What You Need to Know Before Redesigning Your Small Business Website

West-Chester-PA-website-redesign

 

Having a website for your small business is essential but whether you DIY or hire a professional digital web design company, it’s a wasted effort if it’s not done right. Small businesses have different needs than big corporations, and your unique demands should be reflected in the design format and functionality of your site. Before you start executing “Website 2.0”, take a minute to learn a few important things about designing websites for small businesses.

Your website is often the first stop before consumers shop.

Even if you’re a small business that relies solely on your local community like West Chester or Downingtown, PA, many of your potential customers will still visit your website first. Today’s consumers are mobile and likely to seek more information about your products or services through your website, reviews and social media before visiting your brick and mortar. If your site is not fully functional, it could deter an interested individual from taking the leap to actual customer.

Content management systems aren’t one size fits all.

The size of your business, what you sell, and your future goals should all be regarded when selecting a content management system (CMS). There are simple options like Squarespace, which have limited capabilities but can get you a few visually pleasing pages. Those looking for something more than basic should hire a designer to set up their initial design using a system like WordPress. With this CMS, your web designer can create a site with all the features you want that will also be easy enough for you to manage and update on your own. Getting the hang of WordPress takes very little time, and the system has tons of benefits such as SEO capabilities and quick loading time. Whether you keep it simple or take it to the next level, figure out the best method for designing and maintaining your small business’ website before settling on a system that won’t deliver what you want.

SEO is the best investment you can make on your website.

From interactive video content to a live chat popup, there are endless ways you can enhance your website to be more effective and user-friendly. While many of these features can provide great benefit to your business, many are expensive to set up and even more costly to maintain. Search Engine Optimization is the one investment you can make that will almost always guarantee a return and is affordable to implement. SEO or search engine optimization refers to the process of developing a website so that it ranks on the first page of search engines for keywords that your target demographic are searching to find your product or service. Without this placement, it is likely your website won’t be seen by those searching for the services or products you offer. Still don’t think you need to invest in SEO? Take a look at some of these mind-blowing statistics.

Your website should have a clear call to action.

Your website shouldn’t be a dead end. It should include a clear call to action ensuring a visitor becomes a lead. There are a variety of call to actions and which is best for your website depends on your business. For example, an interior designer might offer a free consultation to new clients while a jewelry store could extend a 15% discount on new purchases.

Being mobile friendly is the most important design element.

Guarantee your site is seen by all visitors by developing a mobile-friendly or responsive website. A responsive design format will ensure your website is easy to read — no matter what type of device it’s viewed on. Today mobile browsing exceeds desktop usage so having a site that only functions on a standard sized screen will seriously hurt your sales.
*contributed by Dan Scalco

5 Reasons Why Hiring Your Facebook Friend to Build Your Website is the Worst Idea Ever

Starting a small business costs a lot of money – from the expenses of creating a professional business plan and incorporating to buying inventory, hiring staff and marketing your business. So it’s understandable that entrepreneurs look for ways to save money. You may think it’s a smart move to save by hiring someone you know to build your company website, such as your brother-in-law, the neighbor’s teen or a Facebook friend, but that’s a horrendously bad idea, one that will cost you more in the long-run. Here’s why:

  • 81 percent of shoppers do online research before making a purchase.[1]
  • 60 percent of consumers start their research through a search engine.[2]
  • Three in four consumers who find helpful local information in search results are more likely to visit the store.[3]
  • 68 percent of business-to-business buyers make their purchases online.[4]
  • 30 percent of B2B buyers research at least 90 percent of their purchases online before buying.[5]
  • 18 percent of B2B buyers spend 90 percent or more of their budgets online.[6]

What do all these numbers mean for your website decision? Simply put, businesses today live and thrive through their online presence. Whether you’re selling to consumers or other businesses, your website can be your most powerful selling tool – but only if it’s built well to do its job. A poorly built website is worse than a waste of money. It can rob you of sales, drive away current and potential customers, and undermine the integrity of your brand.

You may think “It’s only a few hundred dollars. How bad can it be for that money?” But who you hire to design a website directly impacts its effectiveness. Consider these five ways in which an amateurish treatment can ruin your company website:

1. It’s retina-scorchingly ugly.

Who hasn’t seen and chuckled at one of those “world’s ugliest websites” lists? No business owner wants to end up on one of those lists. Never mind the sheer humiliation of it, simply qualifying for a worst website list means your site is probably not doing its job.

Poor color choices and unappealing design; a glut or dearth of text, or copy that’s just plain bad; photos that are blurry, poorly sized, off-putting, inappropriate or incomprehensible – the list of things that can go wrong with design is nearly endless.

To be visually appealing, your website needs to look professional and engaging.

2. It frustrates smartphone users.

A website that’s not mobile friendly – i.e. easily viewable and usable from a smartphone, tablet or any mobile device – is going to frustrate mobile users. When you consider that smartphones account for 65 percent of all digital time and tablets for 14 percent (according to comScore’s 2015 Mobile App Report), you can’t afford a website that’s not going to play well on mobile devices.

An amateur designer likely won’t know how to create a website that adapts to the needs of mobile users. Or, if he does know something about mobile, his expertise may not extend to all the various mobile platforms in use. Different mobile devices interact differently with websites, and a site designed to look great on an iPhone may not work well for someone accessing it through an Android device – unless an expert designer makes it so.

3. It may not play well with search engines.

Of course, people ultimately make buying decisions – you’re not selling to a search engine. But the search engine is the bridge that connects users with relevant websites. In order to reach the users who are your target audience, your site needs to play well with all types of search engines.

That means it must be designed with search-engine optimization (SEO) in mind. It must be easy for search engines to find and categorize, and contain relevant information and design that move it to the top of search rankings. Of course, SEO is about more than keyword-rich copy. Every aspect of a website should be designed with SEO in mind, from headers, tags and meta descriptions to photo titling, and internal and external links. Your site also needs to know how to communicate your physical location to search engines, since more consumers are now looking for location-relevant information. In fact, location relevance is one of the most common things businesses forget when launching a website.

Your site could be the best-looking and most brilliantly written site ever, but if the search engines don’t understand it, no one will be able to find it, no one will see it and you won’t secure any sales through it.

4. It may not mesh with your marketing.

Your website can be a powerful marketing tool, but is it perfectly aligned with your brand? Does its design maximize its marketing function? Good website design follows basic marketing best practices, including defining and targeting key audiences, presenting engaging and informative copy, incorporating tools to capture leads, and data capture and analytics to give insight into performance.

An amateurish website also might not incorporate a social component, such as a blog or the ability for users to like and share content from the site. It may not convey your company brand; if you’ve already established an identity for your company through a logo, your website should underscore that identity. This can be as basic as incorporating your logo on the home page or as esoteric as ensuring the Favian (that little icon that appears to the left of the meta description when you open a new tab) reflects your brand identity.

5. It may be technically challenged.

When you’re launching a website you have a lot of questions to answer before it can go live. Many of them are highly technical.

Privacy and security are critical. Every year, more small companies experience data breaches or other forms of cyberattacks. In fact, small businesses are favorite targets of cyber crooks because they know smaller companies often don’t have the security measures in place that larger ones do. It’s vital that your website protects not only your security but also that of your customers, especially if you will be collecting any customer data through an online portal on your site.

It’s also important that your website work on all types of browsers. An amateur designer will likely design your website to work optimally on the browser he or she is most familiar with. Meanwhile, it could look bad or even work incorrectly when a user accesses it through a different browser.

When your website crashes or doesn’t work as intended, who will fix it? Your Facebook buddy likely doesn’t provide on-going support. A good designer will not only build an effective, attractive website, he or she will guarantee the work and help resolve any issues that arise after it’s launched. He’ll also set up the site in such a way that you can easily change basic things – like your address, phone numbers, hours of operation or blog – on your own.

Conclusion: Saving money is a great idea for any small business, but not at the expense of the quality of your website. Your online presence is a fundamental business-building tool, and you can’t afford for it to be anything less than fabulous. So save your Facebook connections for swapping jokes and sharing memes. Turn to a professional for your website design.

[1] http://minewhat.com/blog/motivate-shoppers-who-research-online-to-buy/

[2] http://minewhat.com/blog/motivate-shoppers-who-research-online-to-buy/

[3] https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/how-digital-connects-shoppers-to-local-stores.html

[4] http://www.acquitygroup.com/docs/default-source/Whitepapers/acquitygroup_2014-b2bstudy.pdf?sfvrsn=0

[5] http://www.acquitygroup.com/docs/default-source/Whitepapers/acquitygroup_2014-b2bstudy.pdf?sfvrsn=0

[6] http://www.acquitygroup.com/docs/default-source/Whitepapers/acquitygroup_2014-b2bstudy.pdf?sfvrsn=0
Read more at http://www.business2community.com/online-marketing/5-reasons-why-hiring-your-facebook-friend-to-build-your-website-is-the-worst-idea-ever-01351731#Xc5thU8TLd1XjH5L.99

Does Your Business Really Need a Website?

Hyland Graphic Design & Advertising, a West Chester, PA Website Developmet firm provides insights and expertise on four key elements that should be considered in any website design.

You’ve probably been told that having a website is essential to growing your business. Does your business really need a website, or is it still possible for your company to flourish without one?

 

 

 

The Sherwood Group, Graphic Design and Website Design

The answer to that question depends on a number of factors. Here are some things you should think about in order to help you decide.

Even though your business may be relatively small, there are still plenty of good reasons to consider having a website, a few of these are:

  • By and large, the Internet has replaced phone books as the primary resource for business information.
  • If prospects and customers can’t find you on the Internet, they won’t likely know your company exists.
  • Your competitors most likely have websites. If you don’t, consumers will be contacting them instead of you.
  • Reviewing your website is something most consumers will do before choosing between you and your competition.
  • The Internet is often the first place people turn to when looking for contact information.
  • Having a website ensures consumers are able to find your company quickly and easily.
  • The Internet is always awake, making your business visible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

While the above points are clearly positive benefits, you may NOT need a website if:

  • You already have more business than you can handle. (Should business activity inevitably drop off, however, a website is a good way to help prevent a business slow-down.)
  • Your website is shoddy or unprofessional. It’s obviously better not to have a website than to have a shoddy one that doesn’t appropriately represent your company in the marketplace.
  • Your page is messy, has broken links, or poorly written content. If this is the case, people will question the quality of work you perform, and are more likely to take their business elsewhere anyway.

Should you decide that you need a website for your business, we would be happy to help you create one that not only will reflect your brand and help draw new customers in, but will also resize automatically to fit smartphones and tablet devices. To find out more about our website starter package, please contact us for an estimate.

 

Compliments of The Sherwood Group

Website Design Tips

Hyland Graphic Design & Advertising, a West Chester, PA Website Design firm provides insights and expertise on four key elements that should be considered in any website design.

Website Design Tip #1 – Your Website Should Be Clean & Clutter Free

Aesthetic Website Design

It’s very easy these days to overload your website with images and text to the point where visitor’s brains stop processing information when confronted with too many options. To keep visitors on your site, you want to make sure pages are not visually cluttered so that your visitor’s eyes are drawn away from the most important part of the page. Another tip for streamlining your website’s pages and posts are to keep the page content concise, short, and to the point. On most Web sites, a single paragraph should be no more than five to six lines.

Website Design Tip #2 – Clearly Communicate Your Message or Offer To The Consumer

Intuitive Website Design

Make sure the most important information is on your homepage with the secondary information only a click away. That means don’t bury information three or four clicks from your homepage. If it has to be that far from the homepage, it isn’t important. Eliminate it.

Website Design Tip #3 – Your Website Design Should Balance: Aesthetics, Useability & Function

Website Design Usability

Here’s a simple checklist to assure that
you’re on track with Website Design Tip #3:
1) Major headings should be clear & descriptive
2) Critical content is seen without scrolling down the page
3) Styles & colors are consistent throughout your website design
4) Emphasis (bold, etc.) is used sparingly
5) Ads & pop-ups are unobtrusive
6) Main copy is concise & self-explanatory
7) All links are intuitive and function properly

Website Design Tip #4 – Offer Your Consumers A Great User Experience on Any Device by Using A Responsive Website Design

Responsive Website Design

Today, over 46% of Internet searches are completed on smart phones and tablets. Responsive website design іs undoubtedly the future оf mobile and іs оf immense benefit tо bоth you аnd the user. Mobile users usuаllу dо nоt hаvе the time tо leisurely browse уоur entire website. Тhеу аrе visiting уоur site fоr а purpose – tо gеt specific іnfоrmаtіоn, such аs уоur address, phone number оr additional іnfоrmаtіоn rеgаrdіng а product оr service that уоu hаvе tо offer. Gіvіng them the exact іnfоrmаtіоn wіthіn the lеаst роssіblе time іs the trick to converting them іntо loyal customers.