Website Design Tips: Ultimate Guide to Small Business Web Design in 2021

Does your website represent the level of quality that your company offers? What if I told you a bad website can lose a companies customers, and send them fleeing to a competitor? It can be frustrating to offer better products or services, only to have a competitor with a nicer website get that business.

Introduction – 3 key ways to have a successful website design project

Know the ideal customer. If I told you the number of times a client says their ideal customer is ‘everyone’ it would make your head spin. While the answer is understandable, it’s never actually the correct answer. There is always an ‘ideal customer’ for every business. That’s what you need to find out. Then you design the website to speak to them. You want to speak their language, and optimize your site for their needs.

Follow a process. It’s way too easy to get lost and hung up on things when creating a  website. Following a clear process helps you to stay on track. Our web design process is Discover, Distill, Design, Develop, Deploy. Discovery is the most important step in the design process.

Involve anyone who has input on the design from the get-go. But make sure they actually need to be involved in the process. ‘Design by committee’ is not fun for anyone and is not how a design process should work.

The top 3 tips for small business web design

1. Have a clear site hierarchy.

The website should have a site structure that is clean and easy to use. Use lots of white space, don’t cram things together, and make it clear what the benefits are. The  customer should imagine themselves working with you and easily find what they need.

2. Use trust signals.

Things like reviews, industry awards, and testimonials help instill trust with users who are checking out your company. Use visuals when possible, and put elements in different areas of your site.

3. Use clear CTA’s.

Make it super clear what you want your user to do. Don’t be afraid to tell them! Do you want customers to schedule a free consultation? Put a button in the top right of your main menu, on your home page, above the footer — anywhere. Just make it clear.

These are just the top 3 tips we have, so lets dive in a little more below…

1. Clean, uncluttered layouts work best

Use lots of white space. Clean, uncluttered designs with lots of white space work best. It gives your site a modern, high-end feel while at the same time making the site intuitive to use.

Keep font choices to no more than three. Fonts should be minimal, consistent, and legible. Normally, a site doesn’t need more than 2 or 3 fonts — one style for the headings, and one for the body. Make your life easier and choose a font from Google Fonts. Most WordPress themes come with them already installed for you.

Don’t overuse tacky stock images. If you need photos to add visual appeal to the site, we recommend UnSplash or Pexels.

2. Ensure clear Visual Hierarchy and emphasize what’s most important

The hero image and headline should communicate your story. Tell the customer exactly how what you do benefits them. Make sure there is a visible call-to-action.

Prioritize headlines. People tend to scan websites. Keep your headlines short and sweet — and make sure they tell the user how you can help them, what you do, and what makes you different.

3. Use contrast to increase visual interest

Don’t use light fonts on white backgrounds and vice versa. Alternate sections with light and dark backgrounds to add visual interest.

Don’t use a super lightweight/thin font for your text. It can be hard to see on some screens.

Make sure fonts are large enough (we recommend 20px minimum) that you don’t need to strain to read.

4. Write with the customer’s benefits in mind

This is a hard one, but copywriting is super important.

Keep headlines short and sweet. And keep them customer focused. Don’t use ‘who we are’ or ‘what we do’ as headlines.

Remember to talk about benefits and not features. Help the customer answer their own questions and imagine working with you.

5. Help them trust you

Testimonials, reviews with a visual 5 stars, a picture of the person or where they left the review help instill trust. If you have a ton of Google reviews, embedding them in a nice way can be a great idea.

Any of your credentials, industry awards, or the logos of your clients. Avoid making this look scammy by showing them muted and in grayscale (this works great for client logos).

Projects, case studies, and visual evidence of your hard work updated regularly helps grow trust.

6. Call them to action

Use the top right side of your site (on the main menu or above) to put a simple button CTA, such as ‘get a quote.’

The bottom of the page, above the footer is also a great place for a call-to-action. This area allows you a bit more room to add imagery or a couple sentences of persuasibe copy. Sometimes even a simple contact form works too.

Use contrasting colors for your primary CTA’s and use those colors less throughout the rest of the design. This helps draw the users eye to the CTA and make’s it pop.

A small business website design should be clean, mobile-friendly, and easy to use. It should tell the company story and be super customer-focused.

7. Be brief on the surface

Headlines and copy at the top of the pages and homepage should be brief, but clear.

Interior pages should be more comprehensive. We suggest a minimum of 500 words to make sure Google will understand what your page is about and actually show in the search results. Make sure you answer your user’s questions.

Avoid the ‘wall of text’ like the plague. Limit the width of of text to 45 to 75 characters (or about 7-10 words) per line. Reading long lines of text will cause fatigue and too short of lines make reading feel choppy. As James Craig wrote in his book Designing With Type:

Reading a long line of type causes fatigue: the reader must move his head at the end of each line and search for the beginning of the next line.… Too short a line breaks up words or phrases that are generally read as a unit.

Break sections of text up onto alternating light and dark backgrounds and switch images from left to right. This creates some visual interest and makes reading feel less overwhelming.

8. Focus on the user experience

Use headings appropriately. There should only be one H1 per page (this is usually the page title). Use H2’s and H3’s to break text up into easily digestible sections. Use bullet points, put a CTA above the fold, and make information easy to understand.

User images or icons where it helps to convey the message.

Assume you only have 10 seconds to make an impression. You want to grab the users attention and keep it as long as possible.

9. Development and SEO should be considered from the start

Design is important, but development — or HOW the site is built — matters just as much. We recommend WordPress for small business website development. The site should be developed professionally, and with the ultimate goal of the website in mind.

SEO, or search engine optimization is how a website gets found online. Ideally, you’ll hire someone with expertise in this field. At the very least, fill in your meta titles, meta descriptions, and submit your site to the major search engines.

These two elements are crucial to an effective website. Remember, an effective website is more than just the design… so keep this in mind when hiring a web design agency to work with.

Conclusion

A website for your small business is the most cost-effective marketing tool you have. It can also make or break a company. Whether the website is there to attract new business, or provide updated information, it should act as the marketing engine. No matter what you need, it’s important to find a small business web design agency that fits your specific needs.

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