6 Web Design Essentials For Any Small Business Website
Not too many years ago, it was almost unthinkable for a small business to invest in its website. Today, however, it is less of a choice than a necessity if you want to engage with customers and stay ahead of your competitors.
Website building is more accessible now than ever, with many tools and services available to help you create your brand vision online. Nevertheless, setting up a business website can be a daunting process, especially if you are new to the world of digital marketing.
The on-the-move consumer has little time or patience for poorly-designed websites, so your landing page, and every page after that, needs to be structured with purpose and precision. Fortunately, this is not as difficult as it might sound, and if you keep the following checklist in mind, you will soon have a business website to be proud of.
1. Clarity and simplicity
When users land on your homepage, deciding whether to explore more pages or exit takes seconds. How you keep your visitors on your site comes down to many features, including
- Quality dynamic content that interests them
- Fast-loading pages
- Visually attractive and intuitive design i.e. layout
Keep your brand design consistent branding throughout your website.
Visitors want to navigate your site quickly and without confusion, so your layout must be intuitive. Large sites need menus, and they may be many layers. Short sites can get away with loading up the homepage with content, and the visitor scrolls up and down or uses quick menu bars to anchor down to sections of interest.
Ultimately, your goal is to make your website as easy to navigate as possible for internet users and search engine crawlers. The simpler it is to crawl and index your site, the more likely you are to be able to secure a good search engine ranking.
Another upside to a simplistic design is that it will load faster, meaning visitors are likelier to stick around. When the Financial Times updated its layout at the end of last year, it reported that a one-second reduction in loading times could boost engagement by 5 percent.
The rise of social media marketing has brought about significant changes in how consumers evaluate businesses and products. You are not, and should not be, an invisible entity hidden behind your brand; your customers want to know who you are and why they should be excited about your business. Furthermore, your passion for your products or services should shine through in your content and establish your website’s unique personality.
This doesn’t mean you must reveal your deepest darkest secrets or divulge personal information. Remember that anything you put on your website needs to add value and be relevant to the overall plan. Think about the details you can share that highlight your business’s best characteristics or that will cause visitors to feel more comfortable and familiar with your brand.
- Describe who you are and how your business came to be. What drew you to this industry, and where do you plan to go with it?
- What is your business all about? Please give a brief but clear description of the products or services you offer and what makes them unique.
- Set out your values. Perhaps your materials are organic or sustainably sourced. Maybe your business is carbon neutral or is regularly engaged in community initiatives. This is your chance to highlight the details that have no place elsewhere on your site but that you would like your customers to know.
3. High Quality Content
At the same time, it is essential not to overload your landing page with content. By selecting critical pieces of information, you ensure that these are the first things visitors learn about your business. Consider features such as a landing page video, so you can introduce yourself or your services in more detail without filling the page with a wall of text.
Throughout your website, your content should adhere to SEO best practices and aim to offer something valuable to your audience. If you are renovating an existing site, you should go back through old content, remove anything that does not add value, and spruce up anything that remains.
4. Business Tools
Do not be afraid to use the wide range of tools and applications available for building and running a business website. These applications are not for everyone, but when applied correctly, they can reduce your workload and streamline many time-consuming processes.
For example, you might consider an e-commerce CMS to facilitate the management of product pages and the generation of uniformly structured page links. Similarly, if you are managing social media accounts or running a blog, content delivery systems can help you schedule posts and deliver your content on a regular timetable. Shopify brings blogging and eCommerce together nicely, but you’ve also got ones like Squarespace and Wix — your web technology will have a significant impact on the overall affordability and design of your website, so choose carefully.
Efficient use of business tools can free you up to focus on other matters, such as creating new content or engaging with customers. Many devices can also help collect data analytics, providing valuable information about consumer behavior and the success of individual pieces of content. You can also use tools like chatbots to help customers along the customer journey, though you’ll have to ensure you remain approachable.
As with all aspects of web design, you will need to weigh the cost of using these tools against the long-term gains for you and your business.
For any website, security is a primary concern. After all, no one wants their data or content to be compromised. For small businesses, having a secure website is even more critical, as a breach could not only put you and your site visitors at risk but also can be highly damaging to your organization’s reputation.
If you have an e-commerce site, ensure that you use a secure payment system like PayPal or Stripe. In addition, if you use a content management system or any other third-party applications, you should double-check their security standards and be diligent about keeping them up to date.
Even if your website is not used for sales, it is still important to have HTTPS enabled. You can do this via a Certificate Authority such as Let’sEncrypt, which provides free-of-charge automated certificates, in accordance with TLS security best practices.
That tiny padlock in the corner of the browser can be the difference between a new customer and a visitor who never makes it past the landing page.
6. The Grand Plan
While this is the final item on the list, it is also the first step toward creating or improving your business website. Every aspect of your design should have a purpose, from menus to image placement and even the structure of your URLs.
Whether starting from scratch or renovating an existing site, you should create a comprehensive plan, going into as much detail as possible on every aspect of your design. This will enable you to identify potential challenges, costs, and long-term goals for your website. In addition, your finished plan acts as a coherent blueprint for when you finally turn your idea into a reality. Following in the footsteps of tech giants like Amazon is also an excellent way to grow your online presence — remember always to research the competition and keep tabs on their websites.
A Long-Term Endeavor
Remember that your business website is an ongoing project, not a static entity. This means you can always add or adjust things later if necessary. Creating a fully functional, aesthetically optimized website with fewer features than one bloated with half-finished pages and ideas is generally far better.
Your site will need to grow and change with your business, so constant improvement and reevaluation are essential. Pay attention to consumer feedback, analytics, and shifting trends, so you can always stay ahead of the curve. A successful business website requires regular maintenance and renewal, so it is vital to set aside the time to keep your content fresh and your brand narrative current.
Even so, establishing your website is already half the battle. The rest relies on the same diligence, dedication, and passion for your business that has gotten you this far in the first place.