Building your own small business website may seem like a daunting task at first. But in today’s digital landscape, that couldn’t be further from the truth. With the help of a website builder, creating a website is no harder than assembling a PowerPoint – it won’t put a dent in your wallet either.

Small Business owner building a website.

Establishing a strong online presence is an absolute must for any small business owner. Some say being on social media is enough. While that may be true for some, owning a website can open so many doors. It expands on what you can offer and do as a small business. Your customers, who increasingly spend time online, expect to be able to interact with your business on the Internet. With the following steps, build a small business website that you can be proud of.

Step 1 – Choosing Your Platform

First things first, you will need to choose a platform that can host your domain name (more on that later). In the early days of the Internet, creating a website required coding and computer skills. Nowadays, website building platforms will do all the heavy lifting for you. They let you focus on important things like design and content instead. They’re an ideal option for small business owners wanting to put together a website at a low cost. There are countless of platforms to choose from, but here’s a shortlist of our favourites:

1. Squarespace

If you would prefer having someone do most of the work for you, choose Squarespace. The prebuilt templates will make building a slick website a breeze.

  • Features include online commerce to help you showcase your products at their absolute best, SEO tools, built-in analytics, third-party tools, and many more.
  • It’s extremely user-friendly for both beginners and experienced users alike. With its calm and intuitive interface, Squarespace makes navigation and decision-making easy.
  • It’s affordable. Business subscriptions cost $276 a year which includes all the functions you would expect from a website builder.

 2. Shopify

If the main utility of your website is selling products or services across a multitude of online channels – go with Shopify.

  • You can personalize the look and feel of your online store with customizable templates.
  • It simplifies payment processing for you, providing your customers with a smooth checkout experience.
  • Unifying all your commerce needs on a single platform, it offers marketing and SEO tools to increase your reach, conversions and sales.
  • Albeit with a price that’s a little more expensive at $456 a year, it can be a great option if you’re looking to ramp up your online sales.

3. WordPress

Known as the world’s most popular platform builder, millions of people call com their home. While it doesn’t offer as much customization as Squarespace (unless you invest in an expensive plan), it shines in other areas such as security. It’s the go-to option for most people on the Internet, and with good reason.

  • In 2022, the number of websites powered by WordPress reached a staggering 835 million.
  • With com, depending on what your needs are, you might be looking at $396 a year. This may sound expensive, but with the peace of mind of having top-notch security, it can be well worth the investment.
  • For those wanting a more robust and creative experience, we recommend org. It offers a much more hands-on approach and the ability to customize your website to suit your business. Unlike a platform builder, WordPress.org is a content management system, allowing you to code your website freely. In this case, it will only cost you to host your website. To cover the basics, you’re looking at around 11$ a month for basic functions.

Whatever platform you do end up choosing, take the time to evaluate your options. It will all come down to your preference and the level of technical skill you have. At the end of the day, customers don’t care which platform your website is hosted on. They care about the content that’s on your website and how easy it is to navigate. Choose and value a platform that’s fast, responsive and offers a good user experience. Those are the attributes that your customers want and expect from an online experience. Most platforms will make your website looks fabulous by default, so don’t sweat it.

Step 2 – Purchasing a Domain

Next, you will need to purchase a domain to get your website up and running. Your domain name is your unique address that visitors type into their browser window to reach your website. It’s what comes after ‘’@’’ in an email address, or after ‘’www.’’’ in a web address. An example of a domain name is ondeck.ca.

Purchasing a domain name is incredibly easy. Simply visit a domain registrar to receive a domain name of your choosing. Registrars include Google, GoDaddy, Namecheap, and many others. Using GoDaddy.com as an example, you can find your ideal domain name within seconds. With their built-in search function, search for your desired domain name to see if it’s available. If it’s taken, don’t worry, they will offer alternatives. Ideally, your domain name should align well with your brand name, be kept short and easy to spell. It’s also important to consider which extension to use (i.e. .com, .ca, .net, .org, etc.). The most popular and the easiest to remember for most people is .com. Avoid the uncommon ones and stick with what’s familiar.

All that said, depending on which route you take, some platforms offer a free domain name for one year with the purchase of a subscription.

Step 3 – Choosing and Optimizing Content on Your Website

You’ve chosen your platform, your new domain name, and now you officially own a website. Okay, now what? It’s time to map out which content to feature on your website. Your website will be a collection of pages, data and images that your visitors will see once they enter your domain name in their browser. To rank high on search engines, it’s extremely important to optimize your website and content for search. Search engine optimization (SEO) sounds complicated, but when broken down, it’s rather simple. SEO is the practice of increasing organic traffic to your website through a search engine, like Google. It increases the likelihood of someone finding your website when they search for your product or services. To optimize SEO, you should try including the following pages:

1. Home Page: This will be the first page that your visitors see once they visit your website. It should be simple, clean and feature key selling points. First impressions are everything and having an attractive home page is no different. It’s common practice to include testimonials or a call to action on home pages to encourage visitors to transact with you.

2. Product/Service Page: If you plan on doing eCommerce, all your products or services need to be displayed appropriately. They should have detailed descriptions to grab your customers’ attention. Also, the payment process should be a seamless experience. Make it as easy as possible to transact with your business.

3. Blog Page: It’s not necessary, but having a blog can be a game changer if your goal is to drive traffic to your website. A blog gives you the ability to write curated content that’s relevant to your audience, giving your SEO efforts a well-deserved boost. Keep note, the more consistent you are in releasing great content, the better your results will be in the long term.

4. About Us Page: Everyone wants to know the story behind your business. An about us page is the perfect place to do that. Be creative and show your true colors. Share your values, your mission, and what you stand for. It’s an opportunity for you to connect with your customers on a deeper level, helping convert visitors into potential customers.

5. Contact/Support: As a customer, there’s nothing more frustrating than not knowing where and how to reach a business. Dedicate a page to list your phone number, email, social channels, and any other relevant contact information. Customer service and communication is key in all business endeavors. The consumer of today expects businesses to be accessible and available – always.

Step 4 – Launching Your Small Business Website

Before your website goes live, make sure to put it through a series of tests. For one, have someone else read through your content to get a different perspective. When you’re highly invested in a project, it’s easy to miss typos or broken links. Test it out on different devices (desktop, tablet, mobile) and browsers, making sure that your user experience is smooth across all screens. Most importantly, check if everything loads fast. Loading speeds can have a huge impact on search rankings and will result in you losing customers if things are slow. If that’s the case for you, try reducing the size of your images by compressing them. There are many things you can do to speed things up, but don’t fret, website builders will usually take care of that for you.

Benefits of Owning a Small Business Website

Now that you’ve started the process of building your own website, what are some of the benefits that you can expect? For one, building a website lets you have a true representation of your brand live online. It’s a one-stop shop for your customers to interact with your brand whether that’s for transactional or educational purposes. When focusing on digitizing your business, building a website should be among your top priorities. Outsourcing to web developers may be out of reach if you’re a small business owner. Luckily, building platforms like WordPress, Squarespace and Shopify let you build a functional website within an hour, helping you save money along the way. Make the small investment now and reap the rewards later.