We have updated this post from May, 2018
In the spirit of the upcoming Small Business Week in May we are putting our experience as Web Designers to good use for you. Read our tips for successful website design for your small business. We know as a small business owner you’re very busy, so let’s get right into it.
As you read the tips below keep a few things in mind
- Decide if you have the time to work on your digital assets yourself or if you want help.
- Understand that every situation is unique to you and your current situation.
- Focus on your company goals; I want more customers, I want to sell more to my current customers, My image online does not reflect my company, etc.
1. There are two types of website updates, and you should be doing both.
Technical updates include things like installing the latest version of your website’s theme and plugins. Unfortunately, we’ve seen many business owners forgo these updates because their site doesn’t show any external issues, but as the updates accumulate so does the time and money needed to keep your site functioning. Outdated themes loose functionality and become susceptible to hacking, which can potentially leave your site vulnerable to a plethora of problems.
Imagine if you visited your favorite news site and day after day, month after month you saw the same news stories. You would go somewhere else for your information, right? Treat your visitors to new content on your web pages and blogs and they will visit more often, increasing your the effectiveness of your SEO strategies.
2. Understand the importance of relevance
Relevance is so important to the success of small business websites. It applies to a multitude of website components.
An outdated website design can unintentionally give visitors the feeling that your business is closed, but that’s not even the worst thing that can happen. Older sites may not have been built with responsive design, meaning they don’t look good on all screen sizes. As a result, people viewing your site on smartphones and tablets might not even see your site as it should look. The result? They’ll leave your site and find a competitor with a modern site that loads quickly.
A new small business website with clean, responsive design, fresh photography, and updated content tells visitors that your business is competitive in this ever-evolving online business market.
Advances in the field
When new advancements in your business field develop, be the first to address them on your website. That may mean expanding on your services with a new web page, adding the newest version of a product you sell (with great images, of course), or writing a blog about exciting new offerings on the horizon.
Maintaining an updated website not only keeps your customers happy and coming back for more, it also tells search engines like Google that your site is relevant, increasing your chances of ranking on searches.
3. Place yourself in your customers shoes
Often, we work with clients who have a very specific vision for how they want their new website to look and function. Don’t get us wrong, we love these types of clients. They’re exited about their website and their insight is invaluable in the design of a site that truly represents their brand.
However, a specific vision can sometimes fail to take into consideration the most important end product of small business websites – user experience. Always think about how your site will be experienced by your customer. Are you making it easy for them to find what they are looking for? Are you encouraging next steps in the marketing funnel with smartly placed call to action? Are your forms short and easy to fill out?
Always consider the customer as you design your website. Ask a friend who hasn’t seen your site to interact with it and ask them what they think.
4. Make sure your site is Mobile Friendly
We touched on this a bit in tip two, but it’s important enough to deserve a second mention. A mobile friendly website design means that your website looks great on every screen size. It also means that no matter what device you use, you will find the same content.
This has become even more important as Google has announced that they will begin giving the mobile version of your website priority when determining how it will rank in search results.
5. Build a website that Google can understand
What we’re talking about here is SEO. A smart SEO strategy is integral to attracting Google and encouraging search engines to index your small business website. This is achieved with a keyword strategy that results in clear content, the right URLS, navigation that makes sense, and a clean sitemap.
6. Keep your contact info easy to find
The key to a successful small business website is making sure your visitors find what they need, and never is that more important than when a website visitor wants to contact you. A clear contact page should include a form, email address, and phone number to make it easy for a visitor to contact you however they feel most comfortable.
Phone number and email should be on every page of your site. A simple solution to this is to include it in your website’s footer.
7. Work with the right team
A classic small business quagmire is the website built by someone who knows someone who builds websites. More often than not it’s usually a family member of an employee; some niece or nephew off at college who’s interested in web design.
This type of web design is certainly a money saver, and the statement ‘you get what you pay for’ is never more true. A weekend web designer may leave you with a website lacking in functionality, and without the experience to fix it.
If possible, try to work with a web design company. A full team of designers means a workforce with more than one skill set, which has proven invaluable to us a web designers. It also means your web designer is more likely to be available should issues occur.
The average attention span of someone waiting for your website to load is 3 seconds. Every second after that and your visitors start dropping like flies. Slow load speeds can mean a large number of visitors are leaving your site before they even see it.
Great web designers know how to optimize your website for page speed.
9. Speaking of Priorities
Know your objectives going into the process and develop a plan to prioritize what’s important to you. Be in the position to clearly state your business goals to your web design team and it can save you time and money.
10. Be seen in all the right places
Your website is just the start of everywhere your brand can be online. This last tip leaves your website, but it’s crucial and we had to bring it up. Your Google local listing needs to be a top priority. Many of your customers won’t even get to your website, they’ll count on Google to get your phone number, open hours, or directions to your business.
Do yourself a favor and Google your business name. If you don’t see your local listing, or if the information is incomplete or wrong, update it immediately. You can even add Google posts that link to a blog, event or promotion to your listing for added impact!