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Small Business Web Design Tips [Expert Roundup]

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Updated March 14, 2019
one Comment

 
5
Small Business Web Design Tips and Strategies

Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, and strategic marketer focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses and construction companies.

Small Businesses need a little bit different type of web design and SEO. We know we’re not the only company you could choose from – and we talked to other small business web design experts – to get many perspectives. Also – check out these awesome people and the companies they represent, for more awesome strategy – and their web design services!

Small Business Web Design Tips and Strategies

Add schema markup to enhance your visibility in search results

An often overlooked opportunity, schema markup is code that you add to your website that search engines use to display information about your business, services and products in search results. This can bring critical information into your organic search results, such as reviews, breadcrumb links, company logo and product prices. These enhancements can improve your keyword click-through-rates, earning you more traffic for simple site improvements.

Don’t consider yourself technical? That’s OK. Schema markup is easy to implement. Check out my favorite schema markup generators, which will create the code for you so that all you need to do is copy it over to your website.

Telling your story to the right audience works.

Griffin Roer

Griffin Roer, Uproer

 

Make your site mobile-friendly, blazing fast and convert it to HTTPS

Three things that imperative for your website in 2018: mobile-friendly/responsive/adaptive design, website speed and performance, and converting from http to https (SSL certificate purchased from your hosting company). All three have been highlighted by Google as ranking factors starting in the summer of 2018.

Use a Google Respected System – and make it fast
There are 4.9 billion mobile device users in the world, your site has to look across desktops, laptops, tablets, and phone, all of varying size. Avoid using DYI site builders like Wix and Weebly, to name a few. They are limiting from a design perspective and they don’t play well with Google for SEO purposes. Website speed and performance is reliant upon a great hosting company and a well coded website. WPEngine is the top shelf of hosting, the most expensive and worth it. Bluehost cloud service is a great choice for the budget conscious. Avoid GoDaddy.

Original high quality photography from a local photographer
This separates a great site from a good one. Include interactions with happy, smiling clients; action shots (if applicable), case studies/portfolio of your work, and current head shots of your team. People relate to the human aspect. Keep the design consistent, use the same size page header photo (2000×600 is a good size) across the site. From a potential customer perspective, provide a clear message of how you can help them above the fold (top 1/2 of the page) with a clear call-to-action (CTA) button including action words (Request, Download, Call, Submit, Email).

Be sure to claim your Google My Business listing
Less than 50% of business owners claim the free listing from Google. Build your local directories/citations from your Google My Business listing. Consistency including exact spelling, abbreviations of street names, business hours, and 100% completion across these directories is key to Google viewing your business as trustworthy. Ask clients for Google reviews, at minimum you want 15 Google reviews.

Tony Noterrman - Noteworthy Web Design - Small Business Web Design Tips

Tony Noterrman, Noteworthy Web Design

 

Prioritize and vigorously keep it simple

If everything is important… nothing is important
It’s tempting to try and make everything bold and stand out on your site, but it will most likely have a negative affect with your users not knowing what to do. Have a refined experience on your site that lets people explore the content they want with ease.

Make it easy to digest
There is such thing as TOO MUCH content. Most people skim through websites and don’t want to read a book to find the information they are looking for. Splitting up your content into clear sections with simple headlines will improve your site tremendously.

KISS Principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid
De-clutter your site so it is easy to navigate and read. People can be overwhelmed If there’s too much going on. This could be: too many colors, patterns, or even too many calls-to-action.

Pick a color… or two
A great way to brand your site is to implement your company colors. For the best results, use the chosen color for buttons. People will associate that color with taking action and can easily see what they can and cannot click on.

Michael Delsing web design tips for small businesses

Michael Delsing, Freelance Web Design Portfolio

 

Create a sincere emotional connection with visitors

Nothing matters more than emotional resonance. If you don’t connect personally with your ideal customers – someone else will. Just making it beautiful, accessible, and Google friendly – is the baseline, and if your competitor can create a magnetic connection with your ideal customer with compelling images, and headlines that truly speak to their pain points and desired outcome – they’ll get that customer not you.

Focus on your headlines, and delight them

If you can make them fall in love – with one headline, you’ve found the one. Romance them with the idea of working with you – draw in their attention by addressing their main pain point. Then seduce them by offering a solution, without all of the trivial details about how it gets done – just help them imagine themselves in a post-problem scenario. Enjoying the delightful benefits of your service or your products. You are a bad-ass – use your current ideal clients as a model for how you write out what they will love about your work.

Focus on your 5 most prominent images and make them want it.

What will the visitor to your website – the ideal customer – the hero of the story feel, look like, and experience after they use your solution. Focus on images that give them this kind of feeling – and do your best to get original images – at least for the 5 most prominent images on the site. I’m not saying – never use stock photography – I’ll leave that to the big companies who have zillions of dollars to spend on marketing, but I will say ‘pay to have a handful of amazing photos professionally taken so that you can create a genuine and personalized effect based on your companies personality.’

Focus on instilling trust, and making it almost impossible to not take the next step with you.

Nothing matters more than trust, when it comes to creating an insanely good website. You have to drive the point home that you have a track record, with badges, with testimonials, and with undeniably awesome examples of your previous work. Then – right as they reach a fever pitch of trusting you, and wanting to work with you – have an obvious next step, a big juicy bright button that pushes them to take the next step with you.

Web Designer Minneapolis, Freelance Web designer, minneapolis web design

Tim Brown, Hook Agency

 

Start with a style guide to ensure consistency

I can’t stress the importance of developing a style guide for your company brand, enough. Documenting the expectation of design quality for your brand is key in ensuring you have a consistent design aesthetic across your marketing material. Leaving a succinct impressions on your potential clients. Starting with a style guide is the best piece of advice I can give to any business when embarking on a web design project.

Josh Giowaya - Small Business Website Designer and Developer Tips

Josh Giowaya, JGD Zine

 

Focus your efforts on your customer’s need

Your customer has a space for your business in their life, figure out what that looks like and design it to be a positive experience for them. Don’t be afraid to start with your assumptions and be comfortable knowing you’ll tweak everything a lot to get it right. Set yourself up to listen to your customers, use analytics, and various user tests as tools toward a better experience for them. The overall goal is to create the reaction you want your ideal customer to experience in all facets of your business. However, I would argue that your website is one of the most important. With it, you have the ability to utilize customer data and behaviors to influence other areas of your business.

I hate the expression, “Don’t be a superhero and take on the entire world.” when people try taking on too much. Who doesn’t want to be a superhero? Instead, I’ll say be a superhero by solving one problem in your customer’s life. People naturally put labels on other people and businesses. Labels keep people organized so when they need something they can easily remember you for that specific something you offer. As a small business owner, you control what that something specific is and how quickly they will remember your brand name for it.

Brenna French - WordPress Designer Minneapolis

Brenna French, B Fresch

 

Above all else, be consistent

A common trap small businesses fall into is letting their online presence grow stagnant. I’ve seen businesses set up blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and more, only to have those same pages go for months or even years without updates. This is because it’s easy to underestimate how difficult it is to write a post once a day, or even once a week. While their goals are admirable, they aren’t achievable.

But it’s important!
Consistency is one of the most important factors when running a business, especially when it comes to blogging and social media. There is little more telling than a Twitter account that hasn’t been updated since 2016. Customers will think, “This business doesn’t appear to be active. I don’t think they’ll be very responsive if I have a question or need help.” This reflects poorly on you and your business.

How can I be consistent?
It’s important to start small. Set up a routine and add it to your schedule – for instance, in the case of a blog, two short paragraphs each week. If the goal seems too simple, that means it’s just right. The most important factor isn’t quantity, nor is it quality. It’s achievability – and from that follows consistency. Refine this process further by creating templates or outlines to work from. Automate as much as possible – use services like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule and crosspost to all of your accounts. Once consistency is the primary goal, momentum, quantity, and quality will follow.

Michael Knepprath

Michael Knepprath, Web Designer and Developer

 

Use free tools

If you’re a small business trying to create a website, don’t think you need to go it alone. There’s no need for you to spend weeks learning how to code a website or how to perform on page SEO. Rather, there are plenty of free tools available that can help you do all the tasks you’re unfamiliar with.

For example, there are website builders that can construct entire websites for you in a matter of minutes. And nowadays these websites are just basic looking sites, but rather fully comprehensive and modern sites that your business can be proud of. Or you can use a keyword rank checker to see what keywords you should focus on for your site. If you end up using a tool like WordPress, there are literally thousands of plugins you can use for free that will add features to your site.

Creating and running the perfect website for your business from scratch isn’t easy. But no matter what tasks you need to do, chances are there exists a free tool that can help you out. So, save yourself plenty of time and money by making use of the amazing free tools that already exist, and go back to focusing on more important matters.

Harsh Agrawal

Harsh Agrawal, Marketer, Founder

 

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Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, and strategic marketer focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses and construction companies.

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1 Comment on "Small Business Web Design Tips [Expert Roundup]"

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Mindy Jollie
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I like what you said about starting a style guide for consistency. I would imagine a lot of people just don’t standardize certain things on their websites. If I were launching a new website, I would definitely want a professional to work on the development and the style guide.

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Dan Corrigan
Dan Corrigan
18:43 19 Jun 19
I am a small business owner who was referred to Hook Agency to develop my website, promoting and advertising my business. The first time I spoke with Tim I knew his company would be a good fit for my business. The entire Hook Agency team was very responsive, acommodating, patient, and easy to work with. They made the whole process productive and stress-free. I recommend their services to anyone starting a business or for those who simply would like the best agency supporting their business.read more
Jen Wright
Jen Wright
19:48 06 Jun 19
Truly honest and caring people - I reached out to Hook Agency to schedule a consult with them, and I received a call from Tracy Kelly the same day. He was personable, kind, and took the time to explain what I was looking for wasn't a fit for their agency, but went completely above and beyond to talk to 2 other businesses to see if they would be interested in working on the project I have in mind, and then sent me a follow up email with their contact information. I am so impressed with the Tracy and his honesty and integrity. If you're worried that someone is going to sell you on services you don't need - you can expect a breathe of fresh air with Tracy and Hook Agency.read more
David Keinert
David Keinert
13:17 04 Jun 19
I was looking for agencies because we wanted to create a new website and blog. Hook was one of our top choices, but admittedly, I was nervous based on the fact they had not done work in my industry before. Fast forward to a year later, and I couldn't be happier. The team at Hook is responsive, resourceful, creative, and fun to work with. We have great content on our blog, and website continues to grow each month. I'm "Hook"ed!read more
Ryan Hanson
Ryan Hanson
03:10 24 May 19
We have nothing but great things to say about the Hook Agency. Their website work, and subsequent SEO, blog writing, and social media expertise have done wonders for our lead pipeline. We would recommend them to anyone looking for a competent and professional digital marketing team. We already have them contracted to do another project!read more
Jesse Hoekstra
Jesse Hoekstra
20:17 15 May 19
Great company to do some SEO work with and also a great help on the website building. They have quick response to questions, updates, and last minute changes.
Greg Toler
Greg Toler
17:07 15 May 19
Tim and the entire Hook Agency team has been the exact partner my company needed for all things web design, SEO, and even digital marketing strategy. Was hesitant at first with the complexity of my industry, but they have far exceeded expectations with research and content development. Our SEO position and inbound leads were almost nonexistent. Within three months our website authority and position had drastically increased, and we were consistently receiving organic leads. Now we have closed our first inbound lead as an organization and are transitioning to let Hook manage our PPC. As a small business, Tim has been helped us get the best bang for our buck while getting to know our company and process to help achieve our goals. We have used several large and small SEO companies in the past, but Hook Agency's management has provided the first measurable difference and growth. Would highly recommend!read more
Josie Franske
Josie Franske
16:11 22 Apr 19
We considered several web-design firms before selecting Hook Agency to redesign a large portion of our company site, and we're incredibly happy with the results. Not only was the team able to create exactly what we wanted, they've come up with some great compromises between keeping our brand voice and SEO writing, providing solutions that I'm confident no other firm would be able to dream up. It's been a very collaborative process and we're seeing great outcomes. They've also provided technical support on some small web issues, which takes major headaches off our plates as a small business without a full-time IT department. We absolutely recommend them!read more
Karine Woodman
Karine Woodman
02:50 21 Apr 19
We absolutely love our website. Hook Agency was very professional and provided us with a website that exceeded our expectations. We've also continued with their SEO services.
Jamie Rykyto
Jamie Rykyto
23:18 21 Jan 19
Very impressed! Long story short, our company website that was hosted elsewhere somehow lost data and went down. When the hosting company failed to do anything about it Hook Agency didn’t hesitate to help. They went above and beyond to get us back up and running. They made us feel confident and comfortable with what they were doing and explained everything each step of the way. I would definitely recommend them!read more
Maygen Lacey
Maygen Lacey
16:16 09 Jan 19
Super impressed with Tim. I had no idea how to find a web developer in my budget. Even though he was well out of my price range, he still very kindly took the time to suggest a few options and and walked me through how pro web developers operate. Class act! Thank you!!
Gibbous Wolf
Gibbous Wolf
19:53 31 Oct 18
Hook Agency came up with highly creative SEO solutions to my growing website. Their process was very insightful and they explained everything in an intelligent way without making me feel talked down to. I would recommend Hook Agency for anyone's SEO needs in Minneapolis.
Casey Palmer
Casey Palmer
18:49 16 Oct 18
Such a good website creator! So creative, responsive and helpful. Great team!!!
Robbin Julien
Robbin Julien
00:29 18 Sep 18
HOOK made the complex topic of SEO far less intimidating. They were patient and understanding with our learning curve. They worked "with" us, educating us as to where the opportunities were. They identified what "they" could do for us and even more valuable, what "we" could and should be doing for ourselves. HOOK and their style of full transparency, had us feeling comfortable immediately and ultimately feeling like we had a trusted partner working for our best interests. We look forward to our future collaboration and success!read more
Andrew Alshouse
Andrew Alshouse
17:24 10 Aug 18
Hook Agency has been a great resource for our small business. From creating our initial site to making updates as we grow, Hook has always been easy to work with. And they are quick with bug fixes which I really appreciate!
Reed Leidle
Reed Leidle
17:07 27 Jul 18
Amazing! Seriously, first class customer service and good people!!! Talk about going above & beyond... couldn't ask for a better experience.
Mark Graham
Mark Graham
18:45 16 Jul 18
Finding a website design company that is highly creative, technically competent , fundamentally sound, well organized, willing to listen and committed to service is unique indeed. We found exactly that at Hook Agency.
Eric Pfeffer
Eric Pfeffer
21:10 05 Jul 18
Without even paying a dime, Tim looked at my google analytics account and my google console account and gave invaluable free advice. Although his services were not a good fit for my needs at this point, I would highly recommend his services for SEO and high raking on google searches. Hook Agency is the way to go!read more
Craig Pladson
Craig Pladson
13:40 25 Jun 18
Tim and his team were collaborative, responsive, fast and delivered quality work on a tight timeline. The Wordpress pages they built are easy to update, mobile friendly and we plan on using the template they built for landing pages down the road. Tim also provided insightful guidance on SEO and lead generation best practices along the way.read more
Anna Overly
Anna Overly
17:28 17 May 18
When I began searching for an SEO agency last year, I received a lot of generic proposals from SEO agencies who wanted our money but didn't show any dedication to learning our niche industry. Tim, on the other hand, came to the table armed with a list of keywords to go after, goals to reach, a knowledge of what our competitors were doing, and an eagerness to understand our industry. Since then, Tim has shown a deep commitment to our success and has gone above and beyond to make sure we reach the goals we set. In the last year, our company has experienced a 30.8% increase in conversions from organic search (3mos/3mos) and a 135.06% increase in page views from organic search (3mos/3mos). The conversation has shifted from "let's get more leads" to "we need to hire more employees to handle all this new business." Tim has been incredible to work with, and I'd recommend him highly to anyone looking to hire an SEO specialist.read more
Sarah Lietz
Sarah Lietz
15:19 21 Feb 18
Tim has always been super responsive, creative in design, and helping us long after he should! Highly recommend!
Patrick Lorence
Patrick Lorence
15:52 20 Sep 17
“My company launched our completely revamped website and couldn't be happier with the way the site turned out, and our experience with Tim B Design. They took our old website with outdated graphics, poor sales results and transformed it into a modern, incredibly attractive and sales thriving site. In 6 short months we have seen a 300% increase in sales by online traffic, a greater return than we had ever imagined. Our product keywords are up over 350% and our website can easily be found on top of any major search engine. When we met with them to discuss the project, we were immediately impressed with how easy they were to communicate with—just real, down to earth, believable people that don't talk over your head with tech jargon. They listened and spent ample time understanding our products and message to make sure the site layout was exactly what we wanted.These days, I feel that people get to know your business through your website before they even walk through your door so it better be a good first impression. Our site brings in new clients every single day. The best part is that my website is so easy to use, I am able to edit content whenever I need to. It’s become such a great tool for my business. I am so in love with my branding, I receive compliments everyday. The Tim B Design team is amazing. They are creative, quick and so much fun to work with, I highly recommend them to any business.”Brad LorenceOwner, Banksystems Marketing Incread more
Niles Deneen
Niles Deneen
19:44 03 Aug 17
Awesome - we are seeing great improvement in our traffic and engagement. It's a pleasure working with Tim he is such a gifted guru of seo and digital marketing.
Josh Carlson
Josh Carlson
14:44 11 Jul 17
Tim B Design is exceptional to work with! He and his team have a great attitude, they've shown excitement in helping my business, and they are go getters! When I first contacted Tim on his website he responded to me almost immediately which was great. After our first face to face meeting I knew I wanted to work with him. I agreed to have them design my logo and build my website. In the process of doing that Tim thoroughly educated me on the importance of SEO which I knew very little about. There was absolutely no pressure to purchase anything while he was educating me but I decided to enter in an agreement for that too. Shortly after starting SEO they had availability to take over my social media accounts and I jumped at that opportunity. I put my full trust in them and they are doing great with all of it. Because of their work I've already seen growth in the number of sales leads generated by my website which is terrific! If you need help with any of these areas you need to contact Tim B design. Thank you Tim and Bea!read more
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