Small businesses often ask for a “basic” website. That’s fine, but what does it mean? You may be surprised how much definitions of basic websites vary.
Sites with a blog or news section (i.e. simple “Pro sites”) and e‑commerce websites are popular, but not “basic”. Still, they tend to do far better in search engines. So if you want cost-effective advertising, just click one of those links.
Truly basic websites have a fixed number of pages that (usually) aren’t easily editable. They used to be the norm, and can still be effective in a few circumstances. Otherwise, the most “basic” website that a small business can really benefit from is an editable “brochure” website.
True Basic Websites — Static Sites
Non-editable, or “static” websites limit on-site SEO options, but can be useful when:
- You need a fast, affordable website for the short term and plan to invest properly later (e.g. “proof-of-concept” sites)
- You prefer to pay to get visitors through ads or other digital marketing, instead of benefiting from free search engine traffic
- You’re so busy that it’s more cost-effective to pay someone to do the updates for you
- You just need a simple site to list on offline advertising, like business cards and vehicles
- You don’t need any features more complex than a simple contact form
Static sites can then act as effective contact points, presenting a professional image and vital information to your potential customers.
These sites don’t necessarily look different from editable ones. If built properly, they can still adapt to different screen sizes for mobile use, too. They can’t easily offer a blog or advanced e‑commerce, though.
Still, being simpler than editable sites, static sites are more secure, so require less maintenance. If constructed well, they can be faster, too. I build static websites on my Basic Hosting Plus package.
So whilst more advanced sites tend to be more cost-effective, a small static site may offer a more affordable website option in the short term.
Most basic websites are brochure sites. These are simple websites consisting of several pages of information, like a company brochure. Most also have a contact form to gather leads and feedback. Some manage with just three pages — the home page, contact page and an “about us” page. However, many add extra pages for each main product or service offered, and often a gallery or testimonials page, too. So, most brochure websites have at least five pages — and often ten or more.
In fact, the more content you have, the better. Why?
Well, successful websites are built for their target audience. They must be easy to find, easy to navigate, and contain the information your audience is looking for. The more effort you put into delivering value to your target audience, the more they’ll feel appreciated. That builds trust — and trust drives sales.
Editable Brochure Websites
So, whilst static sites can work as brochure websites, visitors want up-to-date information. Sections of these sites can be made easy to edit to achieve that.
Still, you need to plan for growth. So being able to add more pages easily can be a big help.
Also, search engines actively promote regularly-updated sites. So being able to do those updates yourself offers another big advantage. That’s also why “Pro sites” make it easier to compete. Having a blog or news page makes it easier to add engaging, relevant content regularly, without cluttering up your main site menu.
Adding pages requires a different kind of website, built around a database. Such “dynamic” sites need more ongoing maintenance to stay secure. So I build these on my Pro Hosting Plus package.
One-Page Sites have a navigation menu that scrolls down to display screens of content instead of loading new pages. They present a limited amount of information, typically ending with a simple contact form. Most single-page websites are really just small brochure sites, presented in a novel way.
Landing Pages are highly-focused one-page sites with no navigation menu. They present a specific offer with a single, clear “Call To Action”. Most offer freebies as “lead magnets”, in return for newsletter sign-ups. Often, a single landing page will lead through to a “funnel” of further landing pages up-selling extra options. Usually, the only traffic they get is from paid ads, so they focus entirely on converting visitors into action-takers (e.g. customers).