Your business is up and running. You’ve planned out a website. Now it’s time to pick a template design. This is the fun part, right?
It can be, but there’s more to website design than what initially meets the eye. As you browse hundreds of templates, whether they’re from Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress, it’s important to keep best practices in mind. Avoid picking the “prettiest” template, and instead, focus on what works best for your clients.
Here are 10 tips to help you choose a website design for your small business.
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You know your customers best. Ask yourself what type of website design appeals to them. For example, an active teen from an urban area probably has different needs than a middle-aged mother from the suburbs. If you’re unsure what resonates with your clients, ask them by sending out a survey or holding interviews. The more you know, the better.
Some questions to ask:
Remember, your small business website is about serving your clients’ needs — not yours.
There are plenty of free website templates, but the problem is, they’re overused. If you have the budget, it can pay to purchase a higher quality template. After all, you want your small business website to stand out. Free templates, because they’re free, are popular and used by businesses from all types of industries.
Just imagine how awkward it would be if your website looked exactly like one of your competitors’ sites. Enough said.
More than half of all global website traffic happens on mobile devices. That means a good portion of your client base is likely searching for your small business website on their phones.
That’s why It’s important for your business’s website to work on all types of devices, including iPhones, iPads, Androids, Kindles, and more. Most newer website templates are already responsive, meaning they automatically change based on a user’s device, screen size, and orientation.
However, an older template, or one that’s free, may work only on a desktop computer.
Before downloading a new template, check that it’s responsive. Try using a tool like Responsinator to view how your website will look on various devices.
Being licensed and insured gives you credibility, especially if you work in construction, landscaping, or if you’re an electrician or plumber.
Pick a template that allows you to prominently advertise your credentials. Your business insurance policy’s COI (certificate of insurance) and business license can help attract new customers and give your current clients confidence in your abilities.
SEO involves refining your website so it responds well to search engines. As you shop for a design, look for one that organizes H1 to H4 headers, page titles, and descriptions. This way, you can easily enter content and label it as a header or metadata.
Search engines use headers labeled as H1 to H4, as well as page titles, and descriptions to understand a site’s content — and elevate it in search results. This is where you’ll want to include your industry’s keywords.
Remember, you don’t have to be a search engine expert; a good template should make SEO easy and fast. To learn more about the basics of SEO, check out our guide here.
When in doubt, avoid flashy sliders and confusing, overly designed navigation. Above all, your website should be functional and easy for customers to use.
If your site’s content is difficult to find, you may want to rethink its design. When you test your website, watch how long it takes someone to find information, and take note of their facial expressions along the way.
Many site builders, especially WordPress, allow you to customize your site by adding widgets, plugins, and other tools. These add-ons are usually built by third parties, but designed to enhance your site’s functionality.
You may want to add a widget or plugin to:
These days, there’s a widget or plugin for almost everything. But before you start downloading tools left and right, remember you need to keep them up-to-date. Updating software helps protect your site and how it functions.
Otherwise, your tool might stop working (at best) or a hacker could get in (at worst).
There are thousands of small business website designs available — one for every need. But ultimately, a template is there to house your content. Some templates excel at showcasing photography, while others make online shopping easier.
Think about your business, the type of content you want on your website, and your business goal. As you choose a template, look only at options that feature your content well.
For example, pick a photograph-heavy template if you’re a freelance photographer or if you have other beautiful images to show off.
If you have the time and resources, you may want to customize your template. This helps you stand out in a sea of websites and better communicate your company’s brand.
Here are some questions to consider. Will this template allow me to…
Depending on your skillset, you may want to tap into the site’s code and further customize its design. But if you’re new to website design, keep it basic and limit the amount of customization that’s needed. Rely on the site builder to guide you.
You never know when you may need extra support. If you buy a template without any support service, you’re on your own for fixing issues. This can get stressful quickly, especially if the site is down and clients are in need.
Squarespace offers help via live chat and email, while Wix even offers 24/7 callback support. Before purchasing your template and even choosing a site builder, find out what support is offered first.
Templates aren’t forever. So if you choose one that isn’t working for your business, you can always make a change. In a few clicks you can upload a new design, and within a day, reorganize your business’s content. That’s the beauty of relying on a template versus coding a new site from scratch.
As long as you follow best practices and keep your customers first, it’s hard to go wrong.
I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.
Emily writes on a number of topics such as entrepreneurship, small business networking, and budgeting.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
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*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.