Web design services for small business are both types of art and science. A lot of artistic talent can go into creating a beautiful, modern-looking website. At the same time, all that artistic effort can—and should be—backed up by hard data. Any small business web design provider worth his/her salts will have spent a good chunk of time researching what works and what doesn’t. Clients have a lot to gain by relying on that tangible experience and wisdom.
There is (or at least should be) an intricate process that a business website designer follows to map out a website’s UI/UX, such as placing call-to-actions (CTAs) in the right spots, picking the right types of colors, and building the brand in a way that resonates with your customers and reflects your industry positively. The biggest difference between a professional small business web design provider and an amateur depends on how thorough they implement each of the following necessities:
- a clear message of who you are, what you’re offering, and who you’re selling to
- clean, easy-to-follow design aesthetics coupled with simple, logical navigation
- the necessary “under the hood” functionality, and keeping it in working order
- optimized image dimensions and file sizes to ensure the fastest pagespeed
For owners shopping for a new business website design, the quality of the website delivered may well provide the difference between a 1% conversion rate and a 10% rate. Let’s break down some best practices for small business web design into greater detail.
1. Do You Have a Clear Objective & Funnel for Visitors to Complete?
A professional business website design should never be a collection of disparate pages, yet many of them are. Instead, the entire small business web development process must be mapped out into a “tree”. This sitemap must include the main landing page/homepage all the way to the fine print in the terms page.
Your business website design must present a clear message of what you offer and why. Visitors will form opinions about your small business within milliseconds of visiting your new website, and will only grant you a few seconds in total before deciding to stay or leave. You must have the information they’re looking for easily & readily accessible. Focus on making that first impression of business website design a great one.
Your must also plan your small business website development with a visitor objective in mind. If your web traffic just looks and leaves, then it’s pretty much useless. Make them sign up for your email list, schedule a booking, or buy one of your products. Getting your visitors to “convert” into customers is a science in and of itself, but any true small business web development provider will have their own A/B testing process that they follow.
2. Does Your New Business Website Design Load Fast (e.g. <2 Seconds)?
This is the internet in the age of information for crying out loud. There are only a few seconds before the next distraction comes along, and visitors hate slow-loading pages. You will only get a moment to grab their attention before they click away. This is why having fast loading times on your small business web design is essential.
Your website pagespeed will be affected by both the website itself as well as your web hosting server. Having a fast website needs both well-optimized code/images and a WordPress-optimized host, ideally with high-end hardware and regularly updated software.
Your business website designer or developer should do each of the following in some way, shape, or form:
- optimize your website photos by cropping and/or resizing them to the most web-friendly resolutions
- run all your website images through an optimizer like TinyPNG, EWWW, or WP Smush
- use a regularly-maintained visual builder or, if coding from scratch, writing clean, easily serviceable code
- cut out bloatware, unclean code, and/or unnecessary WordPress plugins (see if Clearfy can help)
3. Is Your Small Business Website Mobile Responsive?
Over half of all global traffic (including 3rd world countries without good cellular/4G networks) comes from mobile devices. In fact, nearly 54% of traffic is coming from mobile, while just 43% is coming from desktop. Often, visitors come across your small business website on mobile first, and then decide whether or not they will revisit on their laptop or desktop.
You might be asking yourself, if that’s the case, why does a mobile responsive site even matter? Won’t they revisit with their desktop anyways? Perhaps not—if you lose out during a potential customer’s early research stage, you may have lost them for good.
4. Are Tracking Tools like Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel Installed?
Remember my earlier bit about science and conversion-tracking? Numbers indeed don’t lie. When it comes to conversion optimizing, lowering bounce rates (getting visitors to stay and do something meaningful), and search engine rankings, empirical data is vital. Fortunately, Google and other search engine providers make it ridiculously easy to help you gather this data.
Yet, sometimes I build websites for clients who are so eager to launch, or do some work on existing websites, that the installation of Google Analytics is completely skipped over. Factor tools like Google Analytics into your small business web development process. Not only is it 100% free, but all you have to do is email your web developer a piece of code that Google Analytics gives you. Still, some amateur types of small business web designers or indifferent small business owners skip over this step and later forget.
A true professional small business web developer must be able to explain what to do with the data or offer you A/B testing in some capacity. Many professional web developers also provide SEO services (on-page, off-page, or both), while others will refer you to a recommended SEO provider. FissionBlue Creative ourselves works with a close-knit network of SEO agencies & specialists and we choose to refer SEO work to them.
5. Can Your Fans Follow & Share Your Social Media Pages?
Your social media strategy must go hand-in-hand with your website, rather than exist in their own lonely silos. Provide a link to your small business website on your social media pages and integrate a social media tool like Monarch or Social Warfare. Putting social media buttons on your website pages, blog posts, and products can lead to more sharing, which in turn increases reach.
6. Is the Security of Your Website & Visitors a Priority to You?
In the age of information, security is front and center for websites both big and small. If you have a WordPress site, then it is only a matter of time before a bad actor tries to hack it. This very site receives over a thousand various attack attempts per month, and we are by no means “big time”.
Plenty of well-paid, well-respected IT experts, including web developers and system administrators, fail to properly secure their sites and servers. A professional small business web developer not ensures that your website is secured to the best it can be, but also works with you to teach the basics and best practices to keep your small business website secure post-development.
Here’s an example: one of the simplest yet routinely overlooked things you can do today is use a password generator and storage locker like LastPass. Read our post covering how to secure your WordPress site and protect against hackers to learn more.
So…Why You Should Hire a Professional Small Business Web Developer?
So why should you shell out the big bucks for for a professional small business web developer? Hopefully the answer is to avoid getting an unfinished or botched delivery, where basic due diligence wasn’t followed. Building a new website correctly can get expensive very quickly, no doubt. Though with costly alternatives like having a site constantly in need of repairs or that performs poorly, any serious small business owner must now see why hiring a professional web designer or web developer is the smarter choice down the road.
Disclaimer: the above post represents only a few topics that come with owning a website. Feel free to add any risks or responsibilities I missed in the comments below!