Setting up the first website for your small business is a fundamental step – there can be no growth in the modern market without it.
After all, this is the digital face of your brand, and you need it to communicate your company’s message effectively to potential customers. It’s the central point of your digital marketing strategy and your main tool for establishing authority, building trust, and ultimately boosting conversions.
With so much at stake, naturally, the whole process might seem overwhelming. Especially when you’re entirely new to it and find it difficult to communicate with the professionals you hire to help you.
But with preparation and a bit of knowledge about the best practices, it will no longer be such a daunting task. We’ve put together a list of tips to help you get through the process more easily as well as some common mistakes to watch out for.
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Don’t spread yourself too thin
Start out small. That way, you’ll be able to have a high-quality website on a smaller budget.
Sure, you may have seen some very impressive, big websites with various features and you’d like to have something like that too. But this is exactly the mistake many small business owners make right from the start. This is how the entire project, along with your allocated budget, spirals out of control as you lose focus and end up demanding from the web designer something much bigger than you had set out for. When this happens, chances are that the quality and overall functionality might be hampered.
Instead, set your priorities straight and stick to them.
First things first, you want to ensure that your website is responsive, easy to navigate, and has fast loading times. Pour your efforts into optimizing the user experience through the design, making sure that all the essential features are developed with the highest possible quality.
Once you have a strong foundation, you can always expand in the future and add on new features.
Keep in mind which audience you’re trying to attract
The website is your online salesperson.
In your physical store, you’d hire a salesperson who understands which type of people come in to buy things and who knows how to communicate with them. For example, if you own a small bookstore, your best bet is to hire someone who’s a bookworm. If you offer a product or service that suits a more niche audience, you’d want someone who’s a part of that audience themselves – their presence and knowledge will contribute to your customers’ shopping experience.
Likewise, you want your website to appeal to your target audience – so research your competition and use the information you have about your target market. Craft the website in accordance with their preferences and online behaviors.
If your target audience is largely comprised of Millennials, for example, you’ll know that the design needs to be crisp and to reflect the latest trends. But if you’re targeting seniors, you want to reflect on how seniors use digital technology so you’ll focus on improving readability and cultivating a more familiar aesthetic.
This is a very simple premise but something that small business websites often overlook. Don’t just put together a website that looks good and functions well – you need more than that in order to boost conversion rates. Designing from your audience’s perspective will simplify the process and guide the design choices in the right direction.
Do more with less
This is unquestionably a key point of modern web design. Minimalism reigns supreme on the web, and rightfully so – minimalist websites are flexible for responsiveness, faster (because they’re lightweight) and aimed at optimal user experience (UX).
No matter whether you’re aiming for the minimalist aesthetic or not (that’s a matter of choice, or rather of your target audience), you want to stay away from the clutter on your pages. A congested layout, heavy with content and images, automatically makes a website look outdated – and that will definitely put your business in a bad light. Furthermore, it will result in slow loading speed and it won’t be able to guide the users’ attention to where you want it.
This is especially important when designing the landing page, which is the entryway to your website and needs to direct users to the information they need effectively. If you have to have them at all, keep pop-ups to a bare minimum (one is really enough).
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel
Sure, your website needs to be authentic – but not in a sense that it’s a never-before-seen spectacle. Authenticity is something that business owners often burden themselves with, taking the design process in a rather confusing and exasperating direction. Either that, or they give up right from the start and just go for something generic and entirely forgettable.
Learn from the big guys – there’s plenty of inspiration out there. You can use platforms to sift through the portfolios of the best website companies and have a look at how they expressed their clients’ identities through the most basic design elements. You can find numerous examples of authentic websites built with platforms such as WordPress, Weebly, and Wix. The way to achieve authenticity is by using the tools you have to express your brand’s voice.
Reflect on your brand and the values of your company when making each design choice – from the layout to the CTA button to typography. By showing who you are and what kind of aesthetic you value, you’ll cultivate a consistent brand image and create an authentic website.
Don’t be too sales-y, but make your point
Now, this might sound somewhat tricky, but it’s not really. We’ve mentioned clutter and pop-ups previously in this post – these are the things that typically make a website look pushy to the audience, automatically turning them away. Your design needs to convey professionalism and be easy on the eyes. You use it to invite the audience in, engage them, and build trust.
You’re a business, so it’s clear that the purpose of your website is to sell – so sell elegantly. The user experience is crucial to your conversion funnel. While you don’t want to appear aggressive to your audience, find the right balance and don’t be too shy either. Make the call-to-action button clearly visible (preferably at the top of the page), show social proof to gain credibility, and convey your message in an effective manner through content and images. Most importantly, make all the relevant information easily accessible – don’t beat around the bush and don’t make the user jump through hoops to find what they’re looking for.
Keeping these points in mind will help you approach your new website, as well as the process of creating it, in the right way. When you start on the right foot and ensure you have strong foundations, you’ll be able to tackle all the obstacles and intricacies of the design process that may come your way.