Small Business Tips: Some Website Design Basics

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A website for your small business is pretty much required in this day and age. If your customers cant find you on the internet, rather than simply being a nuisance for them, it can even raise red flags regarding your legitimacy if they wonder why you aren’t taking advantage of the benefits of having even a rudimentary webpage. When it comes to designing a webpage, most small business owners will hire a designer to create one for them. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. If you want your site to look good and don’t have either the time or the grasp of coding language required to put one together, it’s ultimately the only way you are going to be able to get something up. Before jumping headfirst into a web design project, however, you are going to want to have a pretty well defined idea of what you need. In order to create a list of requirements for your site, here are a few suggestions of what to think about.

First, identify what kind of site goes best with your business and industry. It can help in the first stage of planning to take a look at competitor sites from a fairly broad range of price points. Your most established and profitable competitors will usually have a more expensive and eye catching design, but that’s not to say that more middle of the road and lower volume businesses can’t also have stylish and functional websites. The key to creating something great is to put together a site with both a pleasant design and a high level of functionality and ease of use. Look at the best features of your competition’s sites, and then think how you can put them together in a simple to use and stylish package.

For conversion based sites, don’t forget your apply fields and calls to action. If the main goal of your business is to drive conversions through applications, orders or other online commerce, then you should be prepared to allocate the brunt of your budget to creating persuasive calls to action coupled with a simple order form. Be aware that the more required fields you add to an order form, the less likely it becomes that someone will take the time to fill it out in full, so think carefully about what information is most essential and what is just a nice to know.

If your site is mostly based on showcasing products and providing information, then you should pay extra attention to navigability. When someone visits a website that is not based around e-commerce, chances are good they are going to want to see something engaging right from the moment that they load your page. Work with your developer to feature an interesting visual element above the fold (immediately visible without scrolling down) as well as an clearly defined and easy to use top navigation bar.

Working with developers, you need to be specific about what you want. The thing about web design is that something that seems simple to program  on a visual level can often be much more complex on a coding basis, so knowing exactly what you want then being prepared to compromise will get you as close as possible to your ideal while remaining on budget.

Request that SEO be put into your site using meta, H1 and H2 tags and optimized copy. You are going to want as much traffic as possible to come to your webpage, so be sure to check that your developer is able to put basic SEO optimization into the site. Not properly outfitting a website for SEO will make it that much more difficult for it to be discovered on google using keywords related to your industry, so be sure that you discuss this and don’t just assume it will be done.

Photo Credit to Mads Bødker on Flickr

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