Business website

The Basics of Building a Small Business Website

The number of choices you have to make when building a small business website can seem overwhelming. From choosing the best website builder to determining navigational structures or content priorities, you need to make decisions with confidence.

We do our best to simplify this process, with how-to guides including the best small business website builders and the best e-commerce website builders. We’ve also got tips for building your first website, so whether you’re focusing on e-commerce or emphasizing accessibility, we’ve got you covered.

When researching and planning your small business e-commerce website, remember that you need to focus on one key factor: intent.

Intent is one of the most important areas for building your website.

Intent is essential to the success of a business. This plays into many aspects of your website, from choosing the best web hosting or website builder app to understanding your business and customer needs.

While intent is vital, its importance can sometimes get lost in guidance on color schemes, domains, meta tags, and product listings. But, when you remove everything else, it’s the basis of all your other choices. When intent guides your website choices, you know you’re building on a solid foundation.

Let’s see how focusing on intent can maximize your success with e-commerce, brand awareness, business goals, and customer experience.

Why Intent is Critical for Your Small Business Website

Intent brings together many aspects of business success: defining your purpose, designing an experience, setting goals, and achieving them. When it comes to building your small business website, it helps to think about intent from three perspectives: business intent, audience intent, and search intent.

Building a website for business purposes

Business intent is to achieve your goals through your website. From a business perspective, you’ll want to focus on:

  • Ensure easy navigation and a positive customer experience
  • Put your products and services first
  • Provide information so your customers can make an informed choice
  • Enable consumers to easily find and buy the right products

Creation of a website for the public

Audience intent helps your customers engage with your website, find what they need, and buy your products. When you create a website based on consumer needs, it means:

  • Maximize customer experience by thinking about all the ways they interact with your website
  • Focus on speed, clarity, quality and simplicity by enabling them to quickly and easily find reliable information and answers
  • Strengthen accessibility and responsiveness, so that your site is easy to interact with in all circumstances
  • Help them make informed decisions when purchasing your products and services

Creating a Website for Search Intent

Search intent provides answers. It allows search engines to direct users to the most relevant websites. When you build a website based on search intent, it means:

  • Clearly define the information, products, services, guides and other content on your website
  • Telling search engines how to crawl your website to bring up your most relevant pages
  • Understand your search results and optimize for higher organic search placement

Starting with intent means you can choose a website builder based on the needs of your business and your audience, rather than being stuck with a builder that doesn’t quite do everything you want it to.

Turning Intent into Website Features and Functionality

Mac monitor on desktop with website showing

Asking questions about intent helps you narrow down your search for the right small business website builder. We have provided some examples of the types of questions you might ask. These would be great starting points to focus on what matters most to your business and your customers.

Answer these questions honestly to create a list of ideal features and functions for your small business website. Consider other questions and answers based on your business goals, audience needs, and search priorities.

Business intent: Is my business primarily focused on e-commerce and selling products online?

Use an e-commerce focused website builder. These will showcase your products in the best possible way and make it easier for customers to buy your products. Consider Wix, Shopify or Squarespace.

Business/research intent: Is my website primarily a showcase or an in-depth resource for customers?

Showcase-type websites tend to be lighter on content, with short product descriptions and targeted features, but they don’t tend to do as well in organic search. Websites that are in-depth resources will provide a lot more information, possibly including blogs and support guides. They do better in search, but require a lot more energy, engagement, and content.

Consider Shopify for storefronts and consider SquareSpace and WordPress for more in-depth content and blogs.

Business intent: Do I want to focus on building my brand?

Building a brand is more than selling products. This means using a combination of great design, a beautiful website, and a consistent tone to create an impression and build trust. Look for website builders that are very strong on their design elements.

Consider Squarespace or WordPress with premium themes.

Business intent: Is it easy to market my small business website and products through social media?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are all becoming increasingly important for marketing businesses and selling products. You will need a website builder with deep integration, to make it easy to promote your business and sell your products on these social media networks.

Consider Shopify for social selling and Wix for social media marketing.

Audience intent: Are my customers accessing my company’s website on mobile devices, tablets, and smartphones?

Look for website builders focused on designing mobile responsive websites. This means your website will look great on all types of devices, which is essential if you’re focused on selling to consumers on the go.

Consider Squarespace, Wix or WordPress.

Audience Intent: Will my customers be interested in additional information, services, and interaction?

The key here is to focus on interactive widgets that you can easily drop into your web pages. This can be a feature built into the website or available through a plugin ecosystem.

Consider WordPress for the widest range of plugins and other website builders for standalone widgets.

Search intent: Will I focus on information-rich educational content to rank in organic search?

Getting your website noticed through organic search and search engine optimization starts with great content. You’ll need a website builder that focuses heavily on blog writing, knowledge bases, resource guides, and similar functions.

Consider WordPress or Wix.

Choosing the Perfect Small Business Website Builder

All website builders have pros and cons. Squarespace features a beautiful and responsive design. Wix integrates well with social media and offers in-depth training guides. WordPress offers enormous configurability and a vast ecosystem of addons and plugins. Weebly has some great budget options if you watch your spending.

Starting with intention helps you narrow down those options so you can make a better choice. Putting the needs of your business and audience first means you can prioritize features and functions. The best website builder is the one that best suits your goals, not the other way around.

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