IN THE first part of this two-part post on web design for small business, we looked at the essential aspects of homepages on business websites. In part two, we look at the finer detail of design and structural essentials on the inner pages, and some of the key ‘red flag’ things to avoid. Here are 7 tips of web design for small business that you cannot afford to ignore.
1. Your Story, Information & Privacy/Security
2. Blog Essentials
BLOGS are a great way of driving traffic to your website, especially if you are promoting your posts across social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.
But as with all aspects of online business, it’s vital that you blog creates an optimum experience for users, and so it should be structured with the user in mind first, and then the search engines.
Useful features include a search function for your archive of posts, as well as social media share buttons and a comment box on every post. A sidebar of your most recent or popular posts is also an excellent feature that will enhance your credibility with visitors.
3. Customer User-Friendliness & Optimisation
Paramount among the points to be borne in mind when designing a business site is to use an easy to read, clean font. Opt for a sans serif font, on a neutral background. Any hyperlinks should be intuitive, clickable and easily recognisable.
Mobile responsiveness is imperative on modern business websites, and you should also ensure that you adopt the hamburger menu or other mobile-friendly menu option that is most appropriate to the kind of browsing experience that you wish your mobile customers to enjoy. The hamburger or hotdog button is displayed as ☰, three parallel horizontal lines, usually placed to the top left or top right of the user interface.
4. SEO Essentials
A sitemap is extremely helpful, and not just for designing and monitoring the website’s architecture and navigational structure. A sitemap .XML file contains the URL of every page within the website, and data on all the files within those pages. This is the sitemap’s chief benefit. It enables the main search engines to crawl through data to index the content, therefore improving the website’s optimisation.
A logical, easy to understand and consistent url structure is also helpful, not only for search engine bots, but also for end-users.
Another SEO bonus for the back end of a business website is a user-friendly update function for page titles and meta descriptions—ultra useful if web or particularly blog pages or posts are frequently updated, perhaps to highlight new or alternative aspects of products or services on previously published posts or web pages.
5. Server Integrity
Outside of a strong and intuitive site navigation structure, fast loading time is a bottom line requirement for a business website. Browser caching helps, particularly if you have a site in which logos are in the same position on every page. However, this should not be leaned on if you regularly refresh your logos and other graphic elements.
Hosting must be swift and reliable, and it must also be secure, both for the customer—particularly if you are gathering lots of contact data—and the business. Auto backups of your website are an essential safety net feature for a commercial website.
6. Appropriate Content Management System (CMS)
It’s imperative for a business website to have a CMS that is appropriate to the requirements of the business. This will make in-house management of the site much easier and more intuitive; so consider this another of the tips of web design for small business that you can’t afford to ignore.
OpenCart, for example, is a popular shopping cart solution for firms that have a steady exchange of transactions between the business and its customers. It gives business owner or admin the ability to optimise the site for search engines, while remaining accessible and inviting to customers.
However, OpenCart may not be suitable for ‘shop window’ websites with regularly updated news sections or blogs. WordPress may be the best solution in those instances.
7. Web Design for Small Business – Things to Avoid
If you can avoid direct hosting of music or sound effects on your website, do so. Both of these elements eat bandwidth, and may threaten your maximum uploaded files limit. Either way, they can have a significant negative impact on your website speed. But one of the fundamental tenets of web design for small business is this—the greatest enemy of bandwidth and site speed is video. It’s important to understand this, particularly as so many platforms, such as WordPress, make the process of uploading a video so easy. Always embed a video link to a third-party video service such as YouTube or Vimeo. The video will appear on your site, in the location where you pasted the embed code, but the actual video is streamed from YouTube or Vimeo, rather than from the server where your website is hosted.
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