Small Business Website Design Tips

Of all of the tools in the small business owner's marketing arsenal, your website is one of the most powerful. A well-designed site can be the critical difference that makes a customer choose to stay, browse and buy instead of moving on to a competitor's page. That could mean more sales to track with your retail management software.

Many small business owners hire web design professionals to create their site, but even if you choose someone else to implement your vision, knowing what you want ahead of time will help ensure the final product looks great and achieves its purpose.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating an eye-catching, user-friendly and effective website for your small firm.

Branding

A strong brand identity is important because you want your website to look as professional as possible and instill confidence in potential customers, as part of your strategy to boost sales which are captured by your retail management software. Fortunately, the web offers small businesses the chance to look much bigger than they are through the use of clever branding and an attractive and prominently placed logo.

Make sure you use this same logo on the rest of your marketing materials, as well as on invoices and other business communications to create a consistent and familiar brand.

Simplicity

It has been proven time and time again - people don't like websites that have too much clutter or require excessive clicking to find information. Much like a well-organized shop, a clean and clear site design allows customers to relax and enables them to locate what they are looking for.

Fonts. Make sure your choice of font and font size are focused on readability rather than just design. Remember that people with different levels of vision could be viewing your page and aim to be as inclusive as possible.

Graphics. Pictures are eye-catching and attractive, but resist the temptation to overload customers with visual images. Too many pictures can also make a site load more slowly. Experts suggest that you include a good mix of graphics and text on each page to better allow search engines to assess your site's relevancy.

Text. Aim for at least 250 words of text per page, with keywords included. You can also make text as easy to read as possible by using bullet points, numbered lists and bolding to draw the viewer's eye to the most important points.

Transparency

Contact information. Make sure you provide relevant contact information - including phone number, email and physical address - on your home page, or as a header on every page. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for someone to get in touch if they have a query, encounter a problem or would like more information on your products or services.

Business information. Be upfront and clear about exactly what you do and include this information on your home page. What is your pricing system? Who do you sell to? Try to anticipate people's questions before they ask them.

Navigability

Site map. Consider including a site map that will list all of the pages on your site. Remember to update your map whenever you add or delete a page.

Search function. These days, people are used to being able to search for what they want and obtain meaningful results at the click of a button. Adding a search function to your site will help prevent customers from looking elsewhere if they don't immediately see what they are looking for on your home page.

Icons and navigation. Rather than challenging people's expectations with an unusual layout, it is probably better to stick to web standards for icons and navigation. Your customers will thank you.

Photos

If you are trying to sell a product, you want to make it look as good as possible. Many small business owners use professional photos to highlight what they are selling. This may be the closest a customer gets to your product before they decide to buy - or not to buy.

Content

Of course, the aim of your web page is to create new customers and encourage existing ones to buy more, so you can record the sales with your retail management software. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is by including interesting and informative content on your site.

Keep in mind that if any of this content is time-sensitive, you will have to keep an eye on it to make sure it has not become out of date. If your last press release is from two years ago, consider removing that page altogether or adding a few new ones to avoid appearing behind the times.

Interactive content. There is an increasing trend for websites offering interactive content, such as surveys, comments, ratings and reviews. Just make sure you can invest the time and effort needed to monitor communications on your site - for example, by manually approving reviews before they are posted to prevent abuse.
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