December 7, 2016 biggorilla§

5 Smart Web Design Tips for Small Businesses

Turn Your Small Business Website into a Lead Generating Powerhouse

Small business owners sometimes think that their websites don’t have to look as good or function as well as the websites of bigger brands. And though it’s true that they may not need all of the same functionality in their web design as bigger brands, the real truth is it’s even more imperative that small businesses look great and function well online.

Why? Because not only is competition harder on small businesses, but oftentimes they don’t have the same amount of exposure (or budgets) as bigger brands, and in that way, they need to work harder at building trust online.

How Can Small Businesses Think Big with Their Web Design?

Web Design for Small Business

At our Austin web design company, we focus on thinking big, and that goes for our small business clients too.

As a small business, your website is actually one of your biggest assets. It is, in essence, your ambassador to the rest of the world. This is even more true if you have an e-commerce website, or if your business is in an industry that works in national and/or global markets, or even if you’re just plain looking to grow. Having a website that presents you in your best light is an absolute must, because more often than not, a potential customer will check out your website prior to doing business with you.

So how can you be sure to present your business in the best light? Here’s a look at some of the things small business owners will want to make sure their website does…And does well.

  • Grabs the visitor’s attention
  • Makes clear right away what your company offers
  • Positions your brand as trustworthy and an authority in its market
  • Turns visitors into leads or customers (by having them submit their contact info via forms, engage in the purchase of a product, contact you or make a visit to your business, etc.)

5 Things Small Business Owners Should Consider when Getting a New Website Design

In order to help small business owners accomplish these goals and make their website the best it can be, we put together 5 great tips that they should keep in mind when getting a website design (or redesign), and working with a website designer. These tips aren’t revolutionary, but they are necessary, and they should absolutely be considered by any small business owner planning for a new website design.

Responsive Website Design

1. Responsive Web Design is a Real Necessity

In 2016, mobile web browsing surpassed desktop browsing. A look at the most recent numbers shows that 56% of browsing is now done via mobile devices. That alone says you should be as ready as possible for any mobile traffic. A lot of business owners also aren’t aware that if you don’t have a responsive website design, or if you don’t have a separate mobile website to ensure your website is mobile-friendly, you’re being penalized by Google. Which means your SEO is hurting, and most likely your sales as well. And as Google rolls out its mobile-indexing first policy, it’s possible your site could be even further penalized in the future.

Having a responsive website design or a separate mobile site should be a top priority for all small businesses who haven’t yet implemented these features.

Customer Focused Marketing

2. Keep Your Focus on the Customer

One element that business owners often struggle with is not actually understanding the needs or wants of their customers. They often think they have an idea of who their customers are, but when actual testing is done, it’s not uncommon to find that many business owners don’t truly understand their customers’ motivations.

There’s an exception to that, however. Something we’ve uncovered at our web design firm in Austin, is that, interestingly enough, it’s actually small business owners dealing locally in a smaller city or town, who often have an advantage with that aspect.

It makes sense when you think about it, because a lot of their business is done face to face. And if their business is in a smaller area, or if their business has been around for a long time, chances are they’re more in touch with their community and their customers. In fact, in a case like this, it’s not uncommon for many of their customers to be friends.

But not every brand and small business owner has these advantages, and those who work in less of a one-on-one capacity, do business in a larger city, have a larger company in general, are e-commerce based, or who have more of a national or international customer base, or for whatever reason they just don’t have the same grasp on who their customers are – the most important thing all business owners should learn is what motivates your visitors into buying. When you uncover what motivates your visitors into buying, you will be able to successfully turn your leads into loyal customers and lifelong promoters of your brand.

So just remember as you’re working towards the design of your website, you should gear your website towards your customers’ needs, values and motivations and that will keep them coming back again and again.

Professional Photography for Websites

3. Professional Photography Makes a “Big” Difference

We often hear this as a gripe for smaller business owners. They don’t think professional photography is necessary. They think a few glossy stock photos or the pictures they took on their phone will work just fine.

Unfortunately that couldn’t be further from the truth. Nothing can make a brand feel more stale than a bunch of stock photos. And making your brand feel stale is definitely something you DON’T want to do.

The photos you took on your phone with you and your staff will work great on Facebook, and perhaps on your blog too, but your main website isn’t the place for them.

On your website, you want to put your best (but real) face on to help build authority and trust in your brand, so we strongly encourage you to invest in a professional photographer, as this will help showcase all the great and unique aspects of your business. That doesn’t mean you can’t have professional photos of you and your staff on your main site either. By all means you should. But let the professional photographer capture you and your company in its best light.

Do Small Businesses need blogs

4. Add a Blog to Your Website and Post to It Regularly

Having a blog on your website has grown increasingly important to how Google views you, because it allows you to establish yourself as a trustworthy authority. Google has made content an increasingly important factor in SEO and how your site scores in terms of ranking. Fresh content also keeps Google coming back to your website, and with each post you write, you’ll have the possibility of reaching more customers.

Long blog posts of 2000 words or more have also been found to create higher conversions. I know 2000 words may sound daunting, but you don’t need to post to your blog every day. Once a week, or even once every two weeks, will help Google see you as an authority over time.

Just make sure the content you post is relevant, educational and interesting to your customers, and that it works towards your end goal of conversions. Working towards conversions doesn’t mean you should be writing your posts with a hard sale in mind though. Au contraire, that won’t just turn off Google, it will turn your customers off as well. Instead, use your blog posts to build up trust and authority about your business and product(s).

Include photos, videos and infographics in your blog posts as well to keep them visual and enticing to those reading your material.

If the idea of writing blog posts leaves you feeling uncertain, or if you just don’t have the time, you may want to consider outsourcing that aspect to a web design & marketing agency that understands how to build your authority and help your search engine optimization.
Why Small Businesses Need Social Media

5. Build Up Your Social Profiles

Building up your social media profiles are an absolute must for any small business owner. This means gathering more likes, more fans, and more followers in every way you possibly can.

All businesses should make sure they have social media icons, with links to their various pages, shown prominently on their website. When first starting out, attempt to utilize as many social media platforms as you can, and definitely the big ones, like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Youtube, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat (which is gaining some ground as well).

Your email signature should also contain links to your business’s social profiles, as should those of the employees at your company.

Make sure it’s easy for visitors to share elements of your website, in particular your blog. You’ll want them to share your articles and information as much as possible with their friends and followers. For those small businesses that have a WordPress blog or website, we recommend using Social Warfare as your social sharing plugin. It’s lightweight and integrates easily with your site. Their free plan gives you good functionality, but they also offer a paid plan if you’re in need of more advanced features.

Through time and experimentation, it’s likely you’ll find that a few of these platforms will work better for you than others. That’s normal, and you’ll want to invest the bulk of your social media energy (and budget) into the platforms where your customers are spending the most time.

Social media can be a great thing for small businesses, because it allows you to reach out and connect with customers & clients in a way that was never fully possible before. But nowadays, most social media platforms don’t give you full access to your fans & followers unless you promote or advertise with them. All small businesses should consider this as a must for their marketing efforts and plan accordingly with their budgets.

Here’s a helpful article if you’re looking for ideas on how to get started on social media.

Whether you’re looking for your first website design, or a redesign of your current website, it’s important to keep these elements in mind, as it will help get you started in the right direction. And if you’re looking for help in the process, give our Austin web design agency a call. We love working with small businesses!