Welcome to the Ultimate Small Business Website Guide.
It all starts with a domain name. A domain name is the address visitors type into their web browser to visit your website. For example, our domain name is squareinternet.co. The first thing you should do is decide on a domain name and purchase one.
What will YOURS BE?
When picking a domain name, think about the following things:
- The domain should generally include your company name, or an abbreviation of your company name. Keep it simple.
- Keyword stuffing in your domain hasn’t worked for years, so don’t ruin your credibility by choosing a domain name like – cheapwindowinstallationessex.co.uk
- You don’t need to buy lots of domains or buy up every domain relevant to your company name. It’s a common myth that a domain on it’s own can attract traffic, this just isn’t the case!
Why do I need a domain name?
Think of your domain name as your ‘digital address’. This is where your website lives on the internet, so to speak. When a visitor visits your digital address, their browser will load whatever your developer has configured to load through your hosting plan.
All someone needs to do to access your website, is visit your domain name. If you have hosting attached to it, and a website on that hosting, your website will load for any visitors landing on your domain.
Where do I purchase a domain name?
If you are a small business owner with limited technical experience, we would recommend you visit GoDaddy and purchase your domain with them. Their website and online store is simple, intuitive and easy to use. They also have round the clock 24/7 support who are good at walking you through the basics if you get stuck anywhere.
If you’re slightly more technical, or experienced with hosting providers, we would recommend that you make a choice between either GoDaddy or Siteground.
Siteground are renowned for having faster, higher performance hosting plans, but their website interface is quite dated and not friendly to beginners or business owners without a technical background. Think Apple vs Microsoft.
Should I get it or let my developer?
This is entirely up to you! Ultimately it’s your domain. There is a common misconception that if a developer purchases a domain for you, they own it, this just isn’t the case!
It’s probably easier to discuss it with your developer and have them sort it for you. This way you can make sure nothing goes wrong and everything is setup as it should be.
Just make sure you put it in writing that if your developer buys your domain, ownership resides with you. Also – make sure you are listed as the registrant of the domain and your address is provided.
If you’re still unsure, check out the ICANN website for official documentation on registering a domain.
ICANN is a not for profit body that accredits hosting providers and is the go to body for any domain disputes. If you make sure the hosting provider you choose is ICANN accredited, if for any reason you have a domain dispute down the line that you can’t simply resolve, you can refer your developer to ICANN who will help you resolve it. Next up, hosting! If only it was a simple as just purchasing a domain name eh?
Think of your hosting as your virtual memory and folder system. On your computer your files are stored in folders on the memory built into your device.
Don’t worry if none of that made any sense to you, I’m not here to confuse you with jargon. The bottom line is, your website is made up of files and you need somewhere to store them where they can be accessed by anyone looking to ‘download them’ and view your website.
Why do I need hosting?
No small business website guide would be complete without a lengthy hosting section. You need hosting to store your websites files and content, to gain access to a server through which your visitors can access your website as well as to provide infrastructure for maintaining and updating your website.
Alongside storage for your website files and content, a good hosting provider will provide you with a suite of tools for managing and maintaining your website, generally through a CPanel.
When choosing a hosting provider, we would highly recommend you opt for one that is powered by CPanel, this is something your web developer will need access to, to help you maintain and grow your website.
Where do I get hosting?
There are a lot of hosting providers on the market, however, as we discussed a bit earlier when talking about your domain name, I would recommend from experience that you go with either GoDaddy or Siteground depending on your needs.
GoDaddy are the best all around option for simple small business websites. If you don’t have a technical background, or a technical person on your team, they are your best bet. They offer affordable, flexible hosting plans that grow with your business and good 24/7 support.
Siteground would be my recommendation if you have some technical background or a technical person on your team. You’ll be able to take advantage of slightly better performance and technical flexibility, at the cost of a harder to use (relatively) customer portal.
What to look for in a hosting provider
With so many hosting providers on the market and almost everyone having an opinion about their preferred hosting provider, how do you figure out which provider is truly right for your business?
Here are some things to look out for:
- Do they offer 24/7 support? It would be nice if your website only went down during 9-5 business hours, but chances are if it does happen it will be at an inconvenient time. As such, you’ll need to make sure your hosting provider offer 24/7 support so you can contact them for assistance if such an event occurs.
- Are they affordable? If you’re just getting started with your business, you’ll want to keep your costs low. This doesn’t mean you should search for the absolutely lowest price hosting, but it does mean you should compare the market and get an idea of where price meets quality. If you are a more established business, the decision becomes less about price and more about quality, however, you won’t want to be ripped off.
- Do they come recommended? Does the company have positive reviews on trusted review platforms? Are you aware of business owners personally who have used them and had a positive experience?
- Does your developer recommend them? Ultimately it’s your website and your decision who you host it with, but not to the point where you disregard everything your developer suggests. There’s a reason you’re paying this person for technical help, they know things you don’t! Ask your developer for an objective overview of the providers you’re looking at, based on your objectives and capability.
- Ask your developer what you need! A lot of small businesses approach us and they already have hosting. The majority of the time this is fine, but there are instances where it makes it harder to get the job done, in instances where it’s a smaller provider not powered by a CPanel for example. In turn the extra man hours needed to navigate a hosting platform that isn’t the industry standard increase the cost of your website project.
- What PHP version do they support? Make sure your hosting company supports PHP version 7.0. PHP version 5.6 was very popular for years and some companies still don’t offer support for PHP version 7.0, powering their websites with 5.6. The difference is, version 5.6 is very slow! It’s dated and using 7.0 will result in your website being easier to use and faster for your users.
- Do they offer CPanel hosting? CPanel, short for control panel, has been the industry’s most reliable, widely used web hosting control panel since 1997. The CPanel is what you or your developer will use to maintain and develop the back end of your website. Using the CPanel, you can do everything from alter the PHP version your website is using to configure subdomains. Crucially, the CPanel also provides an easy to use file manager application, which is essential for easily managing the file structure of your website.
Are all hosting plans created equal?
Of course not! That’s why there are different tiers of hosting and you pay more for some than you do others. Not to worry though, here’s a simplified overview of the different types of hosting available to your business:
- Shared hosting. This is the most commonly used hosting plan, especially for small businesses. A shared hosting plan is where your website is hosted on a big server somewhere along with other websites, and shares resources like file storage with the other websites on that server. You’ll have limits to your file storage and resource usage, and the speed of your website will be moderate. A shared hosting plan is a great option for a new business with a limited budget looking to build a professional web presence. Your website performance and speed will be good, but not exceptional. If speed and performance are important to you, perhaps because you are in a competitive ecommerce niche, I would recommend checking out Sitegrounds hosting plans. Siteground are proven to offer faster, higher performance shared hosting pans at the expense of user friendliness. However, if you plan on keeping a developer on retainer or some sort of Pay As You Go basis, this shouldn’t be an issue.
- Is all shared hosting the same? Again the answer is no! There are different sized packages of shared hosting you can purchase. These provide varying levels resource, including number of domains and websites you can host on your shared hosting plan, your bandwidth, the file storage you are granted, the processing power (performance and reliability) and DNS.
- Virtual private server. A virtual private server is a step up so to speak from shared hosting, with dedicated resources and more root server access. Think of this as a middle ground between shared hosting and a dedicated server.
- Dedicated server. Dedicated hosting, or a dedicated server, is where you are the only website on the server. Dedicated hosting is very high performance and ultra quick, but there’s a large price tag attached compared to the other options on the market. Shared hosting plans will cost you between £5-15 per month for a small business, a good dedicated server will cost you hundreds per month.
The next thing to decide on is which CMS you will use for your website.
A CMS is a content management system, which is a fancy term for the backend of your website. A CMS allows you to edit your website without touching any of the code or source files. Once logged into a CMS, you are presented with a front end interface that you can use to edit and configure the various pieces of your website. Think of a more complicated, fancier version of a Word processor (with lots more options).
WordPress is the largest CMS by far. According to W3 Techs:
WordPress powers 30% of all websites on the internet, and powers 60% of all websites that use a CMS.
Unless you are from a technical background and have some particular affinity with Drupal, we would strongly recommend you use WordPress. It is the largest CMS in the world, the easiest to use and has the biggest developer community. It’s also open source. This means that any developer will be able to help you with your website down the line.
Drupal has a larger learning curve and requires more technical know how to use than WordPress. There are also a larger number of developers competent with WordPress out there than Drupal, which means you’ll pay more for a Drupal website and more to maintain one.
Why do I need a CMS?
Even if you were a web developer, you wouldn’t want to be digging around in code every time you wanted to do something simple like upload a photo or create a new page.
Not only that is the WordPress CMS great for maintaining and configuring your website, but through WordPress you can add new functionality to your website again without touching any code, in the form of plugins. You can install plugins for SEO, analytics, contact forms, inbound marketing, popups, you name it!
There is a plugin marketplace accessible from your WordPress CMS where you can search by keyword then install these new functionality additions at the click of a button.
As your website grows and you start wanting to add new functionality to your website, chances are there will be a plugin that your developer can start with and customise to suit your purpose, reducing your costs and making the bolt on of this new functionality a lot quicker and smoother.
Because of all this free functionality and starting points for customisation, WordPress websites are a lot cheaper and easier to grow in the long run, as opposed to a website powered by a CMS with a smaller community of developers and plugins.
Where do I get a CMS?
Choosing a CMS is something you should discuss with your web developer when deciding to get your website built.
Your developer will then build your website with your chosen CMS as the back end of the website, so that you can access and edit the website yourself.
If you decide to go with WordPress, once your website is complete, you will be able to log in and edit your website using the WordPress CMS.
Can I give my team access?
Most CMS systems have some sort of user access panel. With WordPress, it’s easy to give members of your team access to the CMS. You can create new users and assign them permissions, which designate what they can and can’t do on the website.
For example, you can delegate access to just create blog posts. You can also provide access for someone to create and edit all blog posts, thus designating an ‘Editor’ permission.
You can also give out full access to your WordPress CMS in the form of an admin permission, this is generally what your web developer would have so they can easily edit things in the back of the website, like tweak code or make fixes that aren’t doable through the CMS.
WordPress is great in that you don’t have to touch a line of code if you don’t want to, but the option is still there for your developer to do so from the Editor section.
Once you’ve got the basics sorted, next up is structure.
To get the best results from your business website, you need to set and adhere to a basic site structure.
This involves figuring out the following:
- How many pages will your website have
- What content will the site have, and how will it be distributed across the website
- What’s the objective of your website?
- How will the site be designed
- What journey will a visitor take from start to finish? How will the various pages link together and make using your website a simple, logical process
How do we structure our website
The easiest way to put in place a simple site structure is to fill out a sitemap template. A sitemap is a visual overview of the pages on your website and how they link to each other.
Within your sitemap you will also have the structure for your website navigation too. So you can shape how users access particular pages or sections of your website.
Website Sitemap Template
Download our simple easy to use template to plan out your website
5. What About Website Builders
Next in the Small Business Website Guide is Website Builders. There may be those of you out there who are wondering where do website builders like Wix factor into the equation. The answer is, if you want a professional business website that works well and will grow with your business, they aren’t a viable option.
Website builders are sold as a cheap, out of the box solution for the business owner on a shoestring budget to do it themselves. Unfortunately they are very limited in terms of what they offer.
Here are some reasons why you should avoid DIY website builders from years of experience working with small businesses on a budget:
- Their marketing is generally a lot better than their platform.
- The design templates offered are overused and provide no flexibility.
- They are bad for SEO.
- They provide limited functionality that cannot be customised. You are limited to using to the ‘modules’ provided by each particular website builder platform. Website builders use a closed CMS, they aren’t open source. This means you are limited in terms of what you can do, add and edit to your website, and a web developer won’t be able to help you much either by building on top of your existing site.
- They look cheap. Your website is your online storefront. You want to present something that says we’re serious about what we do, not a company who cuts corners.
- You’ll waste time and become frustrated in the process. Many small businesses come to us after trying to do it themselves, either through Wix or another DIY solution. What they find is that building a website through a DIY builder is harder and more time consuming than it looks, and becomes increasingly frustrating when they are unable to achieve the level of customisation or ‘look and feel’ they desire.
- In many instances, your website is the property of the website builder platform, particularly if your website is built solely using content, images and freebies provided by these platforms. If you stop paying your subscription, you lose access to your website. You are also in most instances unable to move your website off the website builder platform when it comes time to start growing and expanding it. Wix in particular have some pretty heavy terms and conditions about moving your website or trying to emulate it elsewhere.
Beware closed content management systems! We spoke earlier about how WordPress was open source, meaning any developer can edit or tweak your website for you, and you can move your website to any hosting or web company you like because you own the source code and files.
If you purchase a website from Yell, you are stuck with Yell, unless you decide to get a brand new website created. Not only this, but you guessed it, you’ll have a website builder as your main method of editing and updating your website.
Even if you wanted to, Yell’s Website Builder Terms & Conditions are even heavier than those of Wix. Expressly stating you are forbidden from moving your website from the platform or trying to duplicate it though a third party, here’s a snippet below from their T’s & C’s:
“11. We shall provide hosting for Your Website. You shall have no right to transfer Your Website to alternative hosting, nor shall you have any right to, and you undertake not to, duplicate the design elements of Your Website to a website hosted by a third party.”
What happens if you want to bolt on functionality to your website, or do something outside the limited confines of the website builder? You can’t, is the simple answer. And you’ll need to start from scratch with a new website, as you are forbidden from emulating your old Yell website through a third party (not that you’d want to!).
There are two parts to building a small business website. Design and development.
The design of your website is just as important as the development, or how it functions and works. Here are some tips for making sure your small business website is well designed and resonates with your customers:
- Less is more (use white space on the page effectively).
- Stand out from the competition.
- Make sure your design is consistent with your logo and brand.
- Avoid using dark colours as background colours as they make it hard to view your content and can cause people to leave your site.
- ‘Theme’ sections of your website so that it becomes intuitive for your visitors to know where to go based on previous pages they’ve visited.
If you look at any well designed website, I can guarantee you they utilise white space effectively.
White space is (you guessed it) the blank areas on the page. Have you ever heard the phrase, less is more? This is white space in practice.
Effective web design is about utilising white space effectively to do a lot with a little. If you cram content into every single pixel on the screen, nothing looks good and nothing stands out.
Nobody has time to read through hundreds of words of content on every single page on your website. It’s your job to make your website easy to navigate and easy to understand for a new visitor.
Can they quickly and easily identify who you are, what you do and how you do it?
Someone who utilises white space incredibly effectively is Neil Patel, who has one of the cleanest websites I’ve seen. If you check out the screen grab below, you’ll see there’s only two things on the screen (and that is zoomed in, there’s actually a lot more white space around the content).
The effect is that you immediately take in what the header says and assess the image, which I imagine is his objective. Voila. This page is about content marketing, with a cool screen grab showing off some killer social media results.
The second important design principle to incorporate into your website is that of consistency. Just as I’ve tried to be consistent in the format of this Small Business Website Guide, I recommend you incorporate consistency in the following ways on your website:
- Pick a primary and secondary colour to use on your website and stick to them.
- Allocate 1 or 2 fonts for your website and assign them to key sections (body, headings, menu, header, footer etc).
- Use design templates for key areas of the website. For example, if you have multiple service pages, make sure they are consistent in their overall design and layout.
- The goal here is to use consistency to make your website intuitive. After viewing one service page, the visitor will know what to expect on further pages and not find it jarring to load a completely new page design.
Typography & Google Fonts
Typography is so important that I’ve dedicated a small section to it and Google Fonts. Google Fonts is going to be your new best friend. Why? Because it’s a free collection of tons of free web fonts that can be easily integrated into any website.
There are designers who can talk all day about typography and the differences a minute increase in font size or font weight can achieve (and I wouldn’t disagree with them I love typography!).
For the purpose of this guide however, let’s keep it simple.
There are two types of typography used on the web, Serif and Sans Serif.
Put simply, Serif fonts have extending features called serifs at the end of the strokes. Think Times New Roman.
Sans Serif fonts do not have these extending features. I like to think of them as ’rounded fonts’ vs ‘sharp fonts’. It’s an easy way to distinguish between the two without getting too technical
Rounded fonts are good for a friendly, neutral approach.
Sharper fonts can be used for a high end, luxury or authoritative feel.
The use of background colours links directly to the use of white space. Background colours and gradients can be very striking when used effectively. Here’s how not to use them:
- Don’t use very dark background colours, especially black, for large chunks of your website, especially not as a background colour for entire pages. Black makes it hard to view content and is scientifically proven to be bad for conversions and bad for the user journey.
- Don’t overdo it. Use background colours as a contrast to white space and to signify key sections of your website. For example, as a page header, footer or introductory section.
Make sure at the outset you discuss with your developer how your website will be developed. Here are some questions you could ask:
- How will the website be developed, what technologies will you use? Avoid developers who suggest using dying technologies like Flash.
- Will the website be fully responsive and mobile friendly?
- How will you develop the website? Ask if they will use a development domain (not your actual domain name) to build your website on, or what their process will be for building and refining the website based on your feedback.
- Ask if they will provide revisions and tweaks until you are satisfied.
We’ve had a few businesses come to us mid way through a website project, because there was no end in sight.
Make sure you clearly define the timeline for building your project and get an idea of milestones.
“If we were to say yes today, how long will it be until we see a first draft or concept?”
“How long will the process take from start to finish? What might hold it up?”
Your developer should give you a clear idea of timeline and let you know what you can do to speed things up, and ensure there aren’t any delays.
Typically, the speed of a project is down to establishing a good feedback loop with your developer. You want someone who is responsive and on the ball, not who you have to chase for everything!
I think great customer service is me chasing you for revisions, not the other way around! It’s my job to only design and develop your website, but project manage it from start to finish.
Making sure your website is correctly search engine optimised is an important part of helping your business grow online. Search engine optimisation, is the practice of making your website optimised for the major search engines including Google and Bing. For example, the focus keyword for this page is Small Business Website Guide, this guide is aimed at business owners looking for tips and guides around building a small business website.
Appearing on search engines like Google and Bing is no easy task, but the rewards can be great if your business can consistently be found on the top spots.
There are essentially two parts to SEO for your website:
- Onsite optimisation
- Offsite optimisation
Onsite optimisation covers all search engine optimisation activities carried out on your website. This can include:
- Creating relevant meta data for every page
- Ensuring there is an XML sitemap
- Making sure each page of your website is relevant and topical to the people you are trying to attract
- Making sure your business address and location can be found on your website footer
- Installing an SSL certificate
- Making sure the website loads quickly
Off site optimisation covers all search engine optimisation activities carried out off of your website. This can include:
- Submitting your business to relevant local business directories
- Creating and optimising a Google Business Listing
- Guest blogging in relevant locations on topics relevant to your target audience
- Earning social media shares and traction to your website
If your website is built on WordPress, SEO is a whole easier for you. There’s a useful WordPress plugin called Yoast SEO.
Yoast SEO plugin allows you to easily set and edit the meta data for every page on your website from the WordPress CMS, without touching any code.
You can easily set a meta title, meta description and focus keyword for every page. Yoast will also provide you with a ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ SEO score for each page along with improvements you can make to improve the score. Nothing like some free SEO advice from your WordPress dashboard eh?
Recommended SEO resources
So you want to start an online store? Congratulations and welcome to the world of ecommerce! Where to start? With your ecommerce platform, of course!
How does ecommerce work?
Ecommerce is the act of selling a product of service online, where payment is taken over the internet. Typically ecommerce websites are structured in 1 of 3 ways.
- Your website is powered by an a website builder with a closed CMS (Wix, Yell)
- The website is set up on an all in one ecommerce platform (Shopify)
- Your website has an open CMS (WordPress) that is integrated with an ecommerce platform via a plugin or API (Woocommerce).
If you’re serious about succeeding with ecommerce, we would recommend you build your store using WordPress & Woocommerce.
Customers will visit your website, add their products to the cart and make a purchase. Your ecommerce website will handle order processing, invoice generation, delivery costs and shipping!
Shopify is hugely popular online store platform because it has incredible marketing, unfortunately it’s a closed CMS, albeit with greater functionality than the competition. Although according to Shopify’s terms and conditions you own the IP of the content on your website, you still cannot move your website from the Shopify platform if you decide to stop using Shopify.
Shopify are the king of the upsell, marketing easy to setup online stores for a small monthly fee. However, what they don’t tell you is their basic free themes are incredibly limited in what they offer as far as design and functionality go.
Paid Shopify Themes offer more functionality and customisation from the Shopify CMS, but are still very limited. Shopify offer a marketplace of bolt ons, much like WordPress Plugins, each offering the ability to bolt on a new piece of functionality to your Shopify store.
Whilst there are some good bolt ons available and they are easy to setup, each of them is provided to you on a monthly subscription fee which is added on to your Shopify subscription at the end of the month.
What appears to be an attractive proposition to start with can quickly add up in monthly fees.
Below we’ve calculated the monthly cost of running a small Shopify store:
- $95 Shopify Subscription (inclusive of VAT)
- $15 Restocked Alerts
- $15 Bulk Product Edit (because bulk editing of products in Shopify is awful!)
- $15 Checkout Hero (display discounts or vouchers in the shopping cart)
- $7 Cross Sell (app to control what recommended products customers see)
- $45 Store Pickup & Delivery (app to offer in store picks or local delivery to customers)
- $20 Crush Pics (image compression to speed your website up and make sure high quality images don’t show it down)
- $10 Sufio (automatic invoicing)
- $24 Privy (email popups)
So already we have a total monthly cost of $246, resulting in an annual cost of $2952. Personally I’d require more apps than this to be completely happy with my online store, but that’s just me!
The Shopify Subscription alone will result in an annual cost of $1140
So without any apps, or with minimum functionality on your store, you already have an annual cost of $1140 for a website you don’t technically own. The content may be yours, but it all exists on the Shopify closed CMS made functional by their Themes.
A professionally designed ecommerce website on an open source CMS like WordPress would cost about the same, and you wouldn’t have to pay the same fee next year just for your website to exist.
Not only this, but Shopify has a 5 page checkout process which is incredibly long and bad for conversions. This checkout process cannot be altered by a developer. Considering Shopify is a dedicated online store platform, you’d think they would have a user friendly checkout process! We recommend that every online store should have a one page checkout as standard, otherwise you are throwing sales down the drain.
Which ecommerce platform should we use
Woocommerce is by far the best option on the market for ecommerce right now. Woocommerce is an ecommerce framework that can be bolted onto your WordPress website in the form of a free plugin. Your developer can then use the Woocommerce framework to build and customise an online store that suits your requirements.
Woocommerce offers a huge degree of customisation and flexibility for your business including:
- The ability to create simple, grouped or variable products
- The option to setup complex shipping classes
- The ability to setup optional weight based shipping
- Automated order processing, email receipts and payment notifications
- Woocommerce is compatible with Stripe, American Express, Visa, Debit Cards and Paypal
- One page checkout functionality built in
All of this functionality is provided free within the Woocommerce framework, available for your developer to configure and customise to meet the needs of your online store.
There is a large community of Woocommerce developers constantly developing and releasing new plugins. Not only this, but Woocommerce offer paid premium extensions for your Woocommerce store, if you need to expand your online store beyond the realms of day to day ecommerce (which is rare).
This is a low cost method of growing and expanding your online store with some truly exceptional functionality, the sort of stuff you would pay thousands and thousands of pounds to have developed yourself! This isn’t just basic functionality either as you might purchase through the Shopify app marketplace, Woocommerce Sensei for example, is a complete online course framework, allowing you to create, market and sell online courses through your website.
What’s the process for building an online store, is it any different?
The simple answer is, not really! We work with a lot of small businesses starting up online stores, and as far as the process on your end it’s not massively different. We will however need to determine a few more things like:
- Who are you selling to?
- What will you be selling?
- How many products will you have?
- What format is your product data in (spreadsheet, CSV, XML)?
- How do you want to take payment?
- Where do you want to ship to?
Recommended ecommerce resources
Website security is an important but often overlooked issue by a lot of small businesses. There are two angles to look at when dealing with website security:
- Can your visitors access and exchange data securely with your website, without putting their data at risk
- Is your website secure from malware and malicious scripts or viruses
HTTP vs HTTPS
When accessing a website on the internet, you will access it using something called a ‘protocol’. A protocol is the method used to access, download and exchange data with a website.
There are two primary protocols used to access websites on the Internet.
HTTP and HTTPS.
The difference between the two is that HTTPS is an encrypted protocol, meaning it’s a secure connection (secured by encryption).
What’s the relevance to me of all this technical stuff?
Good question. Up until recently, serving your website over HTTPS as opposed to HTTP gave you a small SEO boost. Google wants everyone to visit secure web pages, so it prioritises these web pages in search results.
Recently however, Google and Firefox released updates to their web browsers. This update means that if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate installed (this is how you activate HTTPS on your website) it will display ‘Not secure’ warnings to any visitors who visit a page with a contact form.
This isn’t exactly great for business!
Why Your Website Needs An SSL Certificate
Download our simple guide on why your website needs an SSL certificate
Malware & virus security
Would you know if your website was infected with malware if it didn’t display any obvious signs? Probably not! Would it take a customer to let you know, once they’d been redirected to an adult website? Hopefully not if you have your malware checker sorted!
It may not seem like a primary concern when launching your first business website, but think about it this way. Would you browse the internet without virus and malware security on your laptop or computer? (I hope not!)
As you’re probably aware, a nasty virus or script can take down the best of computers or laptops. The same rings true with a website. As we discussed earlier, your website is a collection of files stored on an internet server, so it can become infected with a virus in a similar way to how your home devices can.
If your website becomes infected with malware, the consequences can be costly and bad for business, including:
- Having to pay a security professional to locate and remove the malware from your website.
- Having to pay a developer or security professional to restore and repair any damaged files or portions of your website.
- Potentially losing files, updates and work on your website if it’s necessary to roll back to a previous version, if you don’t have automated backups on and a restore is necessary – your costs of repair are going to get bigger and bigger!
Automated malware and virus checker
We strongly recommend you invest in an affordable malware and virus checker for your website. At Square Internet, we offer a Automated Malware & Virus Checker as part of our WordPress Pro package, available to all small businesses who have their website on WordPress. This package contains a ton of other useful tools for maintaining your website and is only 24.99 per month, but a bit more on that shortly.
11. Maintaining your website
If you don’t look after your computer what happens to it? It gets really slow and things start to break! The same is true with your website, except the results are a lot more public and could end up costing you business.
If you’re going to spend money on a high quality business website, it seems stupid that you wouldn’t be prepared to spend a little bit on making sure it’s well maintained and functioning correctly.
Here are the basics in terms of making sure your website is working well and doesn’t break on you:
- Make sure your version of WordPress is current and up to date.
- Keep your plugins up to date using the current version, or deactivated (ideally deleted).
- Make sure your website is regularly backed up, at the minimum once a week, ideally once a day on an automated schedule.
- Regularly check your website for viruses and malware. Left unchecked, malware or a malicious script can tank your whole website if left unattended for long enough.
- Monitor your traffic and analytics through Google Analytics (or you can use our Analytics Pro dashboard that is built into WordPress Pro). What’s the point of having a website if you aren’t aware of how it’s performing and if prospective clients may be visiting it?
What are the benefits of a well maintained website
Good question. I’ve listed below a few of the key business benefits from having a well maintained and pristine website:
- First impressions mean everything. If a prospective customer lands on your website and something is broken, what does that say to them about how you do business?
- A broken website is one thing, a website that is down and not accessible is another. Would you know if your website went down for the day or a few hours? It would be a bit embarrassing for a potential customer to discover this! Through WordPress Pro we offer 24/7 Uptime Monitoring for your website, you’ll be notified immediately via SMS or email if your website goes down for any reason so we can fix anything that may need fixing.
- You will save yourself money in the long run. Every business at some point has something break or go wrong with their website. If your website is well maintained, it will likely be the case of spending a small amount of money to implement a quick fix. If you’ve had no backups, no malware checker and haven’t been periodically updating your website, it could cost you dearly.
12. Website support
As your business grows, you are going to need help growing and maintaining your website. If you use WordPress as your CMS, you’ll be able to do bits and bobs yourself and over time as you become more familiar with the WordPress CMS, hopefully you will be doing the majority of things yourself!
If you are strapped for time or a bit of a technophobe, you’ll want to find a developer who can work with you on a fair pay as you go basis. Here are some tips for sorting out ongoing support for your website:
- Determine what you can and can’t do yourself.
- Ask your developer what they can help you with.
- Ask your developer how they will charge you, avoid fixed monthly fees unless there’s a clear breakdown of what will provided in terms of available fixes/changes.
- Look for a developer who can work with you on a Pay As You Go basis, as this will be best for your cash flow and is the fairest method for working with a small business where your need for help will be sporadic. We offer Pay As You Go Support on a flat rate of £35 per hour for any help our customers need.