Your website is a digital business card. It represents your business around the clock to potential customers worldwide. What does your website say about you?
When you’re a small business or startup, it can be hard getting your web design correct, especially when you need to spend that time on your business.
In this post, I’m going to go over the best practices and designs for your small business. Three factors go into making a site. The agency’s plan, The client’s design, and the user experience (UI).
The UI/Ux needs to be the main factor in designing a website; this will lead to the most successful website.
Let’s dive right in.
….Gather a list of around ten competitors/businesses in the same industry. They should be in your local area plus a few in a different city or worldwide. This will give you a clear sign of what small businesses are doing in the same niche.
Different industries have different characteristics, so you need to check within your vertical.
Make a note of what catches your eye. But, instead of going with your gut. Use metrics and data to design the perfect website.
There are many different SEO tools. I have been using Alexa.
You can check any competitors stats with only a domain name. Type in the domain names and check the bounce rate, daily pageviews per visitor, daily time on site.
- Bounce rate – Visitor clicks on the website and leaves without giving it a second opportunity by clicking on a second page.
- Daily Pageviews per visitor – The number of pages the visitor views
- Daily Time on Site – The amount of time a visitor spends on the site
Now make a chart and put a database with stats of your competitors.
Enter the metrics you have gathered to find the best small businesses.
Which one has the lowest bounce rate, highest page views, and the most time spent on the site.
Put your Sherlock Holmes cap on and find out why? Compare them to a lower ranking site. Do they have videos? Better layout? Easier to navigate?
Why does one website have a daily time of 5 minutes on the site, and another one has 1.22?
This is the start of every process at Evolved Toaster, and it pains me when other companies don’t do this. It should always be the starting point of any project.
No other industry in the world can get this sort of information on competitors.
Website Design Questions
….Answering questions about your business will help refine the design. Also, later on, it provides excellent content and copywriting. As an exercise, write answers to these and check your current website if you have one.
- What’s the overview of what your business does?
- What’re your goals for the year?
- What challenges are you facing at the moment?
- At the moment, how are sales?
- What’s the best selling product/service?
- What’s your advantage of your competitors?
- Why do you think someone will choose to do business with someone else over you?
- How do you see your business growing over the next year?
- How do you get your clients?
- Can you breakdown the different ways you get clients and the various ways to get a sale?
- At what stage do you think you are losing sales?/ what is the weakest part of your sales process?
- What is it you would like to achieve this year?
- Is there anything you think you could be doing to get more sales and better clients?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help your small business. And give you a sign of what you need out of the design of your website. I’ll explain some of the answers further in the post.
Website First Impressions
….When a visitor first clicks onto your website what do they think? it’s one of the most important things.
You walk into a restaurant, and you see a rat scurrying across the floor. Chances are you’re turning back around ASAP.
The same thing happens when somebody visits a website that looks terrible. The visitor will click off in less than 2 seconds.
‘Above the fold’ is what we call the first impression of a website. The saying came from the old print age when newspapers were folded in half.
You want to clarify what your business does when they first arrive on your site. You want to include the heading 1 (H1) tag, unique selling proposition (USP) and a call to action (CTA).
How to define your USP? Answering the questions at the start of the post can help, but here’s a few more…
What do you have that your customers don’t? Is it a unicorn product, quicker service, lowest price, etc.
For example, Charles Revson, founder of Revlon, always used to say he sold hope, not makeup. Some airlines sell friendly service, while others sell on-time service. Neiman Marcus sells luxury, while Wal-Mart sells bargains.
Quote From Entrepreneur
Then include a call to action which is to buy a product, send an email or call. (usually)
There’s our website as an example:
Overall Design of the Website
….The style of your website will change depending on your industry. For example an app developer for kid’s games and a construction company looking to land more prominent clients. Will have two very different websites.
App developer – Angry birds website:
Construction company – Midas website:
The style of your website will vary with the demographic your business attracts. This changes everything from the typography, CTA (call to action), colours, image use, layouts, emotions, and style.
You will have a solid idea of each of these variables that go into your website by now.
….You want a clear call to action on every page. Most small businesses have one contact button in the header and leave it at that.
Including a CTA throughout the site will increase the number of clicks. Resulting in the primary goal of the website.
I see so many businesses with the primary contact being an email. When it should have a call button, and to make it even worse, they have a phone number that isn’t clickable.
Do you prefer getting phone calls or emails?
Have the preferred contact method more prominent throughout your website.
Example: A plumber gets a new website, and as discussed, they generally receive phone calls. They don’t need a prominent contact us button that leads to an email form like every other webpage. They require a clickable phone number that will ring them.
Example: A small business that sells online courses doesn’t want the primary CTA to be to send an email. It needs to be to buy the course.
I love the minimalist approach to website design. Minimum viable product (MVP) best fits into the minimalist style. It’s effectively the bare bones of what the business needs to operate.
Small business sites that have 15 pages filled with fluff content or very little content. Look dated and are harder to navigate for the user.
Your website should be an extra salesperson – that never sleeps and leads 1000’s of visitors to your business goal. To achieve this, you need a clear website pointing to the desired objective.
There are caveats to every situation, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t have lots of different pages on your site. If your website provides value on every page and is easy to navigate the sky’s the limit.
Small business doesn’t tend to need many pages and should stick to the MVP model.
Every industry is different, but the rule of thumb is five pages:
Before anyone comments about this, the examples below aren’t MVP. But, it shows a definite change in the web development style having a clear call to action and minimalist style.
Here’s an example of Apple before and after:
As David Ogilvy once said ‘creativity is great as long as it doesn’t get in the way of selling.’
A List of Website Design Mistakes to Avoid
- Don’t use unnecessary stock photos and if you do use high quality paid ones from (Adobe, Shutterstock)
- Complicated navigation (Clicking 4+ times to find a page)
- The user cannot tell what your company is about
- Takes more than 3 seconds to load (check load time)
- Lots of links that open new browsers windows
- No social proof
- Links and buttons that aren’t big enough to click
- No H1 tag or more than one H1 tag per page
- Your website isn’t HTTPS (Secure)
- Music plays automatically (mainly if you have a video on autoplay)
- No favicon
… I’m sick of hearing about it. Most business still doesn’t have it. Responsive design means your website works on mobile and tablet devices. You need to have your website optimised for mobile devices.
Not having your business optimised for mobile is like owning a house on a cliff’s edge… And every year the cliff erodes into the sea.
Every day as more time, so does the foundations and puts your house in danger.
Googles metrics rank mobile friendliness and user experience as a main ranking factor. Plus Google devalues websites in the search engine that isn’t optimised. Soon they will stop ranking websites altogether that aren’t mobile and user-friendly.
You can check if your website is mobile friendly for free with: Google Mobile-Friendly Checker
If your website isn’t responsive, having a redesign is an excellent investment for a small business.
Gather ideas from small businesses in the same industry and design your website from the metrics.
What drives your business? Find out by answering the questions. The answers will also help the design and copywriting of your website.
To stand out in the crowd, you need to put yourself in the user’s shoes and create the best experience for them.
MVP model will get your website online faster while reducing the fluff or lack of content.
Thanks for reading. Did this content help?
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- Almost 60 percent of all internet access is done through the phone. (infront webworks)
- Mobile devices now account for nearly two out of every three minutes spent online. (comScore)
- 40 percent of smartphone and tablet owners search for B2B products on those devices. (KoMarketing)
- If a company website pops up in a search engine query and it isn’t mobile-friendly, 40 percent of online users will go back and choose a different search result. (BP Studios)
- 53% of mobile users will leave after 3 seconds (Think With Google)