Your online presence is a strategic marketing tool.

If you have a website, you already know the importance of having online visibility for your business. You already know how it’s a vital part of your marketing plan, how it gives your business credibility, and that online is where your current and potential customers spend a great deal of time.

But having an online presence isn’t enough. Because it’s a digital representation of your business, your website must reflect your brand, your vision, and your message in a clear, concise and well-designed way. It must speak to your idea audience. Without this important foundation, plus a smart user interface, you could be losing potential income.

For those of you who don’t have a website for your business, I’d be curious to know what’s stopping you? Do you think it’s outside of your budget? Or maybe you don’t know where to begin? Well, then, this article is also for you, and you’ll want to keeping reading.

How Can You Make Your Brand Shine Online?

Before you can create or refresh a website design, the core of your business needs to be in place with a Branding Identity System. You can’t build a following (your tribe) without knowing who your business is or what it stands for in terms of your logo, fonts, colors, imagery, and voice in your messaging.

Not having that all in place will only confuse your target market. And then you’ll wonder why you aren’t getting much traction on your website (and social media, or any marketing you do).

I’ve had many clients come to me for a logo design and a branding system after they had already built their website. That’s like putting the cart before the horse. A logo is your business’s identity, plain and simple. That must come first.

Choosing the right fonts, colors, and imagery is secondary and equally important to have for your brand – doing that willy nilly is throwing caution to the wind. It’s just not smart business. Without a strong branding foundation (and great content), your website will leave your viewers guessing.

Get your brand identity established first and foremost.

What Kind of Website Do You Need?

The next step is figuring out what your website needs are (features, functions, content) and what kind of budget you have. This will determine what type of website you should consider building (or rebuilding if it’s a refresh), and whether or not you want the content editable.

I’m not going to dive into detail about the different types of website platforms available out there because that is not the goal of this article. But what I can tell you is that if you want a customized website with all the bells and whistles, that has a lot of content, complex functionality, and/or you want the option of being able to update it on your own, you are looking at a hefty price tag of $20,000 to $100,000.

You will have to hire a web designer and a front-end/back-end developer, or a design studio that offers the whole package. Not to mention there’s a minimum of 4 months waiting period to launch.

But, what if you only need a simple brochure-style website with a tighter time frame, and a smaller budget? That’s where I come in, with Squarespace.

Why I Use and Recommend Squarespace

Several years ago, Squarespace put itself on the map with modern, clean and nicely-designed templates, drag-and-drop layout features, e-commerce, domain registration, email integration and more. As of today, it hosts more than a million websites, including my own and a couple of my clients.

For branding designers like me, who don’t code but understand user interface and functionality, it’s a dream come true. It also benefits boutique studios like mine because we can bring the development in house without the need to hire a third party.

For you, it’s a win-win. The price tag is greatly reduced, which makes having a website for your business affordable.

Squarespace websites can also connect to all your social media sites, host a blog, sell merchandise and event tickets, collect emails through MailChimp, has SEO built in, provides analytics, and is responsive to various devices, allowing you to monitor how your website looks on a tablet, smartphone and desktop while in development mode.

The best part is that this can all be done in a short time period, like 1-3 months, depending on the amount of content, rounds of refinement, and our schedules.

Considering all that it has to offer, and how reasonably-priced it is, Squarespace is the way to go for small budgets and basic-to-intermediate sized websites. It has everything you need and want, like a one-stop shop. Who doesn’t like that?

I can’t say enough good things about Squarespace. And no, I’m not getting paid to say this. It’s the present and future for me and my clients. Shiny!

Let’s Recap

  • Your business needs a (well-designed) website whether or not you think it does. It’s the best marketing tool out there and has the potential to reach millions of viewers a day (aka your desired clientele).

  • Before you create a website, you must have a Brand Identity System in place to properly reach your target audience. If you miss the mark, you’ll see that in your sales.

  • Squarespace is a one-stop shop perfect for small businesses, boutique shops and cafes, solopreneurs, and start-ups.

  • You can have a website designed and developed within a month or so at an affordable price.

  • PS: You can have a Brand Identity System and a website designed and developed within 2-3 months that won’t break the bank.