Research has found that less than two-thirds of small busi­ness­es have web­sites. Thank­ful­ly, over half of those with­out web­sites say they plan to build a site in the com­ing year. This is an excel­lent trend when you con­sid­er that organ­ic search on Google and Bing, as well as rat­ings and reviews sites like Yelp and Home Advi­sor, are the most com­mon ways that cus­tomers first dis­cov­er new busi­ness.

While busi­ness own­ers could cer­tain­ly out­source web­site devel­op­ment work to agen­cies, this runs in the face of the small busi­ness own­er DIY eth­ic. After all, small busi­ness own­ers are experts at jug­gling a vari­ety of projects, and web­sites should be no dif­fer­ent. Let’s look at how you can make the most out of off-the-shelf solu­tions, and then what addi­tion­al func­tion­al­i­ty you may need to add for a tru­ly dynam­ic web­site.

USING WEBSITE BUILDERS

There are a vari­ety of out-of-the-box web­site builders read­i­ly avail­able on the mar­ket today, includ­ing Wee­bly, Wixand Square­space. All of these tools share many of the same ben­e­fits includ­ing ready-made tem­plates that let you cre­ate attrac­tive web­sites and drag-and-drop designs that let you fea­ture infor­ma­tion and con­tent rel­e­vant to your busi­ness.

To get the most out of web­site builders, you’ll want to make sure you take advan­tage of sev­er­al key fea­tures most of them offer, includ­ing:

• HTML Tags: This refers to defin­ing the title tags and meta descrip­tions of each page on your site, which is anoth­er way of say­ing being able to con­trol how you tell search engines what your site is all about. Spend­ing time on devel­op­ing your tags is a key way of mak­ing sure search engines don’t just find your site but also help prospec­tive cus­tomers look­ing for your ser­vices actu­al­ly find you.
• CSS Syn­tax: CSS is a way of telling web­site builders how you want your web­site to actu­al­ly look. It con­trols every­thing from gen­er­al lay­out to font styles and head­line sizes. When using web­site builders, tem­plates gen­er­al­ly come with pre-set CSS to make sure the tem­plate looks attrac­tive out of the gate. How­ev­er, take advan­tage of updat­ing the CSS so that it aligns with your company’s fonts, col­ors or any­thing else that sets you visu­al­ly apart.
• JavaScript Code: JavaScript code helps your web­site do a lit­tle more than just act like a web­site. It can help you cap­ture web­site met­rics with tools like Google Ana­lyt­ics as well as enable valu­able func­tion­al­i­ty like pop-ups and email cap­ture. Most web­site builders let you enter in JavaScript code so you can include these addi­tion­al capa­bil­i­ties.

GOING BEYOND WEBSITE BUILDERS

While web­site builders can be a great start, they some­times don’t offer enough fea­tures, espe­cial­ly for busi­ness­es look­ing to enable trans­ac­tions on their site. When that’s the case, a few addi­tion­al solu­tions can be extreme­ly use­ful:

• Square: Square is a cred­it card pro­cess­ing plat­form that lets you add point-of-sale solu­tions to your web­site. Ide­al for tra­di­tion­al busi­ness­es, Square lets you charge cus­tomer cred­it cards and receive deposits as quick­ly as the next busi­ness day. As a self-described small busi­ness expert, Square is tai­lor­made to sup­port the needs of entre­pre­neurs and young com­pa­nies.
• Stripe: Anoth­er pay­ment proces­sor, Stripe is a more advanced solu­tion rel­a­tive to Square. It’s a far more flex­i­ble pay­ment option enabling things like sub­scrip­tions and recur­ring pay­ments. But, with that flex­i­bil­i­ty comes the need for devel­op­ers to com­plete the inte­gra­tion so every­thing works seam­less­ly.

Regard­less of which solu­tion you ulti­mate­ly choose, hav­ing some basic web devel­op­ment skills under your belt can be the dif­fer­ence between cre­at­ing a busi­ness web­site with con­fi­dence and ease ver­sus cre­at­ing a busi­ness web­site that doesn’t meet your busi­ness goals. Spend­ing some time to take a few free online cours­es with Cours­era or edX, or putting in a lit­tle more time with a com­mu­ni­ty cod­ing boot camp, can help you quick­ly pick up the skills you’ll need to cre­ate a flaw­less web­site expe­ri­ence that’ll help your busi­ness get found.

SOURCE