5 Website Design Tips for Small Businesses

A website build can be a big investment for a small business, so it’s crucial to make the most of the resources and money you put into your project. A new website means lot of excitement, and it can be tempting to jump in headfirst. With a little bit of extra planning before you make that leap, you can ensure that your project runs smoothly and that the finished product is a site that serves your business and is easy for you to update and maintain.

Ready to build a new website for your small business? Follow these five tips for a successful project:

#1: Choose Your Vendor Wisely

Chances are pretty good that you’re going to hire someone to build your new site, and this is an area where it definitely pays to do your research. How long has the web development company been around? Their longevity speaks both to their level of expertise and the potential for a successful business relationship. If you sign a contract and they close shop the next day, where does that leave you?

Another thing to consider is the vendor’s response rate and helpfulness. Do they respond to emails? Do they answer phone calls? If their responsiveness is bad during your site build, it will probably be worse after your website is live. Make sure they’ll be there when you need them!

If you know you’ll need long-term assistance with marketing and updating your website, look for a vendor that offers additional services like search engine optimization and email marketing. A trusted partner for your build can be a trusted partner for future promotion.

#2: Know Your Goals and Your Budget

In order for your shiny new website to work for your business, it has to meet your overall business goals. That being said, you need to identify these before you begin your project so you can communicate them to your vendor. What do you want people to do when they visit your site? Fill out a form? Call you on the phone? And how will your site show that you’re the best at what you do? All of these things affect the layout, design, and content of your final site, so it’s important that you address them early on in the process. Otherwise, you could wind up spending a pretty penny on a site that misses the mark.

You should also have a solid understanding of your budget and some realistic expectations. Make a list of must-haves and extras so you know what needs to be factored into the final dollar amount and what can wait until later.

It’s a good idea to set some money aside for research and planning. This will help your vendor get the strategy behind your website right, meaning you’ll have a lower-cost product with high-quality ideas and info when all is said and done.

Keep in mind that you’ll get what you pay for. A low-cost build means there isn’t much time for your vendor to devote to your project, so don’t expect the world. Conversely, if you’re paying a fair price, you deserve to be treated with the respect that commands.

#3: Ask Questions

This website is going to be your baby and your responsibility, so you need to know the ins and outs of how it functions. Before the project starts, make sure you’ll own your domain and have access to your hosting information. If you leave these with your vendor, things can get tangled down the road. Also ask about the hosting company used and make sure they’re a trusted one with minimal downtime. Your site won’t do anyone any good if it’s not displaying due to server issues.

Your site will also likely be built on a content management system (CMS), which makes it easy for you to add and change content without knowing how to code. Ask plenty of questions about your new CMS. Learn about its security and features, including its search engine optimization capabilities. If you haven’t used the system before, make sure your vendor will provide training so you know how to make the most of your new site.

#4: Be Responsive

Communication is key to a web design project, especially when you’re working with a vendor. A good vendor will keep their deadlines, and it’s up to you to keep your end of the bargain. Schedules can change, so be sure to let your vendor know if you won’t be able to meet a deadline. This way, they can keep other work going in the background and help you stay as close to your intended go live date as possible. Don’t let yourself become a roadblock!

In this day and age, your website needs to be responsive, too. That’s industry speak for a site that’s mobile friendly and is easy to read on any device: desktop, tablet, smartphone. This impacts your visitors’ experiences and your visibility in the search engines. If your vendor isn’t using responsive design, they’re behind the times.

#5: Invest Your Time, Too

Investing in your website isn’t just about money. Don’t let your content be an afterthought. This is the backbone of your site, and it’s ultimately how you’ll generate leads online. Quality content and high user engagement are critical to visibility in Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Dedicate the time and resources necessary to crafting copy that informs and converts and to getting visually appealing images. If you don’t have the resources to tackle these tasks, ask your vendor for assistance or recommendations.

Remember, too, that you can’t launch your site and forget about it. Make website upkeep and maintenance a priority. Add fresh content and stay on top of usability issues. Your site visitors will thank you.

Your Website is Just the Beginning

Getting a brand new website is a big step, but it’s just part of the battle. As a small business, it’s important that you promote yourself both online and off to get customers in your door. Couple your snazzy site and digital efforts with good, old-fashioned PR, community engagement, and word of mouth, and you can watch the leads roll in!