This guide is different.
Our Ultimate Guide to Affordable Web Design shows you what elements you need to create, collect and implement into your new website in order to build a website that generates leads, while keeping money in your bank account.
The best small business websites (and large business websites) share similar types of material and structure, and this guide highlights the DNA that makes up a highly engaging, lead generating small business website design.
Small Business Website Design
When it comes to building a website for your business, it’s easy to get caught up thinking about what colors, pictures, and fonts you’re going to use to make your website “your own” or “stand out.”
These elements are important, but they aren’t the considerations that should come first.
Building a website for your small business affordably and effectively means that you must focus on purpose before design.
The principle here is the same as buying a vehicle for your business; it’s impressive to have a bright, shiny red mustang BUT, more importantly, it needs to be able to get you from point A to B.
Design compliments, or powers, purpose.
Having built nearly a hundred websites for our clients, we’ve seen the importance of purposeful design and know that it is purpose, functionality, and messaging (not colors, pictures, and fonts) that creates the best websites.
We believe in purposeful design so much that our “Design & Layout Strategy Meeting” with our clients focuses only on 2 questions:
- Who are we talking to?
- What do we want them to do?
These questions drive our web design process and allow us to build websites that identify their audience, speak to that audience, address that audience’s pain points, and gives that audience a solution which they can action and do something about immediately to fix their problem and get the solution they want.
Short answer: we build a salesperson for your business.
Who Are We Talking To?
If we think about the “end” or “goal” of building a website, it is almost always to generate leads and customers.
If that is our ultimate goal, then we would obviously want to build a website that really speaks to and connects with our customer’s problems and their need for our product or service as a solution.
Sounds easy enough, but many websites are clearly not built with that end in mind. As a result, these same websites fail to convert website visitors into paying customers.
Let’s take a look at the types of questions we want to ask to paint a clear picture of who our website is talking to:
Buyer Profiles. Target Audience. Target Market. Customer Base.
These are all phrases describing the who behind your business. The first step in creating a great website for your small business, is to produce highly-detailed profiles for the main groups in your customer base.
Here are examples of vague, useless buyer profiles that we hear frequently:
- My audience is small businesses
- My audience is homeowners
- My audience is anyone who needs electrical (or legal, medical, etc) help
Here are examples of clear, insightful buyer profiles:
- My audience is small business owners who are in the startup phase of their business and are aiming to service highly-populated cities.
- My audience is homeowners in rural, middle-income areas who want a local, family/value-focused company to help them
- My audience is general contractors, property managers, and construction companies who need a fast, affordable electrician to help them turnaround projects quickly.
If you had to walk into a room and give a sales pitch to these audiences, you would obviously want the second set of examples to help you clearly identify who you’re talking to, as well as understand how to connect with them (and their needs / desires).
The next step in creating rockstar level buyer profiles is to identify the pain points or problems of your audience. Addressing the problems your customers are facing allows you to convince them that you know them, which then allows you to convert them into your customer.
Here’s an example of pain points we identified for a buyer profile of a videography company:
Pain Point #1
Notes: they’ve maybe worked with someone in the past who didn’t get it right OR they may be on a budget and can’t afford to get it wrong
Paint Point #2
This is the order of concern that we want to address and solve.
The last part in creating your buyer profiles is understanding how your service or your product solves their pain point or problem. Identifying how your product or service as a solution, then, is simply a direct response to your audience’s problem(s).
Using the example above, your solution to this specific buyer profile would look like this:
Pain Point #1: I need a company that can connect my message with my audience.
Paint Point #2: I need a video company that is good and fast.
What Do We Want Them To Do?
Once we understand who we are talking to, outlining the call to action becomes much easier. What we want them to do directly correlates to an action they can take to get the solution we are offering.
Using the videographer example above, let’s look at some of the different actions we may direct a website visitor to take to get our solution (i.e. contact us).
This one may seem obvious, but we see dozens of websites on a weekly basis that don’t have a phone number listed or have it buried deep within your website.
If you have a good reason for not listing your phone number (you’re a large company, you’re a one man band with no time, etc) that may be fine; but, not having your phone number listed for no good reason is an easy fix and a must have.
This is another one that may seem obvious, but the same errors that apply to hidden phone numbers also apply to contact forms. Make it easy for your potential customers to contact you.
With contact forms, the main thing to consider is how much information you will collect from your visitors. If you’re target audience is older (45+) then having a shorter contact form will likely perform better; on the other hand, the younger generation (under 45) will be less resistant to filling out a longer form so you may consider asking for some additional information before they click submit.
Specific Contact Forms
This is the same information as above, but emphasizing the importance of creating contact forms and calls to action that directly address your customer’s pain point and your solution to it.
In other words, don’t just drop a “Name, Email, Message” contact form on your Contact Us page and expect the leads to start flowing in. Your customers want more from you. You’ve got to try harder.
- Do they want a free consultation?
- Do they want a demo?
- Do they want me to send them a report, or guide?
- What can I give them (or send them) that will help them quickly see how my service / product can solve their problems?
Once you answer these questions, consider adding contact forms to specific pages and areas of your site to give them what they want immediately.
Popups / Email Optins
Outside of traditional modes of contact like phone or form, there are other effective ways to get your website visitors to take action on your site.
If you have something of value that solves one (or all) of their pain points and you can give it to them immediately, then adding a popup or email optin to your website may be effective.
Another less traditional mode of contact is live chat. If you have a product or service you’re selling, especially if it is packaged or “process-ized”, then adding a live chat feature to your website is an effective way to immediately answer visitor’s questions about the product/service and get them to buy.
Tell Them Why They Are Contacting You & What They Will Get
The most important concept underlying these various modes and methods of contact is that you must clearly tell your customers (specifically!) why they are contacting you and then tell them what (specifically!) they will get when they complete fulfill your call to action.
Now that we’ve gone over the web design process from the 10,000-foot view, it’s time to dive back down into the specifics. Depending on your business type and industry, there will be certain aspects of your website which you will want to emphasize and which will benefit you and your customers better than others.
Take a look at our four verticals: Small Businesses, Home Services, Law Firms, and Medical / Healthcare Providers.
3 Key Elements of a Small Business Website Design
1. Clear Message
In a digital world where attention spans last about as long as shooting star, it is imperative that the you clarify and simplify your message.
Marketing expert and founder of StoryBrand, Donald Miller, preaches the thesis that people don’t necessarily buy the best product; rather, they buy the one they understand the fastest.
Make the main message of your website simple and clear. Whether your small business is as simple as firearms accessories or junk removal, or as complicated as data recovery, keep your message as clear as possible.
Studies show the power of testimonials. If you don’t believe in the power of testimonials, read those studies and then you will.
“What people say” about your service or product is the number 1 reason most people are going to choose you over your competitors. Build the best product or service that you can and, along the way, collect as many testimonials as you can.
People, and “what they say” about you, are the most powerful sales force for your business.
3. Calls To Action
Even if your message is clear and simple, website visitors still need guidance on knowing what they need to do in order to get your solution.
Same as your message, your calls-to-action must be clear and simple.
3 Key Elements of a Home Services Website Design
Showcasing testimonials on almost every page of your website is a good idea when it comes to marketing your home related service (including, among other things: construction companies, tree removal services, remodeling companies, plumbers, electricians, etc.). You especially want to position testimonials very close to your call-to-actions because it is often the power of testimony that provides the final “push” a visitor needs to take the action you prompt them to on your website.
Some of the key components of a good testimonial is that it highlights the paint points your customer felt, identifies benefits of your service/product, and explains how the user’s life is now better than it was before.
2. Before & After
People want to see what they’re buying.
If you can showcase some form of Before & After (photos, videos, testimonials, case studies, etc) your work will not only speak for itself but also sell for itself.
Uncertainty is often the chief factor in the sales process, so if you can eliminate a customer’s uncertainty by providing proof (testimonials, before & after) you will be well on your way to creating a website that sells for you.
3. Expertise & Authority
The reason that so many people use platforms like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor to choose a home service professional is because these platforms maintain fundamental levels of expertise and authority that give users trust as they choose as a professional.
Your website should aim to build trust through demonstrating your expertise and authority. Here are some ways to showcase expertise and authority:
- Build strong profiles on 3rd party platforms like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor
- Show your professional license (or license number)
- Build strong profiles on Review platforms like Google+, Facebook, etc
- Build strong profiles on platforms specific to your industry
3 Key Elements of a Law Firm Website Design
In an environment as competitive as law firm marketing, you’ve got to look for ways to stand out.
One of the easiest, affordable and effective ways to stand out is to produce testimonials that are worth their weight in gold. Owner of Minick Law, P.C., James Minick, told us that he believes each of his reviews are “worth thousands of dollars.”
2. Expertise & Affiliations
When customers are looking for an attorney, they are looking for someone who has the expertise to do what they cannot.
It’s important, then, to put your expertise & affiliations front and center on your homepage, as well as other key pages on your website. If you have an impressive display of expert & professional badges, you may want to put them in the footer of your website so they are displayed on every page. Are you an expert in real estate law? In criminal defense? Put it on your website.
Here are some great expert & affiliation sites to build your profile:
- National Trial Lawyers Top 100
- National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40
- Best Lawyers
- Super Lawyers
- Martindale-Hubbell Peer Reviews and Attorney Reviews
- Expert Network
3. Show/Give Resources to Establish Trust
People looking for an attorney are usually uncertain about their case and scared about its effect on their lives.
As a result, these people are looking for a law firm and an attorney that they can trust. Sharing the details of your case (like sharing information about your income or personal life) is an intimate interaction and one your potential client wants to know they can trust you with.
A blog or a free downloadable resource is a powerful way a law firm can emphasize that they have the knowledge and expertise needed to be trusted with the case.
3 Key Elements of a Medical Website Design
Getting help with your health is almost always an intimate relationship, which is why it is vital to the health of your practice (businesses in the healthcare industry include: private practice doctors, specialists, chiropractors, assisted living facilities, nutritionists, and even gyms) that you produce 5-star testimonials for your business.
Testimonials will help you increase trust with your patients and allow you to build a reputation made for lasting success.
2. Show/Give Resources to Establish Trust
80% of all health enquires start at a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo) according to medical marketing group, Your Practice Online.
This means that your patients are searching (right now!) for information and resources that will help them answer their medical questions. This always means that YOU should be the one answering their questions, building credibility as a go-to resource for information and establishing trust as the expert.
3. Use Technology to Make the Process Easier and Faster
There are dozens of softwares and technologies out there that integrate with your website to making booking an appointment (or at least scheduling a time to book one) as easy as 1,2,3. Use them.
Here are some reasons why:
- It will make it easier for clients to book or schedule an appointment
- It will reduce stress on your front desk
- It will reduce the time it takes get someone from the front desk to the room
You don’t need to spend a fortune on a new website. You just need to get something that works.
Have some more questions about the web design process? Call and ask Enable, and we will be happy to provide you with the answer.
Leave your questions or thoughts in the comments below!
Jeremy is the Lead Designer & Owner of Enable. Jeremy is a small business connoisseur who helps the little guys conquer big. When he’s not designing websites or writing blogs, you’ll find him spending time with his wife and family.