There’s a massive difference between having an online presence and having a strong online presence, and it lies in design. In today’s digital world, it’s no longer “good enough” to have a website with some content. With competition increasing across virtually all industries, your small business needs to make a big splash.
Too often, entrepreneurs and small business owners interpret this as needing a pretty website, while dismissing the key functionalities and intricacies that come with web design. In reality, website development, mobile app development, and other digital services go far beyond just beautiful graphics. Your website needs to perform at top speeds, use the most up-to-date technologies, be easy for users to interact with, and yes, look good, in order to stay competitive.
As a UX design and development company, we work closely with businesses on improving their digital space. No matter what industry you’re in, your target audience expects that they’ll be able to find you online—and your ability to deliver on that first impression can seriously impact whether or not they convert into a paying customer.
Here are just some of our reasons why your small business needs to focus more on its design:
People develop their first impressions in one-tenth of a second, and your website is no exception. On top of that, researchers have found that 94% of those first impressions are design-related. If your website doesn’t capture their attention quickly enough, that person is likely to click away from your site.
When users look at websites, they scan for the information they’re looking for, taking cues from the site’s navigation, layout, content, and aesthetic. If the site looks complicated or unfamiliar, it’s not likely the user will want to waste time figuring it out—especially when there’s an infinite number of websites out there that can fulfill the same need. Small businesses with the best websites pay attention to their site’s user experience and design it so that the website feels completely natural to navigate.
Instead of blindly designing your site based on industry trends, think about the first impression you want people to take away from your site. For example, if you’re trying to sell professional business attire to customers, you don’t want your eCommerce web design to look cluttered or focus on interruptions like pop-ups. Instead, you’ll want it to communicate efficiency with a minimal color palette, simple menu bar, and a clear call-to-action that doesn’t impede the customer’s flow.
We helped one of our clients achieve their first impression goals with a website redesign that cleaned up their entire aesthetic. As a luxury brand retailer, Archer Brighton wanted to communicate that they are professional, modern, and the epitome of luxury. We chose to show off their minimal product photography with an equally minimal design. This lets the products speak louder than any menu bar or purchase button on the site, pushing users’ eyes to be drawn towards the products.
The takeaway? Prioritize how you want people to feel and think, and then work on creating the experience that helps them get there.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, makes a huge impact on your online presence because it helps determine your Google ranking. While some customers make their first impression by directly looking at your website, others will make it by looking at where you land in the Google search results. As we previously wrote:
This is why many small business owners spend hours learning about best SEO practices. They listen to interviews with SEO experts, read blog posts about SEO tips, and even hire SEO specialists to improve their website ranking.
While doing all of these things can help improve your SEO and online presence, web design and SEO are intrinsically linked. If your website isn’t designed to be optimized for great SEO performance, any other SEO strategies your small business is trying could be doing better.
Basically, it’s extremely important to work with a UX design company or professional that knows SEO. They’ll make sure they build a website or mobile app that makes your content easily discoverable, prominently featured, and tagged correctly. If you’re pursuing a complete redesign—an experienced agency matters even more.
Our last tip might seem intuitive, but you’d be surprised how many small businesses forget that marketing is ineffective when you’re leading users to a bad design. Your business can follow brilliant marketing strategies, gain thousands of followers on social media, and land lots of interviews in well-known publications—but if all of that leads to a bad website, the users won’t convert.
People aren’t interested in interacting with a website that they wouldn’t share with a friend. They don’t have time to spend hours deciphering whether or not the quality of your services and products match the quality of your site. If you’ve failed to make a good first impression, you’ll probably fail the second or third time you push them to go to your site.
Remember that your users likely have a lot of choices when it comes to what your small business offers. What ultimately sets businesses apart are their brands, and websites are an essential part of that.
If your marketing data shows that you’re reaching lots of people but your bounce rates are high, it’s probably time to re-evaluate who your site is designed for. You might be surprised to find out that unlike your marketing efforts, your design doesn’t think about the user at all. In that case, it’s time to switch up your UX.
Is your small business ready to make strong first impressions, nail their SEO strategies, and boost conversions? Talk to an expert UX design agency to see how a good design can increase your company’s success. You never know—your small business might just become the next big thing.