Small business website design is an industry I have spent over 20 years working in and I have seen some great websites, but also some that I think need some work.
I wrote this simple list to help give your company the best start as you design or relaunch your business site.
Daren Jephcote – Owner, ITsold SEO Services.
A better company website is not rocket science.
Digital marketing (such as promoting and selling products online) can take many forms today for example;
- Twitter together with Facebook and other social media platforms
- Ecommerce software and shopping carts
- Mobile apps for smaller, out of office devices
But there is one form that has been constant since the birth of widespread internet usage, and that is the small business website.
Your small business website and its design still form a crucial part of your marketing and business growth plans.
As a company develops, there may be a time when you want to refresh your online presence.
If you use a design agency to build a website for your business or decide against using a design service, my tips can help get your website off the ground and ready to enjoy some very good search engine results from day 1.
My simple, easy to follow list will show you the benefit of keeping your website design simple.
As an illustration, below is a collection of points I follow when I design and build a new website, and this may well save you some time once you develop better company website.
Before we begin…
I highly recommend taking as long as possible on the planning stages as shown in this article.
The main aim is to allow you to make informed decisions relating to your sites purpose and basic layout elements. I will not be recommending elements such as which platform to use for social media integration. This is something for you and your team to decide, but if you need any guidance, please reach out to me and I will be happy to help.
OK, let’s get started and get your company website off and running.
Small business website design – my top 10 tips to get started
1. Plan your website in advance.
Your website is a vital element of your business and will serve many purposes.
Before you begin work on the design and layout, consider the purpose of your website.
I would also use this approach when you redesign a website. This ensures that you are still meeting your goals and exceeding your customer needs.
From the list below, many could apply and you need to prioritise the list in order of importance if this is the case.
Your website purpose is to;
- Capture new leads through email contact
- Allow visitors to subscribe to your newsletters
- Put your company in front of a large new audience
- Sell a product or supply service?
Do not underestimate the importance of this step. For the long-term success of your website and the ability to meet your customer needs, this is vital.
Get this right at the start of your project. This will save you time and money further down the road.
2. What do you want your new small business website design to achieve?
This next stage in your planning will determine so many aspects of your future development, such as;
- The SEO strategy for search engine rankings
- Your marketing plans for direct promotions (such as leaflets and adverts in publications)
- The mission statement your company wished to deliver
This stage of your planning may seem complicated, which is why I use 3 tried and tested marketing points that help focus in on reaching the goal.
- Who – Who is your ideal customer? Age, gender, location, job description, etc., by identifying your customer this will better place your company to meet their needs.
- What – What is the main purpose of your website, to inform, sell or connect with your visitors?
- How – How are you going to reach, sell or connect with your visitor? Are you going to use a shopping cart, content management system (like WordPress or Joomla) or email marketing solutions (like MailChimp).
3. Keep your site purpose in focus when choosing a small business website design
Keep your main purpose at the front of your mind when you decide on themes for your site, or when you engage a design agency to design and build your project.
Whatever your purpose, there are simple points to follow that will help you along as you develop and design your site;
- Keep the layout simple and easy to use.
- If the element does not add value, leave it out!
- If it makes you think, rework it. Do not make your visitor think.
- Got a lot to add to your pages? Split them up into groups and extra pages. Less is more.
- Avoid elaborate sliders and fancy animations unless they add to your message.
4. Structure your content layout with consistency
You spend a lot of time constructing your website content. Whether you compose blog articles, product pages or company information, you have worked tirelessly to ensure they reflect your company in the best light.
Ensure you put plenty of thought into how you will present them online in the manner they deserve.
Present your content in a clean, easy to view manner whilst ensuring they are the focal point of your page.
I vary layouts depending on the content, for example all my article pages are the same, they include sidebar navigations and sign up forms but they differ from my service pages which are full width without a sidebar.
Whatever your layout, double check it’s consistent and you are happy with how they present you and your company.
5. Meet the S.E.O. basics in all pages
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is essential if you are to succeed online.
Achieving good search engine rankings are important because they will drive more traffic to your website.
To get the best ranking you can for your web pages takes a lot of time coupled with even more effort.
However, you can action the basics readily.
Two of the key areas to focus on are your site’s layout and navigation. By keeping the website error free, you are off to a good start with SEO.
I use 2 simple rules when applying these to a website,
- Consistency. Making sure they appear the same throughout the website.
- Ease of use. Make sure both elements are easy to use and use jargon-free language.
For more details, read Google’s guide to the fundamentals here. (Link opens a new window)
6. Get social and include the ability to share your new design
Your company and its products and services need to be out in front of prospective customers online. This is hard work.
Thankfully, you can get some help online through the wonderful world of social media.
On every page of the website, make sure you include the ability for your visitor to share your content.
With 100’s of free tools online to help you do, you can save time on this task.
7. Make your call to action clear
To reach this stage of your project takes a lot of hard work, and you are now ready to attract visitors.
Once they land on your site, you want them to act.
Remember your site purpose, this is where that element comes into its own. You need the visitor to carry out your wish and by doing so either buy a product, contact you or sign up to your newsletter.
To get them to act requires a call to action, just like the button at the start of this point.
Make the call clear, what do you want them to do? Make it easy for them to do. Never over complicate the process.
Choose an easy way to get your visitor to spot your call to action. Big clear buttons and images. They always work best.
8. Easy to spot contact details
When you develop your new site, be sure to include either
- Your telephone number and/or address
- An internal link to a contact page with all the details on it
Including contact details on every page will help you for two key reasons;
- Trust. Your customers know who you are and how to reach you.
- Connections. It is a great lead generator as it helps your customer reach you if they have a question.
9. Regular revisions of your company website
Your website is a constantly evolving leg of your business.
Once you have completed the launch of your new small business website design, the hard work really starts.
Neglect these tasks at your peril if you launch and leave your website;
- Keep your plugins and themes not only up to date but also free of spam
- Renew security certificates when they expire
- Add fresh content for your visitors to enjoy
- Maintain your technical elements (such as web hosting and site coding)
- Keep ahead of the competition in the search engine pages
and so many more…
The internet, its users and your competition are evolving daily, and so must you.
At least once a month, it will pay to run a weathered eye over your layout, and content to make sure all is well, for example,
- No issues have appeared, such as broken links
- The navigation is still working
- Visitors can still use your website
- Your call to action links still work
Tools exist and I always run a manual audit using my favourite tool, Screaming Frog (No affiliation). You can use their free tool here and checkout your website.
10. Ongoing website management for small businesses
Your website will need updating.
This task is much easier when using a content management system (or C.M.S.) such as WordPress. Similarly, Joomla is also a well-used system, although more suited to larger websites.
This would allow members of your team to change the site content.
For the technical side of your website, such as;
- Coding issues
- Plugin management
- Framework management
- Search engine optimisation
- Visitor tracking and reporting
- Conversion optimisation
It may well be wise to hire a webmaster who can manage these tasks and more for you?
Thank you for reading and I hope you have found my small business website design points useful.
An effective way of ensuring your site is in perfect health at all times is a robust schedule of website maintenance. From website design to search engine optimisation, this is the cornerstone of every business online, striving to be successful.