Small Business Website Planning Guide

Every business needs a website. But building a website can be intimidating.

This guide will give you the roadmap to a successful new site to grow your business.

Websites are essential for any business these days. It’s how people find you online, it’s how an increasing number of people shop and it’s a central place for people to go to to learn more about your business. Simply put, aside from a brick-and-mortar store, a website is the most important piece for any business, including yours.

But if you’ve never done it before or if you’re not technology savvy, it can be a pretty intimidating process. How do you pick a developer that’s not going to abandon you? How do you know if that design is going to work for you? Heck, how do you even know if you need a new website? (Hint: the answer is down below)

This page and guide will layout every step of the process. It will walk you through how a website is built so that you know what you’re getting yourself into. Whether you work with me, another developer or do it yourself, the goal is to give you confidence to build a website that’s going to help your business.

Why You Might Need a Website

So, first things first. We need to figure out if you actually need a new website. In some cases, you probably don’t need a new site. And if you do, thinking through why you actually need one will help you focus in on the purpose and what you need in this new website.

Just starting out

You’ve just started your small business. You may have a physical store or you may not. But either way, you need to get your name and information out onto the internet and a Facebook page just isn’t going to cut it. While you don’t need to go for the fanciest website on the web just yet, it really is important to get a simple website up so people can find you.

Outdated website

You’ve had your business for a while, and you’ve had a website that’s helped you along the way. But now it looks outdated. What was cool when you built it now looks silly compared to today’s modern standards. So much so that it’s driving prospective clients away. You’re going to need a new website to help keep those prospective clients turning into paying customers.

Not Getting the Job Done

Or maybe you have a website built to today’s standards, but it’s just not working. For whatever reason, people aren’t coming to it or they are but they aren’t converting into paying customers. This can be extremely frustrating. But sitting down with a different developer might bring a new set of eyes to the problem and hopefully a solution that brings in more business.

The Road Map to a New Website

Planning and building a new website can seem like a monumental task, especially if this your first time being serious about it. Sometimes the amount of things you need to do can give you a paralyzing fear. So to help alleviate some of the fear, confusion and worry, here’s the basic roadmap to show you the steps to a successful website build. Whether you build your website with me or another developer, this guide will help you through the process of bringing your new website to life.



Before you even find a developer or agency to work with, you need to have a plan in place. As the adage attributed to Ben Franklin goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” To that end, you need to ask yourself or your business partners questions about your small business. And you need to answer them honestly. The guide you can download at the bottom gives you specific questions to ask, but they generally follow the line of figuring out where the business is, where you want it to be in the future and figuring out how a website can get you to that place. Once you have that plan in place, the rest of the process becomes much smoother.

Planning for your new small business website

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

That quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin (whether correctly or not) is everything in business. You probably created a plan before you started your business (or at least you should have). And you likely have a plan to grow your business too.

So if you’re looking for a new website (or your first website), you need to plan for that as well. You’ll need to ask yourself and/or your business partners a number of questions and answer them honestly.

And it’ll need to be wide-ranging, from what you want and need, to your budget to even the timing for the website. Leave no stone unturned.

And the result will be a roadmap that will land you a website that’s going to help your business grow.

So let’s start planning your new website.

Why should you plan for your business website?

You planned for your business right? You sat down, probably with a coach or a mentor, and outlined a business plan before you bought a storefront or started to sell your first product.

So why wouldn’t you do the same for a new website for your business?

Creating a plan for the website is going to make every step of the process much smoother for everyone. You’re going to have a clearer idea of what you want for this website. And you can tell the agency or developer exactly that. Then they can give you exactly that.

That means there’s less time wasted with you trying to make up your mind about what you want. The agency or developer doesn’t have to spend a ton of time in the discovery phase trying to figure out what you want. When you get to the review phase, you’ll have an even clearer idea of what you want. And all of that time saved is money saved.

In short, taking the time to plan your website now saves time, money and headaches down the road.

How you should plan for your business website

Before we get going, you might be wondering how you can plan for a new website for your business.

The simple answer is that you ask questions and then answer them. Really, it’s as simple as that. No complicated forms and no crazy spreadsheets. Just questions and answers.

And this will help you really figure out what this website needs to be. You’ll learn what you need from the website to help your business. Plus, the more detailed your questions and answers, the clearer the picture will be for you and the developer or agency.

Here are a few good ones to help get you started.

Determine if you need a new website

The first thing you need to do in planning your website is to figure out if you actually need a new website.

This involves a whole bunch of other questions, which I’ve gone over before. But as I mentioned above, this new website is going to be an investment — both in time and money. And you really need to make sure that your business needs a website before you step down that path.

Obviously, if your business is just starting out, then yeah, you definitely need a website, even if it’s just a single or couple of pages saying that you exist. That way search engines can index your site and people can find you.

If your business just has a Facebook page, again yes, you need a website since that’s not going to cut it in today’s digital marketing world. And if your website looks old and outdated, then it’s probably time to give it a facelift.

But after that, it gets a little bit murkier on what you should do. Sometimes you might really be better off making adjustments here or there that can unlock a lot of potential. Other times, like if you want to sell online, a new website might be just what you need to give your business a boost.

So sit down and really think about whether or not you need a new website. It’s a decision that could save you unnecessary time, costs and headaches.

How will this website help your business?

The ultimate goal for any website for your business is for it to help your business. If it’s not doing that, then why do you even have one.

So the next thing you need to do is to figure out how this website is going to help your business. And that’s going to look differently for each business.

If you’re just starting out or don’t have a website, maybe this website is going to help get your business name out there online. It will allow you to be found by search engines and be a place you can . And you can put all of your business information, such as contact information and physical address, and about page and show off your business.

If you’re more established and can make it work, maybe this website will allow you to sell online and to expand your potential customer base and grow your business. And with more and more people shopping online, that’s a great way to help your business.

But figure out how this website is going to help your business. Figuring out the answer to that question will guide your every step the rest of the way.

Learn How to Create a Website That Helps Your Business

Creating a website seems like an easy thing to do, especially with today’s tools. But creating a website that actually helps your business grows? That’s another story. But if you take the time go through and learn about the process, you’ll end up with a better experience and successful website. So get the guide that will walk you through each of the steps and find your way to the best website possible.

Download the Small Business Website Planning Guide Today!

What website can you afford?

Next, you need to budget out how much you can afford to spend on a website.

Websites cost a lot of money and with good reason too. They are an investment, the same as your car or home. And typically, the more you put into a website (as long as it’s quality work), the more you’re going to get out of it.

But at the same time, it’s hard to ignore your budget and you shouldn’t spend so much over what you can really afford. So it becomes a balancing act.

The good news is that there are options when it comes to your website. If you have the cash to do it, a custom website is a great choice. But if you’re not at that point, don’t worry just yet. There are other options. For one, some developers or agencies (like myself) can offer pre-built solutions (like using a pre-built WordPress theme or something similar) than can drastically bring down the price of the website.

And finally, if you’re just getting started and need something super cheap, you can give Wix and Squarespace a go. I’m not a fan of using them on anything larger than a couple-page website, but they can be a help to get you going at the start.

So sit down and look through your financials and come up with a budget for your website. Then see how much you can afford to spend on a new website. Don’t worry, you can still get a quality website that will help your business with any budget.

How quickly do you need this website?

Another thing you need to consider is how quickly you need this website.

Now, before you go too far down this road, you need to know one thing. More often than not, websites don’t happen in a day. Yes, if you go the Wix or Squarespace route, you can get one set up pretty quickly.

But if you bring in an agency or developer, which is recommended, it’s going to take some time. You’re going to have to go through all of their steps in the process, which means it will take a month at a minimum.

So you need to think about when you need this website to go live. Do you currently have a website and can use that until whenever this website is ready? Do you need it to go live when you launch your business or new branding? When you need your website will also determine what type of website you’ll end up getting.

Ideally, you’ve started to think about this website well before you actually need one. But if not, it’s time to really think about when you need it.

What do you want with this website?

Finally, you really need to think about what you want with this website.

This kind of crosses over into the section about how will this website help your business, but this focuses more on your wants. What do you want this website to do and look like?

Do you want an online store? Do you want to be able to blog and do content marketing? Or are you looking for something that’s completely custom and that is uniquely your business?

This is going to have an effect on what type of website you want and how much you’re going to have to pay for this website. And that might mean you won’t be able to get everything or you’re going to have to change your budget.

But for now, dream about your new website. Think about your wants for this website — what you want it to look like and what you want it to do. From there, you and the developer/agency can work out how best to make it a reality.

Continuing on

So, where do you go from here?

Well, first off sit down and think through these questions and write down your answers. And I really mean to write them down. Whether you use physical pencil/pen and paper or type it on a computer, just make sure you write it down so you have something to refer to later on in the process.

And then I want you to think up some your own questions about this website and what you want for it and then answer those as well. Make them more specific to your business and what you do.

And don’t be afraid to spend a good amount of time in this phase. The better you plan now and the more thorough you are, the easier the rest of the steps will be.

That makes for a much better experience for everyone.

Finding a Developer

Finding a Developer

Finding the right developer is the trickiest part of the whole process. Finding the right developer can make life so much easier for you. But find the wrong developer and you’re out a chunk of change, possibly a broken website and a whole lot of frustration. Leaving aside the fact that I’m also a developer, you really need to do a lot of research into prospective developers. See if you can find other people who have worked with them, look at what they have in their portfolio and, if they have a blog, see what kind of expertise they might have. And be sure to ask them questions about their experiences, what they do and if they’ve handled a situation like yours before. Doing your due diligence here will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

What to look for in a web agency or developer for your small business website

So you’ve decided to hire a web agency or developer for your website.

But now you’re tasked with one of the most important decisions you can make when building a new website: picking the right web agency or developer to create your new website.

And make no mistake, this is critically important. Pick the right one and everything will be smooth sailing and you’re going to end up with a website that will pay for itself. Pick the wrong one and it’s going to be a daily headache.

But there are so many agencies and developers out there and how are you going to figure out which one will lead to the path of happiness? Well, the short answer is that it’s going to take research. The long answer is that it’s going to take a lot of research and asking the right questions along the way.

So let’s go over what you should be looking for when you’re selecting a web agency or developer to build your new website.

What does their portfolio look like?

Obviously the first thing that you’re going to want to look at in a web agency or developer is their portfolio. And if they don’t have one, well that’s a problem.

Look to see what kind of projects they have built over the years. Is there variety? Have they worked on a lot of projects? Do they discuss what went into each project and how they built it?

And then click through those projects and go to the websites. Venture around the sites and look at how they are built. Are they working (which is always the first question)? Can you use all of the functionality it has to offer? Or are there a lot of user experience issues?

Do they look cool and inviting? Does the website display the best the client has to offer? Are you feeling compelled to learn more about that company based off of that website? Could you see your business having a similar website?

Basically, do you like what you see in their portfolio? If the answer is yes, then it’s probably worth it to continue looking into them and seeing if they really are someone you might want to hire for your site. If not, it’s best to continue looking elsewhere.

Have they worked with similar businesses and websites?

Next, something that you’re probably going to look for next is to see if they’ve worked with similar businesses like yours.

For example, if you run a floral store, have they worked with florists before? Or have they worked with sporting good stores in the past? Or if you do something that involves a membership website, have they built membership sites before?

This isn’t going to be a deal-breaker if they haven’t worked with a business like yours, but it can be helpful. They will likely know ahead of time what they are going to need to do, and they can lead you down a better direction than you originally thought. That can lead to a better and much more effective website for you.

Learn How to Make Your Next Website a Success

Even if you’re hiring an outside agency or developer to build your new website, creating that website is still a challenge. There are a lot of things you need to know going into it. Fortunately, you can get the guide that will walk you through each step of the process so that you can feel more confident and walk away with a much better website.

Learn More About Creating a Website for Your Business

Do they blog about their past projects and what they’ve learned?

Also, when you’re looking at their portfolio, look to see if they discuss those projects in greater detail. Do they talk about the problem their clients had before they were hired to build the website? Do they mention how they took what they learned in the discovery phase and turned it into a great solution? Plus, do they mention the results of that project and how it helped the client in the long run?

And then see if they talk about what they learned during the project. Speaking from first-hand experience, each project I do is a different experience. Sometimes you end up with a great client and sometimes you end up with a project that is littered with minefields (both in the code and offline).

Each project is a chance to learn. So do they mention what they learned during that project and how they might have adapted their process for future projects? That’s a good sign that they are someone who knows what they are doing and will work to help you out.

This might not be a complete deal-breaker for you, but if you’re trying to break a “tie” in your process, being able to see their process and their learning might be an advantage.

Do they create content to help others learn?

Next, you want to see if the web agency or developer blogs, vlogs or otherwise creates content to help people learn about websites, digital marketing or similar things.

For starters, this shows that they know what they are doing. If you can write something and teach people about a subject, and do it well I might add, then you truly understand the topic. So you can feel confident that you’re hiring someone who knows what they are doing.

But it also shows that they care. They don’t think about their clients as just a number or a dollar amount. Instead they want to help people be successful with their websites and their businesses. And if the content is simply available on their website and not behind a paywall, then they don’t necessarily care if the people they are helping are their paying customers or not.

And that can trickle down to how they help you. They might take the time and effort to teach you about your website and how to use it. And hopefully even after you’ve gone your separate ways, they’ll be able to at least give you advice if you need it.

It’s those little things that could total up to being a big help when you’re creating your website.

Are they active in a community?

Also another thing that you’ll want to look at in a web agency or developer is whether or not they are active in a community such as WordPress, Drupal or a local Meetup of some sort. Again this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but it can be a way to break a “tie” between two candidates.

See if they contribute to a WordCamp, Drupal Camp or other similar meetup. Do they speak at these events to share their knowledge and to help others learn? Do they sponsor these events? And if so, is their sponsor booth helpful?

Also, are they online on forums helping out other people? Do they engage in various chats, such as the occasional Twitter chat? Are they taking the time to help better a community in some way or fashion?

Again, this shows that they care about the community and the success of people, whether or not they are a paying customer of theirs or not. And that means you can expect great service and a pretty good time working with them.

Do you get along with them?

Finally, this actually might be the biggest piece of the puzzle. Do you like them as people and does it seem like you could actually get along with them during the duration of the project.

Because that chemistry is going to have to work in order for this project to work. They could be the greatest agency in the world, but if there’s a disconnect between the two of you, no one’s really going to be happy and the quality of the website will likely drop.

But at the same time, someone who you might have towards the middle of your list after looking at their portfolio might work better because you two are a better fit for each other. It really just depends.

Most developers and agencies will have a way for you to have a free consultation call with them to figure this very issue out. They want to take on successful projects just like you want to hire the right person or people for the job.

So on this call, work to get to know them better professionally. Are they as knowledgeable “in person” as they are on their website? Do they seem caring about your website or do they just want to get you in and out the door as a client? Will you be better off for having worked with them?

This is all really subjective, and the criteria for if you’re going to be a fit changes from person to person. But if you get off the call feeling confident that this is going to work, then it’s most likely a good idea to go with your gut. And if not, it’s probably back to the list.

Just make sure that you feel confident in the web agency or developer that you select. Because this might be the most important decision you make for your website and your business.



The exact discovery process varies between different agencies and developers, but the basics are fairly universal. This is the point when the developer is trying to figure out what your need is, what you want and how to boil that down into a website. A good developer or agency will ask basically the same questions you asked during the planning stage. This is where having a plan already in place is a big help. That plan will greatly help the developer know exactly what you want and make it much easier to come up with a site that’s going to accomplish your goals.

What to be ready for in the discovery phase

So if you’re in the market for a new website and have selected a developer to work with, the next phase in the process is the discovery phase.

From your point of view, this is probably the most important part of the process. Here, you’re telling the developer what you want and how you want this website to help your business. Get it right and you’ll be good to go. Get it wrong and it can take a while to get back on the right path.

It can be a bit of an anxious time. It’s going to involve a lot of meetings to make sure everyone’s on the same page. So to help put your mind at ease, here’s what you can be ready for with the discovery phase.

What is discovery in the website process?

So before we get too far along, let’s define what “discovery” actually is in the website building process. To put it simply, discovery is when the developer is learning about you, your business, your goals and what you want in the new website. Essentially, the developer is trying to learn everything they can about you so they can build a website that works for you.

Now, some developers might use a different word for this phase. It all kind of varies between developers. But just know that this is really the definition this beginning phase of the whole process.

As to when does the discovery process take place, that also varies between developers. I know for me, the discovery process technically begins during the free consultation and runs until the design stage begins. During that entire time, I’m learning about your business and what you’re trying to learn. Again, the specifics will likely change from developer to developer.

Tell the Story of Your Small Business With a Website

Every small business has a story. And every small business needs a website to help tell it. A website allows people to find you online, serves as a home base for any marketing effort and can help you tell the story of your business. So if you’re ready to give your business its first website or are ready to take your site to the next level, let’s get started on making that happen.

Let’s Get Started on Telling Your Story With a Website

Know what you want

So this is where planning ahead is really going to make this process much easier. This process is all about finding out what you really want for this website. So knowing that, or at least have a good idea of what you want, streamlines this process.

What do you need to know? Well, you need to know where your business currently is. You need to know what your goals are for the business in the near and far future. And you probably need to figure out where a new website fits in to how you get from A to B.

Now, even if you come completely prepared during the discovery process, the developer might bring up something you might not have thought of. That’s okay. In fact, that’s great. Sometimes when we’re so close to something, it’s hard to see everything. If that happens, you’ve probably found the right developer for you.

But the biggest thing is to come prepared to every meeting in the discovery process.

Be open minded about the solution

Finally, it’s important that you remain open minded through out this entire process. If you’ve done your homework and come prepared, you probably already have a solution in mind that you want. That’s great. But be prepared to change.

Sometimes the developer and designer will come up with something you didn’t think about before. Or maybe they’ll tell you something’s just not possible (this happens more than you think). Your solution is going to change. And that’s perfectly fine.

You just have to be open and accepting that things are going to change. This doesn’t mean go along with everything single change, but instead consider and think about the suggestions. And figure out if they would improve the website and help you reach your goal. If they do, go with it. If not, don’t.

So, if you’re starting the process of creating a new website and are worried about the first part of the process, I hope this puts your mind at easy. Just come prepared whenever you talk to the developer and be open about what you want.

You’ll find that it will make the process easier and the end result more successful.



The design time is the first part of the process that you’ll be hands off for most of the time. At this point, the developer will take what he or she learned in the discovery process and either design it him/herself or pass it off to a designer they’ve worked with to create a web design that solves your problem. At this point, it pays to patient. Designs don’t happen in an instant. And all include time for some back and forth with the developer and designer. The majority of designs aren’t perfect on the first pass. There will be iterations on the design and plenty of time for you to make edits and get it to the way you want it.

What to look for in a design for a new website

So you’ve just received the new design for your website. You talked with the developer, went through the discovery process, came up with a plan and now the website has a design.

How do you make sure it’s the right look? How do you know that it’s going to help your business bring in more clients and customers?

Well, a website design can be a complicated thing. It’s not just one thing that needs to be right in order for it to work. It’s a set of factors. And the biggest problem is that it, like the rest of the website, needs to last for the foreseeable future.

So no matter if you’re using a prebuilt theme or completely custom website, here are the top items you should be looking at when you receive the design for your website.

How does the content fit into the design?

The first thing you should check the design for is how the content fits into it. The most important part of any website isn’t how it looks, but what it has on it. You can have the most beautiful looking website on the web, but if the content isn’t what it should be, or is hard to read on said design, it won’t matter.

So you definitely want to see how the content fits on the page. Is all of the text readable? If there’s text over images, is there some sort of way to make sure that text is always readable? Or do will you have to do something with the images?

On the subject of images, if there are large images, do you have the ability to take and upload large images? Are the images in clear areas and do they add to the website and not take away.

All of these elements of the content are extremely important. And they should be your top priority when checking a design for your website.

Tell the Story of Your Small Business With a Website

Every small business has a story. And every small business needs a website to help tell it. A website allows people to find you online, serves as a home base for any marketing effort and can help you tell the story of your business. So if you’re ready to give your business its first website or are ready to take your site to the next level, let’s get started on making that happen.

Let’s Get Started on Telling Your Story With a Website

Is the design functional?

Next on the priority list is to make sure the design is actually functional. Again, the design can look absolutely amazing, but if I can’t get from one page to the next quickly and seamlessly, it’s a piece of junk.

The biggest thing here is to look at the menu and make sure it’s visible and easy to use. Would you, as a user, be able to navigate that menu if you had no prior knowledge to the website? Is it intuitive? Or does it look frustrating?

Also, are other links highlighted in a way that invites someone to click? Is the direction of each page in one direction and easy followable for a user? And are form elements easy to understand and fill out?

These elements have to be satisfied for your website to work. So make sure they are correct before you give the okay for development.

Does the design look current day?

Finally, we can get to the actual look of the design. Now that we’ve checked the content and the functionality, our focus turns to how the website actually looks on the screen.

Now how elegant the design should look depends on how much you paid, so we’ll think in more overall terms here. Does it look clean and up-to-date? Is it welcoming for potential clients or customers? Does it look like what you paid for?

Also, is your logo somewhere on each page? Do the colors used match the branding for your business? Do the fonts used match your branding? On this one, note that the fonts likely won’t match your branding based on readability on a screen, but are they similar?

Basically, at this stage, is the design what you want your website to look like for the foreseeable future? If it is, then let’s get moving on to the development stage. If not, it’s back to the proverbial drawing board.

So I hope these items help you figure out if the design you’ve received from the designer for your website. This is an important decision, and like any important decision, you need carefully consider all of the aspects of it.

So sit down with the design, review it for these items and make the best decision you can.



Here comes the fun part of the process: building the site and seeing the dream and idea come to life on the screen. Like the design phase, the development phase is a relatively hands off part for you. The developer, if they are good, will develop the website locally on their computer then push it to a staging site of some sort where you’ll be able to look at it. If the developer is a good one, they’ll check in with you often to let you know where they are in the process and let you add critiques and changes to your liking. This part will also take a good bit of time, especially if it’s a complicated, custom website. So again, patience will be key here.

Self-developing a website vs. hiring a developer

To hire a web developer or create it yourself. That is the question a lot of people have when it comes to building a new website.

One the one hand, web developers (mostly) know what they are doing and can create a high quality website. But on the other hand, doing it yourself looks so enticing with all the tools advertised. Plus it keeps the total cost down (or so it seems).

So which one is the right answer? Well. the answer is kind of complicated. There’s no one real right answer. Only what works for your business and your situation.

So let’s look at hiring a developer for your website versus doing it yourself.

What do you know/don’t know?

So the first thing you need to figure out what you do and don’t know about web development. Don’t think that’s important before you dive headfirst into creating your own website? Well, if you had absolutely no idea how to cook a turkey, nobody’s putting you in charge of that job for Thanksgiving.

Likewise, if you have no idea where to start with web development, web design and technology in general, then it’s really a good idea to bring in someone who know’s what they are doing. It’s going to make life so much easier for you.

Now, if you are familiar with technology and working on a computer and you know some design basics, then maybe it’s worth taking a look at. There are still other factors that we’ll talk about below, but if you feel comfortable with design, Wix, Squarespace and WordPress can help you overcome the other challenges to just get a website out there.

What are you trying to do with this website?

The next factor is what are you trying to do with this website? Is this just a starter website to get your name out there for search engines to index and people to find? Or are you trying to add in functionality, like a blog or an e-commerce section.

If it’s the former, then self-development isn’t a bad option for this scenario. It’s really hard to mess up a simple one or two page website if you have even just a little bit of a design background. Heck, even if you don’t, you should be fine here.

But if you’re trying to add in that extra functionality, then it becomes more of a challenge and bringing in someone seems like a better idea. When you add to the project, the more things that can go wrong grow exponentially. Especially if you’re wanting to sell products online.

I find that the safest route here is to find someone who specializes in what you’re wanting to do and bring them in to build the website. That way you’re not stressed about possibly messing something up and the site gets done quicker.

Tell the Story of Your Small Business With a Website

Every small business has a story. And every small business needs a website to help tell it. A website allows people to find you online, serves as a home base for any marketing effort and can help you tell the story of your business. So if you’re ready to give your business its first website or are ready to take your site to the next level, let’s get started on making that happen.

Let’s Get Started on Telling Your Story With a Website

What can you commit to a website?

Next, you need to figure out how much you are able to commit to a new website. Websites, again, are an investment, and can be a pretty expensive one at that. So it’s worth figuring out how much you can afford for a new site.

If you have an extremely shoestring budget (and we’re talking around $100 or less), then yeah, you probably want to do create the website yourself. You’re not really going to be able to afford a quality developer at that price, and it’s better for you to just do it yourself.

But if your budget is bigger than that and you’re really wanting to have a quality website, then it’s worth it to hire on a developer to build it. When you can commit more to a website, you’re going to be able to find and hire quality developers who are going to get the job done right. And that’s worth every penny that you spend.

Would the website be built more efficiently by a developer?

Finally, you need to figure out if the website will be build more efficiently by you or a developer. Websites are time consuming projects. They take a really long time to build, especially if you want more functionality and it to be done well.

You could still create the website yourself, but you need to think about that time aspect. Any time you spend working on the website is time you’re not working for your business, greeting people, filling orders, talking to prospective customers, etc. It’s harder to see the monetary cost in that, but it’s still a cost like hiring a developer.

But if you hire a developer, then the website gets built in the background. They spend their time creating it while you can spend your time doing the things you do best, running and growing your business.

If you’re just creating that small one or two page website on a shoestring budget, then building it yourself actually shouldn’t take too long. But if it’s any bigger than that, it’s worth bringing in someone to help you with it so you can manage your time much better.

Decisions, decisions, decisions

Now, it comes down to the decision. I can’t make the decision to develop the website yourself or bring someone in for you. You have to make that decision. You need to sit down and go through these items to see what works for you.

There aren’t any inherent wrong decisions you can make. Only decisions that work or don’t work for your situation. So make the decision that works for you.



Once you’ve planned out the site and found the right developer, the thing most likely to derail your new website is content. Where is the content coming from? When do you need to get the content to the developer or designer? These are all things that need to be answered relatively early in the process. Designers need at least some content in order to correctly design the pages. And developers definitely need content to make sure they’re building website correctly. So coming together and reaching a decision for everyone makes life so much easier for everyone. How you answer each of those questions about content is up to y’all to decide, but the important part is that y’all agree and those deadlines are met.

The dilemma of content for a new website

What do you call a awesomely designed website with no content. Anything but a website.

The fact of the matter is that the most important part of any website is the content. But the thing most likely to derail a website project this side of money is no content.

A web designer might be able to create a nice-looking design and a developer create that site with dummy content, but it definitely cannot launch without any content about your business.

So here’s how to make sure you don’t get caught in the content dilemma.

Don’t forget about the content

When you’re planning and laying out a new website, it is very easy to overlook all of the content that’s going to be needed for it. After all, you’re probably thinking about that cool design or fancy animation (spoiler alert: you don’t really need fancy animations on your site).

But that is really all secondary to the content. In fact, I’ll argue that the content comes first. You need to think about the text on your website at all times. This is what your potential customers or clients are going to be looking for. Yes, it helps if it’s presented in a nice manner, but the substance of your text has to be there.

I’d argue that this needs to be a central part of your planning stage. You should be thinking and planning through the text before you even contact a developer. You probably don’t need the exact content while you’re still planning, but you need to be thinking about it.

Let’s Tell Your Story

Every person and business has a story. Why did you start the business? How have you helped customers succeed? What have you done in the community? You have a lot of options for how to tell the stories of your business from copywriting to other text stories to photos and videos. Let’s find the best way to create content for your website to tell your business’ story.

Let’s Create Content for Your Business

Discuss it during discovery

Once you’ve found a developer and are in that discovery stage, make sure you bring it up. Actually, if your developer brings it up before you do, you’ve found a good one.

You need to discuss this with your developer before any actual work starts on the website. It’s a massive plus for a designer to be able to design with the exact content that you’ll have on your site. And developers really like to develop the site with the correct text.

This way, the content stays on the top of everyone’s mind during the project. Everyone knows what it is and how it fits with the website. After all, it is the most important part of the website.

Make sure everyone knows where the content is coming from and is on time

And finally, before you leave the discovery and planning stages, make sure you and the developer know and agree to where the content is coming from and when it should be in the hands of the developer. This is going to save you from so many problems down the road.

Most developers don’t really care where it’s coming from — whether it’s something you wrote or if you bring in a copywriter for it. I know for me, as someone who is also a writer, I offer copywriting services, though that obviously adds to the price of the project.

But where the content is coming from is not quite as important as everyone knowing where it’s coming from and that it will be delivered by an agreed-upon date. There is nothing more frustrating as a developer than having to sit on a project and wait until it’s delivered. But planning that out and getting it in on time makes everything run so smooth.

So when you’re planning out your website, make sure you don’t forget about the content. It’s just as important, if not more important, to the website as the design.

And if you don’t think about it before the designing stage begins, it’s going to be a massive pain later on.

Review and Launch

Review and Launch

Once the website has been designed and developed and the content added, it’s time for a final review and then launch. This is your opportunity to look at the site as it will be presented on the internet and make changes so that it looks the way you want it. Make sure all the information is correct. Make sure it looks good on desktop, tablet and mobile devices. And make sure it presents your business in the best possible way. While you can obviously make changes, it’s so much easier to catch them now. And that first impression is everything. Then when you’re ready, have your developer take the site live. And then sit back and enjoy your new site. You’ve earned it!

What to check for when looking over the website

Alright, so your site is almost ready to go. You love the design, it’s been developed and the content is in.

Everything’s set to go, right?

Well, not quite. Before the website goes live and you make that final payment to the developer, you need to go over the site one last time to make sure everything is correct and how you want it to be.

But what should you be looking for? So glad you asked. Here are my biggest items that you should look for before the site goes live.

Is everything readable?

I feel like this should be obvious, but you first need to make sure visitors can, you know, read the content on your website.

Check to make sure the text is readable and isn’t going outside of the bound. Text and it’s background . Also check to see if you can navigate to pages that a user might need to get to.

I’d also recommend making sure that the web accessible, or is usable by those with disabilities. Chances are your small business isn’t required , like say a state school, but according to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 20 percent of American have a disability, and they still want to access website, albeit in different ways. Ignoring them is a pretty significant business risk. Your site ought to be usable by all.

Also on this point, make sure all of the information is correct. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, make sure the address and times are right. Check to see if your phone and email is correct. And also make sure that there’s no dummy text left over on the site.

It’s the simple things that tend to get overlooked before the site goes live.

Tell the Story of Your Small Business With a Website

Every small business has a story. And every small business needs a website to help tell it. A website allows people to find you online, serves as a home base for any marketing effort and can help you tell the story of your business. So if you’re ready to give your business its first website or are ready to take your site to the next level, let’s get started on making that happen.

Let’s Get Started on Telling Your Story With a Website

Are the colors correct?

Next, check to see that all of the colors on the website are correct. Again, it’s something small, but it is pretty important.

Color is essential to your branding as a small business. It helps people quickly identify your business. So why wouldn’t your website have the same colors as the rest of your business.

So go through the website and make sure that all of the colors are correct. I know that stuff like this should be worked out in the design stage, but flukey things can happen. Checking one last time won’t take too long and will keep your website on-brand.

How does it look on mobile?

Finally, you need to check the mobile version of your site. According to Statista, roughly 49.7 percent of webpage visits were via a mobile phone. So to ignore how your website looks on a phone is to ignore a potentially large user base at your own peril.

Of course, if you’ve selected a reputable developer, they should have made sure the website is responsive. But sometimes things get missed. And an iPhone might render something completely different from an Android phone. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen.

So take out your phone and look through the website and make sure everything is visible and working on it as well.

So before you allow the site to go live and make the final payment, run through these items. Make sure the website is to your liking. Go over it with a fine eye. If something doesn’t look quite right to you, ask about it and see if the developer can fix it.

Everything will be much better if you do.



So now the website is launched. Everyone is happy and relieved. Now what? Well, websites aren’t really static items that you can set and forget. At least the good ones aren’t. Instead, they’re living things. They have components that need to be updated and new content to keep the SEO happy. So the job isn’t quite done when the site is finished and launched. You need to have a plan in place to figure out who’s updating components to the site, who has the hosting and domain information, who’s writing new content to keep things fresh and other items that will keep the site running and fulfilling your goals. Again, you’re going to need to plan for this.

What happens after the website goes live?

So you’ve launched your new website for your small business. Now what do you do?

Well, I hope you have a post-launch plan in place for the new site. You see, websites aren’t just static things (unless you have a completely static site). Instead, they are living things that need to be tended to. You’ll have things that need to be updated, things will break and you’ll want to change things.

So here’s what you need to think about for after the site is launched before it goes live.

Who’s running the updates?

Unless you have a completely static website, which is a rarity these days, you’re going to need to run updates to your website constantly. With WordPress, it feels as though there are daily updates for plugins, themes and WordPress core itself. And I know the same can be said for any other content management system out there.

So, the question is who will be running the updates? Will it be yourself or someone inside the business? Will it be the developer? Or will it be someone else?

There are no real wrong answers here. The only wrong answer you can make is to say no one. You have to run updates. Staying up to date keeps your website secure, since a lot of updates have security fixes, and makes sure you have the latest features for whatever you have on your site.

So make sure you have that figured out.

What happens when something goes wrong?

Also, things are bound to go wrong at some point. An update will mess something up on the site. Someone will accidentally make a wrong move and mess up the website. And there’s always the threat of your site being hacked.

So what will happen when things go south on the site? Again, this is where you need to have a plan in place.

You need to figure out who’s going to go in and fix everything. Just like you have a disaster/evacuation plan at your physical business, have a disaster plan in place for when something goes wrong with the website. Again, the exact answer you come up with doesn’t matter; it’s whatever will work for you. But you need to have an answer no matter what.

Let’s Keep Your Story Online

Creating a new website can be a challenge. But keep it up and running efficiently can be a challenge. You have to make sure things are updated and running smoothly because if your site is down, no one can find or read your story. But I can help make sure that’s never a problem for your business.

Let’s Come Up With A Plan to Maintain Your Site

Making small changes to the website

Finally, you’re probably going to want to make smaller changes to the site after it’s been launched. You might not think that now, but trust me it’s going to happen. I’ve done it already for a number of clients.

And that’s perfectly fine. I’m okay with making small tweaks. Heck, I do it to my own website as well. But like everything else, you need to figure out how this is going to work out beforehand. Will you stay in contact with the developer and ask them to make changes if need be? Or will someone on your staff learn some CSS and PHP to make those changes?

Once again, there isn’t really a wrong answer as any option will serve you pretty well. Just know that you need to have an answer for it.

Sorting this out before the website goes live

So, how do avoid all of these thing becoming major issues after your website is launched? The answer is to think this through and plan before the site sees the live internet.

When you’re talking to the developer, talk about the post-launch stuff. See if they offer a support plan. Or if they don’t, go over how things will be handed off and see if they have anyone they recommend to help in that phase. Or just talk about the code with the website if you’re going to take care of things yourself.

Then based off of that information, make a plan for your website after it’s launched. Write it down and make sure everyone knows what the plan is. That way it’s one less bit of stress when things get tight before launch.

I know I offer support website maintenance support that takes care of each of these items plus web hosting. If you want, you can learn more about it on the web maintenance page.

But do make sure you have a plan for after your website is launched. It will make life so much easier down the road for you and your business.

Get More Informed

Still feeling a little overwhelmed by everything to do with a new website? No worries. That’s just natural when you’re about to start a big undertaking. Take some time to read a couple of these blog posts to get more informed about the task of building a new website for your small business and to put your mind at ease.

Man working on a laptop on a wooden desk with a tablet and desktop computer

Determining if your small business need a new website

People working on a wood table with laptop, tablet devices and a desktop computer

More questions to ask before build a new website for your small business

A man holding $100 bills

Why a website costs what it does (and why it’s worth it)

iMac showing the homepage for StudioPress

The value of using a pre-built theme for your website

A person looking at a credit card while typing on a laptop

To build an ecommerce website … or not to

A person sketching on a notebook and looking at a tablet device

The different website options to build your new site

man typing on a laptop to blog

How to blog correctly for your small business

Download the Planning Guide Today!

Are you ready to take that next step and start to plan your new website for your small business? If so, great! Fill out the form below to receive a free Small Business Website Planning Guide. Whether you select me as your developer or someone else, this guide will help light the path you’ll want to go down so that your new website is successful. So what do you say? Go on and take that next step.