Web design for small businesses in Ireland is different from web design for large corporations.
So, I just combed through the top websites in Ireland and beyond it. You know, I found something super interesting. Almost all of the websites had a few things in common.
Things that made their website easy to find, easy to navigate, easy to consume and better yet – easy to turn visitors into paying customers.
And guess what…
Today, I’m going to be sharing that common website design features with you in a simple formula, so you can implement them and benefit from them. Okay, let’s get started.
Let me say it – this first step isn’t the sexiest topic, but it could be the deciding factor whether you build the site. You want to implement the features you need and convert visitors into paying customers. So it’s important. I
Choose your website builder
The first step is to choose your website builder and be wise about it.
Website builders, often referred to as content management system (or CMS), is an online application that is used to create and manage your website.
Most modern website builders make it easy to build and maintain your site without much technical knowledge or design experience. Popular website builders include Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, Weebly, Shopify, Drupal and Magento, and out of the seven I just named, I would only recommend two of them to you.
That’s right, only two.
And the fastest-growing companies in Ireland agree as they almost exclusively use them too.
If you own a service-based business, you want to use self-hosted WordPress and if you own, an e-commerce business, you want to either use Shopify or WordPress with the WooCommerce plugin.
The reason is simple: they offer the best simplicity to power ratio. Don’t get me wrong -platforms like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace make it extremely easy to simply sign up and get a basic site up and running for a relatively low cost.
But, unless you want to remain small as your business grows, the function, integration and needs of your website tend to grow with it, and platforms like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace simply won’t be able to keep up without making your life difficult.
And, on the other end of the spectrum, builders like Drupal and Magento require high levels of technical know-how and understanding of HTML and CSS, so we’ll just tuck those into the back of the closet.
Here are three big reasons that make WordPress the star choice for service-based businesses and Shopify or WordPress with WooCommerce go-to platforms for e-commerce brands.
First WordPress has over 50,000 plugins and Shopify has over 4,200 apps to extend the functionality of your site. Almost anything you can imagine you can implement.
Second WordPress and Shopify sites rank higher in search engines like Google, because they offer robust SEO tools that make optimizing simply a breeze.
And, lastly, WordPress and Shopify are widely supported and integrated with almost anything.
It is worth noting that at Web Design and SEO Ireland we work exclusively with WordPress but if you feel you’d prefer Shopify, please go for it.
One thing to keep in mind with Shopify is that it is Software as Service (SAAS) model, which means you will have to pay certain monthly fees for as long as your business runs and there’s slightly less control over what you actually can do with your site. WordPress is open source, so experienced coders and web designers can build additional features into your site if you can’t find in the marketplace anything that’s already pre-built.
Decide if you will do the SEO for your business
One thing I like to ask clients before we start working on web design projects is “are you planning to fight Google ranking battles?”.
As an SEO-geek, I am most definitely biased towards SEO, however, I won’t deny it – some of my own sites aren’t really SEO-optimized. And it was a conscious choice, not an act of negligence.
Yes, you heard it right – I chose to NOT invest my time and money to rank these sites for particular keywords. I didn’t even bother.
You see, contrary to the common belief, ranking sites isn’t really free. Even if you do everything yourself, you are paying with your time. And your time is valuable, isn’t it?
And, with the increasing competition, we have to be realistic.
So, before you decide, do some competition assessment, keyword research and decide if you will fight SEO battles or you will skip it for now.
Typically, I divide all the web design projects into two groups “brochures” and “money makers”. As you may have guessed “money makers” are built to rank on Google and make money.
Get content for your website ready
Before designing any site, you first have to make sure that you have decided on your site structure and prepared all the content. Trust me, it will save much of your time and the time of your web designer (if you choose not to design it yourself).
Depending on what you chose in a previous step, you will either have to create specific content that pleases Google, or you can stick to the content that pleases you and maybe your wife and pet porcupine.
The point is, the SEO game requires designing a website with Google in mind, and, from the experience, people who build “brochure sites” pretty much never rank for anything meaningful.
Anyway, whether you optimize your content for SEO or not, get it ready before you go for the next step.
Design your website
Now, after you picked your website builder, it is now time to design your website, which brings us to the research of design.
One of my favourite mind-hacks of all time is to let the data speak instead of letting my human bias play mind tricks on me.
Look, we’re all humans. We simply love to put our own biases and feelings into our web design, but the truth is we don’t know what will work until we try it. So here are a few research-backed website design tips that are proven to work.
Use images of people in your website design
The first is to use images of people in your design. A famous case study by Basecamp showed a 40% increase in convergence when they simply added faces and testimonials to their website design.
The key, though, is to use images in your website design that are representative of your target audience. For example, if your target audience is business owners – include real images of business owners.
If your target audience is moms include real images of moms.
Avoid using rotating sliders
You may think that you have a ton of information and promos that you need to run now.
And you’ve seen many websites having sliders on them, so you place 8 sliders with different calls to action on your home page because everyone and their goldfish are doing it, right?
Can anybody guess the problem with that scenario? Well, the visitors of your website are more than likely only gonna see the first slider.
And a study by Notre Dame University found that to be true.
Sliders receive a click-through rate of measly one percent and nearly 90% of the clicks were made on the first image in the rotation.
Plus, there’s another problem with sliders. Modern website users have short attention spans, often visit websites from mobile phones with questionable Internet speed and expect fast-loading pages.
Sliders load multiple large images at the same time which adds to the page load and hurts your user experience.
So, instead of sliders use one static image that highlights your most important headline and call to action or remove slides from the slideshow and add all sliders to the page, so they can be viewed when someone scrolls down the page.
Add trust signals to your website
Trust signals are elements on your website that help customers feel more comfortable buying from you.
An analysis of a sample Amazon page found that 43 percent of Amazon listing is made up of trust signals such as reviews and unique selling points that focus on visitor goals or pain points.
Common trust signals you can use in your website design include the following: testimonials and reviews, certifications, statistics, customer logos, publication logos, real-time transaction information and FAQs.
Now be sure to sprinkle a bit of each throughout your site to boost trust signals.
That way, no matter what page or part of the site is landed on by your visitors, you have trust signals planted there.
Make information easy to find.
Some surveys have shown that the most important part of the design of a website is actually not the design at all, but easy to find information.
Visitors come to your website to solve a problem so make it easy for them to find a solution.
Here are a few quick tips to make information easier to find for your visitors:
- Write descriptive headlines.
- Create descriptive menus.
- Use contrasting colours to bring attention to call to action buttons
- Use faces and objects to point to important information.
Track your website’s performance
The last step in the website formula for small businesses is to track your website performance.
As mentioned before the best mind hack you can use to increase the success of your website is to let the data speak and then make changes based on the data you find, but in order to do that, you must have data, to begin with.
So here are the best tools you can use to track your website performance.
Google Analytics is a tool by google that costs zero dollars but provides you with a boatload of information on how users interact with your website.
Google Analytics allows you to understand what pages on your website are performing the best and worst discover where products sources and pages convert the best on your website gain insight into what devices are being used on your website and help you to understand your website visitors better with reports on demographics, interest and behaviour.
Google Search Console
If you decided to rank your site on Google, you will find Google Search Console extremely useful.
Google Search Console is a free tool that allows you to see how your site is doing in search results. It is an important tool because it allows you to track the performance of your site and make adjustments as needed. You can see how many visitors your site gets and how they perform.
The second tool, Hotjar, provides heat maps for your website, so you can better understand how visitors are interacting with your website now.
Hotjar allows you to see when people cook in your site or how far they make it down a particular page before leaving.
It allows you to record how people are using your site, so you can see which elements are engaging or distracting and help you uncover the pages on your site that cause visitors to simply leave.
So, to wrap it up, pick the right website builder (WordPress or Shopify), decide if you will do the SEO or not, write the content, design a website with user experience and trust signals in mind, and make sure you have data tracking set up so that you know what’s working and what can be improved.
That’s it for today. If you need help with any of this, please don’t hesitate to reach out.