How to Create a Small Business Website Using WordPress
The time when a business could so much as exist without even some kind of an online presence is long gone – presence in an online directory or as a social network profile is a must at the very least. A website is the next step in establishing a presence online: a piece of virtual real estate to call your own. After all, social media and online directories have their own rules for share, reach and access. With a website of your own, you make the rules.
With WordPress running about 40% of the entire internet, one could assume that there is a wide array of WordPress solutions for small business websites – and one would be right to so assume. If you are reading this, chances are you are also looking to create a website for a small business, whether you are running your own business or creating a website for somebody else.
You have nonetheless come to the right place. We have divided this tutorial into several important segments depending on what you need. This is what we’d like to talk about:
It should come as no surprise that creating a small business website begins just the same as creating any website: with a host server space, a domain name, and some kind of software to run your website.
Server space for your content is called hosting. Most users (and small businesses in particular) don’t own their servers, but rather rent server space from specialized hosting providers. Choosing a hosting provider will be determined by your needs and what the market has to offer. We have a lot to say about that, and this is not the space for it: check out our guide to picking a hosting provider instead. What we will say here is that, if you are expecting your business to grow, you ought to pick a provider that guarantees scalability: a growing business will need more server space, and, more importantly, better access speeds.
Once you have secured your hosting and domain name, you need to create the website itself, and that requires software. If you are reading this, we feel it safe to assume that you will use WordPress for your website. This is what the next two sections are all about.
WordPress is by far the most popular platform used to run websites, and for several very good reasons. It is completely free and very flexible and user-friendly, allowing quite literally everyone, even people with no coding background, to create a feature-rich, professional-looking website.
Once you have secured your hosting and domain name, you need to download a copy of WordPress from WordPress.org, install it on your server, and connect it to your database. All you need to do it is a web browser, and an FTP client (which may set you back some, but there are also a lot of free FTP clients to choose from), and a database access tool, which is likely included in your hosting package deal.
Installing WordPress itself takes about five minutes. You can see how it’s done in the video below:
You may prefer your tutorials in text form, for easy reference. That’s not a problem: we have a whole article on how to install WordPress.
WordPress can claim that even a person with zero coding knowledge can create a website because it works by using themes to organize and present content to website visitors. Of course, there is no shortage of premium themes designed around various businesses: with niches for everything, from your corner Bodega to gardening and landscaping with Sunny Orchard.
There are plenty of free themes to choose from as well, and, for versatility, you can’t go wrong with the latest addition to our line of free products: the Qi Theme. This free theme comes with 100 ready-made layouts and stock photos designed to accommodate a business in any imaginable industry or niche, including, of course, small businesses.
If you are selling anything, obviously, you need a store. But building an online store from scratch is a big job for anyone, which is why we recommend you choose a WooCommerce-compatible theme. WooCommerce is a comprehensive online store solution which has a feature-rich free version, too. You can read all about it in our ultimate guide to WooCommerce.
There are as many possible paths you can take as there are businesses, which is to say your options are endless and there are no hard and fast rules. Still, there are ways to narrow down your options.
The first thing you should be thinking about is your brand, especially if you have established one, even locally, before coming online. Your website should reflect it in terms of colours, shapes, and typography. The website also ought to feature your logo prominently, on your home page or landing page, and the favicon, for instance.
Even if you haven’t already established a brand identity, you shouldn’t think of a website as a blank slate. There are still layouts and styles which may or may not fit your business.
Take our Tetsuo theme, for instance. If you are creating a website for an independent sci-fi publisher, a second-hand comic book store, or a print-on-demand T-shirt store, it could work great.
Can you imagine it working just as well for a producer of organic vegetables, a local farmers’ market, or a beekeeping co-op? We can’t. Something like Mellifera is virtually made for it, though.
Enough about the appearances, though. What are the functionalities a small business website might need?
Firstly, there’s the Home Page: this is the first thing a lot of your visitors will see, and it should be clear and informative. Just looking at the home page, a visitor should be able to tell what the business is, what it’s called, and where it’s located. A home page typically contains navigation features such as menus which lead the visitor to the sections of the website they are interested in.
Another important consideration is the Landing Page. A landing page is typically what a website visitor will see when they click on a promotional link, and its purpose is to convert a casual visitor to a paying customer. They typically do not contain navigational features, but do contain specially crafted copy text intended to lead the visitor to a desired outcome: subscribing to your newsletter, applying for membership, or similar.
About Pages are a typical feature of a WordPress website. This is where a visitor should be able to find all the relevant information on a business. An about page may be the most important page of your website, which is why you should invest in compelling “About” copy.
Your visitors should be able to reach you. Of course, you can leave an email address or a phone number on your Contact page, but you could streamline some of the processes such as orders, bookings, or subscriptions with a well-designed contact form.
Another good way to save time is an FAQ, or frequently asked questions section. If you have a good idea of who your intended customers are, you may be able to anticipate many questions they might have and answer them in advance, and then use the data from your contact forms to supplement it.
If you want to lend credence to your copy, you might want to add a testimonials section to your home or about page. With a testimonials section, you let your customers speak for you, and you make them feel valued for their opinions.
And that’s just the start of it. The functionalities your particular business might need can be very diverse. Have them in mind when choosing a theme and designing your website.
Plugins are software designed to supplement a theme; to add a functionality to it. What plugins you might need will depend on the kind of business you are running or developing a website for. Still, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t plugins useful for any business website.
But let’s take a step back: a theme is one thing, and a well-chosen theme can take you a long way towards creating a website, but a website is typically edited using a plugin called a page builder. Since WordPress version 5.0, the default page editor is the Gutenberg block editor, but it’s far from the only one. If you prefer visual, drag-and-drop interfaces, perhaps Elementor is the editor for you.
And if Elementor is your editor of choice, you will find a lot of useful business-related functionalities in our very own Qi Addons for Elementor. It is completely free and comes with a wide array of useful business-centered widgets.
WordPress is open source and plugins and themes for it can be developed by anyone, which is why there are a lot of premium and free plugins to choose from for just about any functionality. Some are centered around a type of business, such as restaurant plugins, plugins for photographers, or real estate plugins, while others are more generic in terms of the functionalities they offer.
Selling anything? You might need a pricing table plugin. If you are running a B&B, perhaps you could use a booking plugin. Organizing events such as weddings or conferences? Maybe an RSVP plugin might help you with that. Feeling confident in your product or service? Why not let your customers rate you by installing a customer review plugin or a star rating plugin, for instance?
There are other advanced business functionalities depending on the kind of business model you use. If you hold your own stock, you might find an inventory management plugin useful. You won‘t need them if you practice dropshipping, for instance, but there are plugins which could facilitate it. Need more options for getting your goods where they need to be? Try a shipping plugin. If you are in need of a virtual cash register in the real world, a POS plugin for WooCommerce is what you want. There is no shortage of solutions.
The fine details of your growth strategy are up to you: there is an unlimited amount of approaches you can take. We can, however, offer you some tips – and we shall.
Your website is up! Well done. Now comes the hard part: you need to make sure you‘re seen. A lot of internet users will find your website by searching for something which interests them. That is why you need to make sure you understand the basics of SEO – search engine optimization.
But SEO is far from the only way of getting your name out there. There are several marketing techniques you might try, depending on your time, budget, type of customer you expect and brand style. Paid ads are one thing, but you could always do more.
Maybe your business offers you the opportunity to start a blog, podcast, or similar channel of addressing your customers‘ needs and interests. In that case, you‘d do well to invest in content marketing. If you feel your website visitors will appreciate frequent updates, perhaps you might offer them as part of an email newsletter or an email marketing campaign. You might be part of a network of affiliated businesses such as a chamber of commerce, or you could otherwise seek a related business to start an affiliate marketing scheme.
Finally, one last thing: we have assembled a checklist of things to do before you launch an eCommerce website for easy reference. If you are using your website for sales, be sure not to miss a step.
As we have shown, creating a small business website is easy with WordPress. Ensuring its growth and success is another story. Still, we believe we have provided you with the essential toolkit for creating and developing a WordPress website for a small business. With a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck, people will be flocking to your website, and your business will thrive.