TL; DR: Do-it-yourself templated solutions and high-priced agencies have historically dominated the small business web design market. Websites 4 Small Business aims to change that dynamic for Australian entrepreneurs by providing design, auditing, site-building, and search engine optimization solutions at price points that help SMBs enter the market. Websites 4 Small Business is a small business itself, so the company understands how to craft an online presence that inspires trust and drives long-term revenue.
Many web design firms that cater to small businesses offer little more than templated tools lacking meaningful customization. That means entrepreneurs often have to work with more expensive design agencies or independent designers to build a bespoke web presence. It’s a market filled with uneven services and misaligned incentives that can make for a frustrating site-building experience.
But there are some good options — primarily in the form of well-established web marketing and design experts who work solely with emerging businesses. That is where Websites 4 Small Business, a veteran Australian consultancy, shines by leveraging its growing portfolio of services to help SMBs.
“I started the business 18 years ago when the internet was in its infancy,” said Ivana Katz, Founder of Websites 4 Small Business. “I have always been fascinated by technology, and I wanted a business that would allow me to work around my then 2-year-old son. I had come from the corporate world and was looking for flexibility. Back then, there were very few web design companies, and my point of differentiation was, and still is, my passion for sharing my knowledge about the online world.”
Website audits, search engine optimization, hosting, and domain registration services are also part of the company’s service portfolio.
That diverse blend of solutions is on par with much larger web development agencies. Ivana also prioritizes education so entrepreneurs feel less overwhelmed about marketing and running a business with an online presence.
“I realized early on that many people were intimidated by the process of getting their business online, so I have tutorials and videos that take small business owners through the website design and marketing process,” she said.
Keeping Up With the Evolution of Small Business Websites
The last 18 years have seen a significant shift in small-business web standards. In 2003, static pages — often built with Microsoft FrontPage extensions — were popular with ecommerce retailers. Many sites were text heavy and had superfluous design elements, including animated GIFs, banners, sounds, and background photos. Many of those web pages only worked with specific browsers.
“The main shift in website design has been the use of videos versus written text, the quality of photos, and the importance of proving one’s credibility,” Ivana said. “Also, website load speed and responsiveness have become critical, not only for visitors but also for the search engines. We are now at 1.86 billion websites, and customer expectations are much higher than what they once were.”
The credibility question has been perhaps the most significant change. In the early 2000s, just having a website was a differentiator. Today, almost every business enjoys some online presence, so the emphasis now is on optimizing that presence to inspire customer trust. Sites no longer just provide information; they play a critical role in introducing a brand and engaging customers.
“It takes nine to 14 touchpoints for people to get to know you, like you, and trust you, so business owners need to find a way to stay in front of their potential customers by collecting email addresses or being active on social networks,” Ivana said.
One of the main challenges is keeping up with the technology. Websites 4 Small Business uses WordPress for most client websites. In addition, the company helps customers keep WordPress up to date and ensure that their sites follow standard security measures. WordPress powers a significant chunk of the open web. WordPress-specific plugins allow for extensibility and customization beyond a visual experience. WordPress natively supports tools like shopping carts, inventory databases, marketing hubs, and customer-relationship data.
“There has been an increase in the percentage of websites getting hacked, and most small business owners believe it won’t happen to them, so they are very relaxed about security measures,” Ivana said.
A Service Portfolio Based on Customer Needs
Whether entrepreneurs use templates or a high-priced agency, they often discover that the offerings aren’t necessarily aligned with their needs. In many cases, the entrepreneur must settle for what’s available rather than what’s optimal for a fledgling business. Creative control over site assets and brand identity is correspondingly limited — at least, for some — so site-building becomes a frustrating exercise.
“When I initially started the business, I did not offer website audits and website design coaching, but I have seen a trend of small business owners wishing to have creative control and hence design their own website,” Ivana said. “Unfortunately, in most cases, they find the website development process overwhelming, and even when they do design their own site, 98% of the time, it doesn’t bring them the results they were expecting.”
Although Websites 4 Small Business customizes websites based on the client’s needs, the company goes above and beyond with logo design, SEO optimization, and domain name registration. These services help establish a brand identity for entrepreneurs while consolidating several different tech services in the hands of one experienced provider.
Logo design, in particular, helps small businesses get a professional brand identity that will match the overall design of their website. This visual cohesion tends to engender trust with potential new clients.
“We also offer a three-month payment plan for those that need it,” Ivana said. Because a rich, well-provisioned site can be expensive even without agency markups, the option to pay for services over time empowers more entrepreneurs to trust their site-building to a professional instead of trying something for free that doesn’t resonate with customers.
Websites 4 Small Business: Quality Results at Affordable Prices
Modern marketing guidelines put websites and digital identities front-and-center. But in the early days of the internet, business websites were more of a novelty. Websites 4 Small Business has thrived from those rough early years to today’s slick, business-centric site-building strategies. That experience informs the kinds of solutions the company delivers to its clients.
A significant part of the company’s value proposition lies in how it customizes solutions, including brand identity, to create a unified marketing message designed to build trust. Anyone can build a website; not everyone can build a site that’s effective at marketing a product or service, and this is one area where Ivana’s company thrives.
The next major initiative for Websites 4 Small Business focuses on teaching entrepreneurs the ins and outs of online marketing. “I have partnered with another developer, and we are putting together a series of industry-specific online courses. They will help startups and small business owners bridge the gap between where they are right now with their website and online presence and where they want to be,” Ivana said. “Our courses take them step by step through everything they need to know for their industry, so they don’t waste time and money on things they don’t need.”
A blend of experience, marketing savvy, and SMB-friendly pricing leads to an effective value proposition for Websites 4 Small Business. Entrepreneurs eager to launch the right way on the internet would find the company an excellent partner that respects the wide range of motivations and goals that prompt new startups.
Ivana said she enjoys the diversity of clients she works with.
“We know that no two clients are alike and have therefore tailored our service to meet their needs,” she said. “Whether they need a lot of hand-holding or just a little, our packages are priced with the small business in mind.”