Small Business Website Design – Top Tips

Contents of this guide:

Introduction

Every single business, whether large or small, requires a professional website these days.

Your website is your 24/7 shop window, available to all who may want your product or service.

A good website helps bring trust amongst your clients, customers and prospects. 

You do not want your website, or lack of one, to be the all important element that means you lose a sale.

Getting a small business website can be one of the biggest challenges small business owners face.

There is so much out there!

The options appear unlimited and the costs so varied, it can feel really overwhelming.

Wix

Wix

Overview

A classic ‘drag ‘n drop’ template website builder, over 150 million people worldwide choose Wix to create a website and manage their business online. 

There are over 500 industry specific templates available that use its drag and drop editor.  

It is worth noting that much of the decision making is taken out of your hands when it comes to building your site; it uses artificial-intelligence powered design like GoDaddy and Site123. 

In addition, if you are running a retailing business and want to sell more than 50 product lines there are specialist e-commerce platforms for this.  

Themes

As is suggested by the word, the themes are just that, you cannot make any material changes to the structure of the site, the shape of it is pre-determined by the template.

You can however, change colours and use its 280 apps (some free and some paid for) to customise much of the site.  

Your Wix website will also look good on smartphones as they are all optimised for mobile.  

Verdict

Easy to use and well designed, its AI-powered design help means you can build a great looking site without knowing how to code.

Squarespace

Overview

With celebrity endorsers such as Keanu Reeves, Idris Elba and John Malkovich Squarespace offers clean, minimalist web design for those who like a stylish edge to their sites.

It also helps if you have a little website building knowledge and understanding. Not quite as easy or beginner-friendly as Wix.  

Squarespace is a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor.

With some platforms, such as WordPress, you make changes and edits in the backend, and only see what it will look like live when you preview it. 

Squarespace’s editor interface however is more polished and flexible compared to Wix and Weebly.

ou can also have other users help you manage your website, there is an option to provide different access levels to different users which is helpful – especially if you are selling goods online.  

E-commerce can be provided by an online store basic plan which starts from £20 per month.

This is the cheapest option for selling through the internet. Transaction fees are removed from the lower level plans and extra e-commerce features such as inventory management and label printing can be added.  

Themes

As if you had spent thousands getting a professional designer to code you a website, the themes for Squarespace’s 60 templates are all beautifully designed.  

Templates include online stores, restaurants and the generic “business” one. All templates are mobile responsive, so your website looks strong on any smartphone. 

The templates themselves are malleable. Once you have chosen a template, you layer in images and content using their design. Or you can create your own website from scratch.  

Unique to Squarespace, you can customise your own URL. And the live preview function allows you to see what your unpublished website is going to look like. 

A great feature is that you can even switch templates after you have gone live. 

Verdict

If you are happy to put a little time into building your website pages and you have an eye for design, Squarespace is the best website builder if you want a unique and visually impressive website. 

However, spending time in understanding how this product works is recommended before onboarding. If you want a website live within

WordPress

wordpress screenshot

Overview

The most popular website builder in the world, WordPress powers more than 33% of all websites on the internet, that’s millions of websites all over the world. 

Starting back in 2003 as a simple blogging platform it has since evolved to become a content management system and an application development framework.

In simple words, you can easily build any type of website using WordPress.  

An extremely flexible platform, you can use WordPress to build pretty much any kind of website.  

Are you wanting to start a blog, make a website for your small business, create a membership, sell online courses or even have an online shop?

These are just some  things you can do with WordPress.  

Themes

There are thousands of pre-made WordPress themes available in the market, each one is free and comes with a stylesheet and basic template files to display different sections of a typical WordPress site.  

Some themes have more customisable features than others, and depending on which one you choose, the settings will be individual to that theme.  

Verdict

The beautiful part about WordPress is that it adapts to your needs. It can be as easy and simple as you want, or as complex and sophisticated as you need it to be. 

Since you are completely in charge and in full ownership, you can make things simple, control the cost, and efficiently run your website. 

Shopify

Overview

According to Shopify, the platform has over one million users running 800,000 online stores which have generated over $100bn in sales. 

What makes it stand apart from competitors is that Shopify has its own physical point-of-sale hardware you buy with barcode readers, tills and receipt printers.
It’s an all-in-one system for anyone with a physical shop. 

Any website built in Shopify benefits from its easy-to-understand dashboard overview. 

If you have been used to a WordPress style CMS then uploading your products to a Shopify website will feel pretty easy and intuitive.

You can also add new plugins for your site, including a range of 1,200 apps which sync with your site, offering shipping, accounting, social media and advanced reporting.

This can seem a little overwhelming however, and a downside is there is no ‘basic plan’ offering like other website builders.

Themes

There are 70 themes to choose from with Shopify – 10 are free. Like Squarespace, the themes are beautifully designed and offer whizzy features like parallax scrolling and video backgrounds.

One issue you may face is that Shopify does not automatically resize uploaded photographs, so if you have product shots in different aspect ratios, you must edit in Photoshop before uploading to your website. 

Overall

Shopify is the best website builder for businesses that have a physical shop but also want to sell online. 

Shopify integrates with Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for easy sales through social media. 

One downside with Shopify is that, unlike Wix and Squarespace, Shopify does charge 2.2pc on each credit card transaction plus an additional 20p. 

Conclusion

In conclusion you need to choose a platform that you can scale as your business grows, the last thing you need is to be stuck with a website that doesn’t work for you and you have to start all over again.   

Depending on what your requirements are and your future goals for your business, your website designer will be able to advise an help you decide upon the most suitable platform for you.

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