Without a website with a responsive web design, a small business or startup is in danger of falling way behind the competition.

You may think that posting images on Pinterest, sharing tiny bits of content on social media sites like Twitter, or buying Facebook fans by advertising is building a fan base and an ever-increasing target audience.

Without a website at the core, you miss incredible opportunities to connect and engage with customers and potential customers. Customers want to learn about the services or products you offer. A dedicated website with a good design and layout helps them do so. Below are tips and best practices for web design.

Keep Your Design Unique, Fresh and Simple

The site reflects your brand. Visitors get a first impression when they initially visit your website. Off-the-wall templates make your site look like thousands of others on the web. Those models do not create a unique impression.

A potential customer is not likely to remember a website that looks like dozens of other websites they visited. The most important page of a business site is typically the homepage. It is likely the first page seen by visitors to the website.

The homepage is the anchor for the overall site. Several important questions must be answered. They include, ‘Who are you?’ and “What do you do?’ Some templates are visually pretty but lack the elements that make a website functionally informative and useful to potential customers. Know the message you want to communicate and the impression you wish to make on customers.

A professional logo design should be part of the design layout. Logos created from a template or clip-art won’t be unique and will create a poor impression. There may also be a substantial legal risk. Investing in a new site without creating an original logo is a missed opportunity.

Users usually read only 28 percent of the content during a typical visit. Do not overload the homepage with a lot of images and text. Get rid of anything that is not considered an important image or content.

Too much content on the homepage creates confusion and poor user experience. Visitors may be using mobile devices or laptops. Avoid designing pages meant for a large monitor. Do not use complex features like flash animation or complicated navigation.

Consider illustrations for a more sophisticated look. Creative drawings are being incorporated in homepages instead of images that have dominated web design. Illustrations engage users in personal ways.

Organization

Keep the navigation and web design consistent throughout the website. All pages should have similar design and layout. Search engines and people prefer sites that are properly organized. Prospective customers are usually looking for specific information when they visit a website.

website about us page image

They skim the headlines, look at graphics and photos, and read small portions of text. Rarely is the entire page read.

A properly structured site presents information in an organized and orderly fashion.

Use bold bullets and easy to read fonts to stress things you want visitors to notice or to present information by adding text color. Keep the use of fonts and text color to a minimum. The goal is to emphasize not confuse. Most people ignore content if the headline doesn’t interest them.

website contact us page image

The call-to-action (CTA) draws visitors deeper into a site. It should be located above the fold and visible when the page is first seen on the monitor. The CTA should stand out from other content on the website. Create a link so that the CTA draws the visitor to another page deeper in the site.

Action buttons or links should be unambiguous and clear. ‘Submit’ and ‘Save’ are not the same. Think about the visitor’s expectations when they click links or buttons. Use complete sentences instead of isolated phrases or words.

Content

Search engines index websites based on the quality of links and content. A site becomes more attractive to search engines when it contains a lot of material. Visitors like content, too. Poor content can cause a visitor to leave a website.

Headlines are compelling and can be the reason a visitor leaves a site or reads the other content. Content should be fresh and current. Study the sites of successful competitors who have been in business for some time. Notice how they present services and products on their websites.

Search engine marketing and SEO are specialized fields that require an investment of time to learn. SEO or SEM campaigns provide small business with needed leverage. Search engine optimization should not be ignored. There are resources online to help with SEO.

Showcase Services and Products

There are two extremes of showing. Some web designs fail to adequately show services and products. Others try to showcase too many services and products on one page. First impressions are made in only a few seconds. You want to make a professional first impression.

products image

If customers buy your products online, the descriptions and graphical images should be appropriate, crisp, and clean. Customers think twice about purchasing products that are advertised with terrible photos. Look at sites such as Amazon to learn how to present products.

If the service or product is web-based, think about using computer or phone images that showcase product graphics embedded within those images. This trick helps people anticipate how to engage with the service or products. A few good product shots can be featured on the homepage. Other products will be featured on interior pages.

Loading Time

Conversions are impacted by site load times. When browsing sites, people become impatient with slow load times. If you have a graphically intense website design, be sure you have the bandwidth and hardware infrastructure to support the design.

This aspect is crucial when serving a large customer base or expecting substantial traffic to a site. Load times are improved with the choice of a suitable host. Cheap hosting options are likely unreliable and slow.

Test Your Website

Marketing involves both science and art. After designing the site run A/B testing to see which pieces of content, colors, and buttons earn the most clicks. A/B testing tests:

  • Call-to-Action Buttons
  • Navigation Bar
  • Sign up and Login Buttons
  • Content Offers
  • Images
  • Headlines
  • Hyperlinks

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