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Discover 5 Simple Steps for Designing a Small Business Website

A well-designed small business website is one of the most powerful tools that you can have for attracting leads and converting them into customers.

Stacey Sheppard

15 June 2022

A well-designed small business website is one of the most powerful tools that you can have for attracting leads and converting them into paying customers. With so much competition, your website is an important asset when it comes to helping potential customers find and choose your business. Whether you own a small local cafe, a regional interior design company or a national food company, a great small business website is essential to your business success. 

There needs to be a certain level of trust before customers will decide to do business with you, and a well-designed small business website can help to build this trust.

We Make Magazine has been designing and building websites for small businesses for over 10 years. In that time, we have honed our craft to come up with a strategy that allows us to create websites that not only look good but have simple functionality that makes it a smooth process for the visitor. 

The Fundamental Five
We have outlined below the five key steps we take when designing a small business website.

1 Plan your Small Business Website
The visual aspects of your website are extremely important but we advise that you resist the temptation to jump straight into how your website will look. Proper planning helps you make objective design decisions and create a solid site structure. Websites that look great but are hard to navigate and difficult to use will only put people off. So where should you start?

Define your target audience. This will enable you to set the correct tone and voice for your website. Consider the gender, age and location of your ideal customer. Are you looking to target consumers, or other businesses? Also think about your customer’s income/budget and any specific requirements that they may have regarding your products or services.

Define your goals. It is important to be clear on the objectives of your small business website. Do you want it to generate new leads, or convert existing leads? Are you looking to attract new customers, or engage with an existing audience? Does it need to be a portfolio that can showcase your work to potential clients? Do you need an eCommerce site that allows you to sell products directly to customers? Do you want to use it to share your knowledge and build your authority, or is the goal to entertain?

It may be that your small business website has a number of objectives, so we recommend that you list your goals in the order of importance.

We recommend that you become clear on what you would consider to be an ideal enquiry. Once potential customers find your website, what action do you want them to take? If you were to get a phone call or email from a potential customer, what would they be asking for? If you have more than one ideal enquiry, list them in order of importance.

Define your USP. It is really important to know what makes you and your business special? You need to differentiate yourself from your competitors - what makes you stand out? Why should people choose you rather than anyone else?

Draw up a list of your services and products. Your product or services pages are two of the most important pages on your small business website, so make sure you are absolutely clear on your offering so that you can communicate this effectively to any website visitors.

Do some keyword research. You can have the best website in the world, but if nobody can find it, it is as good as useless. This is why SEO is important. What are the words and phrases that customers are likely to type into a search engine to find your small business website? Use your own industry knowledge, but also remember that customers may use layman’s terms to find you. 

Try asking people you would consider to be your ideal customer, what they may type into the search bar if they were looking for a company or organisation like yours. What comes back may be surprising. You can also use SEO tools to broaden your knowledge and find related keywords that you may not have thought of. Many SEO tools have 30-day trials.

The design of your small business website is hugely important in building credibility, but there are other means that you can use to influence the perception that customers have of your business. Do you belong to any member associations, for example? Have you won any awards? Do you have any customer testimonials that you can use?

Consider how you would like to be contacted. Do you want your customers to contact you by phone? Or via email? Think about what makes most sense for your business. If you are in the workshop all day or out on the road, will phone calls during working hours be an inconvenience? Could you save time on each enquiry by asking questions in advance on a form? 

Apart from showcasing your products and services to your ideal customers and allowing them to get in touch with their enquiries, what other functions does your small business website need to fulfil? Do you need booking forms, a shopping cart, or a way to capture email addresses and get people signed up to your mailing list? Would a chatbot be helpful for dealing with enquiries? Do you need social media integration or maybe google maps to show your physical location?

To define the structure of your small business website, by initially creating a spider diagram showing each page of your site. Think about the customer’s journey once they land on your site and how you can help guide, building trust along the journey and eventually converting them into that sale.

2. Create the content for your small business website
Once everything has been planned out, it’s time to populate those pages. You will need to write the text and source the images for each of the pages on your spider diagram. Keep your ideal customer in focus as you write the text and remain relevant and interesting. Be sure to engage on a personal level with your target audience. If writing isn’t your strong point, consider employing a professional copywriter who specialises in website copy.  

You will also need great photography for your website to visually showcase what your business does. If you already have strong brand photography, you can use this. If not consider paying a professional photographer to capture your images. This will add to the cost, but it is a sound investment.

3. Define the Design
You should have already defined your brand colours before you embarked on the design of your small business website. This is the colour scheme that needs to be incorporated into your site. We suggest you stick to a three-colour scheme: primary, secondary and accent colour. You’ll then need to create additional variations of your three colours for links, hover-states etc.

4 Develop
Using the spider diagram and all the information gathered when planning, you can now start to work on the structure and visual layout of your website. Whether you are using a content management system or building a bespoke site from scratch, it can help to create visual mock-ups in Photoshop to help guide the design. It’s much easier to change the design in Photoshop as you progress than to amend any coding you may be working on. 

5. Test
Once you have finalised the website it is time to test it. You need to make sure that all the pages work correctly, that it is mobile friendly, fast and accessible. You can use the following free online tools that are available to check this:

responsivedesignchecker.com
pagespeed.web.dev
accessible-colors.com

Google Chrome also has lots of free plug-ins that you can use to check the performance of your website. 

If you read through any of these steps and feel overwhelmed by some of this process, it’s probably worth considering working with professionals to create your website. 

We’ve created a handy guide to choosing the best website design company for your needs. Why not read this, or simply get in touch with us to book your free discovery call. We'd love to hear more about your business, what you're looking for from your website, and how we can help you to achieve your goals.

Book your free consultation here: www.wemakemagazines.co.uk/web-design