Designing your website is no small task. Some small business owners take on a do-it-yourself platform to design and launch their website themselves. Others seek out help from web design and development agencies to help manage and bring their brands to life. Regardless of the path you choose, making sure you keep a few key strategies in mind will be important in the success of the end product.
Your website is the digital home of your brand. It is a tool used to communicate the who, what, and where of your product or service. Implementing key strategies will save you time, and resources, in the long run. We have worked with numerous clients who are looking to redesign a website that was not done properly the first time. A few have tried the do-it-yourself platforms that promise ease of use and functionality. However, in the end but in they become a burden to maintain. Others have worked with agencies who promise the world for pennies, but don’t deliver.
Proper website design and development impacts website performance and usability, improves brand visibility and awareness and increases Return On Investment (ROI). Regardless, if you are creating your website yourself or partnering with an agency, there are some fundamental website design strategies that should be kept in mind throughout the process.
1. Mobile Friendly
Responsively designed web sites, are sites that render well on a variety of screen sizes and devices.
Users expect to be able to access your website from any device and they are also expecting that it will be a user-friendly experience.
An average US adult will spend just under four hours on their device. To put this into perspective, the average US adult will spend three and a half hours watching TV. Mobile use is well on the way to surpass that of TV usage.
The main goal of these numbers, and this strategy is to make sure small business owners understand the need to have a mobile-friendly website. So, if you are building it yourself or working with an agency, make sure you consider the following mobile-friendly considerations:
- Page speed (how fast does it load?)
- Image rendering (are images pixelated?)
- Scroll depth (ease of navigation?)
Make sure you test your new website on multiple devices. Scroll through pages, submit test lead forms and play around to make sure that everything is functioning properly, especially on mobile devices.
2. HTML Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices can cover a wide variety of tactics but a few key elements are essential to help search engine bots properly rank your website and help you reach your audience.
These elements include:
- Title tags – HTML elements that specifies the title of a particular page. This appears as the headline in search engine results.
- Meta descriptions – Basically a summarization a the webpage’s content. This also appears under the Title tag/headline in search engine results.
- Header Tags – HTML elements that defines the headings of a webpage.
- ALT text – Alternative text is a word or phrase added to the image tag in HTML to give users a preview of the contents of an image. This is also required for ADA when designing your website.
Whether you are working with a web designer or designing your website yourself, your new website needs to account for these four elements above.
There are other SEO elements like internal linking, URL structure and backlinks that are also important to SEO strategy. But those have less to do with the designing your website and more so are just best practices to implement once you are up and running.
3. Clear Calls to Action
A Call-to-Action (CTA) is defined as a piece of content intended to induce a viewer, reader, or listener to perform a specific act, typically taking the form of an instruction or directive
A clear and easily accessible (CTA) is vital for the success of any website. It is a straight forward indication of what steps you want them to take next. Your website will hopefully be full of relevant, helpful content about your brand, your services offered and what you can do for consumers. The only thing missing is what you want them to do after they learn about your brand.
Would you prefer them to email you or call you? Do you want them to fill out a lead form to learn more about them? Do you want them to sign up for eNewsletter distribution? Do you want them to search your product database? Or do you want them to add a product to a shopping cart?
You want to make sure that your CTA are easy for users to find. Often times, you will find it in the navigation at the top of a page, and also in multiple locations within your website’s pages to ensure that no matter what page someone is on, they can take next steps if they want to.
4. White Space Use
When designing your website, you need to make sure that you have a good amount of pertinent content throughout the different pages. But you also want to make sure that you don’t overwhelm users. The ability to strategically use white space to your advantage will be key to ensure you can keep users engaged and hopefully take the next step –utilizing your CTA.
It is becoming more common to try to ‘bulk up’ content on webpages, to allow for easier scrolling especially on mobile devices. If there are just paragraphs stacked on top of paragraphs of text on a webpage, users will be more likely to skim and scroll through without taking in the content.
Using the right mix of images, videos, text and white (blank) space is what can set a good website apart from a poorly designed one.
5. Keep on Brand
It can be tempting to add a lot of new features, fonts, imagery and colors when you are building or rebuilding your company’s website. But it is extremely important from a brand awareness standpoint to make sure that you stay true to your brand.
When a website is inconsistent, using multiple different fonts, colors and branding in general — it can result in a poor user experience. This can upend all of the work that went into your website build in the first place. Keep the user at the forefront when making design decisions and remember that consistency is key.
Many companies will ‘rebrand’ themselves when they launch a new website. But you need to make sure that you develop a set of brand rules prior to designing your website so that you use consistent fonts, colors and shapes to make for a cohesive user experience.
Designing your website is an exciting process. At the core of what you do, make sure that you focus on your brand, how you want users to perceive and interact with it, and what end result you want them to take while on your website.
If you are interested in learning more about how we partner with small businesses to design and develop awesome websites, contact us today. Or you check out our portfolio first, and then reach out. Regardless, we are here to help small businesses create an online presence.