These days many businesses have websites, but few of them are well designed. In truth, most sites for small businesses do not meet their full potential. The reason for this is the sites are outdated, lack the proper formatting, and are not visually appealing enough to merit extended attention.
Fortunately, there are things businesses can do to improve the look and functionality of their sites. So, if you are a small business owner with a lackluster website, do not despair. As you will see below, web design is not as daunting as it sounds.
In this post, we will take you on a comprehensive journey through the world of web development. You will learn why website design is necessary, the main principles of good design, and tips for how to take your business’ site to the next frontier!
Are you ready to begin your journey to website superstardom? Good. Then let’s begin!
Before discussing web design, let’s take a step back and examine why a business website is necessary. After all, we realize most businesses don’t want to waste their time learning things that won’t improve the bottom line. So, we want to make this very clear right up front: a quality website will substantially improve your bottom line!
There are many ways amazing website design will enhance your business. For one thing, now more than ever people are finding small businesses online. Think about it. What do you do when you need to find a specific type of store in your area? Chances are you Google it. So, do a vast majority of Americans. Thus, it’s crucial that you put your best foot forward in the place where new customers are most likely to find you.
Secondly, if you have a site with SEO-optimized design, then search engines like Google will look favorably on your site and rank you highly in search results. After all, search engines only want to bring searchers to the best looking and most relevant sites for their needs. Website design can make your site shine in both those areas.
An amazing-looking site also builds trust with your customers. These days, people favor a business with an updated online presence. And this isn’t just when they’re surfing the web. Consider, for example, the customer who asks you if your business has a website. How do you think that customer will react if you tell him or her that you don’t have a site? Chances are, it won’t leave a favorable impression.
Just like anything in your company, a well-made website communicates to your customers that you care about them and are worthy of their business.
Now that you understand why you need a website, let’s look at what is involved in small business web design.
Simply put, web design means constructing your site’s architecture. Typically, a site will consist of a front end and a back end.
The back end, on the other hand, includes all the interactive elements of a website, such as content management, contact forms, and e-commerce functions. Web developers can update elements of the backend to keep the site fresh and current.
But any web designer can use code to design a website. Beyond that, there are best practices to follow to make a site run well. Let’s look at a few of those.
There are many guiding principles for making a good website. These involve a lot of different aspects of the site, from the site structure and links used to the web content and keywords.
The best web developers will use the following practices to make their websites:
A good website will read well on both desktop and mobile devices. Web designers can accomplish this through coding. We will discuss responsive website in more detail below.
Optimizing a website for search requires imbuing the site’s content with keywords and phrases your target audience is searching for. Therefore, expert website designers use keyword research tools to determine those keywords. Then they sprinkle them and similar keywords throughout the site’s content and metadata. As a result, when search engines crawl the site, they will see that it’s relevant for searchers using those terms and phrases.
Search engines don’t like sloppy websites because they have a hard time reading them. So, unsurprisingly, disorganized sites don’t rank highly in search results. That’s why good website developers take special care to structure a site so that search engines will have no trouble reading it. Of course, this also helps visitors have a more favorable experience on the site.
Creating a good website is all about leaving a good first impression, which means appearances are everything. For this reason, expert web designers create sites with plenty of empty space and images and very few large blocks of text. It’s a very aesthetically pleasing style that leaves a favorable impression on visitors.
The Internet is all about speed. This fact is truer now more than ever because Google uses page speed as one of its primary ranking factors. Web developers satisfy this requirement by reducing file sizes and eliminating page redirects among other things.
These are just some of the many best practices for great website design. We could list more, but for the sake of brevity, let’s move on and look at some of the most important web design tips for small business sites.
Designing a website for a small business has its own set of unique requirements. While large companies have the luxury of an already substantial following, smaller companies need to center their design strategy on attracting new customers and clearly communicating the unique value they offer.
Therefore, when building a website for your small business, you are going to want to determine the objective of your site up front. Do you want customers to buy products on your site? Or are you trying to entice them to visit your store? What impressions do you want people to have of your business? And what benefits do you want to highlight to attract people’s interest?
Answering these questions will help you determine what elements of web design you want to include in your site. For example, an antiques shop looking to attract customers to their location will want to prominently display their address at the top of their home page and probably won’t need any e-commerce functions. A company selling its products online, on the other hand, will need e-commerce capability and probably a shopping cart function on their site to simplify the purchasing process.
By designing your site with your company’s main goals in mind, you will set your business up for success.
People don’t just search the web using their desktop computers anymore. They also search on smartphones, tablets, TV’s, and even smartwatches. Therefore, you need to optimize your site to function well on all those devices.
Fortunately, the technology exists today to give sites the dynamic ability to show up in the best format on different devices. Web developers can use code to set a site’s dimensions so that they adapt to any device and display in an optimal format. Although it takes time to make a site responsive, the investment is worth it for the favorable impression it leaves on visitors.
After all, many problems can occur when you don’t make your website responsive. For one thing, it makes it more difficult for mobile browsers to navigate your website. And since mobile search has overtaken desktop as the most popular way to access the Internet, that is a huge disadvantage.
Furthermore, Google recently made mobile-responsiveness one of its most important factors in search results. So, websites that don’t have responsive designs aren’t showing up nearly as high in search rankings as their mobile-optimized counterparts. Thus, searchers don’t find the businesses with these sites. And even if people do find them, they quickly leave when they see the site isn’t mobile optimized.
A website needs to at least look good on mobile to stand a fighting chance online. Of course, this begs the question, what makes a good mobile site? Let’s take a look.
As we mentioned above, mobile search is huge now, which is why the best web developers understand how to design for mobile. Many of the design principles that work for desktop simply don’t work on mobile because of the smaller and narrower screen. Plus, most mobile searches take place when someone is on the go and in a hurry. Therefore, as we’ll see below, mobile web design thrives on brevity and simplicity.
Here are some design principles that Google recommends following when crafting a website for mobile:
- Keep the site’s most important tasks at the top of the page
- Make sure menu options are brief and easy to navigate
- Prominently display the search bar for quick searches
- Make it easy for searchers to filter search results
- Make calls to action clear and purchases as simple as possible
Ultimately, mobile search is about convenience. People don’t have patience for sites that get in the way of their objectives and waste their time. So, make sure your site is easy to use for all the no-nonsense searchers out there.
Let us be clear. All businesses need professional website design. However, there are some business types that have unique web development needs.
Below we will discuss the unique needs of two popular types of businesses: restaurants and ecommerce companies.
Of all the small businesses out there, restaurants may have the most to gain from beautiful website design. After all, visuals play a huge role in attracting restaurant-goers. So, restaurant owners will want their websites to feature enticing visuals and descriptions that make it impossible for people to stay away.
Here are some of the best practices to follow when crafting a visually appealing website for your eatery:
- Beautiful theme that captures the atmosphere of your restaurant
- Large, high-quality photos of the food and space
- Clear descriptions of your food (keep text to a minimum)
- An easy to navigate menu
- Hours and location front and center on all devices
- An “About Us” page that tells the story of your business
Above all, make sure your site looks appetizing. You are a restaurant after all!
Businesses looking to sell their products online should focus on security when designing their website. People are going to want to know they can trust you with their credit card information. So, take the time to make your site secure, and make sure you’re following basic security practices.
Beyond security, there are also many web design best practices that will help your ecommerce site thrive. First, keep the design of the site simple and responsive on all devices. Furthermore, make it easy and quick for customers to get from the shopping page to check out. And, finally, make sure you have high quality photos that display your products in an appealing manner.
Remember that people value speed and convenience when it comes to purchasing items online. So, be sure to design your ecommerce site accordingly.
We have gone over much about website design so far, and we’re going to be honest with you: this is only the tip of the iceberg. Quality web design features many components and takes a lot of time to do right. Unfortunately, if you’re like most small business owners, you don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to it.
Fortunately, there are many marketing services that specialize in web development for small businesses. You need only do a simple web search to see that. The problem is not all digital marketing companies are created equal. So, how do you find the best web designer for your business?
When considering a digital marketing company for your web design needs, a good litmus test is to ask them about their knowledge and their process.
Gauge their web design aptitude by asking them what they see as the most important aspects of web design. If their answer doesn’t include anything about mobile responsiveness, SEO, or intuitive navigation, then they’re probably not right for you.
You should also ask them what their process looks like. And they should describe a very collaborative practice in which they get to know your company and shape their design to highlight what makes your company uniquely valuable. After all, searchers aren’t as drawn to generic websites. So, make sure your designer will make you a website that’s uniquely you.
In sum, the right web designer knows what he or she is doing and is committed to bringing your company’s vision to life. Anything less is not worth your time.
We hope this comprehensive guide has answered your questions about website design. If you have further questions or need help creating your site, feel free to contact our team at Frontier Marketing. We are a digital marketing company that offers affordable website design in Fox Lake, IL and the surrounding Northern Illinois region.
Our in-house team can save you time and connect with your customers through optimized web design. We also offer many other digital marketing services, including email marketing, reputation management, and social media.