A Guide to Designing Small Business Websites – AA MEDIA Studios

Small business websites are a powerful tool that can help any small business grow and succeed.

While there are many things to consider when designing small business websites, this blog will focus on everything you need to know when designing your very own small business website.

 

What is Web Design?

 Lettered building blocks coming together to spell the word Web Design

Web design is the process of planning, conceptualising and arranging different types of content that will aid with the creation of a website.

In other words, web design focuses on the look, feel and functionality of small business websites. All from a user perspective.

Today, web design is an integral part of small business success. So much so that a growing number of small business owners are now choosing to invest time and money into coming up with new ideas for their website.

Ideas that will help attract their target audience and encourage them to buy.

 

The History of Web Design

Although the history of web design can be traced back to the late 1800s, things really took shape in 1989, when Tim Berners-Lee proposed to create a project that would later be known as the World Wide Web (now commonly referred to as the Web).

Between 1996 to 1999, we would begin to see the emergence of new technologies that would support the web and its evolution.

These were Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), JavaScript, and Dynamic HTML. Computer languages that would underpin what many of us associate with web design today.

Fast forward to now and the web has become integrated into the lives of so many people. As this continues to happen, the technology of the web continues to evolve.

 

Why Web Design Is Important

Web design is important for many small business because it defines the visual and user experience of small business websites.

When we consider how the internet has become an integral part of our lives, a good web design can make a huge difference in the success or failure of most small businesses today.

 

Successful Vs Unsuccessful Websites

The success of small business websites depends on many factors, such as the choice of text, layout, colour scheme, font size, and spacing.

A good marketing campaign also plays a critical role. Since this will need to be strong enough to offer people a compelling reason to come back and visit your site frequently.

Nevertheless, the two most important elements of successful small business websites would be their navigation and content. This means content should be easy to find and navigate with minimal use of clicks or taps. While navigation should be intuitive to use for both experts and novices alike.

However, on the other hand, unsuccessful small business websites will not only lack much of the above but these can also be attributed to the following factors:

  • Lack of understanding of the target audience
  • Failure to deliver a message
  • Poor design choices

With this said, the starting point for successful small business websites is a good understanding of the wants and the needs of its intended audience.

 

How To Design Small Business Websites – Step By Step

An image dispalying the word Web Design and the areas that make this up

The following are our steps to designing an impressive small business website:

 

Domain Name + Web Hosting

A domain name is a unique identifier for websites.

It typically consists of words and numbers that are combined into a familiar word or phrase. For example, Google.com is the well-known domain name for Google’s search engine. While Facebook.com is the domain name for Facebook.

While web hosting is a service that allows for websites to be put on the internet. For example, quite like a plot of land that a house (website) would be built on.

Get the picture?

Therefore, when you consider buying a domain name, make sure it coincides with your business name.

In addition to this, when you consider buying web hosting, do consider its reliability, security and customer support channels. Very important.

 

Choose A CMS

A CMS (Content Management System) is a software program that manages the content on a website. It does this by storing, displaying and organising content for visitors of a website.

This is helpful because they make it easier to manage small business websites.  

Here at AA Media Studios, our go-to CMS is WordPress. Since it is free, easy to use and great for building small business websites. With a growing number of courses out there, we highly recommend that you first learn the basics with our very own WordPress Course.

 

Choose A Website Builder

A website builder is a tool that allows for the creation of websites.

They can be used by almost anyone, as there are no coding skills required. In fact, all that is needed is an idea for a design, a couple of clicks and then a website is up and running.

A good choice for a website builder is Elementor. Since it is currently the leading drag and drop website builder that allows for the customisation of small business websites.

 

Add Relevant Plugins

A plugin is a software program that adds additional features to a website. For example, MonsterInsights is a useful plugin that allows for the analysis of small business websites via Google Analytics.

Like most things, plugins can be downloaded and installed on a paid and unpaid basis.

Again, WordPress is great for things like this. Since it boasts a large catalogue of plugins that you can choose from. However, a quick rule of thumb is that you should never exceed more than 20 plugins per website and should only choose plugins that get regularly updated.

 

Wireframing

An image showing a person doing wireframing for their website

Wireframing describes the process of creating rough sketches of web pages.

It is an essential step in the web design process because it helps to clarify and organise a website’s layout and content.

Therefore, helping to ensure that the website will be easy to use.

Although wireframing can be done using a pen/pencil and a bit of paper, there are also tools that will allow you to achieve this digitally. For example, Balsamiq.

Nevertheless, before giving any wireframe tool a try, do get acquainted with it first.

 

Copywriting + Images

Copywriting refers to the process of creating text-based content for websites.

However, it is more than just words on a page.

Instead, it is about carefully selecting the right words that will evoke the right emotions.

Today, there are a vast number of tools that can help with achieving this. For example, Rytr is a brilliant AI writing assistant that helps with the creation of content and in just a few seconds. While Yoast – “Real-time Content Analysis” is a useful tool that will help keep content search engine friendly.

Finally, when putting together website copy, be sure to complement these with the relevant images. All of which you can take yourself or obtain online on a free or unpaid basis. For example, Pixabay, Unsplash, Pexel and Canva.

 

Integrate Social Media

An image showing sign posts with various social media symbols on them

Social Media are powerful online tools that allow its users to create, share and engage with content. This and participate in social networking (i.e. networking across social media channels).

Social media integration is important for small business websites because it enhances the experience and will make your website more interesting and interactive.

It will also help with achieving goals (i.e. brand reach) and will help businesses grow their social media following.  

So much so that, these days, social media integration is almost a must and for any business.

 

Privacy Notice & Terms of Use

When designing small business websites, it is important that you consider the following:

  • Privacy Notice
  • Terms of Use

A privacy notice is a legal document that discloses how an organisation gathers, uses, discloses and manages data.

From 2018, both EU and UK law require that this legal document be featured on any website that is used to collect data. For example, through an email sign-up form, contact form or through the use of cookies and for analytical purposes (e.g. Google Analytics).

For more information, please refer to the Information Commission Office (ICO).

While a terms of use is an agreement that web users must agree to, in order to make use of a website.

While this is not a must, it is still useful to have. Since it is a legally binding contract that will help should an incident regarding a website be taken to court.

For help with writing either of these, head over to Rocket Lawyer now.

 

Web Design Services

These days, quite like small business branding, small business web design services are also available in abundance.

In addition to this, an important factor to consider when choosing this route is budget and price.

Where small budgets are concerned, a great site to visit is Fiverr.

Nevertheless, in the case of an agency (i.e. web design agency, digital marketing agency), they will take care of everything web design-related and at an agreed price.

An image showing two large computer screens

How does the onboarding process work? Well, the first step will usually be for the client to clearly identify what their needs and goals are. After this, an agency will continue on with the process.

Here at AA Media Studios, we are a London-based media house specialising in media, graphic design and web design. Should you wish to learn more about our web design services, do get in contact with us today.

 

Conclusion

To conclude, small business websites are the primary marketing tool for most small businesses today. Since they are often the first point of contact for potential customers and can be a deciding factor in whether a customer chooses to do business.

With several elements to consider, it is important that we all get it right.

So why wait? Start today.

 

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