The Ultimate Guide to Small Business Website Design (Part 1)
Your website is the only place that you have your customers full attention, so it’s important to know how to tell your company’s story to your visitors. In the next couple blog posts, we’re going to systematically break down the most important aspects of your website design and content so you can understand exactly what’s important and how to leverage your business’s strengths online.
Tell Your Company’s Story
Before we begin to think about building your website as a digital marketing tool, we need to get the thought of actively “marketing” out of your mindset. We’re not going to try to market to visitors, we’re going to tell your brand’s story and give a transparent view of exactly what it’s like to do business with you. Let’s start by just writing down a little bit about your business. Write down some of your company’s main core values and message. Specifically, what is it that you want every customer to feel after they’ve visited your site? When we begin to get these core values down on paper we’re beginning to better understand “how” to market your brand.
Next, let’s continue to figure out the pieces of information (content) that every visitor needs to see when they visit your site. Some common examples of this would be a few paragraphs about how your company came to be and what excites you and the people you work with every day. When you start to get these thoughts on paper, just write as if you’re just talking to a friend. One of the most common misconceptions online is that every sentence needs to be “professionally” written. Successful digital marketers are always consciously careful to keep their voice when they write.
Okay, so we have a little bit about what’s important to you and your brand written down. Some of this is probably starting to feel like an “about us” page and that’s exactly what we’re going for. We’re creating your website without even thinking about “building” specific pages.
Let’s also write down your products or services at this point as well. We definitely want to make sure that visitors can also easily see exactly what it is that you have to offer for them.
One final thought to keep in mind before we move on is to start to think about some customers you’ve had in the past. If you know of some happy customers that would be willing to give you a testimonial, they can also help to tell your story.
Starting to think about your website design
So we’ve got a few things written down and we’re beginning to think about the message we want to convey to website visitors. Now we need to begin to think about some of the elements we want to have on the website. There are some very common aspects of most successful small business websites that we want to make sure we have.
Headers and footers Simple and clear navigation
Our Work/Portfolio Section
Headers and Footers
Headers (defined space along the top each web page) are the perfect place to show your logo and the name of your company, because it’s typically the first place that visitors will look when visiting a website. Navigation is typically primarily shown in your header and a sitemap containing links to other pages should be included in your footer. Headers can also be a great place to have a quick reference to some contact information such as a phone number or email address.
Simple and Clear Navigation
Nothing will make a visitor leave your website quicker than not knowing how to get where they’re trying to go. The most common way to display navigation on your site is at the top of each page, but it’s okay to have navigation displayed on the left or right side of each page. Typically we don’t want to have too many pages that are only linked to from other pages and not easily seen in your header. Links to your main pages should also be included inside the footer of your site.
Giving customers insight into what it looks like to do business with you can help build rapport before even talking to an interested visitor. When you start to think about your portfolio, it’s a great time to gather some testimonials from your clients. Take a second to think about the last time someone has recommended a product or service to you. Visitors that can visualize what to expect in doing business with your company from actual paying customers can begin to really consider reaching out to you. Also, try to gather some of your best images to place alongside descriptions of your best past work.
After you’ve put in the hard work of creating the right website design and content, you need to have a way for your website’s visitors to reach out to you. Placing your contact information in either the header or footer of your site and having a specific contact details page can be a great way for visitors to move one step closer to turning into satisfied, paying customers.
Although these are just a few of things that we need to consider for your website, hopefully you’re beginning to see how much you can actually do to communicate your company’s brand through your website, regardless of your technical skill. We like to think of your website as the story behind your business, not just a place for visitors to find your phone number or email. Now that we’re beginning to get more comfortable with the idea of your website being a valuable asset for your business’s outreach, it’s time to get into the details of what you should look for when you or your website agency is creating a design.