Building a great business website from the ground up in 2018 is a breeze.
Well, not exactly. But for most companies, your online profile could make or break your brand — so you need to make sure you get it right.
Building up a trusted brand with great imagery, UX and a unique ‘hook’ take thought, effort, and consideration.
This post will examine the anatomy of a great small business website to help inspire yours.
A Mobile-First Site Design
Designing a mobile site requires more effort than just making minor adjustments for smaller screen sizes. A slow-loading, inappropriately designed mobile site will annoy your users.
You need to get used to the idea that mobile will often be the first way your visitors learn about your company.
Set up your menus and site navigation with the mobile user at its heart. Plus, studies have shown that easy-to-use navigation menus increase conversion rates by 18.5%
A great small business example are Marucci Sports who built their ecommerce site with ‘mobile first’ in mind after research uncovered that the majority of their customers came to them on mobile. The designers have done a great job of using portrait photos of players as menu icons throughout the mobile site (pictured above).
The imagery reveals the brand’s relationships with major baseball league players. Plus, the stripped-down menu options make mobile browsing super easy.
Landing Pages That Inspire
Homepages are slightly passé nowadays. They are essential, but they are no longer the ‘first point of entry’ for website visitors. Bear this in mind when you are designing your small business site.
Break down all of the actions you want your visitors to perform and then make a corresponding landing page to suit their needs.
Your homepage, in contrast, can then be freed from unnecessary clutter, giving you more opportunity to establish your brand’s visual identity.
Edita’s Casting uses animated hero imagery to tell their story from their homepage. The face-match animation is a light-hearted and eye-catching way to describe their daily activities as a business. The rest of the site design is simple, including a yellow text banner stretching across the face-match background.
Looking at another foreign language site, Inbound Emotion captures leads by offering a free eBook download. The lead capture form sticks cleverly to the right of the screen, convincing the reader to opt in without distracting from the function of the lander.
Product Pages That Sell Themselves
Think carefully about how you approach any product pages — both in a design and copy sense. These pages can be big conversion killers if poorly managed.
If you’re a burgeoning small business, dropshipping can be the easiest way to stock your ecommerce store or the quickest route to market as a marketplace seller. However, even if you’re not marketing a wholly original product, you need to make sure that your product pages nevertheless highlight the unique selling points of your brand. Copied product descriptions that sound like they came straight off the factory floor are a big no-no.
A clean product page layout with review star ratings in plain sight will build trust with customers. But if you want to stand out from the rest of the online sellers, experiment with adding video to your product page too.
Skis.com offer fantastic film shorts demonstrating their skis in action. Customers can picture themselves on the slopes with this product. The expert presenter also reassures customers before they buy:
The reviews section breaks the overall performance of Skis.com’s products down by category. This helps people quickly digest the qualities they are looking for in their skiing equipment. There is also a question and answer section at the bottom of the page. This is an excellent add-on that establishes brand trust.
Product specifications can also be broken down into the language of graphic symbols. For customers who are comparing products on your site, these details help them deliberate between products.
Clear Communication Channels
Your Google My Business listing should be up-to-date and optimized. This is a given for every small business who seeks to attract regular footfall or phone calls. However, to offer truly 24/7 service, automated chatbots can help drive conversions and act as an alternative line of contact when you’re not around.
Bots can be programmed to offer help on any relevant topic. They can even ask people questions to help guide them to the right webpage. The data collected from your audience, can be used to make future improvements to your business.
The Sound of Vinyl used chatbots to drive over $1million-worth sales, and their business can even take payments securely from their messenger window.
For recommending records, they use questionnaires help customers find what they need efficiently. The chat function also allows further recommendations for future visits.
A Corporate Blog With A Difference
Your blogroll is your chance to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Two to three new posts per week should be your minimum target for a corporate blog.
But, in 2018, you need to offer something unique and valuable with your content. Aside from all of the product roundups and updates from this year’s events season, your blog should aim to really explore your industry.
If you think that your corporate blog can’t compete with a leading industry title, think again. Venture Capitalist firm, First Round, write 3000+ word posts regularly. Their posts include interview pull quotes, broader research, and unique insights. Those who are familiar with blogs like Brain Pickings know that extensive, far-reaching articles add genuine value to the media industry. This is a great testament to using blogging as an outlet for creativity and community value.
Think of your blog content more like a magazine in style with an intriguing narrative angle. Stop making your content about you, and focus on the reader’s wants and needs instead.
Hopefully, the above examples will have highlighted some of the top features that make up the anatomy of a great small business website. In all of your design considerations, make sure you are using your visual content to build your brand narrative — the #1 thing you need to strive for is making a connection with your audience that will last longer than a few seconds or minutes.
Victoria Greene is a freelance blogger and branding expert. On her blog, Victoriaecommerce she shares tips on building great small business websites (amongst other things). Big fan of email marketing and targeted ecommerce strategy.