Are you considering building your own small business website? The information in this blog is to give you an overhead view of the elements every website needs to have. Included are a few important SEO tasks such as meta descriptions and page titles. I’ve created a PDF checklist to help you stay organized so your website will look polished, represent your business well, and work towards ranking high in search engines.
Take your time to decide on the best business name. A few guidelines to consider when deciding on a business name
Do you choose your name?
Many brands have a person’s name or sentimental name as the Company name. Kate Spade, Air Jordans, Angie’s List, and Wendy’s to name a few. In planning your business’s future growth, reach, and possible selling, consider if you want your name (or a sentimental name) attached to your brand and business.
Is the name easy to pronounce and spell?
The pros and cons can both be impactful. Choosing a simple, short, and easy to pronounce name (in the dominant language the majority of your customers speak) can add some ease as you start to market and spread the word. These are all pros. However at the same time, if your name is so common that people associate it with a different product or service, or memory, it may be a challenge to teach them that your business name should be first associated with your company.
On the flip side, picking a name that has a unique spelling, or funky pronunciation can help your business stand out and pop against the competition. However, choose something extremely unique may make it hard for people to remember enough about your business to share it effectively therefore making marketing challenging.
Is the domain available?
As you hone in on your business name, it’s important to also research what your website domain name will be. Ideally, your website name should be the name of your company. However, with the number of websites and businesses, your domain name may be in use already or be a cost-prohibitive buy. Any domain name site will allow you to search the entire internet to see if your name is available.
What’s the best domain extension? (.com or ???)
The large majority of domain names end in “.com.” However, you can now choose from a growing number of choices such as .net, .biz, .io among many others. As you research your business name and domain name, keep in mind that an option is to break the current norm and choose an ending other than “.com.” Be aware though that it may take a bit more strategic marketing to showcase your website extension so people end up at your website and not someone else’s!
Your domain name should be as close to your business name as possible. Some considerations are the length, any special spelling if your name sounds like a popular brand or company if anyone else is using it.
There are many places to purchase your domain name, Google, GoDaddy, name cheap, Domains.com, and Host Gator to name a few. Some website hosting platforms also have options to purchase your domain directly from. Some examples are Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix.
While this isn’t a necessity, creating a business email account adds a level of professionalism to the look of your business, allows for another level of organization, and sets a foundation for future growth. A business email is where your domain name is after the “@” symbol of your email; email@example.com. In starting out, you can always use your company name along with a Gmail or other email address. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hosting Platform (SSL)
Your website needs to be secure. Majority of hosting platforms now automatically have SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) included. This added protection means the information your browser is sending and receiving is secure. You can check any website by looking at the address bar and looking for the lock symbol or the “s” in https:// before the web address. The Chrome browser must have a secure SSL website for it to load properly.
Page Titles (Business Name, Description, Location)
The title of the page is what appears in the tab of the website on your browser. For example, the title of this page reads “DTK Studios | The 10 Elements for Your Small Business Website.” This title is important because it helps search engines rate your website and influences your SEO. It also helps the person using your page know what it is. If you’ve ever had a lot of tabs open, the page title is great for figuring out which page you want to look at.
The meta description is what appears in the search results of any search engine. These 50-160 words are here to entice the reader to click through to your page. It’s best to put some keywords about your business here to help your website appear when that potential or repeating customer searches for your product or service. Each page of your website can and should have a meta description. (Also, your social media presence also shows up in web searches and should also be considered for an impactful meta description.)
A logo. The visual representation of your company and often the first impression for your brand. Your logo can be a stylized version of your business name, an image, or icon, or a combination of both. Creating a logo can be really fun, and frustrating! Here’s a great article from Canva with some logo inspiration
Depending on your route for your website, and business, you have a few options with getting a logo.
- DIY- Canva, Free Logo Design, or LogoMakr are three options to do-it-yourself. I am jumping in as a word of caution to taking this approach. I am of the opinion that delegating tasks that don’t play to your strengths is an important skill for any entrepreneur and business owner. The allure of “free” and “complete artistic control” may end up costing you hours to research the graphic design skills of color theory, typography, and visual organization that you could pay someone else to do. My personal rule of thumb is to research how long you think something is going to take and multiply that by how much you expect to be paid hourly. If you go over your estimated project deadline, you’re risking losing money and time better spent in other places of your business.
- Contract Out- 99Designs is a popular site for logo design. You put in your proposal with specifics like color, description of your business, and what you want your logo to look like. Then designers put together ideas and submit them. You work with the designers who produced something you like and continue to fine-tune and adjust until you both agree on the perfect logo.
- Another option is to work with your Website Design Agency. Often they will have someone on their team, or a company they work with directly for logo design. Here at DTK Studios, we often partner with InBound BackOffice for any logo design. Their team of graphic designers produce high quality and unique designs.
- Hire a Graphic Designer. You can use sites like Fiverr or Upwork to find an independent designer to work one on one with.
Marketing Copy or website content are all the words on your site. These words are your best tool in communicating why your business solves your potential customer’s problems. If you are hiring a website designer (which we suggest you do but are biased!) it’s good to check if they assist in producing this content or not. Creating effective content is a skill and an art. We connect with telling your story. Donald Miller’s Building a Storybrand book is a great resource for learning to write content.
Colors, Images, Typography
The other main marketing content is your colors, images, and choice of typography. These can often be compiled into a “brand sheet.” This document outlines the guidelines for anything created to showcase your business from your website to social media, to email marketing to print on business cards, apparel, or brochures. Both Canva and 99designs have articles going into more detail on how to build your brand sheet. (Canva is also a wonderful resource to build your brand sheet in as well.)
The favicon is the small icon that appears on the window tab. When a website doesn’t have a specific favicon, often an image of the globe is the placeholder. If you look at the tab for this blog window, you will see a shortened version of the DTK Studios logo. Other examples include the YouTube play button, or the Google “G.” Along with the page title, the favicon offers a quick reference and brand identity for your business website.
This list may take anywhere from a week to several months to compile. As you explore starting your small business, check out another blog called, “Don’t forget these 5 tasks as a small business owner.” Or “What Your Website Designer Needs to Know to Build Your Website” for more guidance and resources. If you would like more information about DTK Studios and our services, we would love to chat.
Erin Detka is the owner of DTK Studios, a website, and marketing agency. DTK Studios works with small and micro “do-it-yourself” business owners to create customer-focused websites designed quickly and within a small business budget. What was supposed to be an easy task, setting up a business, can turn into a huge list of tasks that some small business owners don’t have the knowledge or skills to do in the amount of time they thought it would take. By investing in a website designer instead of trudging up the learning curve, they can jump-start their business and start selling sooner. Learn more at dtkstudios.com