- A navigation bar that makes it easy to go from one page to the next
- A customer review section, which encourages meaningful customer engagement
- Buttons to link to your business’s social media accounts
- A simple content management system that makes it easy to add, remove, or replace content
- Security features, especially if you’ll be taking payments
- A search function so users can find articles and items they’re interested in
- Pages that describe new products or services in detail if you have an e-commerce site
- A mobile-friendly web template
Optimize your website for search engines
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the most important parts of web design and development. SEO is simply the practice of optimizing your website to improve your search engine rankings, that way it’s easier to find your website via Google and other search engines.
For small business owners, SEO means optimizing the structure of your website as well as the content within your website. You can use keyword research to write SEO blog posts with internal and external links.
Keep in mind that SEO is an ongoing effort, and your search engine rankings can change at any time. Therefore, it’s important to stay up-to-date with algorithm changes and maintain and update your website as needed.
Meet your customers’ needs
One of the easiest ways to design a website for your small business is to use what works—avoid the temptation to reinvent the wheel. Find a company with a similar product or service as yours and a high page rank in search engines. Take note of what they do and incorporate elements of their approach in yours.
In addition, pay attention to what your target audience likes. You’ll also want to think about their ideal purchasing experience. Do they need pages with dozens of thumbnails of items, or relatively few images but with more detail?
For any business website, you’ll want to put your most engaging content on the first page. This may include blog posts, features of your product or service, or attractive images. You can use analytics to find out which content your customers interact with most frequently. Featuring this content on the first page increases engagement and saves potential customers from having to click around to find it.
Emphasize the qualities that make your business unique
Even if your layout and features are inspired by the successful sites of your competitors, you’ll want to put the factors that make you different front and center.
The things that set your business apart from others should, ideally, be found within the first 2 “folds” (where the page ends on the user’s screen) of your homepage. If you place what makes your business unique in the first 2 folds, your customers are within at most one swipe of seeing what sets you apart from your competitors. You could emphasize:
- Unique products (even if they’re not your biggest sellers)
- Outstanding features or services, such as free delivery or 24/7 availability
- Employees and partners who contribute to the personality of the business
When it’s appropriate and you have a strong photo, let an image that represents your unique offerings lead the way. Images will grab your visitors’ attention and help convey the distinctive value of what you offer.
Expand your site as your business grows
As your business grows, you may need to add new features to your site to sustain and support the growth. Some of these could include:
- A more feature-rich e-commerce solution, such as one that gives detailed buyer analytics to help you better understand your customers and inform an SEO strategy to gain more customers
- A more in-depth blog section, perhaps organized according to the topics of the blog posts
- More bandwidth or space as you accommodate an increased number of visitors and a larger volume of content
Maintain your website
Once you’ve created a website for your small business, you’ll need to maintain it. Some of the things you’ll want to do regularly, say, on a quarterly or annual basis, include:
- Update your content to satisfy both customers and search engines.
- Adjust your design to replace any outdated features or branding details.
- Periodically check the security provisions of your hosting service to ensure your site doesn’t have any vulnerabilities.
Localize your website
There are several services that can localize your small business website, showing content customized according to the locations of your visitors or that of your business. These are typically incorporated using widgets. For example, Facebook uses a widget to display reviews of businesses near their users. However, a lot more is possible. For example, you can present customized content such as:
- The languages commonly used in different locations
- Calling options that take into account each visitor’s location
- Search features that change results according to where the user is