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Elements of a Successful Business Website Design

If you are ready for a website redesign or creating a new business website from scratch, we’ve put together a guide to help you create an effective and successful web design. This tip filled guide covers the following seven areas of concern:

Business Website

  1. Aligning the website to your company’s business goals
  2. Aligning the design to your user’s needs
  3. Creating a professional design
  4. Designing pages that lead to conversion
  5. Search Engine Optimizing the design
  6. Using best-practice design elements
  7. Designing for future growth

1. Align the Website to Your Company’s Business Goals

First and foremost, your website needs to be aligned to your company’s business goals. For a business website, the most common goals are:

  • Generating and nurturing leads
  • Establishing credibility
  • Demonstrating industry thought leadership
  • Supporting sales efforts (direct and indirect)

The design and placement of your messaging, content and how users interact with features has a tremendous impact on meeting business goals.

Design Tips:

  1. Every page should have at least one above-the-fold, obvious call-to-action that’s associated with business goals
  2. Help fill your sales funnel by incorporating newsletter sign-ups, contact forms, whitepaper downloads
  3. Tagline should make your company’s purpose clear.

2. Align to the User’s Need

Visitors to your website have their own business needs. Depending on the circumstances of how they reached your website, they will often have different goals in mind. Their needs may be different depending on where they are in the sales/revenue cycle.

Making it easy and quick for users to find the information they are looking for is critical for success. Often just including your company’s phone number where it’s expected to be can help make the phone ring.

Design Tips:

  1. Have a clean looking and obvious main navigation that at-a-glance lets users know what your companies does and where to find the information they are looking for.
  2. Prominent phone number on every page, and/or distinct “contact us” link on every page
  3. Use terminology that your customer speaks, not the way your employees do.

3. Professional Design

The design should be industry appropriate and accurately reflect the company’s brand. It should appeal most to the target audience.  It should set your company apart from the competition, but shouldn’t stray from what’s expected in your industry.

No matter what page a user enters your site on, it should be readily apparent to the visitor what type of business your company is in, and what value it provides. Visitors tend to quickly scan the page when they first land on your website. First impressions will likely come from your logo, tagline, main navigation elements, images and calls to action.

Design Tips:

  1. Use a creative brief to communicate the brand identity and target audience to stakeholders and the designers.
  2. Use white space around elements such as the logo, tagline and text to help create a cleaner less cluttered design.
  3. Font size and spacing should make text it easy to read.
  4. Text-to-background color contrast ratio is enough to make text easy to read.
  5. Imagery should resonate with target audience.

4. Design for Conversion

Design with the end-game in mind. Ask yourself, “What actions do we want users to take?” Make these tasks the most obvious and easiest to accomplish. Users should be directed or guided to take a path that leads to a reaching one of your company’s business goals.

Draw attention to and make visitors want to click on your calls to action. Your calls to action should use action or end user benefit terms such as “Get a Quote”, “Register Now!” or “Download White Paper” instead of “learn more”, “click here” or “submit.”

Once a user gets to a form, only collect the minimum information necessary to complete the transaction. Only include fields that you need, not what you want. Long forms can often be a barrier to completion, so keep them short. Also, users filling out forms should have all information readily at hand, so don’t ask for something they will require them to leave your page to look up.

Design Tips:

  1. Keep the primary calls-to-action above the fold. Don’t make a user scroll to see them.
  2. Use strong action oriented terms that align to tasks users want to complete.
  3. Use attention getting typography, colors and/ or imagery to get your call-to-action noticed.
  4. Design with quick page load time in mind. Don’t make potential customers wait.

5. Optimize for Search (SEO)

Your potential customers are using search to try to find solutions to their business problems. A great way to grow your business is to attract customers before they are aware of your company. Having great rankings for the search terms your customers are searching for can build brand awareness and give you the opportunity to reach them first.

The design of your website can impact your search rankings. Extensive use of flash for delivering content and for navigation may look great, but it causes problems for search engines.

A proper balance between visual design and SEO should be a design goal.

Design Tips:

  1. Avoid using flash for primary content delivery and navigation.
  2. Use text links instead of images for your navigation.
  3. Have many (25-50) links from your website’s homepage to content deeper in the website.
  4. If the company has a local presence, the company’s address and local phone number should appear on the homepage (in text, not in an image).
  5. Interior pages should have category or related navigation to other pages on the website.
  6. Design for on-page content hierarchy. Visually distinctive page heading and sub-headings.

6. Utilize Best Practices for User Interface Elements

Websites that are easy-to-use often place and use elements that users are familiar with. After using the web for years, your customers have trained themselves to expect to find certain items in certain places on websites.

Design Tips:

  1. Use a tabbed main navigation, most often horizontally near the top of the page
  2. Place Contact info, such as a phone number or contact link in the upper right corner
  3. Footer should contain links to your site map, privacy policy and contact us page
  4. Clicking on the logo, should take user’s to the homepage
  5. Subscribe link to your RSS feed should use some variation of the RSS logo

7. Design with Room to Grow

Your business is likely to evolve and grow in the months and years after your design goes live. The designer should allow for this inevitability.

The homepage should have an area that updates regularly. News, events, new products, promotions, etc. The design should allow for content in these areas that isn’t the exact same size every time it changes.

It should also be easy for you to make changes as your business grows. You shouldn’t have to always contact a designer to make a new navigation element if you add a new page or category.

Design Tips:

  1. Leave room in your main navigation to add at least one more category.
  2. Use text links for navigation. This allows the company to easily change the text of links or add new page links.
  3. On interior pages, the space allocated for links to other related pages should not be completely fixed in size. It should allow the addition of or removal of new links

At Walker Sands, we utilize a web design and development process that incorporates all these elements, and more, to help us build successful websites that meet or exceed the business goals of our clients. If you have questions about how to design and build a successful business website, leave a comment below or email me your question.