Websites are a great way to present information about your business to potential customers in a no-pressure environment, where they're able to choose what to read and when to read it, instead of being "force-fed" information which can occur in face-to-face conversations.
Deciding whether to design a website by yourself from scratch or have a website designed by a professional team is a tough decision to make, but if you've learnt about the pros and cons of each choice and have come to the conclusion that designing your own website is what you want to do, then this article is a great place for you to start.
In this article we will look at five website design tips for small businesses, and explain how and why they'll help you in creating your first business website.
Compare your website with others
Although we would never recommend copying another website's design or content, it is still a good idea to compare your website, whether it's notes on paper or a fully functional website, to others in the same field. You want to make sure that your website is different enough to stand out, but not so different as to be confusing and unusable to users who are accustomed to the more basic websites in your industry.
You'll want to look out for layouts, the use of different colours, the effect of using different shades of the same colour, font sizes, and anything else that might affect how the user will perceive your website. If you use an up-to-date Google Chrome or Firefox you can right-click on a part of the website you like, press Inspect Element, and find out information about it which might be useful when designing your website.
Take breaks between design periods
Have you ever come back to a project you've worked on a few weeks later and thought to yourself "Why did I do this? And THIS? Shouldn't this be over here??" Well, this is exactly why you should take a break of at least a couple of days after designing sections of your website, so you'll come back to it with a fresh mind and fresh eyes. You'll spot things you hadn't noticed before and great new ideas will come to mind a lot quicker after the break, so you'll end up with a better website filled with greater, fresher ideas than if you had tried it all in the one period.
Register domain names before you start your website
Often it seems, businesses delay registration of domains until after they've organised other website-related services and after they've started creating the website. This is a very bad decision, as there are thousands of deceitful people out there who can and will register a business' domain name before the business has a chance to get it themselves. This is also the case with not only .com's but also other TLD's including .net's, .com.au's and more.
For example, let's say your business wants to run a website on example.com.au. Australian domain registration laws state that you need to own a business name that is related to the domain name you're registering, but this offers next to no protection because people can still register these domains regardless of the law. Even if you do get the example.com.au domain before anyone else, another party could still register example.com and example.net, stealing a huge chunk of your business.
These less-than-decent folks register these domains in order to put ads on the landing page, or sometimes to forward to their own websites. Protect yourself by registering as many variations of your domain name as you can. If you want to be especially cautious, you can even register some possible misspellings of your own domain (in our case, exampel.com and xample.com might be good ones to register).
Don't be afraid to ask for help
We get it. You want to design your own website from scratch and impress your customers, friends and family. You get stuck during the development of your project; there's one annoying bug in your code and you just can't quite work it out. You sit there for hours trying every possible solution you can think of, and eventually you figure it out and it was a very simple solution that you just hadn't thought of yet. Great.So you've just wasted hours of your time fixing something that was barely broken to start with.
A better way to fix this would have been to search online for assistance, whether it's on web development forums or just a search on Google. If you still hadn't found the solution to your problem, you could just ask someone who knows - a website design team like us, or a friend who knows something about website development. Either way, you'd find people who know how to help you and you could continue with other parts of your website while you awaited a reply.
Stick to the standards, but add your own touch
People hate browsing websites that don't make sense; where the navigation menus are at the very bottom of the page and the text links have no underline and are the same colour as the surrounding text. Most visitors will close a webpage after mere seconds if they're confronted with something they don't feel comfortable with. By following various standards you can ensure your visitor has a comfortable and easy time browsing your website.
That being said, it's still important to leave a positive and unique impression in the minds of your visitors. They need to see your website and notice something unique, and at a later date they have to stumble upon your website and think to themselves "I've seen this website before". You need to create interesting and unique content that appeals to your audience and use vibrant, interesting colours in a way that is stimulating and memorable.