What Every Small Business Needs to Know When Creating a Website


As we pointed out in our “Why Every Small Business Needs a Professional Website” article,  growing brands have a lot to gain from having a professional website. Websites drive sales, increase foot traffic, and act as the marketing foundation of your brand to the online world. However, many small business owners don’t know where to start when it comes to putting their site together.

In this article, we walk through the website creation process so you know what to look for and have the facts to make an informed decision for your business. We’ll cover the importance of identifying your online needs, the basics of website creation and hosting, and the pros and cons of widely available website design methods and their associated costs.

Identifying Your Small Business Website Needs

The overarching goal of any brand website should always be to meet the business goals of that company. A restaurant’s website will have different needs than a retail store, accountant, or content creator. However, all business websites work toward the following broad objectives.

Brand websites are used to:

  • Raise Awareness
  • Generate Traffic
  • Create Business Opportunities

Regardless of a company’s end goal, a combination of the above strategies will need to be met to achieve it. For example, a restaurant’s end goal may be to generate orders online. This would require a website with features that can publicize the menu and act as a landing page for diners searching from Google Maps, thus raising awareness and generating traffic. The site could then lead those visitors to convert to sales opportunities via an embedded DoorDash widget on their site.

The first step in assessing your website’s needs is to identify what business end goal, or combination of goals, you need to meet online. The next step is to translate those needs into the required website features.

Which of these goals apply and features apply?

Business GoalWebsite Features
Build trust by showcasing your work, portfolio, team, or reviewsA well-designed and professional looking site that acts as a validator for your work, plus the ability to integrate reviews from third party sites. The ability to link to multimedia and other brand assets
Keep visitors informed about available products and servicesA site with an easy-to-understand and accessible layout that clearly identifies your business offerings
Keep customers routinely updated about new offerings or developmentsThe ability for customers to sign up for a newsletter that can integrate with blogging software
Generate revenue by selling products and services onlineAn e-commerce solution that is integrated into the design and theme of your brand
Generate additional in-person traffic through increased discoverabilityA well-written and designed site that is designed with search engine optimization in mind
Generate sales leadsThe ability for customers to contact you for referrals
Promote events, sales, campaigns, or milestonesThis may be a one-time site for a specific event, tour, or promotion, or a subsection of a larger site
Collect customer feedbackA way to solicit direct customer feedback via a chatbot, messenger system, online form, or via third party tools

Based on what your business goals are, you can decide which features you’ll want to focus on for your website. Regardless of the unique feature set you need, every website should exist to lift up the image and validity of the brand and serve as the digital foundation for your business. What specifically goes into website creation?

Website Creation Basics

Although websites and web technology are ubiquitous, few users understand the underlying technology even from a simple perspective. In this system, we’ll break down the key components that go into a website, so you have a firm understanding of what is needed. Then we’ll outline how those technologies fit together so that you can take the best approach given your background and capacity. 

What is a Website?

At its core, a website is just another communication platform and a way to share your message. Websites are simply media files describing the layout of text, audio, video, and images that get interpreted by a web browser like Chrome or Firefox. Additional elements that allow for interactivity and dynamic features are often added to sites to pull in data from other services like Google Maps. Due to the creative freedom given to website creators, the medium serves as the focal point of any online brand. 

Having a website is an essential part of participating in business on the internet and in today’s culture. With help, anyone can have a visually stunning and intuitive website that will captivate and engage audiences.

All anyone needs for a website is a domain, a hosting server, and the content to be delivered.

What are Web Domains?

A website domain is the digital address that identifies a website and distinguishes it from all others on the internet. There are two parts. The first is a top-level domain like “.com” or “.org” which is generally set by industry or application, and the next, or second level domain, is like the “example” in “example.com.”

In order to use a domain name, it must be registered with a domain name registrar (sites like GoDaddy and Namecheap are some large players who provide this service). The price varies by top-level domain, and there are intricate markets for many of the most popular names out there. The registration must be renewed annually. Once registered, the domain name can be associated with a web hosting service, which provides the server space and connectivity needed to make the website accessible on the internet.

How Does Web Hosting Work?

Acquiring web hosting is the process of setting up or renting capacity on servers with the necessary software and hardware to host websites. Many web hosting companies provide common software suites and functionality for website deployments, like WordPress. These allow users to deploy the necessary databases and programming packages to run web server software and deal with internet traffic. 

Different hosts fulfill different needs. However, for most small businesses that would not be expecting enterprise-level traffic, providers offer package deals that include a variety of services with automated maintenance, basic security, and a number of built-in features. For the more technical user, it is also possible to get a hosting plan that allows you full access to the underlying machine and software to set up as needed.

Web hosting pricing packages vary, but most begin with a monthly fee and also charge for bandwidth (the data being sent to and from the web server), as well as storage space, processing power, or any additional add ons. 

What is the Web Design Process and Why is It Important?

Web design is the creative process where designers outline the rules, styles, layout, and appearance of a website and series of pages. The skill involves the use of graphic design, user experience engineering, and web development to create good-looking websites that stand out. 

The goal of web design is to maximize the likelihood of user engagement toward meeting business goals. This begins with a well-defined ascetic design, consistent colors, fonts, and branding elements sitewide. 

Most importantly, the design showcases the work of the brand and adds value to the user experience by allowing quality content and helpful information to shine. Professional designers also use their technical expertise to make sure that the user experience is seamless, and there are no technical reasons why the site is slow, or can’t be found via search. 

Investing in professional web design is worth it for small businesses and brands because better design leads to higher visitor retention, conversions and sales. Good design establishes trust and credibility with customers, whereas poor design can drive customers away. 

Website Builder vs. DIY vs. Design Firms (and Costs)

Overall, the choice between a website builder platform, a DIY approach, and a design firm will depend on the individual needs and goals of the business. Website builder platforms are the most widespread method, with companies operating at a large scale creating many websites of similar design and functionality. The DIY approach is usually for the most technically-competent users and is limited by the know-how of the creator. Design firms typically cater to clients who prefer quality custom design and professional expertise, have more stringent technical requirements, or do not have the time or desire to do the design work personally. All approaches have different price-points, pros, and cons. 

Website Builder Platforms

A website builder platform is a tool that allows users to create a website using a pre-designed template, without much need for coding. While adjustable, template-sites like Squarespace and Wix are often constrained in what they can accomplish, how customized their templates can become, and the level of integration they support.

The tradeoff on these sites is that often what they make up for in price they make up for with a large investment of time. While typically lower-cost than a design firm or freelancer, prices vary between $30 – 299 per month, depending on the features required.

Do-It-Yourself Solutions

A DIY approach to website creation involves creating a website from scratch. This means securing your own domain and hosting space, then building on top of web development platforms to create and serve a self-made website. This approach requires a high level of technical expertise and is mostly only recommended for those experienced with web development or systems administration. Due to these barriers, this approach is by-far the most cost-effective, while implicitly customizable. Although the time investment can quickly approach full-time as maintenance and other issues can take up an unexpected amount of time and effort depending on the scale.

Cost varies quite a bit, but a typical shared hosting environment costs between $3 – $50 per month depending on features, processing, storage and bandwidth requirements. 

Design Firms

A design firm is a professional company that offers website design, development, and deployment services. Companies typically sign an agreement with the client ahead of time and the firms work to prototype and implement their customers’ custom website, based on the client’s business goals and requirements. 

The level of sophistication and custom work is often unparalleled, and the technical sophistication available is quite high. However, there can be quite a few additional charges. At times the user may be left to take on the maintenance and upkeep costs, as well as the initial cost of the website design. 

Firms and freelancers typically either require a minimum spend, charge hundreds of dollars per hour, or both. 


Every small business will benefit from a good-looking website for a variety of reasons, including increased promotion and sales. When developing a website it is important to list what you hope to accomplish in creating your site and identify which features will support your business goals. Knowing the basics of website creation will give you the understanding of which process will best meet your needs, budget, and capacity.

Website builder platforms are a good option for those who want a simple and less-customizable way to create a website. A DIY approach is highly technical and cost-effective, while design firms are best suited for businesses that need a more tailored professional design and site. 

Your choice is going to be dependent on your budget and time. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is taking part in internet culture with a site that builds up your brand value. 

The PageHoot Difference

Now that you know the traditional approaches to getting a website, let us quickly explain what sets PageHoot apart. We saw the problem in front of small business owners who had to choose between taking the time to learn how to create websites themselves or having to shell out big money to a design firm to do it for them — and we solved it. 

We do the design work for you with no set minimums, no hourly fees, and no overages. We also provide a domain name, ongoing maintenance, security, and support. All you pay for is a hosting plan.Every brand deserves a custom-designed page that doesn’t look like every other template out there, because your businesses should stand out. Learn more about how PageHoot can help.

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