An online presence is crucial for small businesses these days. With a tap of a few fingers, your potential customers should be able to find you and learn about what you offer. Effective web design makes that process easy and enjoyable for the users, who hopefully, move closer to becoming customers. Without intentional design decisions, though, your website can be boring, hard to navigate, and worst of all, push users away to friendlier sites.
If you’re like many small business owners, you wear many hats. You aren’t a graphic or UX designer. You have to learn the fundamentals before creating your website or working with a professional. Thankfully, that isn’t as tricky as it seems. Below are three design tips that won’t steer you wrong.
Keep it Simple
The most important guideline to remember is to keep your website simple in terms of design and navigation. Sit in a potential customer’s shoes for a while. What are they looking for when they come to your website? How can you make it easy for them to find that information? You want your navigation from one page to the next to be obvious, or even better, feel intuitive.
As for the design, consider Apple’s website. You don’t want too much to catch the user’s eye. Clutter, whether it’s images or words, gets in the user’s way. Apple’s colors, fonts, images, and other design aspects are simple, clear, and effective.
Why do people go to Apple’s website? They’re considering buying an Apple product, such as an iPhone, iPad, MacBook, or gift card. What do you see on Apple’s website? It’s most popular and newest products front and center. There are crisp photos of the products on black or white backgrounds. You get the most important information—the price—right away. Then there’s easy navigation with links to buy the product or learn more.
Apple’s website isn’t for everyone’s tastes, and it isn’t the only way to use minimalism to your advantage. You can review awwwards.com for inspiration in creating a minimal and effective website design.
Have a Call to Action
When you research design and marketing, you’ll see “CTA” everywhere. You should have a CTA (also known as a Call to Action) on every page of your website because this is how you ask the user to act in a certain way and move closer to becoming a customer. You turn a user into a lead by getting their name and email address.
Your CTA should be clear and conspicuous. It should never be hard to find, which is why many websites keep an obvious “contact us” link in their top navigation or place CTAs at the end of copy. It’s often something along the lines of “give us a call” or “fill out our online form.” But it could also be an offer for a discount, newsletter, free e-book, or something else of value. Your CTAs can change over time and from page to page.
Don’t Mimic Another Website
It’s tempting to duplicate a website you admire. But things tend to go wrong when you try to copy someone else’s design to a tee. That website designer made choices based on what works for their business model, industry, and customers. Those choices might not be as effective for your users. Worse yet, copying someone else might make you blend into a crowd of websites when you’d rather stand out.
When you find a website you like, consider it inspiration. Pinpoint what exactly you like about it. Is it the color scheme? Use of white space? Font? The length and tone of the copy? Pictures or graphics? Once you get to the bottom of what you like about the website, take time to think about how you can use that design element for your website in a way that works for your future customers.
A Good Website is an Effective One
It’s tempting to think your website needs fancy design elements. But that’s far from the truth. A good website is one that potential customers can use quickly and easily. They shouldn’t have to bounce around looking for a key piece of information. Instead, they can find what they want with little-to-no frustration no matter where they originally land on your site.
The other aspect that makes your website good is if it works. Think about what you want your website to accomplish. Do you want to build an email list of potential leads? Do you want the customer to buy something directly from the site? If your website accomplishes your goal, then it’s good.