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08/05/2024 • Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Small Business Websites

Small businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and so do small business websites.

Small businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and so do small business websites. Despite this variation there are several attributes which all good websites should share. In this article we’ll take a look at some of these concepts. To help you apply some of these ideas to your own website, we’ve written a few helpful questions and linked to some useful tools. We hope you’ll find this a helpful guide. As always, if you’d like to discuss getting some help to implement these ideas please contact us.

Small Business Websites Are Simple

Good websites are simple. This doesn’t mean basic, small or lacking personality. Rather, a simple website is easy to use, ensurring the visitor can find the information which is relevant to them.

There are several factors at play here which determine how simple a website is to use. The following is not an exhaustive list, but provides some ideas which you may find helpful in determining how simple your website is.

Navigation

Website navigation can take various forms. Depending on how many pages your website has a different approach to navigation will be needed. While the ‘3 click rule‘ is generally considered to be unfounded, the principle remains. Your website’s navigation structure should make it as simple as possible for visitors to find what they need. Careful consideration should be taken as to which pages should be ‘top level’. These pages will be seen first. Any sub-pages should be logically located as children of top level pages. Page names should reflect the content of the page they represent.

Calls to Action

Most websites attempt to steer visitors in a particular direction. Generally this is towards an intended action, such as making a purchase. This is particularly true of small business websites. To this end, good small business websites have very clear calls to action. These will generally be a combination of text and links or buttons for a visitor to click. Things like ‘Contact Us’ and ‘Buy Now’ are examples of clear calls to action. Consider how you use calls to action within the flow of your website. The bottom of pages is often a neglected space, which can lead to users being unsure of what to do next. Take a look through your website looking at how you’ve used calls to action. Are they simple and direct? Could you make improvements, without appearing too pushy?

(Lack of) Distractions

Distractions are a killer. Pop-ups and ads are perhaps the most common distractions on websites. But even things like over-use of images (or using irrelevant imagery) can be a distraction. Whilst it’s generally true that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’, a picture can’t communicate precisely. Take a look through your website. Remove any distractions which could lead to confusion or annoyance. Simple websites don’t lack good design or personality. Rather, every element should be considered.

Small Business Websites Are Clear & Concise

While a simple website is easy to use, a clear website gets to the point quickly. Pay careful attention to your content. Is it clear? Does it communicate effectively?

Language

Use language appropriate to your audience. Use the words and phrases they might expect to read on a website like yours.

This being said, avoid the use of unnecessary jargon. Every business sector has language which is peculiar to it. While these words and phrases might be widely used by those working within your industry, they may not be well understood by potential customers. Consider your audience carefully and write for them.

Focus

No-one likes long-winded copy. Focus on communicating concisely. Use headings to communciate quickly. Bullet points and lists are scannable, use them to your advantage.

As Short as Possible

We’ll discuss SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) below, but when it comes to creating good small business websites, brevity is important. Your visitors don’t want to read a novel.

Small Business Websites Are User-Friendly

Good small business websites are easy to use with well written content. These are both aspects of user-friendly website design. But true user-friendliness goes further.

Accessible

There are various helpful guidelines which help designers create accessible websites. Accessibility is about ensuring that all visitors to a website can access the content. For visitors with visual impairments this may be through technologies such as screen readers.

The fact is, an accessible website is a user-friendly website. The design constraints which ensure accessibility make for a good experience for everyone. They cover things like font sizes and colour contrast alongside more technical aspects of the build.

Fast

Speed is also important. Visitors want easy access to information, and that means ensuring your site is quick to load. Broadband speeds have helped ensure this is generally the case. But as internet speeds have increased so has our use of large images and videos, which slow a site down.

Glitch-Free

Have you tested your site on multiple devices? Does your navigation work on touch screen devices, as well as those with mice? Do pages load correctly on all screen sizes? What about things like form submissions and anti-spam measures – do you contact forms work properly?

It’s a good idea to test your site from time to time. Try it in different browsers, on different devices. Are there problems which could be fixed, or things which could be improved?

Small Business Websites Are Optimised for Search Engines

Although your website should get to the point quickly, it also needs to be optimised for search engines. A website which is not optimised for search engines can still rank well for specific queries. But it will be less visible for queries which are more competitive. If your business is dependent on attracting visitors to your website, a good SEO strategy is paramount.

There are many aspects to SEO. Some of the ways you can easily improve your business website ranking are as follows:

Page Titles

Search engines ‘crawl’ your websites pages, looking for information which will help them determine how to rank your site for different terms. Your page titles are key. They should be:

  • Consise

  • Specific

  • Keyword-Rich

Find out more about writing effective page titles.

Word Count

Each page should contain at least 300 words of content, if you want it to have any chance of ranking well. If you want to keep your layout clean and clear, consider using elements like an accordion. Accordions can reduce the number of words visible on page at any one time. Here’s some more information about how word count can affect SEO.

Keywords and Headings

Google (and other search engines) are looking out for keywords. These define what your content is about. Make sure you’re using a reasonable number of keywords in your copy – but not too many. Google doesn’t rank a page based purely on the number of keywords in a page (as this is open to abuse). But without keywords it will find it difficult to determine what your page is about.

Use headings to break up text. This is helpful for humans, but for search engines too. The HTML structure your page contains gives search engines clues as to how to interpret the information. Headings are important and should be clearly and concisely written, like page titles.

Small Business Websites Are Unique

Ultimately, your website should be unique – like your small business. Take time to find a website designer who understands what you’re trying to achieve, who your customers are and what makes your business special.

Creating a good small business website can take time, but done well and it’ll pay dividends in the long term. If you’ve already got a website why not use some of the hints and tips above to make a few improvements. If you’re looking to have a new website built, feel free to reach out – we’d love to discuss your project with you.

Useful Tools

Here are a few useful tools which might help you create a better small business website:

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash