Many companies spend thousands of pounds paying designers to develop their web site. These budgets are often beyond the reach of small businesses. This article provides tips for small business web site design to get fantastic results from simple and inexpensive design implementation.
Your website is like a shop window into your business. To entice potential customers to browse around, it has to have a structured look about it. To encourage them to stay and return, you have to present them with quality content. Purchases follow when the user trusts you and you have a compelling offer that solves their problem. All of this can be aided considerably with easy web design.
Your well organised web site tells the user that you are a professional and take care of your business. It's likely to install far more confidence than something that looks like it was put together in five minutes. If you take care of your web site, you will be perceived as being more likely to take care of your customers.
Good design starts with how your site looks. People don't read sites in the same way that they read books. Instead of taking time, they are looking to quickly skim through a site, pick up the required information, and move on. Thus it's essential that you present your content in an easy to digest manner.
For your site to have a good visual impact you should ensure,
- A high contrast between your text colour and your background. The greatest contrast you can achieve is black and white and, as black text on a white background is what most people are familiar with, this is also easiest on the users eyes.
- Font used is easy to read. This essentially comprises of two parts - the size of the font and the style. Don't make your font so small that it's difficult to read. For the same reason flamboyant styles should be avoided. The number of different styles used should be kept to a minimum.
- Use simple backgrounds. A plain background will allow the user to focus on what is on your site. Using busy or patterned backgrounds simply provides something to distract the visitor.
- Avoid clashing colours. Colours that are too different such as purple and yellow, or the use of lots of bold colours are generally hard on the eye. Visitors are likely to click away to a more visually pleasing site.
- Images and videos display correctly on the site. A page showing numerous empty boxes just looks tatty and clearly isn't showing your offering to its best potential.
- Pop up windows should be kept to a minimum, if used at all. Having something, totally unrequested, suddenly appear on the screen, is likely to annoy your visitor and therefore do more harm than good.
Good web site design isn't only about visual impact, but also about the feel of your site, i.e. how easy it is to find things and navigate around the site. This experience can be aided by providing,
- A consistent layout. For example, if a search box is in the top right hand corner of one page, it should be in the same position on all other pages.
- A logical menu structure. The main subject categories of the site should have their own menu heading. Related subjects should be found under the appropriate main heading.
- Good internal links. These will help the user to move quickly and easily to the information they are interested in.
- A sitemap. Here a user can get an immediate feel for what the site is all about and where things can be found. As the site grows in size, the presence of a sitemap becomes more important.
The final element of good web site design is your content, after all this is what your visitors are actually interested in. When presenting your content you should ensure it is,
- Quality content. It needs to be interesting, informative and relevant to the subject of your site in order to capture the interest of your visitor.
- Regularly updated. This will encourage your visitor to keep returning to your site.
- Presented in an easy to read format. Readers are looking for bite size chunks of information so, as well as complying with the points discussed above, you should ensure that your paragraphs are kept short. Where possible, bullet points should be used. This allows the users to quickly skim through, picking out the salient points.
- Use images correctly. Images should be used as they break up the space on the page and add to the visual experience. However, they need to be high quality and loaded with an image editing package which can reduce the file to a minimum size. Large files will simply take too long to load so you will risk losing the reader.
- Avoid music. Unless you have a music site, background music should be avoided. A sudden blast of music which then proceeds to loop is often unwanted and annoying. As such it detracts from the users' experience.
Finally, you should make sure your site conforms to the standards set out at www.w3.org and that it is compatible across the main web browsers. When you put all of the above into practice you should end up with a small business web site design which promotes your business to its best advantage giving you a fantastic business asset.