Small businesses need to pay particular attention to their websites as a website acts as a business card and shopfront. Your company’s website is frequently the first way that a prospective customer interacts with your business, and it is really important that you carry across the right impression from the start.

Why a well-designed website is important

Many small businesses have limited marketing budgets and limited exposure in the media. Chances are that you have a number of competitors all vying for business on the internet. If your website is substandard, customers will immediately form a poor impression and may simply move on to a competitor. First impressions are difficult to erase, so you should get it right from the start.

Websites that have been thoughtfully designed can also act as a sales rep: using clever search engine optimisation, you can increase the number of people visiting your site via search results, while a call to action can prompt customers who were just browsing to actually make a purchase.

Getting the right web design skills

It is unlikely that you will have the in-house skills to develop smart websites; most small businesses look for outside help. Think about hiring a design agency if you have the budget; these companies can offer end-to-end advice, which can really help you to make the best of your web presence.

An alternative to an agency is working with a single contractor. Contractors can be an affordable way to get web design expertise on board, and you can pay them through an umbrella company, which takes care of all the tricky paperwork and any contractor pay issues that arise when paying individuals for services.

Key tips for a good website

Every aspect of your website should be working and operational. Broken links and pages labelled as “Under construction” are major turnoffs for any visitor. Testing your website is therefore essential: double-check that the “Contact us” form works, and evaluate how your website displays on different devices.

Easy navigation is another crucial step. You want to make it as simple as possible for visitors to find what they are looking for. Try to predict what visitors would like to achieve when they visit your site and structure the content accordingly. On the one hand, you do not want to burden visitors with frequent clicking around to get to content, but you also want to retain their attention for as long as possible. Getting traffic via search results is hard work, so you want to make the best of the people who do end up visiting your site – get them to sign up for a newsletter at the very least.

Try to offer something for everyone

The key to a successful website is to appeal to as broad a section of your target audience as possible. Get the balance of design elements right and include cleverly written content and you’ll be able to connect with a broad section of visitors. This may mean toning down extreme colours and punchy writing, but always bear in mind that the internet browsing public is a diverse group, and you do not want to turn away potential customers if you can avoid doing so.

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