When it comes to web design, there are many questions we frequently hear from the small businesses we work with. The shift towards a more digital world has brought with it an increasing importance for websites. Surveys show that over one-third of customers will stop interacting with poorly designed websites. Having a website that successfully shows off your brand is critical. Here are the most common questions we receive.
Question #1: Do I Really Need a Professionally Designed Website?
Many small businesses may consider operating without a website; however, most have one. Research shows that nearly all small businesses currently operate a website. If you are one that doesn’t, it puts you at a huge disadvantage against competition.
There are many benefits to operating a website for your small business. However, one of the most important is providing a strong first impression. A website serves as your virtual storefront and can create a very positive impression when you have good web design.
Additionally, polished websites help with your overall branding. Good web design leads to better interaction with customers while your site can create enhanced credibility and trust, helping establish you as an expert in your local area.
Need for Proper Web Design
While having a website is important, not all websites are created equal. It is essential that your website functions well. This includes creating a seamless user experience. Users should be able to easily find what they are looking for and get their questions answered.
Additionally, it is important to ensure mobile responsiveness in your design. With 58% of web traffic coming from mobile devices, your website must be optimized for both mobile and PC browsing.
ROI of Professional Web Design
When it comes to websites, small businesses are increasingly turning to professionals in order to help strengthen their functionality. There are many things that go into quality websites. Professionals are able to help increase the odds that potential customers will find your website and have a good experience when using it.
This ROI from a professional website includes many things like greater lead generation, increased visibility, and even more time for you to focus on other aspects of your business. Designing and maintaining a website takes a lot of time, after all.
Question #2: What Platform Should I Use to Create My Website?
Deciding what platform should host your website is another top question. There are many factors you’ll want to consider such as your specific type of business, options for scalability (can the platform handle you as you grow?), and flexibility (how easy is it to customize your site?). There are a variety of popular options such as WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and Shopify. Here is an overview of these options.
WordPress is one of the original companies for creating a web site. It is free to use and has tons of options for customization. You also completely own the code for your website and can take it elsewhere if you want. WordPress also supports a lot of plugins, helping you add features to your site.
However, plugins combined with the open source nature of the site mean there are a few more security concerns to address. The many options may also make web design feel overwhelming at first. Finally, while there are many tutorials, there is not any official support.
SquareSpace is a great option for people new to web design because they have created a very navigable, understandable interface. They also have a lot of great looking themes that can help your website look great from scratch. Simply choose a theme and add content. A basic plan is $12 per month, making it affordable.
However, the simplicity of SquareSpace does come with some drawbacks. First, there is limited ability to customize. This also means no special coding such as digital adds and very limited integration with other software. Finally, you don’t own your site, which can be an issue if you ever want to go elsewhere.
Wix is another free to use service that is popular for those wanting to get a website running without needing a ton of options. It uses drag and drop type builders, which can be used by virtually anyone. This can give more flexibility in creating your site as well.
While drag and drop is easy to use, the layout for this builder can get a little awkward. Additionally, there is no effective way to integrate other services, and, like SquareSpace, no special coding is allowed. You also do not own your site.
If you operate an online store, Shopify was designed with you in mind. This easy to design site allows you to easily sell with many useful features such as an inventory management system. It also has very strong security and provides 24/7 support.
One drawback is you do not own your site. You’ll also need special developers to create one as Shopify uses a programming language called Liquid. Another consideration is the cost at $348 annually.
Question #3: Can I Build a Website Myself?
Many people wonder if a DIY approach will work when creating a website. While it is certainly doable, let’s look at some of the things to consider.
Pros & Cons
There are definitive benefits and drawbacks when it comes to building your own website. The biggest benefit is you can save yourself some money. However, another benefit is that you will learn quite a bit, which could be an enticing factor for someone wanting to increase their skill set. Additionally, you can control every aspect of the creative process!
However, there are some drawbacks to consider too. Building a website is very time intensive, particularly at first. This means you’ll be spending a lot of time designing it and likely learning the ins and outs of web design. There is an extensive learning curve for web design. Behind the basics of getting the site setup, there are also design aspects such as search engine optimization, linking strategies, and other things that help sites be successful.
Additionally, for most people, a DIY site will not function as well as a professional one. You’ll show up lower in search rankings and probably have some hiccups in the user experience. These things can translate to fewer lead generations and conversions than what you would see with a professional site.
Things to Consider
When determining whether to go it alone or hire a professional, there are several major things to consider:
- Complexity – a simple, straightforward site may be a DIY project. If you want something complex, you’ll probably want a professional.
- Custom features – custom features often require advanced coding or integration of other software. This can be frustrating for a DIYer but easy for a professional.
- Time constraints – if time is at a premium for your small business, you probably have a lot to gain from hiring a professional. If you have a lot of free time to commit to development, you may want to try the task yourself.
Tips for Hiring the Right Web Designer
If you do decide to outsource the web design task to a professional, take a look at these tips:
- Review the developer’s portfolio to see the quality of their work.
- Ask questions about their experience and ideas.
- Make sure they are asking you questions about your business and goals.
- Check reviews and references.
- Ask about estimates for cost and timelines.
Question #4: What Should I Include on My Website’s Homepage?
Another frequent question we receive is about the specific content that should be located on a website homepage. This is an important decision that can help determine whether a potential customer will stay or leave and look for another business.
It is critical that you view your website like a “digital storefront.” Just as if a customer walked into a brick and mortar store, your website should provide customer service that answers their questions and helps them find what they need.
Essential Homepage Elements
Below is a list of things you should have on your homepage.
- Clear branding – your business’ name and logo.
- Compelling headlines – headlines & sub headlines should draw attention.
- Navigation menu – make it prominent and easy for visitors to get around your site.
- Services/Products offered – provide a concise description and links for more information.
- Quality Images & Graphis – images and graphics communicate your brand and help with SEO.
- Testimonials/Reviews – let visitors see what other customers say about you!
- Strong Call to Action – Implore the audience to do something (sign up for newsletter, make a purchase, contact you, etc.).
When designing your homepage, the ultimate goal is to provide key information and encourage visitors to explore your site. Think of it as a jumping off point that should provide users with all the equipment needed to begin their journey into your business.
Thus, your homepage should be simple, neat, and concise. You don’t want to overwhelm your visitors. Instead, you want to provide them with the basics and entice them to explore further on their own.
When you begin your web design journey, it is important to consider a number of goals, factors, and (perhaps above all else) your time and expertise. These things will help you decide whether to navigate this process solo or with the help of a trusted professional.
Websites are one of a small businesses most powerful tools for attracting and keeping customers. Take some time to educate yourself on some of the best practices with web design. This will help you to strengthen your website and enhance your return on investment.