10 web design tips small business owners should know

Web design small business

A great website is essential for any small business looking for success in 2021, but creating one isn’t a simple process. There are many details to consider, best practices to follow, and emerging trends to stay abreast of. To help make your web design small business project a success read my top ten tips.

My company, Sanders Design, has helped clients of all kinds create beautiful and effective web design small business projects for years. So I’m in a unique position to share some tips and advice regarding web design small business owners will find helpful.

Whether you’re a startup looking to build a new website, or an established company needing a website upgrade, here are ten things small business owners must know about web design to effectively compete online.

1. Obtain a good domain name

Your domain name is a big part of how people will find you online, so the shorter and more memorable, the better. That’s why the most popular websites in the world are named Google.com, Yahoo.com, Amazon.com, and not “TheAbsoluteBestSearhEngineOnline.com”, etc. Whenever possible, you’ll want to adopt this strategy when choosing your business’ domain name.

Your domain name should also say something about your services to make things easier on people and for search engine optimisation (SEO) reasons alike. With this in mind, here are a few real-world tips for coming up with an effective business domain name:

  • Don’t use slang, outdated, or uncommon words people will struggle to remember or pronounce. Don’t makeup words either, despite Google’s success. Stick to easy-to-spell names, and don’t get cute with grammar, hyphens, apostrophes, etc.
  • Keep it as short as you can to make it easier to remember and search for.
  • Use domain extensions properly. Stick to .com whenever possible (since everyone remembers it), unless you really need a .org, .gov, etc. And avoid cute extensions like .tv and .ninja unless you’re running a streaming video site or are an actual ninja.
  • Don’t get overly specific. Amazon.com is great because it doesn’t limit itself to any one thing, while BobsBurgers.com tells people to expect burgers and maybe a Bob or two. Take a page from the biggest shopping platform on earth’s playbook and leave yourself wiggle room for future expansion.
  • Research the domain name. Google it to see what pops up—you might be surprised to discover your “unique” name is already in use across the globe. Also, check UK Trade Marks to make sure it doesn’t infringe on any registered trademarks.
  • Check the price of your desired domain. It might be just a few pounds a year. Or, a domain squatter could be massively inflating the price. Decide how important the perfect domain name is to you, and be prepared to pay for it.
  • Pick an SEO-friendly domain name. Come up with something that says what you do and where you are, like “ManchestersBestRoofers.com”. This gives you a short and easy-to-remember domain name with two critical keywords already built-in.

2. Purchase quality web hosting

Let’s keep this simple. Every website lives on a computer that runs 24/7 somewhere in the world. This computer is called the host, and you must pay monthly or yearly to have your website run on this host.

But a good host offers much more than just a place to park your website. It gives you a way to quickly and easily install and backup websites. It also provides additional services that allow you to manage security functions and email servers, track visitors, and much more.

You’ll want to purchase web hosting from a company that is easy to work with, affordable, and offers excellent customer support.

Don’t worry about storage space or bandwidth if you don’t know how much traffic you’ll garner—no sense paying extra for features you don’t need. After your site’s been running a bit, you’ll better understand how much bandwidth and storage you actually require and can upgrade your hosting plan accordingly.

3. Clearly describe your business

When people first visit your website, everything they see should reinforce their expectations of your products or services.

Ensure your homepage’s banner (or “hero image”) and all other graphic assets serve to illustrate your services and use a short and to-the-point summary near the top of the page that explains who you are and what you do.

4. Choose the best CMS

It’s a good idea to include an “About Us” page that goes into detail about your business and services for visitors that want to learn more. Don’t forget to make this easy to find by adding links in your main navigation and footer menu.

When it comes time to create your new website, you’ll want to give which CMS you choose proper consideration.

CMS stands for “content management system” and describes a program to make building, managing, and updating websites easier. Nearly all modern sites are built atop a CMS because they make it easier to maintain a website with minimal technical knowledge. 

For much of the internet, the CMS of choice is WordPress. It’s free to use, very user friendly, and has a vast community willing to help should you run into problems. It’s also open-source, which means anyone can create extra features for it. These additional features are called “plugins”, and there’s one to suit virtually any need. Have a requirement no existing plugin can meet? Relax, there’s a freelance developer out there willing to custom-tailor exactly what you need.

Before I wholeheartedly endorse WordPress, I must admit there’s a catch. As the most popular CMS on the internet, it has attracted its fair share of hackers. This results in news articles breathlessly reporting the latest discovered bug or vulnerability.

Thankfully, the developers of WordPress and the plugins are quick to patch any bugs discovered, so you’ll generally be fine as long as you update these components when prompted. Besides, nothing online, CMS or otherwise, is ever 100% safe from hackers.

5. Choose the right e-commerce platform

If you want to sell products or services directly from your website or want the flexibility to add this capability, you’ll need an e-commerce platform later on. 

E-commerce platforms automate a great deal of the merchant’s work, from creating beautiful product listings to simplifying payment processing to creating and redeeming coupons. And if you want all that in a free and easy-to-use package, you want WooCommerce.

WooCommerce, a free plugin for WordPress, is one of the world’s most popular e-commerce platforms. As with anything else for WordPress, there are loads of additional plugins available, so you can get it to do just about anything you need. You might even be able to use your existing theme, though there’s no shortage of premium, WooCommerce-compatible offerings on the market, many of them free.

While still reasonably user-friendly, WooCommerce adds many additional options to set up and keep track of that you might need a WordPress developer’s help if you get overwhelmed. Despite this, it’s worth the additional investment since WooCommerce allows your web design small business project to do just about anything you could ever want.

6. prioritise user experience

The prettiest business website is the world is useless if visitors can’t find what they want. Cluttered pages, excess links, and overall poor optimisation can leave visitors feeling frustrated and angry.

Ensure your website’s interface leaves a positive impact on visitors by following these suggestions:

  • Use attractive graphics and fonts that are easy-to-read.
  • Optimise and compress all graphics on your site to speed up load times. Search engines like Google will penalise your site in the rankings if they take too long to load.
  • See how the competition has designed and optimised their websites, then implement similar solutions on your web design small business’ site. No point re-inventing the wheel.
  • Understand your target audience, and work to provide them with the experience they expect.
  • Make sure everything on your site stays on-brand and speaks to a cohesive whole.
  • Make your contact info easy to find so confused visitors can still reach you.
  • Use CTA’s (call-to-actions) like “buy now” buttons to encourage visitors to do more than browse.
  • Create standard web pages like Home, Services/Products, About Us, Contact Us, Terms; Conditions, and anything else visitors would expect to find from a professional entity.

7. Optimise your website for the search engines

SEO, or search engine optimisation, refers to practices that help your website naturally rank better in the search engines. The better you can optimise your website for the search engines, the better they’ll rank your site, and the more easily people will find you online. SEO makes the difference between people finding you online or not, so its importance cannot be understated.

Here are a few SEO practices a web designer will implement on your small business’ website to help it rank better:

  • Research keywords and create matching content.
  • Optimise HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc. for speed.
  • Install an SSL certificate for security and to maintain visitor privacy.
  • Ensure the site is mobile-friendly, so it displays correctly on all devices.
  • Create high-quality backlinks on other sites leading back to your website.
  • Ensure plenty of positive reviews for your company are available online.
  • Add internal links throughout the site to keep visitors engaged and reading.
  • Link from social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, etc. back to your website.

8. Create and post quality content consistently

Quantity and freshness both are important if you want your website to rank well in the search engines. The process is simple. The higher-quality your content, the better it will rank. The more often you publish fresh content, the better it will rank.

Seems easy enough, but if you want to continue enjoying the benefits your fresh quality content can provide, you’ll need a way to keep it rolling in on a steady basis.

Here’s where a simple, easy way of getting quality content comes into play: testimonials. Getting testimonials from past customers has two main advantages. First, it puts them to work writing free content for your website. Second, they’re sharing real experiences they’ve had with your business, something others will consider when contemplating doing the same.

One last note: your content should always be appropriate in tone and on-brand. This way, visitors will not only enjoy reading your content, but they’ll feel confident about coming back to read similar content in the future.

9. Borrow a webmaster’s tools

You’ll need to examine your site’s traffic and performance to keep it running at peak efficiency. A free and easy way to accomplish this is by using free tools from Google like Analytics, Search Console, Tag Manager, and Bing’s Webmaster Tools. These tools allow you to track vital website-related data like:

  • Visitor tracking; see how many people visit your site hourly, daily, etc.
  • Pageviews and bounce rates; see how many people are visiting, and how many are leaving shortly afterwards.
  • Broken links; see if the search engines are having trouble following any of your site’s links.
  • Crawl errors; see if the search engines discover any problems when trying to access your website.
  • Keyword tracking; see what keywords and search terms are gaining you traffic.
  • Backlinks; see which sites have links leading back to your website.

There are many more tools available, from those that optimise your site’s loading speed to revealing surprise metrics that help improve your SEO. However, many of these tools can be involved and convoluted to set up if you’re not tech-savvy.

If you don’t want to become a webmaster yourself, consider partnering with someone like Sanders Design. I help simplify the process of building and managing effective small business websites so you can focus on what really matters; running your business.

10. Create a website maintenance plan

For your website to rank well in the search engines and keep it from getting hacked, you need to ensure it’s properly maintained. Luckily, coming up with a plan is simple, and scheduling it shouldn’t present much of an issue, either.

Here are a few things you’ll want to include in your website’s maintenance plan:

  • Check Webmaster Tools data every couple of weeks or so for errors and set up alerts to immediately email you any vital errors.
  • Examine your site’s traffic to learn more about your visitors so you can create an improved experience for them.
  • Optimise and compress any graphics you add and fix any warnings you encounter.
  • Always ensure your CMS and any plugins are entirely up-to-date, reduce security vulnerabilities.
  • Run occasional security scans to ensure your website is malware-free and hasn’t been hacked.

Last but of critical importance, backup your website in multiple ways every day, and keep backups going at least a couple weeks in the past. There’s nothing worse than doing everything else right, only to lose it all to a server crash or hack that’s entirely out of your hands.

Conclusion

As you can see, the steps that go into creating a great web design small business project are more numerous than most imagine. However, following our ten tips will help you design a full-featured website capable of giving you an advantage over the competition.

Ready to get started on your small business’ new website? Then Contact us today!

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