While social media marketing is all the rage these days, a website is the foundational base of your online presence. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide additional methods for you to attract more customers, but your site is your virtual HQ on the Internet.
If you run a small business and don’t have a dedicated website to serve your customers, you’re missing out. A site offers your customers a portal to learn more about you, your brand, your products, and your services.
In an ultra-competitive business environment, businesses need every edge they can get. A sharp website is an essential tool in the arsenal.
However, a clunky, outdated, generic website will do more harm than good. Cobbling together a generic site from a standard template is not the optimal solution.
As of 2017, there are over 1.2 billion websites in the world, and that number changes every second! How do you ensure you build a site that stands out and serves your customers?
Not everyone has the skills or the time to build an impressive website. That’s where custom web development may offer a potential solution.
Whether you design your website or hire someone else to do it, consider these aspects:
1. Design for Visual Simplicity
A website with a simple and appealing visual layout has higher chances of success. Online consumers have no patience for clutter.
Use lots of blank space and large fonts. Elegance and simplicity score big with viewers. This will make it easier for readers to absorb information.
No one wants to have to search for what they want on your site. This especially important for the homepage, which directs customers to different parts of the site.
Most small business sites have less than 20 pages on their website, so the homepage requires particular attention.
2. Design for Quick Load Times
In the era of instant gratification, customers have less patience than ever. Gone are the days of the dial-up internet when web visitors would wait patiently for pages to load over several seconds.
Today’s users expect near instant load times. This requires optimized content on the front-end and superior back-end development.
Ensure images are appropriately sized to reduce load times. Use a hosting service with reliable servers. The cheapest hosting option doesn’t always mean the best.
You can use an online tool like “Which Loads Faster?” to test the speed of your website.
Don’t assume everyone has blazing fast internet. If you have customers from rural areas with slow internet, your site has to load quickly for them as well.
3. Design for Your Customer
Do you know who your target customer is?
The more you focus on customer research, the more insight you will have. Customer research will give you data such as demographics, gender, location, age group, and interests.
Build your website with your ideal customer in mind. Tailor your site to appeal to him.
For example, if your target customer is typically male between 25 and 40 years old, use colors, language, and images that appeal to this group.
When opting for custom web development, it’s crucial to use these elements so you can build a connection with your audience.
4. Design for Mobile
More customers are using mobile phones than ever before. As of 2016, 4 out of 5 Americans have a smartphone, and they’re using their mobile browsers to surf the web.
Mobile phones have smaller screen real estate than large monitors, and your layout has to be designed accordingly. Phones also require extra scrolling, so keep that in mind if you have lots of content.
Make sure your website layout transfers well to a mobile screen. It’s important to make it easy to find menus, headers, and footers.
You’ll need to ensure that each page, button, and action works on a cell phone.
5. Design for Easy Navigation
A visitor shouldn’t need a Ph.D. to get around your site.
Design the site to allow visitors to get to where they want to as effortlessly as possible. Use clear menus and submenus.
Arrange your site in a logical, orderly fashion. Group similar pages together.
Use quick links for users to get back to a central page with a single click.
No one wants to have to click through several pages to get to their destination.
Another advantage of using custom web development is that you can install search capability within your site. This will allow users to find what they are looking for.
Keep your website accessible for visitors with special needs, such as people with color blindness.
6. Design for Your Brand
How do you ensure that your site reflects your brand the things that make your business unique?
If you run a business in a crowded marketplace, what makes you stand out?
How does your customer identify with you?
Your brand also is a reflection of you and your services. It allows you to connect with customers at an emotional level. It also tells potential clients why they should do business with you.
When you opt for custom web development, you should ensure that your brand influences all aspects of your site. Your fonts, your logo and the images you use must all work in conjunction with it.
For example, if you run a professional services firm, you may want to avoid images that are cartoonish or informal.
7. Design for Purpose
A website can serve one or more purposes.
It could be used to establish your brand online. It could be used to sell your products or services.
Your site can be designed to share information and build a community. Or to acquire online traffic and more customers.
The website could also be a combination of the above. It’s essential to have a clear idea of what you want your site to do for you, and then design it accordingly.
If you run a business that sells physical goods, your website design and features will be different from those of portfolio sites. You may need a storefront, while they might require a platform to schedule appointments.
8. Update Your Website Often
Design trends change very quickly and so does information.
It’s essential that you keep your website updated on a regular basis, both visually and with content.
Don’t let customers from 2017 come to your site and find content that is from 2013 and no longer relevant or even outdated.
On the one hand, you have to stay true to your brand identity so your existing customers can still relate to you. On the other hand, you have to engage with potential new clients, so they don’t click on your site and feel like they fell into a time warp.
When opting for custom web development, work with developers who are always aware of the latest trends in website design. They can tell which of these new trends will work for your site.
9. Design for SEO and SEM
Organic Search continues to be an essential channel for acquiring new visitors.
If you don’t optimize your blog and your website for organic traffic, how do you expect visitors to find you? Use SEO, keyword research, links and meta tags to capture more web traffic and customer acquisition.
SEO and SEM are vital levers in your overall sales and marketing strategy. Thus, it’s essential that you test your website’s performance and make adjustments.
Today, search engines prefer sites that well organized and have lots of external links. But the trends in SEO are always changing, so it’s vital to stay abreast.
10. Content Is King
The most beautiful website in the world won’t receive any traffic if it doesn’t have content that engages and connects with its customers.
Continue to publish quality content that brings readers back for more.
Focus on improving your customers lives with the content that you publish.
Use customer research and design your site to provide content that your ideal customer will value.
For example, if you sell products in the fitness domain, you may want to consider hosting a blog that provides fitness tips and motivation.
It’s a good idea to study your competitors and observe what they are doing. Study the most successful websites in your niche and try to identify what elements of their site are driving success. See if you can emulate the same on your site.
Where to Find Custom Web Development Services
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when you’re building a website to serve your customers. Just purchasing a domain, a hosting service and a generic site template may not be enough as you grow.
We offer a variety of optional services such as press release campaigns, lead generation, and link building services.
Our SEO services come in different flavors and allow you to choose a package that is appropriate for the size of your business.
Our lead generation service is a great way to build the funnel and channel more new customers to your site. This allows you to focus on nurturing your existing client base.
Our link building service allows you to build long-lasting relationships with other sites. We offer a custom outreach strategy, domain authority and guest posts.
If you lack the experience or expertise, work with a professional firm for your custom web development needs. Find a specialist who can advise you on all aspects of successful websites, from design to SEO.
If you’d like a free consultation, contact us. We’d love to partner with you and grow your online presence!