A decade or so ago, it seemed like having a website was more of a luxury than a necessity for small businesses.
Of course, no one’s saying that anymore. We now live in an age where small businesses need to create and design a website to compete in their industry and engage with customers.
Building a website for the sake of having one, however, is never the right approach. If anything, small business websites should be well-designed in every aspect, from the way it looks to its ability to provide the audience what they need.
If you’re a small business owner and you’re in the process of creating a website, here are 10 web design essentials to keep in mind.
1. Readily-Visible Contact Information
Your website is the face of your small business online, and one of its main goals is to get readers to drop by your physical location, or at least contact you for inquiries.
The thing is, many small business websites do not have their contact information readily visible on its pages.
If potential customers had to dig through your pages to find your phone numbers and physical and email addresses, don’t expect many of them to come calling.
The only way to enable people who come across your website to reach out to you is to display all your contact information prominently on your website. And don’t keep it to the home page. Every page must have a header or footer where all contact details are easy to see.
2. A Catchy Landing Page
A landing page is your website’s primary lead generation tool. It’s there to draw in people who may eventually become your customers.
For a landing page to do its job effectively, it must be attractive in every sense of the word. Visitors are more likely to pay attention to landing pages that carry a compelling headline, engaging visuals, a crystal-clear offer, and a strong call-to-action (CTA), among other things.
3. Prominently-displayed CTA Buttons
Your CTA may be strong, but if visitors can’t see it right away, it loses much of its power.
CTA buttons must be placed somewhere prominent. Whether to put it above or below the fold is up to the web designer. The important thing is to make it as visible as possible, and using red or range for the button will help.
4. Short and Sweet Contact Forms
Sometimes, people get carried away when creating contact forms for their websites.
While contact forms are crucial to your lead generation efforts, you or your web designer must make a conscious effort to keep them short and sweet. After all, no one really likes to fill out lengthy contact forms that ask too much information.
If you’re going to be asking visitors for information through a contact form, it would be best to ask for nothing more than their names, email addresses, and zip codes.
5. Intuitive Navigation
Users aren’t a patient lot, especially when a website isn’t easy to navigate. Once they realize that they’re starting to get lost, your readers won’t think twice about leaving your website and increasing your bounce rate in the process.
If you want visitors to explore your pages more, make sure your website has intuitive navigation. They should be able to move from one page to another with no trouble.
Putting up clickable navigation elements is a sure-fire way of making it easier for users to move around your site. The same goes for clearly-divided categories and a search feature that actually works.
6. Fast Loading Time
Internet speeds are getting faster. Fast Internet speeds, however, won’t matter if your web pages themselves take forever to load. With the attention spans of users becoming shorter by the day, a web page that takes over three seconds to load fully will likely be abandoned.
Some web design tweaks that will help speed your pages up include optimizing images, minifying your code, and minimizing the use of custom fonts.
It’s tempting for web designers to apply every trick they know to make their work look as visually appealing as possible. More often than not, however, they end up creating an overdesigned website with too many graphic elements in one place, or a cluttered look that may turn people off.
In modern web design, you can’t lose with going for simplicity in your web design. For one, simple web designs load faster. A simple web design is easier to process, for another. Leaving more whitespace—a hallmark of simplicity in web design—will also make your pages easier to read or scan.
8. Proper Font Sizes
A small business website may have well-written content, but all that will be for nothing if the fonts are too small.
For people to stay and read your written content, make sure you use properly sized fonts for all of them. Headings, of course, should have much bigger typography, while the body text would be readable enough at 14pt fonts.
Written content is good, but videos are better on many levels. They’re more engaging, easier to digest, and at the top of the hill as far as content is concerned. More than half of the world’s web traffic is video, and its dominance is only going to grow in the coming years.
So, incorporate more custom videos into your web design, and keep your audience’s attention, regardless of your small business’ product or service.
One of the clearest signs mobile has taken over the world is the rise of strategies and processes that prioritize it.
Google, for example, has introduced the Mobile-First Index. The web design world, for its part, has mobile-first design, where web designers start their work by sketching and prototyping for smaller screens, then work their way up to bigger ones.
Given the massive number of mobile users these days, having a website that renders well on smartphones and tablets is absolutely essential for your small business.
Building a website from scratch can be overwhelming, whether you’re doing it yourself or working with a professional web designer. Carefully considering the web design essentials listed above, however, should be enough to get you started.