Design Tips for Startups & Small Businesses

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Design Tips for Startups & Small Businesses

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For the more than 28 million small businesses (SMBs) in the U.S., research shows that 45% consider their website the most important digital marketing asset. In  2014 the number of websites built grew by 44% to nearly one billion, a number that will only increase by the end of 2015 as more businesses leverage their online presence to drive business. Unfortunately, the majority of these new or small businesses are building websites that are not driving a positive impact on their business.

Below are tips that can help a new or small business can build a stronger brand, drive more visitors and achieve better conversion rates.

1. Less is More

Many small business websites are loaded with graphics, options and choices. Keep it simple and eliminate unnecessary elements, leaving only what matters most.

    Visual Hierarchy. Make sure to create a strong visual hierarchy—that is, main headlines are way bigger than subheadlines and body content, primary buttons are bigger and in a more noticeable color.
    Contrast. Pick colors that work well together and make sure to make some things more prominent than others so people can easily distinguish elements and take action.
    Flow. Delete redundant steps like collecting personal information on a sign up process, try to simplify the journey and reduce distractions. Reduce clicks, choices and information needs for the user to complete a signup, get more information or sharing with a friend.
     

2. Reduce Color

Color is an important ingredient in a successful brand, but often SMBs misuse color. Think of major brands like Pepsi, Amazon, Starbucks, Toyota; all of these brads can be easily recognized with one dominant color.

Use one or two colors and neutral hues for copy and other graphic elements like boxes, lines, icons. Find Guidelines can give you insight as to how color is used by companies such as Google, Dropbox, Mozilla, Reddit, WordPress and others. This site can spark ideas and give you insight as to how to create a style guide that protects and shapes your brand.

3. Keep an Eye on Typography

Typography is important. It's 95% of your website. Many inexperienced designers will use too many typefaces which can make a website look confusing, messy and chaotic. Pick one or at the most, two typefaces and the look will be clean, trustworthy and easily digestible. If your site is too difficult to read, what good is your website?

    Contrast. Make sure your copy stands out from the background.
    Line Height. Set line-height from 1.5 to 175 to ensure that there is enough whitespace around your words to aid in readability.

    Hierarchy. Most people scan in an F-pattern so make sure your content flows in this pattern to ensure optimal readability.
     

4. Use Stunning Imagery

Yes, it's true: a picture is worth a thousand words. A common pitfall for some designers is using stock photography that is in the ballpark, but is easy to implement. There are a number of places to find free to low cost images that aren't being used everywhere. Try freeimages.com, upsplash.com, public-domain-image.com and/or searching for royalty-free or free image sites.

Show people interacting with the product or happy receiving service. Showing people makes the visitor comfortable and helps them relate to the services being offered. Add a testimonial and a client's smiling face. People need to associate, to relate with others.

5. Mobile Friendly

The number of mobile devices has now outpaced desktop computers. Responsive websites are now the new standard. Make sure all important information is on your mobile version and that it is easy for visitors to find. And include large, easy to tap calls-to-action buttons so people cannot miss it. Which leads us to #6....

6. Calls-to-Action

Conversions are an extremely important and optimizing for higher conversion rates should be a goal of your website. Test your copy for calls-to-action (CTAs), whether it is to signup for a newsletter or get a demonstration or schedule an appointment, the call-to-action has to be obvious. It needs to be in your face.

First, tell the use exactly what to do: schedule a demo, send  message, make a payment, upload a file, click-to-call or whatever you want the visitor to do. An example of clear and visible calls-to-action that work is vCita LiveSite. LiveSite is easy to implement and can increase conversions 100% or more. And, avoid slang and just tell the visitor what you want in easy to understand words. They will do it.

    Make it Stand Out. Make sure your call-to-action is large, bold in color and attracts attention.
    Make it Exclusive. An incentive helps so offer a free demo, a free trial, a free consultation.

Spend time to get to your customer, your audience, define your target and build a typical user profile or user persona. design for your end user and focus bringing value to that customer. Always remember you are designing a site for your customer, not for yourself.

Choose Benefits before Features. Everyone loves buttons, gadgets and toggles. But why you push, pull or flip it is more important than what you are pushing, pulling or flipping. Simply stated, tell why the button, gadget and toggle is so important and makes the lives of your audience easier. They are far more interested in the benefit than the feature. You need to make the why more important than the what. If you can succinctly state why rather than what, you are gold.

Yes, this is primarily common sense, but as a dear friend of mine reminded me, "Common sense is not common." So be uncommon and stand out.

1 comment:

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