In today’s fast-paced world, your clients want access to information ASAP.

No one wants to pick up the phone anymore: They want to get online to learn about your reputation, your work, your pricing, and more. If it’s too hard for them to find that information, you might never even hear from them.

A survey by Clutch showed that 83% of respondents see a modern, beautiful website as one that’s useful. A clean, eye-catching, and user-friendly website places you right in their paths and gives your brand a polished look they can trust.

But how can you make that happen on a small-business budget? Check out these tips on how to make a free website for a small business that looks and feels professional.

Stick to High-Quality Web Design Standards

1. Use a free website builder.

There are tons of options in this space. Need a place to start? 

  • Weebly is a flexible site builder that includes unlimited bandwidth and an App Center to keep your editing dashboard simple. 
  • Wix is an easy-to-use site builder with hundreds of templates to choose from even within its free plan. 
  • Constant Contact offers automatic mobile and search engine optimization as well as a photo library with thousands of free images. 
  • Webnode allows you to create as many pages as you want with an intuitive and responsive template. 
  • Ucraft lets you connect a free site with a custom domain name if you already have one you love.

2. Choose a domain name carefully

Speaking of names, try to choose one that you can use on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter so your customers can find you easily across channels. Once you’ve got one that’s catchy, easy to remember, and available on whatever website builder you choose, pull up each social media platform you plan to use and check to see whether the name is available. When you find one you can use on all of them, you’ll know you’ve hit the jackpot.

3. Make it mobile.

We’re way past the days when “online shopping” just meant booting up your desktop computer. Now, studies show that we’re getting more comfortable using smartphones to make purchases. That means your website has to look good on desktop and mobile — so pay attention to the mobile options on your site builder. And that won’t only be great for current customers — it will help increase the chances that your site will show up in Google search results, making it easier for new clients to find you.

4. Be generous with white space.

Being mobile-friendly will make your site respond well on mobile devices, but making it look good on every device is a different story. That’s where white space and other design elements come in. 

Use concise text that’s easy to read. Space images out properly, and make sure they match. Use plenty of white space, which is easy on the eyes, and ensure important sections like calls to action stand out with bright colors. 

Check out one of our other blog posts for an example of these strategies in action.

5. Make navigation simple. 

Once visitors reach your website, there’s about a 50/50 chance they’ll turn to the navigation menu for help getting oriented. That makes a simplified navigation menu one of the most important web design standards. It should point to the essential pages your customers would look for, and as we’ve noted, it should be easily used on any device.

For great examples of clear navigation menus, check out the desktop and mobile sites for NYC hair salon Rob Peetoom, fitness trainer Jen Widerstrom, and nutritionist Megan Rossi.

6. Use your own photos

Most tips on how to make a free website for a small business include using stock photos from places like Pixabay, which are usually cheap and easy to throw onto your site. However, your goal is to show off your own work, not someone else’s.

As often as possible, use high-quality original photos — like photographer Greg Ross uses on his site — to make your site unique and give it your brand’s personality.

7. Splurge to remove the branding.

In the spirit of brand personality, you can pay a small monthly fee to remove the Wix, Squarespace, or other CMS branding from your website. You want to show visitors that you’re invested in your business, not that you’re running a free website because you have to have one.

8. Tell your story.

 Once you have the basic outline of your website — think services, prices, a place to book or order, etc. — you need to add the fun parts, the elements that make you who you are. Add a page to your site where you can share your background, your business’s history, and your creative passion. Use this opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

9. Keep it authentic

Make sure the messaging on your site matches the vibe of your business. If you work in a fun, creative industry, infuse your personality into everything from your “About Us” page to the labels on your menu. Don’t go for a preset like “Blog” if something catchy like “Tanya Talks” will be more relevant and interesting to your audience.

10. Update your site on the regular

Now that you’ve got your site up and running, you can’t just call it a day. As time goes on, you’ll learn new skills, do more work, and achieve awesome goals. Make sure to swap out older photos with new ones every couple of months. 

If you have a blog or news section on your site, post about new services or awards, then link to that post from your social media accounts. This will let customers know your business is thriving and growing.