5 Things to Consider When Designing (or Redesigning) an SMB Website

Josh Hoffert
Senior Designer & Frontend Developer
  1. If your site is being redesigned, bring it up to date.

Bring your site up to date – make it mobile-friendly and designed with a contemporary look and feel. Consider identity. Consider branding. Now’s the time to address them. Just as much, consider your site as a business tool and how the site fits into your operations. Who will maintain it? How much updating will it require? It’s not an exaggeration to say that this is a moment to “design your business.”

  1. If your site is new, make sure it has a long shelf life.

Design your new site with technology that is not only up-to-date, but which has a future.

For many small businesses, WordPress is the content management system of choice. This is a good choice as WordPress has a huge base of users, a large community of developers and designers ready to help you, and is continually seeing new releases, updates, and improvements. WordPress has a future.

However, within the WordPress world, quality can vary among the many plugins and add-ons that are available to add functionality to your basic WordPress installation. Make sure your designer/developer is using the best possible plugins. The best plugin solutions don’t always cost money. A shrewd, experienced WordPress developer or designer will be able to make good recommendations.

  1. Define your goals clearly.

This point can’t be emphasized enough, so I’ll make the point again slightly differently: What do you need your site to do?

Define your goals clearly. Is your site a “business card” site intended to just build credibility? Or is your site intended to generate leads? Is your site the primary, main way that your business generates leads? Are there other business functions that you need your site to do (like say, accept payments, schedule appointments, promote events, etc.)?

With these answers in hand, you can approach your designer/developer with a clear list of requirements for your project.

It’s 2017, and having your own website is *still* important.

In this day and age, social media is extremely important for promotion and advertising. The thing is, your FB page, Yelp reviews, Instagram account, etc. are all essentially owned by someone else. You’re at the mercy of these social media companies. They control *who* sees your posts and *how* your posts are seen (i.e. your content is always seen in the context of someone else’s branding) .

Most forms of social media allow you to post a url to your company. That url which leads to *your* site which *you* own is important. Think about it: even when browsing social media, don’t you still look for that url which takes you to a company’s website? Doesn’t that final step of going from social media post to a company’s site feel like a kind of validation that the company you’re learning about is real in some sense?

Given that this is the state of things, then yes, even in 2017 having your own url, your own website, is still important for business. The question is: what are you going to do with your own patch of internet real estate?

  1. Your website is more than just a url.

Your website is more than just a place which you design once and forget about. It can be the hub of your business’ operations and systems. What does this mean?

It can mean many things. The entire world of digital tools are at your disposal. It can mean that your website is a point of contact where customers can get in touch with you. Your customers can find where your office or store is located. They can find out your hours of operation. It’s where they can learn who you are, in order to build confidence that you aren’t going to scam them.

It can also be where your customers pay you easily and without having to mail you a check. You can update them on your schedule and other timely news. It can be a place where you offer users the choice of opening an account on your site so that they can make listings, or save products of yours that they might want to buy for future reference.

Simply put – your website is *yours*. Facebook isn’t going to limit the reach of your posts and you’re not limited to Twitter’s 140 characters limit. What you choose to do with your site is up to you. If you’re not sure what to do with it, a capable digital professional will offer lots of suggestions. Take advantage of their expertise.

All this being said, social media is here to stay and we all have to engage with it in some way or another. How should a small business integrate its website with its social media presence?

Here’s a thought: Blend your social media seamlessly as possible with your website. Have your various forms of social media feed into your site nicely. Make the experience of clicking from “outside” your site to “inside” smooth and effortless, with clear and distinct branding introduced.

You don’t only have to think in terms of pulling your users from your social media pages to your website – you can also allow your users to travel from your website out to your social media, where they can read comments and reviews and how you’re interacting with the marketplace and the world at large.

To sum up, yes, even in 2017 you still need a website. When you design (or redesign) your company site think big – research how to leverage your site to really take advantage of what a powerful business tool your site can be. At the same time, be very clear about what you absolutely need your site to do. Last, think clearly about how your customers experience your digital presence as they travel around your website and social media accounts.

- Josh HoffertSenior Designer & Frontend Developer | 

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