When you’re juggling all the responsibilities of owning a small business, it’s easy to let your online presence fall by the wayside. But if you’re trying to generate growth or scale your business, your website should be one of your top priorities.
According to Adobe’s 2016 State of Content report, 59% of global internet users say they’ll take the time to engage with online content—as long as it’s beautifully designed.
That means if your potential customers find an out-of-date or poorly configured website attached to your small business, they may move on before seeing what you have to offer.
Whether you’re building a site from scratch or redesigning one after making a few mistakes, here are eight tips on website development for your small business.
1. Establish Your Brand Guidelines
Your website’s look and feel should carry the unique characteristics of your brand. If you don’t have any, it’s time to create a strict set of brand guidelines that establish how you present your business to the public.
When drawing up these guidelines, you need to consider a few key areas.
Your brand’s voice or personality will determine how you write your copy. Is your business professional and traditional? Is it innovative? Is it playful and creative? Establish the type of voice you think best reflects your core values.
You can use your logo to inform your choices on color, typography, and overall style. Your logo will take center stage on your website, so it’s essential that it matches well with the rest of your brand elements.
You should carry the colors featured in your logo through every page of your site. Remember, keep things simple and readable.
Many businesses choose a few fonts to use as their official typography. Consider picking out a serif font to use for your printed materials and a web-friendly sans-serif font to use online.
Your website will need pictures to really stand out. These may be photos of your products, shots you take of your office, or stock photos to illustrate your blog posts. Establish guidelines around what type of imagery matches your brand style.
2. Develop a Plan for Your Website
Next, you need to turn an eye to the future. Write out a detailed plan that goes over what you expect out of your site immediately, in a year or two, and 10 years down the road.
- What is the purpose of this site?
- What functions does it need to have?
- What functions would you like to have someday?
- How will you keep the site updated?
- How do you plan to promote it?
- How much of your budget can you spend on website development?
3. Keep It Scalable
If you’re starting the website development process from scratch, you may not need every function on your wish list early in the process. This why you need to keep the future in mind when you choose a site hosting platform.
Pick a platform that is highly customizable and offers the services you think you may want in the future. Keep an eye out for online payment compatibility, domain name customization, and the ability to add plugins as needed.
4. Choose Your Domain Carefully
Your domain name should reflect your business in a professional, easy-to-remember way. Your best bet is choosing an address that matches your business name exactly. If your name isn’t available, consider adding an extra identifier like your city or state to your domain.
Keep the following in mind:
- Make it short and simple
- Be sure it’s easy to spell
- Don’t use special punctuation
5. Integrate It Across All of Your Channels
Social media is essential, especially for small businesses. Adults across the U.S. spend an average of five hours and 30 minutes on social media every week. That means if you want to reach them, your site needs to integrate well with your social channels.
Add share and follow buttons throughout your website so your customers can easily interact with your business online. Consider adding a ticker for real-time social updates as you make them.
6. Make Sure It’s Mobile-Friendly
In their study, Adobe also found that eight out of 10 users will leave a site if it doesn’t display well on their mobile device. Even if your site looks great on a desktop, you may lose customers if it doesn’t work on a smartphone.
A mobile-responsive site means that every element needs to be readable even on the tiniest screen. Images need to automatically scale up or down so they’re not cut off or skewed. Any buttons, links, or scrolls need to function with a tap or swipe instead of a click.
7. Keep It Updated
Your website needs to stay current as your business shifts and grows. Any time your contact information changes, you add a new location, or you begin offering a new product or service, your website should reflect it.
This is also the time to consider a blogging plan. Short, timely updates can keep your website and business looking fresh and vibrant. Blog posts are also a great way to engage with your customer base and share your knowledge and expertise with the world.
8. Outsource the Parts You Don’t Understand
Small business owners tend to wear many hats. Any time you’re faced with an unforeseen problem, you probably roll up your sleeves and handle it yourself. While that may be your usual go-to solution, when it comes to website development, sometimes you need technical expertise in order to succeed.
If SEO, mobile-responsiveness, site analytics, and SSL certificates have you feeling lost, consider hiring a professional firm to design your website. They’ll be able to take your plan and turn it into a beautiful, secure, and—most importantly—functional site for your business.
Hire a Professional to Help Your Website Development
If you’re ready for a top-notch, mobile-responsive site, we can help. At Chili Pepper Design, we translate your business objectives into a user-optimized website. We offer free 20-minute consultations, so reach out today and let’s get started!