You’ve decided it’s time to start a business website. Congratulations!
But honestly, simply setting up a simple website is no great shakes.
Especially if you create one with a drag-and-drop builder, you can have a website up and running in no time.
The question is, what should a business website include?
What are all the must-haves for a business website to make sure it effectively represents your business and stands out from the competition?
Here is a small business website checklist with the 19 things you should ensure to include.
In this post, I will mention 19 must-haves you should definitely include in your business website, and also 13 optional items that you can include.
While these 13 are not as crucial, adding them to your small business website will help it get more traffic, engagement, and conversions.
Small business website checklist: 19 Must-haves you should include
1. A custom domain name
The first item on your small business website checklist has to be a custom domain name.
So if your business is called ‘Business’, your domain name should be ‘business.com’ or ‘business.net’, etc.
Domain names are extremely cheap to buy, not more than a few euros a year, usually. Price starts at 99 cents. So please, make that investment.
It makes you look more credible and unique, gives your website a professional appearance, and it also makes it easier for customers to remember and find you.
You can create websites on a free platform, especially if you are a blog, but they will come with an extension. For example: business.wordpress.com.
Whether you’re doing a 5-page website or a full-scale business website with multiple page, a custom domain is one of the cheapest, yet best investments you can do for your business to be taken seriously by your audience.
Besides, when your business website has your business name, you get more branding flexibility, like creating your own branded email addresses.
2. Clear business and brand messaging
Imagine if you open a website and you see a bunch of fancy text, images, and animations.
But you are not sure what the basic offer of the business is and how it can help you.
You will hit the back button, right?
A website is often the first point of contact for your audience and potential customers. So it needs to convey a very clearly simple message about what the business does, which is the second point on this small business website checklist.
You need to include information about your products and services, as well as your uniqueness: what makes you different, and why should your audience choose you?
Create your brand messaging architecture beforehand and display these brand messages prominently on the homepage and throughout the website, using simple and straightforward language that is easy to understand.
It also helps to establish a strong brand identity and creates a lasting impression.
3. SSL certificate
An SSL certificate encrypts data and can protect your website from malware.
So make sure you include an SSL certificate to your small business website. Most website hostings like Siteground and Bluehost offer these for free.
Google and other search engines favor websites with SSL certificates and may display warnings for those that don’t have them.
Imagine as a user, do you feel safe browsing a website when you get this alert?
Customers won’t especially feel comfortable entering personal information such as email addresses and credit card numbers if there’s no guarantee their data won’t be stolen
4. An SEO-friendly content management system (CMS)
An SEO-friendly CMS typically includes features such as customizable URLs, meta tags, sitemaps, and other tools that make it easier for search engines to crawl and index the website’s content.
This, in turn, helps your audience to find you.
So unless you want to get a custom-coded website built from scratch for you, you should use a CMS like WordPress which is very SEO-friendly. It will help you increase your online presence and reach a larger audience.
5. About us page with your brand story
One item you should take seriously when it comes to your small business website checklist is your About Us page, which includes your brand story.
Your brand story and About Us page should include your company’s history, mission, brand purpose, brand values, your brand’s origins, and what makes your brand unique.
Telling your brand story is the biggest way to stand out from your competition. It also helps you to create a personal connection with your audience and establish trust.
The “About Us” page is also the best place to showcase your team and collaborators you work with.
6. Brand attributes and imagery
Your brand attributes are the key traits that differentiate your brand from others in the market, such as its personality, values, and visual identity.
For your business website, you should use all your brand imagery elements such as your color palette, logo, and other design elements.
Other brand attributes examples you should include are brand messaging like your brand promise, brand pillars, content, and brand values.
This will help you to showcase a consistent and cohesive brand image on your business website, which in turn will help you build trust with potential customers and differentiate your business from competitors.
7. Detailed information on products/ services
One of the most important must-haves on your small business website checklist is your products and services pages. These are also your sales pages that describe your business offers.
Make them as detailed as possible to help potential customers understand the value and benefits of what you offer.
You should include all the details that may be relevant for your audience:
8. Business and contact information
The purpose of a contact page is to both establish credibility and provide a convenient way for visitors to get in touch with you for more information.
Your business website’s contact page should include your physical address and email address to suggest you are a serious business.
You should also include a contact form for your potential customers to be able to reach out to you quickly.
You can add call-to-action buttons like “contact us” or “get in touch” in your website header, so it is displayed throughout the site.
These buttons should lead directly to a contact form page or email address page.
9. Social media integration
Social media integration can take many forms, such as embedding social media feeds, displaying social media icons, and allowing users to share content on social media.
You should include social media integration on your business website to connect with your audience and grow your online presence.
It helps you to increase engagement and encourage visitors to follow and interact with your brand on social media.
10. User reviews/ testimonials
Including user reviews/ testimonials on your small business website is another great way to build trust with potential customers.
Reviews allow them to see real feedback from past clients rather than just relying on marketing materials that you create yourself. It provides social proof of the value and quality of your products or services.
It’s important to be transparent about your data practices and to ensure that your policy complies with any applicable privacy laws and regulations.
12. Easy navigation menus
You want visitors to be able to easily find the information they’re looking for.
One of the best ways to achieve that is with well-structured and intuitive navigation menus, which are a big must-have for your business website.
Think about how someone would browse your site and make sure there are no more than five items in each drop-down menu.
Here are some tips to create simple navigational menus for your business website:
- Keep it simple: Avoid cluttering your menus with too many options. Limit the number of menu items to what is necessary and relevant to your business.
- Use clear labels: Use descriptive and easy-to-understand labels for each menu item. This will help visitors quickly identify what they are looking for.
- Apply the 3-click rule: Don’t make your website visitor click more than 3 times to access any page.
- Use drop-down and hover menus: Using drop-down menus can help to keep your main menu clean and organized. This is particularly useful if you have a lot of subcategories for your products/ services or blog posts. Hover menus help users find pages even without clicking.
- Make the menus easy to access: Add your menus in visible areas like your header and footer,.
If you create a sitemap or plan out your website structure while designing your business website, it will ensure that the navigation flows smoothly.
13. Call-To-Action Buttons/Links
Your business website should definitely include a strong call-to-action (CTA) that encourages visitors to take a specific action as the next step of engaging with your business.
Some examples of CTAs are: “Buy Now”, “Get a free trial”, “Book a meeting”, “Contact Us”, etc.
Include clear call-to-action buttons/links throughout different areas of the site such as product pages, blog posts etc., Make the CTA buttons clear and prominent so that they stand out and attract the user’s attention.
This encourages users to interact with you further and increases customer engagement with your business.
14. High-quality images & videos
A website is very important for small business, and there is no question that you should build one.
But it doesn’t stop at just creating one.
If you want your business website to look professional and credible, it needs to be visually appealing.
High-quality visuals make your site stand out from the crowd and also create a feeling of trust with your customers.
Low-quality, pixelated images are an absolute no-no.
It’s important to make sure that you optimize your high-quality visuals for web use. Otherwise you have very heavy files that make your website slow.
If you don’t have images especially for your business, use a stock photography website to get access to professionally shot images.
I get all my images from Canva Pro’s stock content, which includes 100+ million images and, graphics.
For only about $10 a month, I get to design all my website graphics and get premium images.
15. A homepage optimized for engagement and conversions
Your business website homepage is usually your most visited web page, and thus your biggest landing page.
Introduce yourself and state your brand promise upfront on your homepage. So as soon as visitors land on it, they will know what your homepage is about.
Besides that, you should also include your brand messaging along with beautiful visuals and clear calls-to-action, preferably a signup form as well.
16. Relevant content
The role of your business website is not just to
Make sure you have content that is relevant to your target audience and speaks to their needs.
A blog can help to not only engage your business website visitor, it will also establish your business as a thought leader in your industry. So invest in content creation for your small business, and include a blog in your business website.
Besides, helpful and informative blog posts based on SEO content ideas will also help your business website to be optimized for search engine crawlers.
17. Search bar
Make it easy for visitors to search for specific content on your website.
You should include a search bar in your small business website so customers can quickly and easily find what they are looking for on the site.
Users can quickly search for specific products, services, or information without having to navigate through the site’s menus and pages.
It can save them time and thus improve the site’s overall user experience.
Install analytics software to track your website’s performance and identify areas for improvement.
Setting up webmaster tools like Google Analytics is important since these tools allow owners see how many people are visiting your website, which pages generate most traffic etc.
This data will help you create a more improved and optimized website.
19. Custom 404 page
A 404 error page is the one that visitors land on when they’ve followed a broken link or accessed a web page that doesn’t exist anymore.
But a broken page can also be converted to an engaging web page.
Your business website should include a custom 404 page that matches your brand, contains an informative message about the error, plus suggestions for what to do next.
Some examples could include returning to the homepage, checking another page on the website, or finding out who to contact if it’s needed.
Small business website checklist: Optional features to include
The business website checklist above contained the must-haves a business website should include.
But this is not an exhaustive list. If your business is bigger and/ or you have the resources, you can consider including some additional elements that will further drive engagement and conversions.
When you launch your small business website, start with the must-haves.
As a second step, maybe when you start to scale and have more resources, you can consider adding the optional ones too.
One god opportunity to also add them is if you redesign your website.
1. Pricing page
A pricing page is not a product page, but a separate page to explain the breakdown of your pricing structure.
This is especially relevant if you have different price ranges and features of a specific product.
2. Live chat
If your business website visitors can chat with a company representative or even a chat bot to answer some specific questions, it can have a big impact on your website conversions.
3. Industry certifications or awards
If you have received relevant certifications or awards, you should include them to build more trust and credibility with visitors.
Showcasing media coverage or press releases can help establish your business’s authority in your industry.
4. FAQ section
You can also add a page on your business website to address common questions that potential customers may have about your business and products/ services.
5. Lead capture form
You should definitely include lead capture forms on your business website, irrespective of the product you sell.
Lead forms help you collect the email addresses of your audience who is interested in your business, and you have to continuously nurture that connection with them.
The reason that this is not a must-have on your business website checklist is that you don’t have to include these forms right from the beginning. Initially, you should just focus on making your website look professional and include all the necessary information.
Once that’s done, it’s time to grow with lead capture forms!
6. Videos or multimedia
Incorporating videos or multimedia content can make your website more engaging and dynamic.
7. Smooth e-commerce process
If you plan on selling products online then make sure that the ecommerce and purchase process is simple and easy.
8. Optimization for search engines
There are lots of benefits of organic traffic for your business and your brand.
So even though more organic traffic is not your immediate website objective, growing your traffic would mean getting your website seen, gettting more visitors, and more conversions.
So consider implementing search engine positioning strategies to ensure that your website is optimized for search engines.
9. A scalable hosting platform
Choose a web host that can help you host your current small business at affordable prices, and also help you grow, like Bluehost.
For example, where you can simply add additional hosting when your business and thus your business website becomes bigger.
10. Terms and conditions
A terms and conditions page should detail the rules and guidelines for using your business website and purchasing your products or services.
It is especially relevant if you have a medium-sized small business.
11. Downloadable resources
For a business website, offering downloadable resources such as whitepapers, e-books, guides, or other useful materials related to the company’s products or services can be a valuable marketing tool.
12. Returns and refunds info
A returns and refund info page includes details about the time frame and process for returns or refunds, as well as any conditions or exceptions.
Include this section to your business website if you sell physical products that are shipped or picked up in retail.
13. Shipping information
If you are shipping products, your business website should include details about your shipping policies, estimated delivery times, and rates.
By providing this information upfront, you can improve customer satisfaction for your business and reduce chances of confusion.
What makes a good business website?
The small business website checklist above includes the most important items of what a business website should include, to be present online credibly and professionally.
But that doesn’t necessarily make it a good business website.
A good business website is one that helps your brand to connect with your brand, and drive conversions. To know more about the top website qualities, read my full post on what makes a good website.
Some of the most important features of a good website include an easy and intuitive interface, a good user experience, a responsive design, and fast loading times.
But more on that in another post.
For now, do you think there is any item I missed, in my small business website checklist?
Any additional items you recommend? Share in the comments!
#1 is such a simple tip to follow Poulomi but most bloggers use a free platform, skip it, struggle, fail and quit. All it takes is a tiny investment and a bit of creativity to make blogging and small business building a little bit easier. But the fear of losing or wasting 20 bucks for a domain and 10 to 20 bucks per month seems greater than the fear of wasting days, weeks, months then years building a blog and small business on a foundation of pudding….aka…..a free blogging or website platform. All great points here.
Thanks Poulomi! Great tips for small business owners who are planning to create a website! It’s important to remember that simply setting up a website is not enough; you need to ensure that it effectively represents your business and stands out from the competition. The 19 must-haves you’ve outlined, from a custom domain name to high-quality images and videos, are all essential elements that every business website should have. And I appreciate the additional 13 optional items that you suggest, which can help drive more traffic, engagement, and conversions. Thanks for sharing these valuable insights!
Thank you for commenting, Sophia. A good website is one that stands out from the competition and effectively represents your brand and business. There are the essentials, and there are the add-ons you can do that really take it up a level. And glad you found the post of value!