If you have a business website, the idea is for people to visit it and become customers of your business. Sounds easy, right? Read the below Expert Advice on how to improve your Small Business Website! Here are the top Web Designer tips that will help drive traffic to your website:
Add clickable phone number in header
Many business websites feel they need their logo to be big and bold, I often find if you reduce the logo, within reason, you can then put the telephone number (clickable) in nice and big to the right. This then gives an immediate opportunity for the visitor to make contact and also allows the content to move up the page.
Optimize website speed & Make it responsive
The page also needs to load quickly and be responsive so that it automatically resizes itself to be easily readable on a mobile device.
Don’t add annoy animation
Keep the website clean, clear and to the point, sometimes less is more, flashing images and moving text distract visitors from reading your important information and can cause them to leave early.
Qualify the prospective client
You’ve been asked to quote for a project, that’s great but before you start putting a proposal together you should qualify the prospective client to ensure that it’s going to be a good fit. Think about budget, turnaround time and find out who the key decision makers are to try to get them to join the conversation.
Help them to reach their online goal
Next steps would be to organize a meeting where you help them put together a plan to reach their online goals, this will form the basis of your proposal and it’s something you should charge for as it’s your time and expertise, which should hold a lot of value. Not only do they end up with a proper brief and proposal to match but they will be more likely to come back to you to see the project through.
Inform them about site maintenance
In your proposal you should plant the seed about site maintenance to educate and inform them about ongoing needs to keep the site running and growing after the design and development is done. This is something you can take on, or white-label via a support and maintenance offering.
Start with sketches and a sitemap
Once you’ve got the job I recommend starting with sketches, wireframes and a sitemap. From there put together some rough look and feel designs based around the content they should have ready (another seed to plant early on). You can use these blueprints to design in the browser, saving time and giving your new client a better idea of how it will look, feel and function whilst you’re working on it.
Choose the lightweight framework
Start out with a lightweight framework and custom-code the theme, if development is not your strong point then I suggest working with someone that can do a good job. Building sites professionally using off the shelf page builders is a disservice in my book as you’ll end up giving the client something that is slow, clunky to use and which doesn’t showcase your lovely design work in it’s best light.
Choose premium hosting
Once the project is complete you’ll need some decent hosting, don’t bother with cheap shared hosting, you want to be working with clients that are willing to invest in proper hosting, so their visitors have the best possible experience. If the site takes a while to load, visitors will likely disappear never to return.
Give ongoing support
To keep the site running and moving forward, provide or find a company to supply website care, I’m talking about support, maintenance, security and more. With the ever-increasing CMS and plugin updates, security and complexity, getting someone to help with the technical side of things should no longer be an afterthought. In addition, think about budget and see if you can allow for A/B testing and regular changes, to constantly improve what the site was set out to do resulting in happy clients and future referrals.
Don’t just focus on the design
Far too many small businesses get caught up in thinking that the design is the most important part of their website. While it’s an essential element, if you concern yourself solely with the look and feel, you’ll miss all the vital planning work that needs doing before you get to design.
Read the web design agencies proposal properly
Website projects are complicated. We send proposals to clients that are 20-30 pages long and cover off every aspect of the project. We also track these proposals and get data on the time our prospective clients take reading each page. It is amazing how little time people spend reading through the stages and processes outlined in our documents; they only look at the costs.
Don’t focus solely on the charges and whether they match your budget – read through EVERYTHING and make sure the agency has ALL the bases covered – from research and planning to design, build and SEO.
What you are looking for is value, not just cost. A well planned, designed and build site will make you money – it’s not a cost, it’s an investment, and you should be looking for how your agency plans to get you a return on this investment.
Listen to your website agency
You’ve researched, found a professional and agreed to their charges, so listen to them. A good web team will see your website as an integral part of your business marketing and growth plan – it’s not ‘just’ a website. Quality agencies will make suggestions and may not always agree with your ideas. There’s often a good reason, so challenge your agency to question you rather than spoon-feeding them – they should have the experience to make your site successful.
Don’t try and do everything at once
There’s always a temptation to cram in as much functionality and ‘stuff’ into your site from the get-go. If you’re not careful, you can end up spending budget on things your users may never use.
Look at your website as a series of ‘phases’, with this first being getting to go live and the rest coming later on.
Once your site is live, you can then start making development and content decisions based on data (Google Analytics et al.) rather than ‘best guesses’ before the site goes live.
Data also gives you a chance to start winning business from your new site – this return on the initial investment can then reinvested to improve things further.
Don’t think that it has to be ‘interactive’.
A term clients use a lot – often meaning something is moving or show/hide elements. Clients often wrongly assume that unless the site has ‘moving stuff’ that it’s in some way not ‘interactive enough’.
Remember that you have seconds to engage your visitor – making them work too hard to find the trigger that will convert them is a fail.
Make all decisions based on your (potentially new) customer.
If you’re aiming to win new business from your site via search engine traffic, you should make everything on the landing page (homepage or otherwise) 100% centric to your target customers and NOT your personal preferences.
Create persona’s for your typical customers (or clients) and sense-check all decisions against these personas.
Personas can help you to avoid unnecessary ‘fluff’ on your site that may look nice but doesn’t aid conversions.
Be careful when paying for ‘User Experience’ work
Maybe a tad controversial, but unless you have a current site with upwards of 5000 visits a month and tons of A/B testing data, it is virtually impossible to get enough data to make data-driven UX enhancements to your site.
UX is a buzzword in the web industry, so if you are being asked to pay for it, make sure you find out precisely what the agency is charging you to do. UX and design are NOT the same things.
Build your website around your visitors, not your business
Each web page should have a specific job – something you’d like the visitor to do/learn. Write this down before starting your web build, it will help guide you through the rest of the process.
i.e. The visitor who landed on your webpage for service/product X has a need and an interest – the associated webpage should fully answer their questions and/or concerns. Think intent, and not just box ticking.
Think in funnels
Customers are researching a potential purchase, so what do they need to help move them along your sales funnel? Each step you wish visitors to take on your website should direct them through your sales and marketing funnel.
i.e. If a visitor lands on a blog post, the next step should be to get their email, take them to a specific service/product page, or otherwise move them closer to a sale by detailing social proof (case studies, testimonials etc.)
If you send them to another website for further reading, or to something soft like a blog post then you’ve interrupted the funnel and are likely to lose the conversion.
Talk your customer language
Learn how your best customer’s describe how you help them and use this exact language within the text on your site. This demonstrates to prospective customers that you fully understand their problem or need.
Help people buy from you
Design your website to help people buy from you by providing everything they need to reach an informed decision. Clearly state the offer, answer any questions and ask them to take action.
Use social proof
Add customer testimonials to your website to prove that other people have used your product or service and that they would recommend you. Go the extra step by including structured data with each review and you earn those lovely orange review stars on your Google search result
Challenge the brief
Here at Wolfcub, at the start of any web design project, we always insist on a stakeholder workshop to get to the heart of the requirements.
It’s here we challenge the brief and ask questions to gain insights on the decision-making process the client has been through so far.
A lot of designers may feel uncomfortable questioning a clients decisions, especially when it’s a new client, but more often than not you learn a great deal in this process.
Off the back of the workshop, the project requirements can get remolded from the start, helping to create a shared vision across the team, between design agency and the client, which is a very good foundation to build upon.
Collaborate through the lifecycle of the project
It’s all too easy to dive into your ‘design silo’ when you start a project, only to pop out the other side with what you think the client needs from you.
At Wolfcub, we believe in a process of constant collaboration where we inform our clients of not only where we’re at within the design process, but where we’re going and what involvement we require from them.
This is delivered in the form of collaborative mood boards for review and comments, site prototypes and design work in progress reviews across the lifecycle of the project.
It’s more work to facilitate this collaborative approach as you work through a project, but we’ve found the time saved down the line when the client feels they’ve been part of the process, rather than waiting for the big reveal and hoping they like what you’ve done, is worth the effort every time.
Transparency in design is key, it should be a shared journey you take the client on.
Add Personal Photos.
Typically, small businesses will work on a local level and have a smaller team, which is a benefit. Not only does this make you more accessible to your audience, but it can also give you an opportunity to let your personality shine through.
Although you may only have a small team, these team photos can make a significant difference in terms of the perception of your company. Having personal photos can make your business appear both professional and open, whilst also allowing you to add a personal touch to your web design to make it unique. An enterprise-level business often won’t be able to list all of their employees, so take advantage of what they can’t do.
Add Product Photos.
If your business is product-oriented, then make sure you add product photos to add individual character. For small businesses, you may want to mix personal photos with more polished product photos as this hybrid approach often encourages a ‘personal buy’ from your audience.
It’s important to show off your previous products and let the images do the talking. After all, customers are on your website to buy your product. Bespoke and specific images are far more valuable than any stock photo.
Add Contact Details
One of the most important tips that I can give for a small business web design, is to add your contact details visibly. As a small business, you need your customers to be able to get in touch with you easily. Smaller businesses often get work through referrals and searches on the internet, so make sure that people can contact you when they need to.
Whether it’s adding a phone number at the top of your website or an email address, contact details are of paramount importance when it comes to converting visitors into customers. Let them engage with you.
Small Business Web Design Tips [Expert Roundup]