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Small Business Website Checklist: What Should It Include

Small Business Website Checklist - What Should a Business Website Include

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You’ve decided it’s time to start a business website. Congratulations!

But honestly, setting up a simple website with an easy website platform is no great shake. Especially if you create one with a drag-and-drop builder, you can have a website up and running quickly.

The question is, what should a business website include?

What are all the must-haves for a business website to ensure it effectively represents your business and stands out from the competition?

Here is a small business website checklist with the 19 things you should include.

Pro tip:

In this post, I will mention 19 must-haves you should definitely include in your business website and also 14 optional items that you can include.

While these 14 are not as crucial, adding them to your small business website will help it get more traffic, engagement, and conversions.

Related: Is a website important for small businesses?

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. The prices start at 99 cents. So please, make that investment.

It makes you look more credible and unique, gives your website a professional appearance, and makes it easier for customers to remember and find you.

You can create websites on a free platform, especially if you are a blogger, but they will come with an extension. For example: business.wordpress.com.

Whether you’re doing a simple 5-page website or a full-scale one with multiple pages, a custom domain is one of the cheapest yet best investments you can make 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 branded email addresses.

Related: Root domain vs sub domain

2. Clear business and brand messaging

Imagine opening a website and seeing many fancy text, images, and animations.

But you are not sure what the basic offer of the business is or 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 clear 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 and your uniqueness: what makes you different, and why should your audience choose you?

Create your brand messaging architecture beforehand and display these messages prominently on the homepage and throughout the website, using simple 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, include an SSL certificate on your small business website. Most website hosting companies like Siteground and Bluehost offer these for free. Siteground is my favorite, though.

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.

Related: Siteground vs Bluehost

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 regarding 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. It also helps you to create a personal connection with your audience and establish trust.

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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.

You should use all your brand imagery elements for your business website, such as your color palette, logo, and other design elements.

Other brand attribute examples you should include are brand messaging, like your brand promise, brand pillars, content, and brand values.

This will help you showcase a consistent and cohesive brand image on your business website, which will help you build trust with potential customers and differentiate your business from competitors.
Related: How to create a branded website

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 your offer’s value and benefits.

You should include all the details that may be relevant for your audience:

  • Features
  • Benefits
  • Specifications
  • Pricing
  • Reviews

8. Business and contact information

A contact page’s purpose is to establish credibility and provide a convenient way for visitors to contact 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.

Pro tip:

You can add call-to-action buttons like “contact us” or “get in touch” in your website header so they are displayed throughout the site.

These buttons should lead directly to a contact form 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 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 you create yourself. It provides social proof of the value and quality of your products or services.

11. Privacy policy

A privacy policy outlines how you collect, use, and protect the personal information of your website visitors and customers, such as their names, email addresses, and payment information.

It’s important to be transparent about your data practices and ensure your policy complies with applicable privacy laws and regulations.

When you include your privacy policy, your customers feel confident that their personal information is safe and secure, which can increase trust, brand loyalty, and customer satisfaction.

12. Easy navigation menus

You want visitors to be able to find the information they’re looking for easily.

One of the best ways to achieve that is with well-structured and intuitive navigation menus, 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: Drop-down menus can help 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.

Creating a sitemap or planning your website structure while designing your business website will ensure the navigation flows smoothly.

13. Call-To-Action Buttons/Links

Your business website should 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 further encourages users to interact with you and increases customer engagement with your business.

14. High-quality images & videos

A website is very important for small businesses, 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 create customer trust.

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. You can also consider Shutterstock, Pexels, Pixabay, or any free image website.

15. A homepage optimized for engagement and conversions

Your business website homepage is usually your most visited 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 include your brand messaging, beautiful visuals, and clear calls to action, preferably a signup form.

16. Relevant content

The role of your business website is not just to get traffic. Your main objective should be to provide value.

Ensure you have content relevant to your target audience and speaks to their needs.

A blog can help engage your website visitors and establish your business as a thought leader in your industry. So invest in creating content or your small business, and include a blog on your business website.

Besides, helpful and informative blog posts based on SEO content ideas will also help your business website optimize for search engine crawlers.

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17. Search bar

Make it easy for visitors to search for specific content on your website.

You should include a search bar on 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 navigating the site’s menus and pages.

It can save them time and thus improve the site’s overall user experience.

18. Analytics

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 to see how many people are visiting your website, which pages generate the most traffic etc.

This data will help you create a better and more optimized website.

19. Custom 404 page

A 404 error page is the one visitors land on when they’ve followed a broken link or accessed a web page that doesn’t exist anymore.

However, 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, an informative message about the error, and suggestions for next steps.

Some examples could include returning to the homepage, checking another page on the website, or finding out who to contact if it’s needed.

And there you go! Those were the most important elements you should have on your website.

Small business website checklist: Optional features to include

The business website checklist above contains 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 additional elements to further drive engagement and conversions.

Pro tip:

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 good opportunity to also add them is if you redesign your website or update it.

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 you integrate live chat software into your business website, visitors can chat with a company representative or even a chatbot to answer specific questions, which 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 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 interested in your business, and you have to continuously nurture that connection with them.

This is not a must-have on your business website checklist because you don’t have to include these forms right from the beginning.

Initially, you should 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, make sure the e-commerce and purchase process is simple and easy.

8. Optimization for search engines

Organic traffic has many benefits for your business and your brand.

So, even though more organic traffic is not your immediate objective, growing your traffic would mean getting your website seen, more visitors, and more conversions.

So consider implementing search engine positioning strategies to ensure 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, you can add hosting when your business grows; thus, your business website becomes bigger.

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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 and any conditions or exceptions.

Include this section on your business website if you sell physical products 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 the chances of confusion.

14. Hours of Operation

Clearly state on your website the hours you’re open for work. This helps retain audience interest, as any visitor who sees it already knows when to return for real-time access.

Also, adding hours of operation helps the search engines display your website content on local search results.  Local search visibility greatly improves your in-store and web traffic if you’re a local business.

Small business website examples and why they work

Here are two small business website examples you can study to create your website:

Warby Parker – An Eyewear Retailer

Warby Parker website

Warby Parker’s website is clean, user-friendly, and visually appealing. It effectively shows its products with high-quality images and detailed descriptions.

The site also includes virtual try-on tools, which allow customers to see how glasses look on their faces before purchasing. Also, the website offers a seamless shopping experience with easy navigation and a simple checkout process.

One of the most fascinating things is that if you have an insurance benefit, Warby Parker applies it automatically. You only need to add your information to let the site determine if you’re eligible.

Birchbox – A Beauty Subscription Box

Birchbox website

Birchbox’s website is designed to provide a personalized shopping experience for customers. It offers a quiz that helps users discover products tailored to their preferences and needs. You can filter results on the website by price, brand, and rating.

The site also features user-generated content, including reviews and tutorials, which build trust and credibility with potential customers. Birchbox’s website excels at providing relevant recommendations and valuable content that keep visitors coming back for more.

Though there’s no blog section, the website contains detailed FAQs to help you understand their operations.

Factors to consider before building a small business website

Before building a business website, it’s essential to consider various factors to ensure that it meets your business goals and effectively serves your target audience.

Some important questions you should ask are:

  • What makes a good website?
  • What should a website include?

Answering these questions means you must consider these factors:

1. Your site purpose and goals

Before anything, it’s important to define the purpose of your website and outline specific goals you want to achieve.

Do you want to generate leads, sell products or services online, provide information, or establish credibility?

The answers you provide to these questions determine, to an extent, how you structure your website and what to include in it.

2. Target audience

Another important consideration is your target audience. They’re the receivers of every input you make on your website. So, your website features checklist should include elements that satisfy your target audience.

Understand your audience’s demographics, preferences, and needs. Tailor your content, design, and functionality to cater to their expectations. Having a website content checklist and a website design checklist will come in handy here.

3. Site design

The overall appearance of your website determines how long a visitor stays on it. Ensuring your website is responsive and displays correctly across various devices and screen sizes is necessary.

You should have an extensive website planning checklist to ensure your design captures all the relevant attributes of a good website.

4. Functionality

Your website should serve its core purpose before anything else. To make this possible, you must ask relevant questions like, “What is my audience looking for on this website?” “What can I put in my small business website to ensure it meets the needs of my target audience?”

For example, if you’re an e-commerce business, your website should include product listings, a shopping cart, and a secure payment processing system.

You should also consider adding important functionalities like live chat support, contact forms, interactive maps, and user-generated content (e.g. reviews and comments)

5. Search engine optimization (SEO)

How will search engines and your target audience see your website? How will you generate organic traffic to your website?

Implementing SEO best practices to improve your website’s visibility on search engines is essential for building an effective small business website.

Good SEO means optimizing your website structure, content, and metadata for relevant keywords and ensuring mobile friendliness and fast loading times.

6. User experience

A constant negative experience on a website is one of the key reasons visitors leave a site and never return.

You must focus on creating a positive user experience by designing an intuitive and easy-to-navigate website.

Consider important factors like your site’s architecture, page layout, navigation menus, and calls-to-actions. These are the essential elements on your small business website that guide users effectively and ensure they have a good experience.

Now that you know what to do before beginning your site design, here’s a small business website checklist to guide you effectively.

Here is a quick summary you can download and refer to for your business website. Some of the points you should consider before building your website, some during, and some afterward, as a final check.

Small Business Website Checklist What Should It Include

What makes a good business website?

The small business website checklist above includes the most important items 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 a well-maintained website, one that helps your brand connect with your audience and drive conversions. To know more about the top website qualities, read my full post on what makes a good website.

A good website’s most important features 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 on my small business website checklist?

Any additional items you recommend? Share in the comments!

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Ryan Biddulph
1 year ago

#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.

1 year ago

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!

Matthew Mirecki
1 year ago

Such a great article! I love how you compared the website homepage to the main landing page. It makes it so much easier to focus on what to put above the folding line and how to encourage visitors to explore the website further – as this is essentially the point of a Homepage.
I’ve seen so many people clutter up their Homepages with uninteresting info and fancy imagery. This article perfectly describes how not to do that. Thank you for posting!

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