Small Business Saturday UK falls on 3rd December. It’s a grassroots, non-commercial campaign to highlight small business success and encourage consumers to shop local and support small businesses in their communities.
The UK’s 5.6 million small businesses represent 99% of UK businesses, employ over 12 million people, and are responsible for £1.6 trillion in turnover. Needless to say, they make an invaluable contribution to communities.
To support small businesses, we’ve pulled together our twenty top tips for building a website that is informative, credible, and discoverable.
But first, why is a website so important?
As a website design agency, we are obviously going to believe in the power of a website! So let’s take a look at some of the facts…
- Credibility: 84% of today’s consumers think a website makes your business look more credible than companies who only have social media profiles.
- Information: 81% of customers research things online before they buy them.
- Findability: Customers use search engines to find products and services. Whilst social media profiles do index on Google, websites give you far more tools for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Let’s dive into the tips…
Take a look at your competitors and leaders in your industry. Look at their website layout, the language they use, and the things they’re asking visitors to do. Whilst you’re not looking to copy another business, you do want your visitors to feel comfortable using your site, so it’s important to make sure the journey through your site feels comfortable. Aim to create a site that is unique and reflects your brand.
Your domain (e.g. propeller.co.uk) needs to be memorable, easy to say, and easy to spell to help customers find you.
At a website design agency, strategy is key. Before you get started on the design and copywriting, hatch a plan. Think about:
- Who your target audience is
- What your website goals are
- What functionality your website needs to have
- What information you need to tell your visitors
- How you will measure success
When making decisions on layout, hierarchy, copy, and design, always refer back to this strategy.
Think about all the content you need on your website and then group it into themes.
Start with a homepage, and then stem your top-level pages from there. For example ‘Products/ Services’, ‘About us’, ‘Blog’, ‘Contact us’.
The key here is to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find what they are looking for.
When designing the hierarchy of each individual page, place important information and your key call to action above the fold (that’s the part of the page you can see without having to scroll down).
Whilst your top-level product or service page might contain a summary of all of your offerings, also create new pages for each individual product or service.
Not only does this give your customer more information (a more in-depth description, specifications, more imagery, reviews), it also creates internal linking opportunities, which is great for SEO.
According to a study by Kinesis Inc, 75% of customers will judge a business’s credibility based on their website design.
So try to keep your website as uncluttered as possible. Keep page elements to a minimum, use lots of white space, and make it easy for your customer to navigate through your website.
For more information on user experience (UX) design, take a look at this article.
Web accessibility makes your website more user friendly and easy-to-understand for all visitors. This includes those with physical disabilities and limitations in vision, hearing and speech.
For more information on accessibility, take a look at HubSpot’s article.
A picture speaks a thousand words. They convey concepts and inspire emotions in a way that a block of copy can’t.
Blurry, low quality images will paint a negative image of your brand’s quality and credibility. So ensure your images are high resolution.
Where possible, include images of people to add a human element to your website – the human eye is naturally drawn to people’s faces.
Avoid stock photos – any business can use them so they’re not unique to yours.
Make sure your website design aligns with the branding on your other channels so that your visitors feel a sense of familiarity and trust when they land on your site.
Aim for 2-3 core colours on your website, and 2-3 fonts.
Nobody likes to read reams and reams of copy. So keep it short and sweet – paragraphs of less than six lines, or bullet points, are ideal. They’re scannable and more likely to actually be read.
Present relevant information that will engage your customers, give them something of value, and build trust. Think about what they need and want to know
What do you want your visitor to do? Purchase something? Claim an offer? Sign up to a mailing list? Share your website? Don’t be shy – tell them!
Use clear enticing language that encourages them to take action. And don’t forget to make your calls to action stand out on your page with a different coloured button (within your brand colour palette of course!).
Remember, your website isn’t just about sales. It’s also about building a relationship with potential customers so that you can nurture them on a long-term basis.
So provide added-value materials in exchange for their email address – this is called gated content. Examples include a free ebook, or a discount code.
Make your submission forms super easy to use. Internet users these days are lazy and easily put off! Take a look at our article on driving database sign ups for more tips on this one.
When collecting data, make sure you include an opt-in checkbox to ensure you have your customer’s consent to store their data.
The SSL is a protocol used by websites to secure the connection between visitors’ web browsers and their servers. It encrypts data so hackers can’t access it without having an encryption key.
They are important because they help protect customer data and increase customer trust – 78% of customers say they are reassured when they see the familiar SSL Certificate padlock symbol in their browser.
As of August 2022, 54% of the total web visits are mobile, compared to 46% coming from desktops. So it’s imperative that your website works well on mobile devices.
If it doesn’t, customers will find it difficult to use, may perceive your business as unprofessional and lacking in credibility, and may well leave.
A non-mobile friendly site can also harm your SEO.
Shout about your website across all of your other marketing channels – from your socials to your business cards to in your store.
And get other people to do the shouting for you too by adding social sharing icons to your website.
Here are a few key points on SEO to get you started:
Focus on keywords
Brainstorm the keywords that your target audience might search for when looking for your type of business. You can also use Google’s Keyword Planner to find high volume, low competition words.
Then optimise each page of your site with one primary keyword target per page (just be sure not to stuff your pages with keywords – Google will penalise you for that).
Also integrate your keywords into the SEO elements of each page – the meta title, meta description, URL, headers, and image alt tags.
Make sure each page contains at least 500 words to give website crawlers data to review and index for search engines.
Keep your content fresh
Google likes new content. The best way to keep a steady flow of content running through your website is to repurpose – take a look at our article on this here.
Respect the need for speed
Google loves a quick website, so use a simple design to maintain a high loading speed. Learn more about the importance of page speed here.
Think about links
Internal and external hyperlinks are important because they help Google and other search engines understand your website’s structure and content. Additionally, they can help you increase traffic to your website by providing more opportunities for people to click through to your pages.
Make sure you update your website with any changes. Mistakes can damage credibility and trust. So keep your details up to date and be sure to fix any broken links to avoid frustrated visitors or being penalised by Google!
You can say what you want about your business, but the most credible opinions are those of your customers. So include space for customer reviews, testimonials, ratings and social media mentions.
Use a tool like Google Analytics to see reports on your audience, where they find your website, their behaviour on your site, and the journey they go on to convert (or leave!) your site. From this data, you can make changes and improvements. Google has a beginners course on using Google Analytics here.
So there we have it: our twenty top website design tips for building a site that is credible, informative, and discoverable.
Looking for a website design agency? At Propeller, we are relentless in our attention to detail, looking holistically at your brand, business and your objectives to create a bespoke digital experience. To discuss building your website, get in touch.