How to Design a Great Website For Small Business – Tips & Mistakes to Avoid
No matter how small your business is, with the right strategy, it has huge potential for growth. Your website is a vital part of this strategy. It’s crucial to your digital marketing campaign, it’s necessary for consumers to place orders or get your contact details, and most importantly, it’s a tool for presenting your brand to your potential customers and gaining their trust. It can even be used for efficient customer service, saving both yours and your customers’ time.
Whether you’re building the first website for your business or looking to replace an outdated one, the process can seem somewhat daunting for small business owners who don’t have the typical advantages of bigger brands. But don’t worry – by following these tips and avoiding the mistakes many small businesses make on their websites, you’ll have secured your path to success.
Make sure your website is responsive and fast
Building a website only for desktop is a huge mistake that many small businesses make. When your website designer tells you the site needs to be responsive, listen to them. Statistics show that the number of mobile users continues to grow steadily, and you can expect that most of your visitors will reach your site via smartphone first. In fact, many businesses are building their websites for the mobile-first experience, focusing on the vertical format.
Responsive design ensures your website works well on all devices – computers, phones, and tablets alike. This way, you don’t have to make a different website for each device and you can ensure your visitors won’t be frustrated by your site not working on their phone.
Start out small and focus on quality
You’ve surely seen some impressive websites with numerous features that you’d love to model yours after, but here’s the thing: those were made on some equally impressive budgets. Don’t expand your budget so that you can have numerous features but rather invest all your focus and budget on ensuring you have all the crucial features with highest possible quality. Quantity is something that can be enlarged with time, but a low-quality website can be detrimental to your business.
Focus on your priorities – having fast loading times and ensuring that the website will offer optimal user experience, making it simple for visitors to get what they are looking for. Consult with your website design agency and discuss your budget with them to ensure you get the highest quality of your website with the time and funds you have.
Craft the website according to your target audience
Knowing your target audience is crucial to your marketing strategy, so why would it be any different when it comes to websites?
Many businesses make the mistake of just throwing the website together and being satisfied that it does what it’s supposed to. But if your website isn’t suited for your audience, it can’t really do everything it’s supposed to, because you’re not using it to define your brand’s identity and build a trusting relationship with potential customers.
For example, a business that targets Millennial consumers will have a significantly different website from a business that sells products or services for seniors. The former demographic will appreciate a sleek website that’s keeping up with all the latest trends in web design, whereas the latter will need large and clear fonts for improved readability and will be more skeptical of novelty features, such as auto-play videos.
Guide the users’ navigation effectively
First and foremost, you need to always reflect on your objectives when designing each element of your website. Each element has a specific purpose – presenting your brand, providing information, calling to action, generating leads, etc. When you have all these objectives pinpointed clearly, you’re then able to craft your website so that it guides the users effortlessly to take the actions you want them to take. A classic example is having a “Buy here” button on a page that talks about a new product you’re offering.
Don’t make your visitors jump through hoops to get what they came for on your website. The design needs to be simple and effective so that there’s no room for confusion or hesitation. Have all your categories defined and separated in a logical manner and make sure that icons and buttons are suggestive of their purpose. This ensures that a user won’t be clicking on something with the expectation that it does one thing but it takes them somewhere they had no intention of going.
It’s also important that your call-to-action button is well-designed and placed somewhere visible and obvious – highlighted in the menu bar or placed at the center of a webpage, for example.
Steer clear of clutter
Cluttered web pages are not only visually unappealing because they don’t give a single element room to breathe – they’re also incredibly confusing for users to navigate. Remember, you want to guide your users’ actions with your website design, and when there are a million things going on at once, they won’t know where to look first, let alone what to do next. Web pages that are burdened by numerous features and images also have slower loading times.
Furthermore, a simple and elegant design will make your business look professional. Websites that are cluttered with images, text, call-to-action buttons and pop-ups tend to look shady or overwhelmed by amateur enthusiasm at best. You can refer to some of the most beloved modern website designs for inspiration, and you’ll find that they all have one thing in common: a clean aesthetic and a focus on effortless user navigation. This is the main trait of reputable brands; and as a small business, your website design needs to prove that you’re not an amateur in the market and that your brand can be trusted.
Integrate a blog for relevant content
Running a blog on your website is one of the best strategies for marketing a small business – it can help your website earn higher rankings on search engines, tell your brand’s story to potential customers, help expand your reach via social media sharing, and even help in recruiting employees.
This is something you’ll definitely want to incorporate in order for your business to grow, but it’s best to do it once you’ve ensured you have all the basics functioning smoothly. And then there’s a lot of work to do regarding your content marketing strategy, but it’s worth the effort. You want to make sure you have high-quality and useful content because that will engage readers and compel them to share. You want to formulate your goals and ideas beforehand – thing about what you want to convey to your readers and what your attitude towards guest blogging will be.
Integrate social media
Once you have posts up and running, you’ll need to share them on social media channels appropriate for your business. But you can rely on your audience to share your posts as well, which will bring even more traffic to your website from audiences that are ready to trust you.
You need to give users the option to share your products and posts on social media platforms, and this is something that many small businesses overlook. After all, creating shareable content is a huge part of your strategy to expand your reach, so why not integrate the buttons that make sharing easy? More importantly, visibly exposing social media buttons is suggestive, subtly reminding your readers that they could share, whereas a post would have to be beyond phenomenal for them to copy and paste your website’s URL, sharing in the “old way”.
Update your website design occasionally
We’ve all seen this classic mistake – small businesses with awkward websites whose design belongs to a bygone era. Your website might be making the ideal first impression now, but the web changes at a staggering speed and in a year it could make your business look really stale and outdated.
You don’t have to keep up fervently with all the latest trends in web design, and neither do you constantly need to change the layout or fix what’s not broken. But taking advantage of all the latest technology, keeping up with novelties in digital marketing will help your website exude that message of freshness and professionalism.
Always remember: your website is how you make your first impression on potential customers, but also a way of maintaining your relationship with existing customers. Even the tiniest things matter and every aspect of your website is an opportunity to strengthen your brand and convey its message. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and start small, ensuring that everything works like a well-oiled machine and your users are not exasperated by your site’s navigation. Once you have a strong foundation, you can build onto it and make your website a project that truly reflects the quality of your products and how you do business.