition, you should constantly analyze your site's statistics using tools like Google Analytics, to identify possible areas for improvement. You can make adjustments and do ongoing maintenance based on the results of your analysis, to effectively meet the changing needs of users and improve overall site experience. Continued maintenance and improvements will contribute to the long-term success of your online business.

My Little Big Web can build the perfect website for your SMB

You can’t create an effective small business website overnight. It is a project in itself that involves defining your target audience, understanding their needs, and building a site designed to guide them towards conversions. Designing a website requires a basic knowledge of both programming and SEO, so business owners should either take the time to learn these skills themselves, or ask for guidance from a competent team.

If you are looking for help to build your small business website, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to assist you!

SMB Website Creation FAQ

1. Why is it important for an SMB to have a website?

A website allows any business to reach new customers, put forward products or services, and increase its online visibility. This in turn can lead to a growth in sales and a better return on investment. Additionally, a well-designed and SEO-optimized website can greatly improve search engine rankings, thereby attracting more traffic and bringing you more business opportunities.

2. What is the difference between a small business website and a personal website?

The main difference between a small business website and a personal website lies in their goals and features.

A site for an SMB is designed to represent a business, promote its services or products, and achieve specific business goals. It often includes business features like product pages, booking systems, or professional contact forms.

Conversely, a personal site is typically used to share opinions, personal interests, or portfolios, and has fewer requirements in terms of sales or marketing features.

3. How can a website help attract new customers?

A website can attract new business customers in a number of ways. First, it provides an online presence that will increase the company’s visibility and make it easy for potential customers to find it. Thanks to SEO, a well-optimized site could potentially appear in top search results and attract even more traffic.

A website can present information about the products or services being offered and can convert visitors into customers via effective calls-to-action. Finally, websites can incorporate digital marketing tools like newsletters and ads to engage visitors and encourage them to become customers.

4. What are the key elements for designing a successful SMB website?

Key factors in designing a successful website include an attractive design, intuitive navigation, relevant content, compelling calls to action, social media integration, search engine optimization (SEO), and the ability to sell products online if necessary.

High-quality, clearly presented and relevant content, as well as mobile adaptability (responsive design) will guarantee an optimal user experience on all devices. The integration of company-specific features like contact forms or online stores, and the use of digital marketing strategies, are also important.

Maxence Pezzetta
Cofondateur et Spécialiste Web Marketing et acquisition de clients Diplômé d’une double Maîtrise en Marketing et Communication, Max cumule plus de 10 ans d’expérience en Marketing digital. Ancien employé de Microsoft, sa mission est de « mettre le Web à la portée de tous » pour aider les entreprises à améliorer leur présence en ligne.
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