If you’re designing a business website, you want it to stand out from similar sites out there but still hit all the high notes a business site needs. Have you ever noticed the most successful websites have a few traits in common?
Only 64 percent of small businesses have a website, so there’s still a lot of room for growth. Small companies, in particular, may be uncertain of where to start with an online presence or the best practices in business web design.
Business website designers know a website needs to work together on every level, meshing the best of the buyer’s journey with beautiful aesthetics and a dash of creativity until the site seems unique and very personal to that business. Here are nine traits of superb business websites to get you started.
1. Grab the Right Domain Name
Your domain name must make sense for the business, be short enough for users to remember and hit on one of the target keywords. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many domain names available as there once was. You either have to pay a bit more to secure a short, solid name, or you have to get creative in your delivery.
There are some new suffixes available such as “.pizza,” “.club” or “.life.” However, people still tend to remember “.com” better than any other suffix. If that’s not possible, think outside the box.
2. Create a Navigation Hierarchy
No matter the size of the business, the website should have a hierarchy that includes categories and outlines the journey the buyer takes from the moment they land on the page through conversion.
Keep in mind that the navigation needs to be intuitive and straightforward so the site remains user-friendly. If you add too many main categories, navigation may become cumbersome. Stick with a few for the main categories and then separate other topics into each main theme.
Pier One offers a massive number of different product types for the home. However, they narrow down their navigation hierarchy to ten categories and expand on each category with subcategories. This limits how much is put into the navigation bar, while still keeping it clear what items users will find on each page.
3. Use Video
A recent benchmark report indicates that marketers using videos get about 41 percent more traffic to their websites. A video doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. A short interview with the company founder about the history of the brand, or an informational video about a product or service, helps add a personal touch to the page.
4. Discover Your Target Audience
Each business has specific buyer personas which tend to hire them. Spend time studying who your customers are and traits about them. Create a persona for each category of customer and then target information specifically to that customer. Ideally, you’ll add landing pages for each buyer persona and create a buyer’s journey for each personality type.
D. B. Container Service serves a variety of customer types and highlights their top buyers on their home page, inviting them to move forward with more information on services specifically targeted to each type of client. They use bullet points to highlight the services for residential, contracts and businesses, and then further down the page they discuss the specific areas served.
5. Embrace Mobile Compatibility
The average American spends 171 minutes a day on their smartphone. As more people buy smartphones and the abilities of the phones expand, more and more people use their mobile devices for accessing the internet. If your site isn’t mobile-compatible, you risk losing anyone who accesses your website via their phones.
6. Use Vivid Images
Computer and phone screen resolutions are better than ever before. The highly pixelated, low-quality images of a decade ago don’t work well in today’s web designs. Focus on finding images with bold, vivid colors that are highly relevant to the business. Stay away from stock photos as much as possible and opt for pictures of the actual product, the location of the business and customers using the product.
Shadow Creek uses a huge hero shot of their property, highlighting their beautiful golf course. The image is highly specific to their brand and highlights the best features of their business. Even if you don’t own a golf course, you can highlight your offices, your founders or even a specific product.
7. Pay Attention to Headers
Your headers are the first thing a visitor sees when they land on your page. Headers even get highlighted in search engines, so they play a big role in the first impression users have of your brand.
Spend time studying successful headlines by other brands and figure out which words seem to have the biggest impact on your audience. Study keywords and see if you can find patterns in words people search for before landing on your page as a clue about the types of content you should offer and how your headlines address the pain points of users.
Your headers need a clear typography structure and should stand out from other elements on your page. However, the font must also be free of distracting embellishments.
8. Add a Call to Action (CTA)
Top-performing websites have a singular focus and know the journey the buyer will embark on. Landing pages have strong CTAs which tie into the purpose of that specific page. The CTA button must be easy to locate, contrast with other elements on the page and offer clear direction about what steps the user takes next.
Stanley Steamer features strong CTAs on their site, providing those who land on their page with a clear next step in the buying process. The large orange button says, “Get Your Quote and Schedule Instantly” and provides an arrow to show the user should click on the button.
9. Engage the User
From the minute the user lands on your page, they should feel engaged with your brand. Offer a video they can click on for more information, a strong CTA or even a poll for the user to take. Use tasteful pop-ups to engage a user who may be getting ready to leave your page. Think about the sites you spend the most time on and why you stay. Figure out the type of information your audience needs and provide excellent content that keeps the user reading.
While all superb business websites have the traits above in common, they also know when it’s essential to stand out from other sites and create something unique which defines who they are as a brand. Spend time thinking about what kind of unique value your business provides that no one else offers, and make sure you communicate that on your pages. Focusing on smart design strategies, coupled with the unique factors of your business, equals a website which engages users and drives sales.
Lexie Lu is a UX content strategist and web designer. She enjoys covering topics related to UX design, web design, social media and branding. Feel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter.