Business website

The Basics of Building a Small Business Website

The number of choices you have to make when building a website for a small business can seem overwhelming. Whether it’s choosing one of the best website builders or determining navigation structures or content priorities, you need to make decisions with confidence.

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

When researching and planning your small business ecommerce website, remember that one essential factor you need to focus on – intention.

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

MacBook and iMac on the desktop at home office

Intent is an integral part of the business, especially when you consider what your website will be. (Image credit: Unsplash)

Intention is essential to the success of the business. It plays into many aspects of your website, from choosing the best web hosting or the best website builder app to understanding the needs of your business and customers.

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

Let’s explore how focusing on intention can maximize your success with ecommerce, brand awareness, business goals, and customer experience.

Why Intent is Critical for Your Small Business Website

Intent brings together many aspects of a successful business: setting your goal, designing an experience, setting goals, and achieving goals. When it comes to building your small business website, it helps to think of intent from three angles: business intent, audience intent, and search intent.

Creation of a commercial website

The business intention is to achieve your goals through your website. From a business standpoint, you’ll want to focus on:

  • Guarantee easy navigation and a positive customer experience
  • Put your products and services at the forefront
  • Provide information so your customers can make an informed choice
  • Make it easy for consumers to find and buy the right products

Building a website for the public

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

  • Maximize the 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
  • Improved accessibility and responsiveness to make your website easy to interact with in all circumstances
  • Help them make informed decisions when purchasing your products and services

Creating a website for research intent

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

  • Clearly define the information, products, services, guides and other content on your website
  • Explain to 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 intention means you can choose a website builder based on the needs of your business and audience, rather than getting stuck with a builder who doesn’t do everything you want.

Transform intent into website features and functionality

Mac in the office displaying website designs, in an office

Ask yourself questions about the intent of your site, to help you find the best website builder for your needs (Image credit: Photo by Format de Pexels)

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

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

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

Use an ecommerce focused website builder. These will present your products in the best possible way and make it easy for customers to purchase your products.

To consider Wix, Shopify, Where Square space, and be sure to read our full surveys of each in our Wix review, Shopify review, and Squarespace review.

Business / Research Intent: Is my website primarily a showcase or in-depth resource for clients?

Storefront-type websites tend to be lighter on content, with short product descriptions and focused 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 blogging.

Commercial Intent: Do I want to focus heavily on developing my brand?

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

Consider Squarespace or WordPress with premium themes.

Commercial Intent: How easy is it to market my small business website and products through social media?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are all becoming more and more important for business marketing and product sales. You will need a website builder with deep integration, to make it easier 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 business website on mobile devices, tablets, and smartphones?

Find website builders focused on responsive mobile website design. This means that your website will look great on all types of devices, which is essential if your focus is on selling to consumers on the go.

Think of Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.

Audience Intent: Will my clients be interested in additional information, services and interactions?

The key here is to focus on the 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 informative, educational content to rank in organic search?

Getting your website noticed with organic search and search engine optimization starts with great content. You will need a website builder that has a strong focus on blogging, knowledge bases, resource guides, and the like.

Think of 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 benefits from enormous configurability and a large ecosystem of addons and plugins. Weebly has some great budget options if you’re watching your spending.

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

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