Stefano
Peschiera©

8 essential considerations for small business web design

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Is your website working hard enough for your small business? Possibly not...

A website is one of the first ways you present your small business to the world. Consumers have always wanted to get a sense for a product, service, or brand. But now, rather than word of mouth, Google has the answers. What you stand for, what your reviews say — it’s all right there at their fingertips. Thankfully, ensuring that customers like what they see is well within your control.  

But spending all of 10 minutes making a basic website is not enough in 2021. There's a right and a not-so-right way to design a small business website, and we’re here to help you understand which is which.

The need to get small business web design right

In my experience as a freelance designer and art director, many small businesses feel overwhelmed by the digital marketing scene — and too nervous to take action. Or, they use cookie cutter website templates, which lack differentiation and the ability to engage.

With 80% of business engagement now happening online, your website really can boost or limit your success. So this blog post is designed to help you get started with small business web design, while avoiding the common mistakes that many beginners make.

8 ways to ace your small business web design

1. Start with a strategy

Whereby shows you its purpose as soon as you land on their website, they go straight to the point by creating trust and interest in their users.

Before you do anything, commit to a plan.

Think about what your strategy is, and the goals behind your website. Are you trying to give customers a clearer understanding of who you are? Is celebrating your product range your key objective? Do you need ecommerce capabilities?

With these goals at the forefront of your mind, you can create a content architecture plan (or work with a designer to create one together). This layout will be devised around the user’s intended journey through your site — making it easy for them to navigate and perform the necessary actions.

I normally dedicate a full hour to discussing and shaping the website strategy with my clients. During the discussion, we will pinpoint key elements like their visual direction, the businesses’ website goals, and the plan for the content architecture.

2. Keep in mind that less is more

Apple was the first brand to differentiate itself from its competitors with the ease of use of its products, you already know the rest of the story.

As any good designer will tell you, simplicity is stylish.

That isn’t to say that a rushed, plain or empty website will do you any favours. But artful minimalism is a great way to showcase your brand, and confidently demonstrate its value to potential buyers.

And it’s not just about achieving a subtle aesthetic. Users are in a hurry — they scan web pages quickly looking for key information about your business. A “less is more” layout will focus a visitor’s attention on what you want them to know and the benefits that’ll pique their interest.

Aim for impactful images and short, snappy text. Anything more could add clutter.

3. Never undervalue consistency

Google's Material Design is the first example used when explaining what a design system is and how important is the visual consistency of brands in all its digital interfaces.

Be consistent with your visual brand language. This not only means from page to page, but from platform to platform, too.

Brand consistency is a crucial part of increasing your sales. A strong visual identity builds brand recognition which, in turn, increases your customer retention rate, as people are more loyal to your brand. A definitive, impactful and unique brand language will help you to stand out in a crowded marketplace — so customers are more likely to remember who you are and what you do.

In fact, consistent brand presentation can increase revenue by a third!

4. Use headlines to guide visitors

Squarespace on their website makes excellent use of large headlines to highlight the benefits of their services.

Building on the point above about your content architecture plan, you can use headlines to your advantage. These are a great, simple way to guide visitors through your website — significantly improving your website’s user experience.

Simply use bold headlines to clearly explain what your business is, what it does, and why customers should care. That way, they’ll quickly, easily and visually understand what to expect from your site — and from being your customer!

5. Don’t forget mobile optimisation

Ueno knows how to optimize for mobile.

Did you know that 58% of revenue from online sales comes from customers using mobile devices?

That’s why you’d be downright irresponsible to neglect this method of website access! Make sure that your website design is optimised to suit laptop, tablet and mobile access. The layout, style and content should look equally as strong across all of the above.

Don’t worry if you have no idea where to start on omnichannel web design. That’s what professional designers, like me, are for.

6. Adopt interactions and animations selectively

Uber knows how important micro-interactions are in making your user experience enjoyable and retaining its users.

Images that move and come together as you scroll; graphics that respond to your mouse movements. These sorts of interactions and animations can be super fun... but I’d use them selectively.

My advice would be to only add interactions and animations if they add value to your content. If they aren’t adding value to your website and helping build your brand, then they can be a costly addition. And they can actually have the negative effect of making your site appear busy or confusing to visitors.

7. Prioritise a fast loading speed

Google PageSpeed Insights is still a beneficial tool, and you absolutely should use it.

Newsflash: people are impatient. You, me, your potential customers — we’re all short on time! Studies have shown that 40% of us won’t wait longer than three seconds for a retail website to load.

What’s more, search engines like Google will penalise your ranking if your website’s loading speed is slow.

There are lots of clever hacks to keep your loading speed as quick as possible. For example, make sure that your graphics are compressed and optimised, as this will make your loading speed far faster than if they were full-size.

8. Remember: a designer’s help will take you far

Is this list causing you to stress out? Don’t let it. You know your business inside out, so why not enlist the help of a professional designer to add their expertise?

A designer will make sure that all of these key points are ticked off, and so much more. With their help, you can create an impactful and memorable online presence for your small business.

Drop me a message and let’s chat web design

I’ve collaborated with a wide variety of different businesses to create stylish, bold and engaging websites — and, together, we’ve used the always-evolving digital marketplace to their advantage.  

What could we achieve side-by-side? Let’s start work today and find out.