So, you need a new website for your small business? Let’s cut to the chase – you’ve probably needed a new website for a while, right? We’ve all been there. It’s one of those tasks that sit on your to-do list and never quite gets done; it’s hard to know where to start and making your customers happy keeps you busy enough.

Don’t worry – you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to take you through all the essential steps involved in building a website. We won’t cover every technical detail though: this is a high-level overview that will give you the background information you need to start asking questions and exploring your options with confidence.


We’re going to cover:

  • The 6 Essentials You Need to Build a Business Website

  • Web Builder or WordPress: Our Expert Opinion

  • Getting the Basics Right: Your Priorities When Building a Business Website

  • Content and Images

  • Marketing and Promoting Your Website

  • Getting Started - Your Next Steps

The 6 Essentials You Need to Build a Business Website

How does a website work? How do you take an idea and turn it into a website that pops up on your visitor’s screen when they click on the right link on Google?

A website needs the following elements to ensure it can be viewed online:

1. Domain The domain is the name of your website; think of it as its address on the internet. It’ll be in the form of www.mybusinessname.com (the .com bit can change and might be something else such as .co.uk or .com.au). You can sign up for a domain at the same place as you purchase your hosting, such as godaddy.com. This is a necessary step for hand-coded and WordPress sites; most web builders sort this step for you. Your domain name will typically cost about $10-$15 per year.


2. HostingThe hosting company stores the files that make up your website. If you’re coding the website yourself or using WordPress, you’ll need to sign up for hosting at a site like godaddy.com; this will cost you about $10 per year for basic hosting. Web builders, on the other hand, include hosting as part of the package.




For more information about how much a website costs, read out the in-depth article here.

3. Website The website itself is a collection of files that sit on your host’s server. There will be HTML files, CSS files, images, and more. Don’t mean much to you? No problem – you won’t have to write the code yourself unless you choose too. Website builders give you tools to create the website’s structure without ever touching complex code.


4. Content Having a website isn’t enough; it’s got to say something. Your content includes the written text and images that visitors see when they visit your website. You can either create this content yourself or hire a freelancer to do it for you on sites such as upwork.com or freelancer.com. Images can be acquired from either paid stock image sites, such as shutterstock.com, or free sources such as pexels.com.

Additionally, there are two other elements that, while not essential for getting online, are necessary for running a successful business website:

5.  Marketing Your marketing is how you get visitors to find your website. Most businesses use both SEO (Search Engine Optimization – getting your website ranked in the search engines) and paid ads like Google Ads. If you don’t put effort into marketing your website, it might be hard for customers to find it.

6. AnalyticsThis refers to the practice of tracking what your users do when they come to your website. This allows you to see what effect your website is having, how much business it is creating, and where you might want to make improvements.

Web Builder or WordPress: Our Expert Opinion

If you’ve done any research into building your own business website already you’ll have come across two popular options: web-builders and WordPress:

  • Web builders are a collection of online website-building tools that enable you to build a website by dragging-and-dropping different elements in a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. There are lots of different web builders that offer different built-in features.

  • WordPress is a type of CMS (Content Management System). It’s a piece of software that allows you to build your own website and blog. It’s more powerful than a web builder but has a considerably steeper learning curve.

Both options give you an interface on which you can create pages and content without coding (the code is automatically made for you). That doesn’t mean they’re both easy to use, however.

Unless you already have experience using WordPress, we recommend you use a web builder. It can be tempting to use WordPress because a) the software is open-source (free) and b) it’s more powerful.

However, although WordPress itself is free, you will still need to spend on other items such as a premium theme (a theme is a set of files that modifies how the website looks and what functionality it provides). WordPress might appear cheaper but it’s comparable to a web builder if you do the work yourself – and if you have to hire an expert (because it’s much more complicated) you’ll be spending a lot more.

Web builders have several key advantages:

  • They’re easier to use and quicker to build with.

  • They include most functionality built in.

  • Technical tasks, such as configuring your domain and hosting, is sorted for you.

  • Included themes give you a running start on designing your website.

  • Dedicated support is normally included.

Of course, we might be biased – we have a web builder of our own (Pedestal). But, there are plenty of other great web builders out there as well (and a few bad ones). Our solution only caters to a very specific group of small business customers (local service businesses), so we also like to recommend other solutions:

  • If you’re a local service business, e.g., electrician, landscaper, etc. we recommend our own solution, Pedestal. It’s been built especially for local service businesses and comes with many marketing features. These include pre-optimized industry-specific themes that have been built by conversion experts to help businesses bring in more customers.

  • If you’re an e-commerce business, selling online, we recommend Shopify, which is a web builder created especially for eCommerce. It has far more online selling features than most other web builders and makes running a web store much easier.

  • If you’re in a creative industry, such as a freelance designer, we recommend Squarespace. If you need to showcase your portfolio, Squarespace is the best way to do it – it has some beautiful themes.

  • If you’re none of the above or want something to compare, you should consider Wix. It’s a good all-rounder, and a has a solid feature set; it’s also easy to use.

We recommend you continue reading this article, and then, once you’ve finished, come back and choose 1-2 web builders to trial.

Getting the Basics Right: Your Priorities When Building a Business Website

One of the biggest problems small businesses face when building a website is that it’s easy to lose sight of what the website is meant to achieve. It’s easy to keep trying to add new features or pages and never quite end up hitting the ‘publish’ button. This is the case with WordPress particularly (because with enough work, you can create anything), but is often the case with websites built with web builders too.

Your website is a business growth tool. It only needs to have the information and pages necessary to increase a visitor’s interest to the point whether they take action (fill in a contact form, pick up the phone, or make an online purchase); don’t over complicate it. Sure, more is better – but don’t fall into the trap of perfectionism.

Here’s what most business website needs a minimum:

  • A Homepage – introduces your business and value proposition.

  • An About Us page – who you are and what experience you have.

  • A Services page – what you do and how you do it.

  • A Contact Us page – so your prospect’s can get in touch, find your store, etc.

To start with, you should only focus on the information necessary to convince your prospective customer that they want to contact you, get a quote, reserve a table, or whatever other action it is you need to move them closer towards becoming a long-term customer.

Forget the fancy videos, widgets, interactive features and get the basics right first. Remember: your website isn’t about you, it’s about your customer and how you can provide value for them. You can (and will) want to add more content later, but you don’t need one hundred pages in place before you launch.

Content and Images

You’ve chosen a web builder and have an idea what pages you need – now what? You need some content. First, though, you need a structure – and that comes from your theme. Web builders come with prebuilt themes that give you an outline into which you can inject your own content. This removes a significant portion of the work involved and helps you envision what the web builder can do.

Some web builders have just 20-30 themes, while others have hundreds. Pedestal, for example, contains several themes specially-designed for each industry it caters for. These themes are just a starting point and can be modified, but you’ll want to choose the theme that comes closest to what you’re trying to achieve.

Once you’ve got your structure, you’ll need to create (or pay someone else to create) – the words and images visitors see when they come to a website. You’ll need to think carefully about what you use because the content will determine how visitors see your brand.

Here are a few tips:

It’s All About The Customers

Think about what information a prospective customer wants to know when they visit your website. Vital information such as your business’s phone number should be on every page.

For example, if you’re a bathroom renovation company. In this case, your visitors want to know:

  • How to contact you

  • That you’re qualified and experienced enough to do the work.

  • That you’re trustworthy.

  • What you do differently than your competitors.

  • Any Guarantees and Warranties you offer

Or if you’re a restaurant the prospect will want to know:

  • Where the restaurant is and how to find it.

  • What your contact details are and how to make a reservation.

  • What food your serve and whether it looks good (pictures might be useful here).

Without these three basic things, most potential visitors to your restaurant will go away disappointed (and probably straight to your competitor’s website).

Establishing Trust

One of the most important factors in moving a website visitor from “I’ve just clicked and have no idea who this business is” to “Wow! I think I’ll contact them” is trust. Customers don’t buy products or services from businesses they don’t trust.

Of course, we know you’re trustworthy – but customers don’t. And they’ve heard all sorts of bad stories about businesses that rip people off or provide a poor service. Unfortunately, most small business websites don’t help here – they’re often outdated, contain incorrect information, or just plain ugly. That’s not something that builds trust.

Your website is going to be different. Here’s what you need to include:

  • Accreditations and qualifications you or your business have achieved.

  • Testimonials from happy customers (preferably with a picture of their smiling face).

  • Professional associations and industry groups you’re a member of.

  • Warranties and guarantees for your products/services.

  • Brand logos from major clients.

By including these elements, you show customers that you know what you’re doing, that you have a great reputation, and that you’re trustworthy. They won’t all apply to your business, but most will.

Adding Images

Most web builder themes come with a few images, and you can find plenty more online for free, on stock image websites. Unfortunately, it’s normally obvious when you only use these stock images. You should strongly consider investing a small amount of money to get a photographer to take some professional photos of your business and your staff. If you provide a service, such as plumbing, you might want a couple of ‘in action’ shots of you or your team on the job.

Having these real photos helps build trust – people like to buy from real people. They also help to differentiate your business from all the competitors who couldn’t be bothered to get decent photos on their website.

Adding Content

If like most small business owners, you lack either the expertise or the time necessary to create your own content, you might need to pay for someone else to do it. The time-saving alone can make this worth it, with the potential quality improvements achieved by engaging a professional an added bonus.

Marketing Your Website

Building your website and populating it with content isn’t the end: you’ve got to market it. Many businesses build a website and then just leave it, trusting that customers will find it. And they will – a few, anyway.  

But the odd visitor doesn’t give you the increase in business you want. To get that, you’re going to have to have a plan. Businesses typically use two strategies:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Creating content (and configuring the website itself) to encourage search engines to rank them highly when people search for particular search terms.

  • Paid Ads – Advertisements that appear alongside search listings to promote your business. When a visitor clicks on one, you pay Google (or whoever else you’re advertising with) a fee.

Most successful businesses do both.

A word of warning: an effective paid advertising campaign can be incredibly effective, but an ineffective one can cost a lot. You’ll want to set a budget, measure your success (using analytics), and then scale up once you start hitting a good return on your investment.

Some web builders, such as Pedestal, provide tools and services to take advantage of paid advertisements and have in-built reporting functionality. With others, you may have to either learn how to make them yourself or engage an expert yourself. Either way, it’s often worth it.

Search engine optimization alone can build traffic, but it only grows slowly – and creating content takes time. An SEO strategy might take months to show significant fruit, during which time you’ve missed out on a whole load of business you would have received with paid ads.

To measure your success, you’ll want to use analytics tools. Many web builders come with these included (although not always with the cheapest plans). These tools track visitor behaviour and can show what pages a visitor goes to, what links they click on, and how long they stay on the page.

You’ll also be able to track when a customer fills out a contact form, downloads a free eBook, or makes a reservation (or takes almost any other action that you count as a conversion). By assigning a monetary value to these actions, you can calculate your return on investment for the traffic you’re sending to the page.

At Pedestal you even have the option to input your quote values and sales values to calculate your exact return on investment from your online marketing campaigns.

Getting Started - Your Next Steps

You’ve read through the guide, and you now have a decent overview of what it takes to build a business website.

Here are your next steps:

  • Step 1: Plan what pages will your website need to launch? What do you need to include to get customers to act? How can you build trust? How can you outmaneuver your competitors?

  • Step 2: Browse – take a detailed look at a few web builders and sign up for a free trial at 2-3 of the most promising. Remember to keep in mind what features you’ll need for your industry.

  • Step 3: Test – Create a page in each of the web builders, taking note of how easy it is & how good the result is.

  • Step 4: CommitPick the web builder you believe is best for your industry and business and commit to getting started building your website.

  • Step 5: Content – Create a structure and the initial content you need for your website. Remember to consider what your customer needs to know and to add plenty of elements that build trust.

  • Step 6: Market – Attract customers by improving your SEO and by investigating paid ads.

  • Step 7: Improve – Use analytics data to see which pages need improving.

If you’re a local business, you can click here to sign up for a free trial with Pedestal. Our friendly support team is on hand to help you take your first steps building your website, and then helping you market and promote your business online.