Starting a website design for business will present you with some difficult decisions. For small businesses, a website is arguably the most important marketing tool to invest in.
Using this guide by Kaydee Web you can ask the right questions, and start planning a business website design.
Visual or functional website design?
With an educated guess I would say 5% of my clients use the company website as a brochure, largely for an audience who know about them already.
These guys are not too concerned about the search engine side of web design. They may be more interested in making a visual impact or having extra functionalities.
Every other small business, start-up or entrepreneur that I talk to invests in a website to generate more business and create better business connections.
Businesses should plan to visually satisfy a target market, and use good search engine techniques from the onset.
The target audience of a business website
No small business will appeal to each and every internet user. It is impossible, not to mention expensive, to gear a website around the needs of everyone.
It’s much more viable to build a website around a smaller target group.
Think about your market, and who you would like the website to appeal to. What age are they, what sex, have they got a geographic location? What are their likes and dislikes?
A successful website is designed and structured for the right audience.
The definition of a target audience >
Search engine friendly website design
A website can be improved for search engines after it has been created, but in my experience a lot of time and effort can be saved when a site is built with search engines in mind.
Pages and posts should be built around an audience, and around a key term.
You may have an idea of key terms. Analyse these as you will be surprised at other terms you come up with. Pick those that are less popular, and easier to rank for.
Use the chosen key words in page names, image file names, page titles and throughout the content. Search engines can then easily decipher the subject of the page.
If this isn’t taken care of right from the beginning you may find that you have to change page slugs and use redirects, which will impact your page rank.
Be aware that Google penalises websites that are slow, images that take too long to download or when information is not provided quickly.
Google wants business websites to provide users with information fast, and will reward that. This is a great page, created by Google that explains crawling and indexing in depth.
Website structure and navigation
Industry leaders can often push boundaries, but most small businesses should stick to using a clear navigation system and page structure, all of which are easy to find and to use.
Clear hierarchy isn’t only good for users, Google will reward websites for ease of use.
When designing a website be careful to use systems that people are familiar with, or direct them if you feel things are unclear. Using a burger icon for mobile navigation is very common, but some users still miss it. Writing MENU next to it makes it clear that a user needs to tap.
A website that is easy to get around not only helps your visitors, but also helps Google to index the site. When all documents are linked adequately, Googlebot can easily crawl the site, going from link to link. A well linked website will be indexed better and rank higher.
Visually pleasing website design
Don’t make your website too busy, use plenty of white space so visitors can find what they are looking for. Stick to between 2 and 5 colours that compliment each other and are easy on the eye.
Fonts are more important than people realise. Some fonts will make your site look modern, others will make it look traditional. I often use two fonts that work well together. Make sure both fonts are easy to read.
Call to action buttons help to encourage visitors from a landing page, to a contact form or a product purchasing page.
Large images look great, but keep them simple so they can be compressed and will download quickly.
Responsive website design
On Google’s mobile search, websites that are not mobile friendly will be penalised. If a website is not responsive or a mobile version has not been developed, a site will often drop down the ranks.
Not being mobile friendly also makes life harder for users. Text and images could appear tiny on a mobile screen. Users may have to pan across to find the information they want.
Mobile users will leave an unresponsive website to find what they need elsewhere.
Provide good content
Google looks for informative websites that provide visitors with information. A website with 3 lines of text on each page will not rank well.
Google wants business owners to write great content around the industry, the service and the product that is being offered. Guess work is a no.
Repeating text on pages will also be penalised. Make sure you take the time to write fantastic content. Concentrate on your target audience and you will be well rewarded on the search pages.
A blog is a great place to provide extra content, that you do not want to include on your website.
Keep your website up to date
A website will drop on Google page rank if it becomes out of date.
Google looks for business owners who provide good, up to date content to their users.
Some content can be forever green, meaning it will stay relevant over time. Always go back through your pages and posts to check that you’ve provided the latest information.
Using professional images
Good images can really help sell a product or service. I encourage businesses to use their own, professional photographs. Good photos have a naturally positive impact and can really improve the over all look of a site, gaining the visitors trust.
Stock photos can be used if you really have none of your own, but always make images relevant to the text.
Large photos at the top of pages, often known as hero images, are on trend at the moment, and look great. However, with Google’s quest to provide information fast, a website can be penalised, so use images carefully.
Creating your own website
To save money, a start-up business may choose to create a website in house, rather than hiring a web design agency.
There are lots of options for you to make a start, which I cover in my post “Do it yourself website builders“.
Do remember to build around search engines as you go, or you may be disappointed by the results that you achieve.
There are many mistakes to be made in website design, all of which a professional designer will have come across. Professional help will often save you time and money.