Designing Websites for Small Businesses [A Start-from-Scratch Guide]

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Jul 15, 2021

The online world has exploded, and users expect businesses to have websites. It’s incredibly important for small businesses to have an impactful website to showcase your brand and distinguish yourself from competitors, but developing and designing an optimized website can be overwhelming. And, if created wrong, may hurt your business instead of helping it depending on the first impression your website makes. 

Investing in a web design service that will assist you with every step of the way will have an immense impact on your company’s bottom line. We understand that you might be hesitant to invest in website design and development. At Integrity, we work with you to find an affordable investment that will pay off significantly. Our web design team can help you optimize every step of the process to achieve the right digital representation for your small business.    

Why Websites are Important for Small Businesses

Client behavior has adapted over time to move completely into the digital world. People are searching online for what they need. And, a website design for a small business makes a huge impact because most people judge a company’s credibility on not only having a website but based on website design. A small business website can be your number one marketing asset. 

Designing a website to be optimized for your industry and your clients can be challenging, but our web design team is here to help you with every step of the process which we outline below.  

Our Process for Designing Small Business Websites

1. Website Development

Website development and design is a multi-step process. It requires strategy and creativity, knowledge of the industry. Our web design team works with you to understand how to optimize your small business website to be as competitive as possible online beginning with choosing the right name for your website.

Choose A Domain Name

A domain name or website address is often the entry point to a website site and serves as your online identity. It must make a good impression for usability purposes, as well as search engine optimization (SEO). 

You will want to choose and obtain a short and memorable name that is original. Your domain name should serve as an accurate representation of your brand which can be a daunting task. Integrity’s strategy and consulting team is a great resource for establishing a web presence for your small business. 

Website Hosting and Tech Support

Next, you will need to connect your domain name to a website host. 

A website host (sometimes referred to as a website hosting provider) is a company that offers the technology and services necessary for a website to be viewed on the internet. When users visit your website, they are shown the website that is stored in your hosting account because it is connected to your domain name. 

Hosting services can cost anywhere between $2 to $100-plus per month depending on the kind of technology and support you choose. Secure web hosting is important to protect your brand and your users. Additionally, websites are ever-evolving, so you do not want to constrict your website to limited storage but make sure it’s scalable.  

Our web developers manage your web hosting and any ongoing WordPress maintenance including plugin, theme, and core updates as well as any content updates or changes requested by you, the client. Having good tech support for those updates or fixes is key. 

2. Website Design 

Develop a Strategy

Before designing a website, it is important to define the most relevant features of your website based on these questions: 

  • What is the message you want to communicate to your audience?
  • What key features do you want to showcase?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • Where do they hang out online? 
  • What is the best way to reach them? 
  • What do they require from a website? 
  • What are the characteristics that your target audience expects to see? 

Understanding who may be looking at your website and their tendencies will assist you in developing a brand identity and brand voice that speaks to them. 

Create your Brand Identity

A vital point in your small website design journey is creating a brand identity. This starts with identifying certain characteristics that are used the same way across the board with the end goal of making your brand easily recognizable or distinguishable, particularly from competitors. These elements can be visual or tonal and include details such as:  

  • A custom logo
  • Colors
  • Icons
  • Fonts
  • Brand motto 

You’re creating an online name with your domain and are now developing a personality with your brand identity. Our team specializes in visual branding and strategy and consulting to create your brand motto or voice that will appeal to your target audience. Identifying your strategy, target audience and brand identity all assist in developing an optimized navigational construct.  

Design User Interface

A well-structured but simple website allows visitors to navigate quickly and easily when they land on your website. Starting with a simple design is cost-effective and can make a lasting impression on users. Simple websites are also mobile-friendly. If choosing to use a simple design, there are still key elements that need to be included. 

A clear menu with links to the pages of your website and scannable text or information is necessary to keep a website organized. Most small website pages include: 

  • Homepage
  • About page
  • Products/Services
  • Contact page
  • Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policy  

Understanding your audience and establishing your brand identity can aid our website designers in developing an optimized navigational construct. It's important to know the end goal for your user to start planning your user’s journey. Each page should be optimized to keep moving your user towards the end goal. Within each page, there are components our web designers incorporate that help your website stand out and be user-friendly.  

3. Website User Interface

Hero Section

Homepage banners or a “hero image” and subsequent banners are visual representations of your services. And incorporating a text blurb near the top of the page that describes who you are and what you do helps users identify what your small business offers right away to avoid any confusion. 

The hero image or subsequent banners should grab users’ attention to captivate them. Interactive elements magnetically attract attention and increase website session duration. This could include micro-interactions around:

  • Mouse movement
  • Content revealed on click
  • Multi-step animations
  • Scroll based Parallax animations
  • Live-demo animations

Your hero images and banners need to scale to fit the screen they are being viewed on. Our web design team helps you keep in mind touchscreen-friendly in this ever-growing mobile market to optimize your user’s experience

Clear CTAs

Another way to grab a users’ attention is to use clear CTAs, or calls to action. These are buttons that are helpful guides for users as they navigate through the website’s interface — especially when it comes to a small website they have not used before. Providing clear CTAs tells users what action they represent. 

Usually, they incorporate verbs and are gentle commands like:

  • Discover More Resources
  • Apply Today 
  • Visit Our Shop

CTAs need to be more than just “Learn More.” They should be drafted to be specific to the action the user is about to take and move the user down the funnel. 

Incorporating brand colors or using prominent colors and having good contrasts helps the buttons stand out. The user should move through the journey in a logical order on any device, so our web designers incorporate mobile-friendly CTA buttons too. 

Users like to be able to trust small websites. Your small business may not yet have big names among customers, but it’s a matter of time. As soon as you have at least a few happy customers or brands that use your products or services, your design can include a testimonials section to inspire confidence. 

Contact Information

A contact form is helpful to build trust and inspire confidence in being able to communicate with a digital business. Your audience should be able to find you or contact you in whatever way is convenient for them. If you have a physical address, include it on the contact page as well.

Loading Speed

Much has been said about why website speed matters for business — it leads to better conversions, traffic, ranking, and more. This is especially true for small businesses. Our web design team helps you optimize your loading speed for all devices, taking extra care for quick-loading content on slower mobile connections. Impatient customers will not waste their time waiting for an unknown website to load. 

4. Digital Footprint

SEO

For a small business, more than others, SEO (search engine optimization) is very important to achieve visibility when users are searching for your services. 

The internet is packed with business URLs, but those that rank highly in search engine results may have more success. If you need help, our expert digital marketing team can equip your website to ensure it’s high-performing from an SEO standpoint.

Website Behavior and Traffic Tools

Integrity’s web design team ensures your website is set up to compile vital data you can use to help you analyze traffic and site performance with tools like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and Google Search Console. These tools can be used to track information that can enhance your SEO and gather data about your users and their journey through your website. Analyzing this information can help identify where to improve your website.

How to Get Started

Building a website for your small business requires focus, planning, and talent. Key features need to be identified and require attention to detail. A website shouldn’t be created and then allowed to grow stale. 

To have a successful website that represents your brand accurately, ranks well in search engines, and doesn't get hacked, you need to make sure it is properly maintained and consistently optimized. 

At Integrity, we love helping small businesses launch and maintain successful websites. Don’t just create a digital presence and footprint — hit the ground running with your new website for your small business.

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Are you looking to launch a successful website for your small business? Get in touch with Integrity.

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