Gone are the days of brochures, yellow pages and newspaper ads. Not convinced? Take a look at the staggering statistics surrounding online small business searches. Over 85% of people say they use the internet to find local/small businesses.
Even more people are using the internet to locate information on businesses they intend to use, such as hours, location and specific services. Numbers like that mean that for a small business, a well-designed website that will attract and retain visitors is more important than ever.
Creating a well-designed small business website takes thoughtful planning and strategy.
Consumers expect more than a list of services copied and pasted on a page with a few pretty pictures. So, to help you create a website that will knock the socks off your competitors and impress your most desired customers, we’ve put together a complete guide to small business website design.
If you utilize the tips and recommendations in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to small business website design success.
As a small business, establishing a business brand is one of the most important things you can do for your business’ success. You want consumers to not only recognize your business by name, but also by the design, tone and details of your marketing materials.
Your website is no exception to this rule. If you want your website to work for you, it needs to mirror your business brand 100%.
Here are some tips on how you can achieve that:
- PROFESSIONAL PICTURES : Instead of using the same stock images as your competitors, try using professional quality pictures that are unique to your business. If you’ve created a library of photos for your brand, use those on your website to create continuity. But, if you don’t have a photo library, don’t sweat it! You can easily partner with a local photographer to create great images for your small business website that will speak for your brand.
- READABLE FONTS : When a visitor knocks on your website’s door, you want them to be able to clearly gather all of the information they need. That’s why all of the fonts used on your site should be easy to read without any second guesses. That doesn’t mean, however, that the fonts have to be boring! By partnering with a good website designer, you can find a font that draws attention to your brand and also clearly communicates necessary information.
- PREDICTABLE LAYOUT : There have been a lot of innovations over the past few years in website design. Today, animations and responsive designs are trending, whereas a few years ago they weren’t even a thought. The trick to creating a well-designed small business website is to strategically incorporate these new features into your layout without overwhelming site visitors. Use animations and creative elements, but keep the layout predictable. Don’t make your potential customers search for the contact button, or guess where they have to click to find information on a service or product they need.
The goal of your small business website is to convert site visitors into customers. Therefore, they need to be able to easily access all the information they need in a relatively short amount of time.
To help achieve this goal, you can create a custom navigation for your small business website. With a custom navigation bar, you can tailor the choices on your navigation for the exact people you’re trying to attract – which will ultimately help with your website’s conversion rates.
Below are a few suggestions on how to create a custom navigation that works for your small business:
- KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE : The world of web design is full of trendy options for navigation bar layouts. Multi-level navigations are popular today, as well as side navigations and floating navigations. And, although each of those unique design elements has their place, in good website design, it’s important to always match the design of the navigation to your audience. Ask yourself – what type of design will be clear and simple for my audience to use? What type of navigation will get them where they need to go as fast as possible? Once you have answered those questions, you will find the direction for your website navigation.
- EASY TO UNDERSTAND OPTIONS : Although personality is great, it’s best to keep the options on your navigation bar as clear as possible. Of course, you don’t want to abandon your own sense of style and tone, but if your potential customers can’t decipher the difference between your ‘Shop’ tab and your ‘Contact’ tab, you might be in a little bit of trouble. Bottom line? Use plain words for your navigation and work your personality in through other portions of your site.
CALLS TO ACTION
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again – the main goal of your website is to convert site visitors into customers. For that reason, you don’t want the navigation bar to be the only option for getting in touch with your business or purchasing goods and services. Enter, calls to action or CTAs.
On a website a call to action is a strategically placed graphic, button or link that prompts site visitors to take a specific action. What that action is depends on the goal of your website.
To help you design effective calls to action for your small business website, here are a few tips:
- STRATEGIC PLACEMENT : The great thing about calls to action is they can go anywhere on your website. That doesn’t mean, however, that they SHOULD go anywhere. The success of CTAs on your website depends greatly on their placement within the website and on the page. Because people read from left to right, it’s generally a good idea to put the call to action at the center or on the right side of the page. That way, when your site visitors read something that might prompt them to take action they have the opportunity to do so right away.
- DIRECT LINKS : Once a visitor to your small business website has decided to take action, nothing else should stand in their way. All links from calls to action should direct to the action you want your visitor to take. They should not have to click-through any further options. A good rule of thumb is that a site visitor should not have to make more than three clicks to achieve the main goal of your website (contacting you, buying a product, etc.)
Out of all of the elements that it takes to create a well-designed small business website, perhaps the most important is quality content. Whether you intend to communicate with your audience through word, video or photo, every piece of content should be curated to the best of your ability.
These hints below will help you take the content on your website to the next level:
- FRIENDLY TONE : It’s no secret that people these days don’t have the time, or desire, to sit down and read for days. They want to get the information they need quickly and they want to be able to understand it right away. That’s why the tone of your website content is so important. Keep it friendly, motivational and clear. Steer clear of big words or lengthy sentences. The more simple your content is to read, the better. And, the more friendly and approachable you come across, the more people you’ll attract to your business.
- INFORMATIVE BLOG POSTS : Due to the fact that there are so many businesses who advertise their goods and services online, you have to be able to build a relationship with your potential customers to win them over. One way to create a relationship is to provide your site visitors with credible information. You can easily provide credible information to site visitors by hosting a blog on your website. Remember, your blog is not merely a place to sell your goods and services, but a place to create a dialogue with site visitors that will help gain their trust and loyalty.
Of course, we can’t get through a complete guide on small business website design without mentioning the top-dog of website design – SEO! SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is what lands your business in top search results on Google and drives visitors to your page.
Without SEO, attracting potential customers to your website is nearly impossible.
There are many different components that go into SEO. And, although we’re not going to dive into every component here, we will provide you with some tips and tricks on how you can boost your SEO with just a few simple steps.
By following these tips, you’ll surely improve the search rankings for your website and your small business website design:
- MOBILE COMPATIBILITY : Simply stating the facts, nearly 65% of all internet searches are done on a mobile device. Meaning, the majority of people who are searching for a small business are doing so from the convenience of their phone. For that reason, mobile compatibility is one of the biggest factors in SEO. If your small business website is difficult to view, or unreadable on a mobile device, search engines like Google know. And, if Google knows the users aren’t going to be satisfied with the appearance of your site on their mobile device, they’re going to skip over listing your website as an option. So, before you do anything else related to SEO, it’s important to make sure your website is responsive on mobile devices. And, if it’s not, find someone that can help you fix that issue.
- KEYWORDS : Keywords are to SEO what eggs are to a cake – essential. Sure, you can bake a cake without eggs, and you can have a website without implementing a keyword strategy, but neither would be nearly as good without. Keywords are words or phrases that describe what the content on your website is about. Google uses keywords to help identify what searches your website should appear in. You can research the right keywords and keyword phrases to use for your small business website by using a keyword research tool, or by consulting with an SEO expert. Once you’ve decided what keywords are right for your small business website, you’ll need to work them into the pages of your website and your website’s content so Google picks up on them. The more strategic your keyword plan, the more likely you’re going to move up in the search engine rankings.
- META TAGS : Meta tags and meta elements are slightly more complicated to implement in a small business website than a responsive layout and keywords. However, they are essential to SEO. Meta tags are small pieces of HTML code that are embedded into different portions of your website to give Google vital information regarding your website content. When implemented correctly, meta tags and meta elements can drastically impact where your website ranks on a search engine. If you’re not comfortable implementing meta tags or other meta elements yourself, you can work with an SEO expert or web design professional to help get you started.
Good small business website design is not something that happens overnight. It’s a process that takes a lot of thought, strategy and dedication.
However, if you’re committed to creating a great website that will work for your small business, it’s possible.