For small businesses, websites play an integral part in building brand image, awareness and credibility in the marketplace. Crafting a thoughtfully-designed website demonstrates to your audience that you care about your business image as well as conveys a level of integrity that is consistent with a reputable brand. There are certain best practices for small business websites and we’ve gathered them here for your convenience.
Use these six tips as a checklist when you’re building your new website or modifying an existing site.
Over the past few years, website design has shifted and the most aesthetically pleasing sites have a clean design and scroll vertically. They’re broken up into chunks, either by background color or changing photos as you go from block to block. This simplifies the viewer’s experience and they are conscious of moving from one piece of information to another.
While this is literally simple navigation of your site, your navigation bar should be visible on every page and easy for the viewer to find. It should clearly outline your webpages and only take a second for the viewer to find their desired page. Some of our favorite websites have a Zen-like feel to them as each page has just the right amount of text, color, and imagery. They’re not overwhelming; we can easily digest each page’s information, and quickly navigate the entire site. Compass Coffee, a D.C. small business, is a great example of a streamlined design with clear navigation.
image via Compass Coffee
Rein in your stylistic choices
While we’re on the topic of clean design, best practice says to limit your site to two or three fonts or colors. Many website builders offer a plethora of color palettes and fonts to choose from, but don’t be distracted by the seemingly unlimited options. Determine which fonts and colors best represent your brand and stick with them. Calligraphy and highly italicized fonts are pretty, but can be challenging to read. Keep readability in mind when selecting your color palette and suite of fonts. If you have a business logo, align your font choices and color selections with it. Everything on your website should be complementary to your logo and create a recognizable brand.
“Mobile-first” is a common term in 2016, and everyone from large businesses to marketing professionals are integrating mobile optimized everything into their strategies. People are relying on their smartphones and tablets more and more, so having a website that is optimized for mobile is a must. Before you push publish on your website, ensure its design is compatible with a variety of screen sizes.
image via SomethingBig.co
Remember critical business information
As you design your pages, it’s easy to overlook including your business information. Decide whether your site will have a dedicated contact information page, or if it will include this information in the header or footer. Regardless of the location, viewers like having all of your information in one place and not wasting time in search of your basic information. You should include some assortment of the following: a phone number, email, physical address, and hours of operation. The email should be hyperlinked and when clicked, a new email message should appear. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to get a hold of you.
A minor, but important detail to consider is having an email with your domain name. When potential customers see an AOL or Yahoo account on a business website, it does not appear as professional and detracts from the image you’re trying to establish. Most website providers, including Webs, offer an option for a custom domain name with professional email addresses included.
Integrate social sharing options
Once you have people on your website, you want them to be able to share your content, either through email or social media platforms. Social sharing is a great way to spread awareness as well as increase website traffic and your SEO rankings. All three of these measurements are important considerations for building your authority as a branded small business.
Shareaholic and other social sharing tools can be installed on your website and allow your users to choose which platform they want to distribute your content on. They have a plethora of platform options, so your users can always find a familiar provider. Sharing doesn’t need to be present on every page of your site, but it should only require a click or two for a user to share the desired content. If it takes more than two clicks, you’re likely to lose the share as it takes too much user effort.
image via Shareaholic
As we’ve mentioned, trust is a core component of any small business and needs to be represented on your website. There are a variety of ways to show your potential customers that you are a real business with a strong moral and ethical code. The first credential to include on your website is a trust seal, which legitimizes your website to visitors as it indicates that a third-party has collected information on your business and determined that it is authentic. Potential customers rely on these seals and credentials when making purchasing decisions. In fact, according to Comodo Group Survey,
“approximately 70% of online shoppers cancelled their online order because they did not “trust” the transaction.”
If you thought trust seals were nice to have; think again. They’re critical in positioning your brand as ethical and honest.
Don’t know where to begin with a trust seal? Consider using one of these highly ranked brands:
Once your business has been verified, try adding customer testimonials or reviews to your site. Real consumer comments reflect unbiased third-party opinions of your products and services and instill more trust from prospective buyers. You should also consider including press references on your site as they enhance your business authority in the marketplace.
We hope this checklist is useful as you move forward in building a professional business website. Remember whenever you are unsure of a decision, ask yourself, ” What makes me dive further into a website and ultimately trust its business?” Note these elements and ensure they are part of your small business website.
Are there other website components that you find necessary for a trustworthy website? If so, share with the community in the comments below.
About the Author: Julie Chomiak is the Content Marketing Specialist for Webs and Pagemodo. When she’s not scouring the web for small business trends, Julie loves traveling, interior design, and animals of all kinds. Get more from Julie on the Webs Blog and the Pagemodo blog.