How to Design Your Small Business Web Site
By Erum Zehra
You are all set to give your business global exposure through the internet. Its about time you started building your web site, right?
Wait…have you planned the design for your web site?
Yes, imagine what would happen to a house if you built it without planning it first! Web sites meet the same fate if they are not planned before they are designed. And yet, a lot of web sites are being built that way! They appear confusing and haphazard and have no focus.
But you want your web site to be different, right?
Then lets start planning your small business website answering these questions:
1. What is the purpose of your web site?
We come to the foremost question in our planning process. Your website should have clarity of purpose. A common answer to this question is ” to sell my products/services”. But what can you do to make sure that you sell? Here are some ideas:
- Attract a lot of visitors to your web site
- Encourage repeat visits from the visitors
- Offering useful information for your visitors
- Have attractive photos and interesting descriptions of your merchandise
- Emphasize the unique product features/benefits
- Offer special prices/deals
Come up with a unique and clearly defined purpose for your web site. How can you achieve your goals if you have not defined them clearly enough?
2. Who are you building it for?
Again, do not fall into the trap of thinking that you are building it for everyone, for you will end up catering to no one at all. Possible target audiences for your web site can be:
- Current customers/Targeted traffic
- Potential customers/Search engine traffic
- Suppliers of your raw materials
- Retailers who can stock your product
- People interested in knowing about your company ( press/media etc.)
- People interested in knowing about you products (researchers, advertisers etc.)
You may choose to design your web site for all of the above audiences. However, a much better approach is to determine the type of audience which is the most important to you and then focus more on that audience. The more focused your web site, the more impact it wi;; have on your target audience.
Remember that your potential customers cannot be just anyone surfing on the net. They are people who have a need (whether realized or unrealized) for your product. Come up with a customer profile/avatar including demographics and psycho-graphics of your customers. This will give you a much better idea of the appeals you should be using to convince your customers.
Search for clues of unfulfilled needs. What do they want which is not being done? What are they dissatisfied with? What problems do they want solved? The answers to these questions may lead you to a winning business idea. All successful businesses achieve success through satisfying an unmet demand, the right way.
3. What information should the web site have?
This depends entirely on your goals and target audience. For example if you intend to gain repeat sales from your current customers through your web site, you only need updated and accurate information of your products and an easy and hassle free ordering system.
On the other hand, if you want to cater to potential customers and want increased hits to your web site, you would need to provide valuable information to draw these customers to your web site. For example, a web site selling herbal soaps may provide informative articles on skin care and herbal ingredients etc. This will attract people interested in natural skin care to the web site. If they find the offered information useful they just might buy from you. Even if they dont buy they might book mark the web site and visit again. The more they repeatedly visit your web site, the higher the chances that they would buy from you.
4. How should the information be organized?
The information must be organized well to ensure ease of navigation and usability. Remember to view your web site from your visitors perspective. Highlight the information which your visitors would find interesting and not that which you consider important. Group similar batches of information together, and keep the navigation consistent throughout the web site. Do not build a menu with countless choices on your home page. This confuses people and they leave without exploring further. Dont put more than 8 links in your main menu.
5.What visuals and color scheme should be used?
This is the final step in your web site plan. People usually go through this step first. The result is an unimpressive and confusing web site with no obvious purpose or interest. If you decide the visuals and color scheme at the end of the planning process you can come up with original ideas which suit the content and image of your web site perfectly. Your design would seamlessly flow together and your web site would give a well organized and impressive look.
You might have come across numerous web sites with no obvious color schemes or consistent visuals. This is a result of bad planning, or more likely, no planning at all. Do not plunge directly into web design, without giving any thought to the planning process. There is no point in building a web site which is not optimized to achieve its purpose.
Are you ready to plan your small business website? Download our FREE Website Planning Template today to design your website layout for success!
About the Author
Erum Zehra is the founder of Prestige Interactive. Prestige Interactive serves as a one-stop solution for all digital communication needs for businesses including web design, graphic design, SEO and web content.