Anyone can create a website these days. But can anyone create a good website? Platforms like WiX would certainly have you believe so (and I would know, I get their ads all the time!) I believe it’s possible to create a good website with any platform. However, doing so requires an understanding of basic web design best practices. There are too many of these to cover adequately in one post. So for today, I’m going to share the top 7 website design best practices every small business owner needs to know.
P.S. Scroll to the bottom for a handy infographic.
1. Mobile responsive
A responsive design is a design that “responds” to different devices and adjusts accordingly. It sounds complicated, but it’s actually quite easy to achieve, depending on what platform you’re building on (the Divi theme for WordPress excels at it). This is good news, because responsive design is one of the most important web design best practices.
Why is responsive design so important? Mobile browsers account for approximately 50% of all website traffic worldwide. In other words, about half of your website visitors are viewing the mobile version of your website. It better be good! Not only does mobile responsive web design create a better user experience, it also impacts your SEO score. As a small business owner, you want to make the best possible impression on your website users; a mobile (and tablet) responsive site is a must-have.
2. Fast loading time
Have you ever clicked on a site, waited a few seconds for it to load, and then gave up and left? It happens all too often. Slow-loading sites are silent business killers. According to Google’s website best practices, the optimal page load time is under 3 seconds. Statistics show that as a website page’s load time increases, so does its bounce rate. The bounce rate represents the percentage of users who exit a website after clicking onto a page. The lower your bounce rate, the better.
No one has the patience to wait more than a few seconds for a web page to load. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to speed up your site if it’s not up to Google’s standards. As a start, I recommend resizing and compressing all your images. You could use a free tool like TinyPNG, or a WordPress plugin like Smush. Check out this Instagram post for more easy ways to speed up your WordPress website.
Related post: 10 simple ways to optimize your website
3. Implement SEO
SEO is a bit of a buzz word in the realm of web design best practices, but not without reason. Through SEO, I’ve been able to rank several of my blog posts on the first page of Google, and I now offer the same results to my web design clients. SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is important because it brings you free website traffic. More traffic translates to more subscribers, leads, and customers, if your website is built for conversion.
The first two best practices we covered, mobile responsiveness and fast loading, contribute positively to SEO. But the most impactful way to implement SEO in your website is through keyword-rich content. This is why I recommend most of my clients to blog for their business. In addition to boosting your SEO score, blog posts also have the welcome side effect of positioning your brand as an authority. If you hate writing, consider outsourcing blog posts to a content writer.
Related post: 7 easy ways to improve SEO on your website
4. Consistent branding
Consistency is a cornerstone of good branding. Your website is no exception. In visual terms, it’s important to use consistent colors, fonts, and styling across your website. But branding also encompasses your brand story. Check your website for consistency in your tone and messaging. A confusing message is another silent business killer.
When checking for consistency, don’t neglect your social media accounts. Your brand should look and feel consistent across every location, physical and virtual, that it appears. Consistency creates memorability in the branding world, and is therefore an important web design best practice to keep in mind.
Related post: 9 branding elements every business needs
5. Simple navigation
Simple navigation is all about creating a better user experience for your website visitors. When someone clicks onto your website, they usually have some kind of goal in mind. They’re looking for information. If they can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they’ll exit out and try your competitor’s website.
A complex menu with lots of pages and subpages is overwhelming. It gives the user too many options and causes them to use a lot of brain power just to figure out where to go. We don’t want our website users to stress over navigating our website because it creates a bad impression. And it might just scare them off forever. Simplify your main navigation menu and link to relevant subpages from within your main pages.
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6. Professional images
I won’t sugarcoat it–the quality of your images can make or break your website. Blurry, poorly lit, or otherwise unprofessional images make a terrible first impression; they undermine the expertise and authority of your brand.
Fortunately, poor images are an easy fix. One option is to source professional stock images. Sites like Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay offer tons of beautiful photos for free. Another option, which I highly recommend, is to engage a brand photographer to take photos of you, your team, your office, and/or your work. At the very minimum, invest in a professional headshot for your About page. Using too many stock photos is dangerous because it makes your website look a bit cliche.
7. Humanize your content
Last but not least, one of my favorite web design best practices is to humanize your content. For small businesses, this is especially important. You’re in the business of helping people, whether you realize it or not. Your customers have emotions, dreams, pain points, and they want to feel understood. If your website engages them through conversational language and relatable imagery, you’ll connect with them on a deeper level.
Another way to humanize your content is to bring more of yourself into it. You (and your team, if you have one) are the life force of your brand. Your customers want to know who’s pulling the strings behind the scenes. Just don’t go overboard and make your website more about you than them.
Need help implementing these web design best practices in your small business website? Click here to learn more about how I help brands grow and profit through intentional design.
Related post: How to create a website for your business in 7 steps