8 Tips For Creating A Small Business Website

Creating a website can be easy for anyone to do using a variety of page builders and do-it-yourself platforms. Oftentimes just signing up for one of these services and putting in hours of effort, won’t be enough to get your potential customers to bite. This can be especially frustrating if you have more important things to do for your business.

Here are some tips to improve your small business website, whether you plan to do it yourself or are looking to hire someone:

1. Call To Action

A call to action (CTA) is a term that gets tossed around quite a bit. Actions on a website are anything that a user can interact with. One of the most common usages of a CTA would be a message that directs a user to click a button.​

1533095.1.Image 2021 07 02 at 12.04.16 PM
The hero section of the SiteTent homepage.

Let’s break down the main call to action for SiteTent, shall we? The messaging of the main headline is to instill confidence and to lead the user towards the action. The consistent purple color is used to bridge a connection from what SiteTent does to what the user should do. Color doesn’t have to be used this way, but it can be effective. The action for the section is the “Let’s Hear Your Ideas” button. The button tells the user they matter and thus should click it. You want your actions to be consistent with your branding. Dull names like “Click Here” show users you haven’t put much time into what you’d like them to do.

Most websites will have several calls to action. It’s fine to have several that have different types of interactions, but you should try to pare it down to just a few to stay effective. For example, if the main goal of your website is to get people to contact you through your Contact Us page contact form, you should focus on directing people to that form.

2. Clean Design

No matter if your website is custom-built, created with a template, or using a website builder, you should strive for a clean design. Of course the word clean is subjective, so I’ll try to break down what I mean by this.

Clean is the opposite of cluttered. If you’re having a business networking dinner party at your house, you probably pick things up, disinfect the surfaces, and tuck away any unnecessary knick-knacks. You try to represent the best image of your home that you can. So clean for a website is not only having less clutter, but being very intentional about what is left out for your guest, or in this case, your customers.A clean design has the right messages, actions, and makes it easy for your customers to navigate. If we go back to the dinner party example if someone asks you where your bathroom is at you probably don’t want to tell them “take left, then go downstairs, and watch out for the boxes at the bottom of the steps.”

So when we are talking about clean design, we’re not just talking about visually how everything looks, but more so how it is presented.

Always try to put yourself in the shoes of your prospective customers when you are auditing your website for the cleanest design experience. Ask yourself, if I was the client, would I know where to go? Does this statement make me want to actually contact this business?

It can be so easy to create content for a website and then never evaluate if it is effective. So just try to use the queues of your customers as a final evaluation. Or if you can get anonymous direct feedback from your customers, even better!

3. Easy To Navigate

As a user of the internet, you’ve probably seen a lot of the same page names over and over on websites. How many times have you seen an About Us or Services page? That may seem overplayed, but it also helps set expectations with users, because they have seen these names over and over. So when you are structuring your content, sometimes it can be easier to think about the common pages people would expect on a website. If you want to make it really easy for your customers to find your information, structure it in a way they are likely to understand.

Now there are certainly exceptions to this unwritten rule, so use your best judgment when naming your pages.

4. Mobile-Friendly

Your website needs to work well on mobile devices, plain and simple. There isn’t a debate around this. Half of all web traffic is now done on mobile devices. Do you really want to turn away half your potential customers?

A great strategy is to think of everything that your website will include from the perspective of a mobile phone. If it seems like too much information to digest on a phone, then you might want to rethink it.

Friends using different devices outside

5. Digestible Content

This one goes hand-in-hand with the behavior patterns that have come from using mobile devices and wanting instant gratification. People don’t want to read paragraphs upon paragraphs on your website. But Aaron, isn’t that what you’re are doing in this article? To which I would answer, it certainly is, and that is the exception and expectation of a blog. People expect blog posts to be long-form content.

For most small business websites, customers are evaluating if they want to purchase from that business. So often it’s a comparison of several companies. The person googles “roofing companies” and clicks into 3-4 of the top search results. They may spend 2-3 minutes tops on each of these websites just scouring for key phrases. They’re not going to these websites to read lots of content. They want bullet points to help them compare which service company they want to reach out to.

Now of course they may come to the point where they’ve narrowed down their research and will start to dive deeper into each of these companies. So they’ll read more and more as they return to the company websites. So it’s not to say descriptive content doesn’t work, it certainly does! The point is to structure your content in a way that people can easily dissect the key points they are looking for and dive deeper if necessary.

Going back to clean design, create intentional and powerful messages that deserve the space they occupy.

6. Be Authentic

Being authentic can go a long way to building trust with your potential clients. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come across stock photos on websites with businesses trying to imply those people in the photos are their employees. Now don’t get me wrong, stock photography can be a great tool to help your business if it is used correctly. Showing photos of a skyscraper office suite when you’re operating out of a garage isn’t going to cut it though.

From your messaging to your visuals, you want to communicate honestly with your audience on your website. Embrace your come-up and use it as part of your brand’s story. People are more likely to connect with your struggles to making it than some fake coverup to make your business appear different than it actually is.

white collars employees in the office JMTBAY2
Example of common stock photography that is misused in businesses.

7. Monitor Your Progress

It’s shocking to me that some well-established businesses don’t track analytics for their website. If you don’t know, web analytics are a way to get insights into measuring and reporting how your website is being found and used. Everything from how many visitors visit your website, what pages they visit, to where they are coming from (Google search, Facebook, etc).

We use analytics as a big part of measuring if business goals are being met. So if your website has a lot of pages, and you’re putting a lot of effort into a page that no one is visiting, you might need to pivot your strategy. Having this kind of insight is essential to scaling your business with your website.

The most popular web analytics tool is Google Analytics. Some platforms such as Squarespace and Wix have their own analytics built-in too.

8. Your Website Is For Your Target Customer

Let’s set the stage for this point, you’ve built your business and you’re generating a decent amount of clients. You’d like to scale your business and have established a target customer you’d like to go after. You’ve created a profile of what this ideal customer would be like. Who they are, what they do, their goals, their pain points, etc. You have a basic idea of what makes them tick.

Once you’ve figured out who you want to attract, you start to mold an experience for these types of customers. Everything from your messaging, to design is influenced by who you want to work with. If these types of customers seek a very professional experience, you’re not going to give them some bold and wild design. If you do this, they’ll probably be thrown off and won’t consider working with you.

You have to know who your ideal customer is and tailor the experience of your website for them. Is your primary audience made up of senior citizens? Well if it is, you may want to create an experience that is inviting for them.

Summary

Woof! That was a lot of information to unpack, but hopefully, it was helpful. If you’d like to read more in-depth information on any of these tips please reach out and let me know!

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Aaron Mazade

Aaron Mazade

A developer, designer, and strategist, Aaron has played key roles in all the major areas of digital marketing.
Aaron Mazade

Aaron Mazade

A developer, designer, and strategist, Aaron has played key roles in all the major areas of digital marketing.