From dating to dry cleaning delivery — it seems like everything is done online these days. We always have our phones with us (literally ALWAYS), so to reach the most customers, you absolutely need a website for your business. It’s simply not feasible to not have some connection for your business on the interwebs these days. But what makes a business site successful? And what’s the easiest — and most cost-effective — way to create one if you don’t have any coding experience or a web developer on call?
NOT TO WORRY. We’ve got your back. We partnered with Squarespace — our go-to platform for beautiful, functional, scalable websites — to bring you our best tips on creating the right website for your business. Because the right site can help you land clients, ensure repeat customers, and reach vast audiences. Ready? Let’s do this.
There are certain things you must do when setting up your biz website to appear professional, competent, and ready-to-go. A huge pet peeve of mine when I Google search a business is that they a) don’t have a website b) have an insanely confusing website or c) have a website with the domain yourwebsite . something . com. Don’t let that be you!
Custom Domain & Email
You want to look professional from the start, so consider a custom domain and email address (i.e., firstname.lastname@example.org). You will immediately appear more competent. Luckily, when you buy a business plan from Squarespace — our provider of choice for everything from personal blogs to sleek business sites — you get a custom domain and a year of G Suite, which includes professional email services from Gmail and tons of other biz goodies from Google. WIN.
When you start setting up your site with Squarespace, be sure to use our coupon code “EVERYGIRL17” for 10% off your first purchase. As an example, I set up a website for a florist using the (very lovely) Hyde template from Squarespace. Follow these steps to get started:
- Navigate to Squarespace’s templates page here. Click “Online Stores” from the list on the left-hand side.
- For this example, I chose the Hyde template, then clicked “Start With This Design.” After choosing a template, you’ll be automatically enrolled in a free Squarespace trail — no credit card required yet — for 14 days. After your trial is up, you can choose the Squarespace plan you’d like. I recommend their Business Plan, that comes with a domain and a year of G Suite.
Your Products/Services (On the Home Page)
If you do one thing on your biz site, you should link to your products and/or services on the homepage. Make it super easy for people to find out what you can do for them —don’t make them hunt for this information, they’ll just navigate off your page instead. For this example, I added three links on the homepage (with eye-catching images) to the three main services offered by this florist — weddings, bouquets, and deliveries. Here’s how I did it:
- Inside the Hyde template, there is demo content already in place for your home page (demo content that is easily replaceable is included in every Squarespace template). I navigated to the section on the left-hand menu called “Product Group,” which is what I wanted to modify with my own content.
- Instead of the “Product Group” section, I added images and titled them per what I wanted to appear on the homepage. For example, the photo I wanted to link to a page about the services offered for weddings, I titled “Weddings.” The photo I wanted to link to a page about how to order bouquets for different events was titled “Bouquets.” To edit images added to your product group, simply double click them to bring up a pop-up editing box (shown below).
Location & Office Hours
You want people to be able to easily find you and contact you when you’re available to chat. For brick and mortar businesses, this means having your physical address and hours in a prominent, easily accessible part of your site. For this example, I added the info to the footer of the site — visible on all pages — in a large-scale font.
- To edit the footer section of your site, scroll down on the home page till you get to the footer. Hover your mouse over the footer until you see a black pop-up box that says “EDIT.”
- Then, I added the physical location and office hours to the footer by clicking the black indicator button that appears when hovering your mouse inside a section of any page. Click “Text” to add a text content block and then start typing:
For businesses that aren’t brick and mortar — a graphic designer working out of their home, for instance — list your office hours and time zone so that customers know when you’ll be available and answering emails/calls/etc. This will help prevent 7 pm emails from customers expecting an immediate response. It will also help you separate work hours from actual life hours — something that can be difficult when you work out of your house.
The Squarespace template I chose for this example had these pages already created, so all I needed to do was drop the legal jargon in and that’s that.
An “About You” Page
Whenever I visit a small business website out in the wild, I ALWAYS click on the about page — I want to put a face to the services and just get to know the people behind the company. If I connect with them or their story, I’m that much more likely to work with them, buy from them, and support them. As a business owner, you want to inspire that kind of feeling in your customers — which makes your about page critical to your success. Here are some tips:
- Include a photo of you (or your team)
- Make your name and the names of your team prominent — give people a real person to connect with.
- Share your story and don’t be afraid to get a little personal. People want to see your personality and what drove you to start your business — that can prove to be the difference between a single customer and a repeat customer.
- Tell customers what to do next by including a sign-up form or call to action button. You have to direct people to get in touch with you or come in and visit the store. Even if it’s just “send a note” with a link to your email — encourage people to get involved or reach out.
Here’s a full-page example of the “About Page” I put together for my florist Squarespace site:
Connect Your Social Accounts
This is a no-brainer. Make it easy for people to follow you wherever they are — Facebook, Instagram, etc. Squarespace has insanely easy social integration, which means you only have to connect your accounts once, and then you can place your social icons anywhere on your site and they’ll be ready to go. Here’s how to connect your social accounts inside of Squarespace, step-by-step:
- From your editor home page, click “Settings” from the left-hand menu.
- Underneath “Website,” click “Connected Accounts”
- Click “Connect Account” and choose which social account you’d like to connect.
Once you’ve connected all your accounts, you can add social icons to any area of your site by following these steps:
- Navigate to the area you’d like to add social icons and click the black indicator that appears. In the menu that opens, scroll down and click “Social Links” — this will add icons for all the connected accounts you’ve added to your site.
The Finishing Touches
Once you have the basics of a successful site down, you’ll want to add a few things that will help your business stand out from the crowd. Whether you work in a saturated market or not, taking your site to the next level will only help attract — and keep — customers.
Take your story to new heights with a blog. It’s a surefire way to ensure customers are routinely coming back to your site — something that cannot be underestimated. Returning customers may make additional online purchases — of products or services — and it will keep your business top-of-mind for them. For this example, as a florist, a blog would ensure customers remember you when they need their next bouquet or recommend you when a friend asks if you know anyone who does flowers for weddings.
Blogs also help your customers feel more connected to you — essential to small business. A blog for a florist shop, for example, may ensure a customer buys from that shop instead of 1-800-Flowers. Because they want to support you, your mission, and your business.
Squarespace makes blogging easy with blog templates already created for almost every template they offer. For this example, using the Hyde template, I created a blog in two minutes flat following these steps:
- Under “Pages,” I navigated to where I wanted the blog to appear in the navigation — for this template, it was either in the main navigation, the secondary navigation, the footer navigation, or not linked (which means it won’t show up in any navigation, unless you link directly to it from a page within your site). I chose main navigation, to make the blog easy to access from the homepage. Click the plus next to the navigation of your choice, then click “Blog.”
- Under the “Blog” page is where you’ll manage your posts, add new posts, and control your blog. To add your first post, hover your mouse over the main area in your Blog page and click “ADD POST.”
When building a business, your email list will be ESSENTIAL. These are the customers you know you’ll be able to reach when you’re having a sale, or announcing an event, or any number of exciting steps for your business. And, these customers will be the ones that believe in you and your mission — they want to stay informed on what’s happening with you and the business in general. Which means when that email about a sale goes out, those customers will be the ones clicking through and making purchases.
We love Squarespace for lots of reasons, but one stellar feature they offer is easy integration with third-party apps, like Mailchimp. It’s all plug-and-play, so you have more time to work on your actual business and spend less time worrying about how to make your newsletter work within your site. For this example, here’s how I connected Mailchimp to the Hyde template:
- I chose to add a newsletter signup block on the homepage of the site, to encourage customers and visitors to signup for my newsletter. To add a newsletter block anywhere on your site, hover over the area you’d like to add it, click the black indicator, then select “Newsletter.”
- A Newsletter pop-up box will appear, where you can control how your signup form will appear on your site, and also connect a Mailchimp account (or collect emails in a Google Drive doc). At the top of the pop-up, click “Storage,” then click “Mailchimp” to connect your account.
A Cohesive “Look”
As a graphic designer, one of the things that bothers me the most is a cluttered, busy, confusing website. Squarespace ensures that the templates they offer are exceptionally well-designed, across computers, tablets, and mobile. However, you control important choices for your site — like the colors, fonts, and photography you’ll use. BE INTENTIONAL with these choices. Stick to three fonts or less and 2-3 colors. Make sure your photography is cohesive across your entire site — and utilize stock photography to fill any holes. This is a great resource for finding awesome stock photos, btw.
Once you have these choices hammered out for your site, keep your “look” consistent across social channels, your newsletter, and your business collateral. It will make you look professional and competent. For this example, here’s how I changed the fonts and colors on my site:
- In Squarespace, you can control all the fonts, colors, and style choices for your site under the “Design” tab. To edit fonts, colors, and spacing, click “Style Editor.”
- Under “Style Editor” hover over any part of the page design you’d like to change (for example, hover your mouse over a heading if you’d like to change the font of that heading) and click. This will bring up the style menu for that section.
I used Unsplash (my favorite resource for free, beautiful stock photography) for all the images you see.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve navigated away from a site because I couldn’t find the pricing and assumed it would be too expensive. Don’t make your customers reach out to you to inquire about how much you charge for your services or products — chances are, they won’t reach out. List your pricing — you don’t have to go into full detail, but give an idea of how much you would charge for different services or packages — to ensure that the people who are contacting you aren’t wasting your time and their own. It’s a step that customers will appreciate and that will save you valuable email or phone time.
Testimonials are a great addition to add to your site, because they reinforce your credibility and show you’ve had happy customers or clients in the past. For this example, I added three testimonials to the home page of the site to ensure they would be seen by new customers. Here’s a full screenshot of the example site I put together for a florist, showing the testimonials on the home page:
Need more help? Squarespace has your back with 24/7 customer support — a true business lifesaver. Don’t forget to use the coupon code “EVERYGIRL17” for 10% off your first purchase with Squarespace.
This post was in partnership with Squarespace, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.