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How to set up a business website

How do you set up a business website? How much should it cost? And can you create a small business website for free? Explore the five most common options.

4 min read

Not so long ago, having a business website was optional; it could be a nice addition, sure, but it wasn’t an essential element of starting your own business in the UK.

Today, however, having a good online presence is absolutely crucial. In this article, we’ll summarise what a business website can do for you and explore all the different options available when it comes to building one.

Why do I need a website for my small business?

Even if you’re not intending to do much business online, building a solid website will still be hugely beneficial to your business.

It can help you do things such as: 

  • reach more customers 

  • make it easier for new customers to find you 

  • improve troubleshooting and feedback 

  • provide loyalty rewards to keep clients on board

At the same time, you should remember that different websites will be optimised for different things, and it can be hard to do everything perfectly.

The right site for you will depend on your type of business, the sector you work in and your own preferences. While there are essential elements to success, flexibility is hugely important.

What are my options for building a business website?

1. Build your own

If you’re particularly tech-savvy, independent-minded or adventurous, you might consider building your own website.

The benefits of this approach are clear: you save the money you’d otherwise spend on agencies, consultants or designers and you can make something that’s truly unique to you.

However, you should also be aware of the potential drawbacks. These include:

  • taking longer to get set up, as you have to spend time learning the basics 

  • choosing a platform that limits what you can do in the longer term 

  • running into issues that you’re unable to solve

Still, web design isn’t as intimidating as it might sound, and you can gain a lot from knowing your own site inside and out. Website builders like Wix, Squarespace and WordPress make getting the basics done easy and provide surprising flexibility when it comes to setting up, expanding and growing.

2. Hire a digital agency

If all that sounds a bit intimidating, have no fear: there’s a thriving industry of designers and consultants out there who’d be happy to help create a website for you.

This has the obvious benefits of getting professional input from people who live and breathe web design. You’d be surprised to see any large, established business that doesn’t have a dedicated online team, and working with an agency will help you reach similar levels of professional presentation.

There is one major drawback, though: the upfront costs of using an agency can be far higher than working on your own.

For this reason, you’ll want to set a clear budget before you go looking for agencies to work with.

3. Work with a freelancer

In some ways, working with a freelancer can provide you with all the benefits you’d get from building your own website while avoiding the potential downsides.

Working with a freelancer allows you to get a personalised service, and usually at a far lower cost than you’d pay with an agency. It also makes it easier for you to play an active, hands-on role in developing your site. 

As always, though, you should make sure you set costs and expectations before you start the job – and this includes knowing whether you want longer-term support from your freelancer.

If you intend to handle maintenance yourself, it’s worth learning the basics of your site’s design while it’s still in development.

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4. Use an existing marketplace

If you’re starting an e-commerce business, it can be difficult to get all the infrastructure in place to get your products to your customers. This can be especially difficult for small businesses and sole traders, as they’re less able to take advantage of economies of scale.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid this problem entirely.

Websites like Etsy and Amazon provide easy-to-use, reliable platforms for independent sellers, which give you access to a much larger pool of potential customers than you might otherwise find.

5. Explore Facebook Shops and Instagram Shopping

On top of dedicated online marketplaces, you can also use social media platforms to sell your products

Eager to get in on the huge market Amazon enjoys, Facebook and Instagram have both set up online shops in recent years. You’ll likely already have a presence on each of these sites, so why not sell directly there, too?

Both Facebook and Instagram’s shops are free and easy to set up. They offer a surprising variety of customisation options.

Keep in mind, though, that you’ll be more limited with these options than you would be if you were building a website on your own or with an agency or freelancer.

What’s next in your new business journey?

We hope you’ve found this quick guide helpful. Remember: the most important thing when setting up your small business website is to build the site that’s right for you.

If you want more help starting your own business in the UK, QuickBooks can provide you with a personalised to do list of what’s next. Simply answer a few questions to get an overview of where you’re at in your business journey.