Creating a small business website can be daunting. Here are 10 quick tips for building a brilliant website whatever your business needs.
Have a clear goal
A small business website can exist for various reasons. Do you want to create an online store, or simply have a focal hub for your brand? A restaurant might want to display a menu and take bookings, whereas a designer might want to generate online sales, and an artist might want to show off their creations. Consider the main goal you want to achieve from your small business website, and build it accordingly. Don’t make a site without knowing what you want people to do when they get there.
Keep it simple
There’s nothing more annoying than a website that takes forever to load because of flashy banner ads and irritating pop-ups. Keep the site design as clean as possible, and be judicious in your choice of eye-catching content. Draw users towards the most important aspects of your site, be that the store, the contact form, a blog, or image gallery, rather than directing their attention all over. Knowing what your goal is will tell you what to highlight as the most important content.
Keep the homepage short
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it can help to have a shorter landing page. Most new users won’t be interested in scrolling through endless pages of information to understand what your website is all about. A compromise solution is a segmented design, where different sections of the small business website are kept clear and distinct.
Keep your branding consistent
Fonts and colors matter. Look around your industry and see what’s standard for your biggest competitors. Chances are they’ve invested small fortunes in market research to understand why blue is more effective than red, and why one shade of blue outperforms all others. If you see the same color scheme repeated time and again, it’s probably for good reason.
Equally, fonts, background patterns, and the other stylistic elements go a long way towards creating your business brand. An accountant wouldn’t get much business if their website had black and red graffiti-style text. Equally, a new urban rock band wouldn’t be branding right if their website looked like an accountant’s. Consider your existing branding as well. If you already have a company logo, make sure it’s displayed prominently and the rest of your website matches it in terms of color, font, and style. Your small business website has to reflect your business to be a success.
Use the right links
Chances are your website will have multiple pages: a homepage, a webstore, contact information, photographs, price lists, a blog, and so on. It can be tempting to link to all those pages, but having numerous links in banners across the site can be confusing. Try to limit those links to two or three of the most important, and consider how to combine information to minimize the number you need.
Use featured images
Social media sharing is a big deal for a lot of small companies. It can generate a lot of attention to your business, but the links have to look appealing for people to click on them. The first consideration should be a featured image for every page on your site. This is the image that will appear in thumbnail next to your link on sites like Facebook and Twitter, and the right one will outperform a plain link surrounded by white space.
Utilize calls to action
You know what the goal of your website is, but does your audience? People often shy away from being too pushy, but calls to action such as Buy Now or Sign Up Here are a fundamental part of web marketing. If you want people to go to your store, tell them so, and include the link. If you want them to sign up to your newsletter, tell them why and give them the link. Keep the calls to action consistent, and provide multiple points where people can subscribe/buy/contact/learn more.
Have multiple points of contact
As well as creating a clear, concise site and telling your audience what you want them to do when they get there, consider that they might have questions for you. Try to include as many different contact methods as possible, from physical location and telephone number, to email addresses and social media profiles. Ensure all of these contact methods are current and you can actually be contacted there—there’s no point directing a would-be customer to a Twitter account you haven’t used in two years.
Make it personal
Don’t be afraid to get personal. Just as social media users like to feel that they’re interacting with a human being, not a robot, potential customers want to understand who or what they’re supporting with their patronage. Even the biggest businesses try to humanize themselves by providing photographs and biographies for their executives. If you’re a freelance web designer looking for work, telling people about your qualifications and experience will bolster trust in your brand. If you gave up corporate life to live in the country and make sculptures out of animal skulls, the people who appreciate your art will be interested to know how you came to it. Just remember this is first and foremost a business website, and don’t over-share. Potential customers probably aren’t interested in your bitter divorce or financial woes.
Don’t be afraid to be different
Branding to your industry conventions is important, but steer clear of producing another generic website. Don’t be afraid to introduce a bit of your personality into your website, particularly if you can produce something eye-catching and appealing like quirky link buttons or funny banners. Google might be just another search engine, but its Google Doodles are engaging enough that people log on just to look at them.
Bonus tip: Keep it current
It can be tempting to use all the available widgets and plugins for your site. Showing your business’s most recent tweets on the homepage is a fun way of introducing eye-catching content. But if you stop tweeting, the outdated content looks bad.
Similarly, don’t start a blog if you can’t commit to maintaining it on a regular basis. If you don’t have a lot of time to maintain a site once it’s live, or engage customers on social media, stick to static pages that can remain relevant indefinitely. It’s much better to have a timeless site than a dated one.
Setting up a small business website can be an exciting venture. Carefully curating the appearance and content of your site will give you a business asset that can grow and grow. If you’re not sure how to start, pick a plan and let TechTe.am’s friendly experts help.