Setting up a small business website? It’s always a tricky game to bring the image you have in your mind-eye alive. It has to be coherent, engaging and appeal to exactly the right audience for you. In this piece, we’re going to take you through all the key ingredients and techniques for creating small business websites that succeed.
Required design principles for any small business website
These web pages should adhere to the following design principles and criteria to entice potential customers and maximize retention rate:
- Informative content
Is the branding, content, and usability of your website consistent? Consistency adds value to your designs by helping maintain a cohesive, uniform experience. Hierarchy structures to your business site’s content and visuals. Does your website provide informative content for visitors? Is it accessible and scannable? Here are 30 inspirational small business website examples and why they stand out.
Essentials of web design
Determine who your target audience is
Your small business website must cater to your target audience. Bella & Bona is a food service that delivers meals to offices with an emphasis on healthy food and sustainability. Their target audience is clearly defined and their website is designed with them in mind, similar to how one tailors their resume for hiring managers.
Your business’s website is for your clients, visitors, and potential new users. Bella & Bona’s website’s use of imagery and color also makes me think of food. You want your audience to wonder about your product, especially if it involves food. Connect to them on an emotional level. This goes a long way to establish brand and customer loyalty. Since Bella & Bona is located in Germany, it offers their site in both English and German languages. Consider the different languages of your intended audience and implement them on your small business website.
Usability comes first
The most important part of any website is its usability. If a website is easy to use, it provides benefits such as visitor satisfaction, faster loading times, reduced development costs and time, and helps retain users. What good is it if visitors struggle to use it?
A website with poor usability can sink a business, as visitors will be quick to jump towards a competing business’s site for a better online experience. Bad examples of usability, such as slow loading times, confusing navigation, missing information, or poor design, sow user discontent towards your business. The illustration tool Vectornator has an expressive, easy-to-use website. The buttons are big and easy to read, content is well-laid out, and the information is easy to follow. It follows a simple star hierarchy structure.
The website is scannable as well; users can quickly find the information they’re looking for. There are no surprises and the navigation is simple to use. The menus do not overwhelm users with too many options, with a maximum of 5 items in a menu. Every aspect of the site has a purpose and is designed with the user in mind. It also loads quickly. An effective small business website must adhere to usability guidelines.
Establish hierarchy to dictate user flow
Use hierarchy to guide visitors to the most important aspects of your website. Content delivery and information architecture dictate how visitors will consume your site and determine their user flows. The digital learning platform Clever does a clever job establishing content hierarchy on their website. It has simple navigation and headers. Next, there is a call to action for its four primary types of users. Clever illustrates its platform’s features, followed by testimonials and why schools should choose them. Then there is a get started CTA button for school districts, followed by the footer.
The hierarchy of Clever is laid out in a pyramid format. The landing page has basic information to introduce visitors to the platform. The navigation provides links for schools, parents, pricing, and partners for information tailored to specific types of visitors. The deeper the user goes into the site, the more in depth the information. The structure makes it simple for its four types of users to perform their user flows. This hierarchy is transparent, easy to sift through, and well organized. Hierarchy allows your business to focus on key points and takeaways. A strong visual hierarchy also makes it easier for users to accomplish tasks on your small business website.
Optimize your business site for better user experiences
Highly effective websites must be optimized properly. As displayed in the image above, Kazoo is a human resources platform that can be used to measure and manage employee performance. Their website has a clean, elegant look and loads instantly. There are virtually no animations and interactivity which affect loading time.
If your small business website takes too long to load or has long animations, users will rapidly leave due to annoyance, distraction, or lost interest. NNGroup provides more information on response times. Use simple graphics and illustrations. Optimize your site for mobile use as well. Consider your small business’s visitors. An optimized website would be more accessible and inclusive of those who do not have fast or reliable internet connections.
Your small business website should support multiple devices
Websites must be adaptable, scalable, and supported across many devices. Visitors are using various interfaces, such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Verify whether your small business website is flexible and supports a multitude of platforms.
It’s paramount to design for mobile platforms, as mobile internet usage makes up for over 55% of global internet traffic in 2021, (from Broadband Search). Electric car manufacturer Fisker ensures their site is viewable on different devices without removing content across platforms. The content and visual hierarchy of their landing page is consistent across both desktop and mobile versions.
Having a parallel experience across platforms solidifies confidence and integrity for your business.
Always design for accessibility
Always design with accessibility in mind. PuzzleHR, a human resources service, has an accessibility menu on their webpage. There are a number of features here, such as changing the site’s contrast, size of cursor, text, and pause animations. These all help make their website accessible to everyone. The menu is powered by UserWay, which assists with ADA accessibility and compliance.
When designing your business’s website, follow WCAG guidelines for accessibility. Also, ensure your website uses simple language as previously mentioned in the Active Prospect example. Establish a clear hierarchy and be sure to provide alt text for all images. Designing for accessibility benefits your business by opening up your website to more potential clients and users. It’s a win-win for all.
Branding done right will make a lasting first impression
Think of generic web pages. You might imagine some websites you’ve encountered, but how many of their names do you recall? This is where branding comes in.
Branding for the People is a branding agency, which demonstrates how effective branding can make your website pop. Their site’s visuals, consistency, and typography work beautifully together to create a coherent, pleasurable experience. The fresh gradients, vibrant colors, bold text, and cleanliness make the site pop, which gives an authentically commanding impression. Branding gives your small business website character and personality.
Consistent branding across all channels, including website, marketing, and social media platforms, establishes authenticity. It also leads to a higher chance of visitors clicking on your CTA.
Consistency benefits both your business and your customers
Luma is a community-building platform with a consistent aesthetic. It uses the same sans serif font and branding across various interfaces, such as sign-up pages, calendars, and email invitations. Even though Luma uses a multitude of colors spanning across their different web pages, consistent layouts and elements work together to create a cohesive experience.
Consistency provides the structure for your websites’ visitors, saving them time searching for information and preventing confusion. Designing consistently allows your business to implement new product features on the site without having to revamp existing pages. This saves your business money on web development and solidifies your business’s identity.
What type of content and pages should your small business website include?
Educate users about your business through the about section
Your website’s About page is a grand opportunity to convey the message and values of your small business. Danish architecture firm Open Platform has a beautifully interactive ‘about’ section. An image of their office adds genuine insight into the firm’s daily atmosphere. You can use your ‘about’ section to build credibility in your business. It’s also a golden marketing opportunity where you can showcase accomplishments, achievements, and awards. Including a timeline, like Open Platform’s, of your business’s history illustrates growth over time.
Do not forget to write about your founders, leaders, and any significant contributor to your business. Site visitors will build rapport with you if they are able to put faces to your business.
Connect visitors to your business with an effective contact page
Your small business website must have a contact section for users to submit their inquiries or questions. eVisit is a telehealth platform offering multiple ways for users to contact them: a contact form, telephone numbers for sales and support, and a physical address.
Contact pages are a great way to form relationships with visitors and customers. It can also create more leads to your website and drive traffic. It’s also a great spot to receive feedback from users, which is a fantastic way to improve your site.
Provide documentation to give your users essential information about using your product
Great Expectations is a powerful tool used for documenting, profiling, and validating data. Its website offers a robust documentation section. Their documentation, which provides users information and notes on using their service, is thorough and provides a quick introduction to the tool and what it does (and does not). By providing information its users may need, documentation helps visitors save time and frustration. It also provides a quick reference to solve common problems users may experience within the platform.
Great Expectations also provides links to its Slack and Github communities for help, learning and support. If your small business offers a complicated platform or service, having a documentation section can ease the learning curve for your users. It can also provide details for visitors who wish to know more about your product without having to buy it first. Documentation and community support may convert visitors into longtime customers of your business. Existing users may discover new ways to use your product and solve existing issues they encounter with it.
Include a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section to answer common business inquiries
Including a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ (FAQ) section on your small business website helps users further understand your business. You can perform user research by conducting interviews and sending surveys to your visitors to find out the most common inquiries. It saves visitors time and saves an email to your company’s inbox—another win-win scenario!
Nav.it has a nicely laid out FAQ section, splitting it into scannable sections such as top questions, savings, and personal account information. This helps users swiftly navigate to the answers they seek. It informs users about how it works, addresses privacy concerns, and explains how to use some of Nav.it’s app’s features. An FAQ better serves your audience and provides growth for mutual understanding.
Data convinces visitors about your business
Data can persuade customers to buy into your small business. Day Two tailors individualized nutrition for those with the metabolic disease based on each individual’s microbiomes. Their website has several data points on its landing page and the cleanly-presented chart pictured above shows how employers can use Day Two to save money on the cost of Type 2 diabetes.
Overall, the data shown on Day Two showcases a major improvement in many aspects of its users’ everyday health, which further validates its platform and builds trust in the visitor. When displaying data in a clean, coherent manner, similar to Day Two, you can help your site’s audience paint a better picture of what your brand offers through strength in numbers.
Testimonials speak volumes about your brand
A strong testimonial section on your small business website is a wonderful way to build credibility for your small business. Hype4 attests to that by highlighting testimonials from established brands, such as Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. As an award-winning software agency, Hype4’s potential clients would be more inclined to work with them through brand recognition alone.
Another way to build trust through testimonials is to include users who share their positive experiences with your business, product, or service. Testimonials increase traffic to your website. 92% of online shoppers read reviews before purchasing and 72% of them are influenced by positive testimonials and reviews. Testimonials improve conversions to ecommerce sites by 34%.
Build empathy with your visitors by protecting their privacy and security
Many visitors are concerned about the security of sensitive information. Your business’s stance on privacy and security can make all the difference for them. Depending on the country, it might be necessary to legally comply with information about user data, such as adhering to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. Use your ‘privacy and security’ section of your website to demonstrate, not just tell, how your small business protects its clients, users, and their personal information.
There is a lot of inspiration to draw from the cryptocurrency exchange service Kraken. Their website has a colorful interface and has strong information architecture, which is scannable. It also uses plain language, making it easy to understand. They have a detailed privacy and security page, which describes how they protect digital currency and safeguard user data. Kraken uses this section as an opportunity to emphasize with its users by showing their commitment to protecting their sensitive data. Kraken also provides resources and action items to learn more about their security practices and how users may guard their email communications. This is yet another way to reassure your business clients’ trust.
Allow users to sift through your offerings with search filters
If your small business is in ecommerce or sells a variety of products, ensure there is a filtering system in your product catalog. Yun Berlin has a multitude of filtering options for their glasses and sunglasses. Through a drop-down menu, it offers several different filtering categories such as price, fit, color, and shape. Users can select several options or just one, which gives freedom of choice to the user while simultaneously reducing information overload.
Another really cool feature of this site is the virtual try-on feature: using your device’s camera, visitors can virtually try on different glasses through augmented reality. Filters benefit your ecommerce site’s usability, which results in happier customer relations for your business.
How your small business site will stand out
Use simple language to help make your site more inclusive
Using simple language on your small business website makes it easy to understand for a plethora of visitors. Active Prospect uses plain language on their site and forms to optimize and secure customer acquisition for its clients. Their website clearly defines what they do: “We help companies acquire customers via consent-based marketing.” The next sentence seamlessly describes the call to action: “Start a conversation with a prospect that actually wants to speak with you.” Then it gives a brief definition of consent-based marketing, providing a video as well.
By making your business’s language easy to understand, the more impact it has. It will reach a larger audience It’s as plain and simple as that.
Implement a clean design to emphasize content on your business site
A clean or minimalist design helps eliminate clutter and puts emphasis on the content itself. By removing unnecessary elements, visitors can focus on the site information. Netguru is a consulting agency that uses flat design and a limited color palette combined with a touch of animation on its website. This allows users to solely focus on the core aspects of its site, such as navigation, case studies, resources, and contact information. Minimalist design may also convey professionalism as well as being a current trend in design, which instills trust for users.
Use negative space to visually organize content
Be cognizant of the use of white space, which may also be referred to as negative space, on your small business website. Lighting and furniture brand ECC makes extensive use of white space on its website, which allows content and text to breathe.
It evokes a premium feel to the brand. ECC’s website is similar to a contemporary art gallery: each element has its own space yet all pieces work together to create a uniform exhibit. Every piece has been carefully curated.
Spacing out elements on your business site also acts as a separator. Imagine your site as a home. If everyone shared one room, it would quickly become unruly. Negative space benefits visual hierarchy by giving each element its own room.
Using negative space properly in any medium, whether it is an oil painting or website, creates a sense of balance; it leads to an elegant, polished look for your business.
Make an impact with a bold landing page
Bold landing pages are a fantastic way to capture your visitor’s attention, especially if your small business is in a competitive market. Ensure your website leaves a lasting impression on its users. Bowery Farming accomplishes that by implementing a large version of its logo overlaid on top of a vivid image of leafy greens. The artful wave patterns also work well with the rest of the composition. All the headlines are in a bold, easy-to-read serif font with a mint green and tan color scheme.
This, combined with saturated images of Bowery’s produce, helps create a noteworthy experience for their website. The more memorable a website, the higher chances you have to retain visitors and grow your business. An unconventional yet striking website helps your business stand out against the competition.
Emotionally connect with your visitors through imagery
E2X, a strategic agency, is a stellar example of vivid imagery which captures the visitor’s attention and keeps them engaged. The pictures are consistent in composition and color as well, which creates a memorable experience. Images also touch users on an emotional level, which forms a lasting connection. E2X uses imagery to highlight important numerical data, such as 20 years in business and 150 quality projects delivered, building user trust. This site also has a balanced use of imagery, as it captures the user’s attention without distracting them.
Use graphics to engage with your users
Visary Capital’s website flaunts crisp, engaging graphics that add another level of fun to the experience. The interactive graphic captures the user’s attention through motion. It gives users a delightful activity to engage with. Compelling graphics separates your site from competitors and enhances the overall experience. Visary’s graphics employ the use of a consistent dark color palette and triangular patterns.
Unique graphics are much better to use on your site than stock images, which often feel drab and generic: the goal is for visitors to remember your site and keep them engaged with your small business.
Draw people to your call to action through animation
Animation in websites has become increasingly popular. It can be used to illustrate the most important aspects of the site. Mango Languages offers an online language learning service, which employs video to lead users to the call to action, “Start Your Journey.” One of the biggest goals for any small business website is to get users to click the call to action button. This is generally where users sign up for your product or service.
Sure enough, Mango’s CTA leads to a signup page. The CTA has enough information with the text above it and underlying animation to tell users what Mango offers. Mango’s animation assists—rather than detracts—from the site’s usability, which is a common issue for animated websites. Through animation, the site directs users towards the CTA button, helping them complete the user flow. Mango manages to include its fun, wordly animation and CTA above the fold, which is a big plus for visibility.
Showcase your product or service through video demonstrations
Use video demonstrations to educate visitors about your product. This holds especially true for augmented and virtual reality products, which require additional hardware to experience. Win Reality offers baseball and softball training through virtual reality. Their demos explain how the service works and illustrates multiple use cases, such as batting practice and real-time coaching. Video demos highlight enthralling use cases of your product or service, inspiring visitors to engage with your business.
Going the Extra Mile
Interactivity makes your small business website lively, passionate, and human
Who says business has to be strictly business? Goliath Entertainment has an exciting, phantasmagorical website with plenty of eye candy and animations. It lives up to its name and beyond. The vibrant colors and aesthetic capture Goliath’s merry, inviting personality. The website presents useful information, such as who they are and what they do, in a colorful, friendly manner. This site oozes passion and one can tell Goliath knows how to entertain their audiences.
If you choose to design an animation-heavy website, take careful steps to safeguard the integrity of your website’s information. Don’t overlay animations in front of informative content and avoid animations that deter attention from or interfere with essential elements. Conduct user testing to verify whether visitors find your animations problematic. There is a tradeoff for interaction-heavy sites: loading times will suffer and some users will leave.
However, these sites may create a lasting impression on visitors, which might be beneficial for retention rate. Many fully immersive sites win web design awards, which is a bold marketing opportunity for your business. An exhilarating small business website has the power to persuade visitors to work with your blossoming brand.
Show off your business’s personality
Your website should capture the essence of your business and serves as an ambassador of its brand. How would you describe your business’s personality? Omsom sends Southeast Asian meal kits to your door. Their website perfectly personifies their brand and personality, borrowing some from its lively founders. Omsom is confident, loud, and proud of their products.
All of these ingredients add up for a spicy, authentic dish. Their product pictures even show its packaging as well, which sets clear expectations for customers. Don’t be afraid to be yourself on your small business site. It’s more approachable, fun, and most importantly, human.
Display your best business features
Highlight features of the product or service your small business offers. What does your product offer over its competitors? Proctorio’s landing page succinctly promotes the best features of its platform. Over 400 universities use Proctorio, which is a digital learning tool to prevent cheating for online assessments and tests. Clicking on a feature in the screenshot above leads to a detailed page of the selected feature.
The ‘Lock Down’ page shows how the feature prevents users from accessing outside materials during an exam, such as disabling new tabs, clipboards, and limiting the user to one monitor. It uses clever iconography to easily illustrate each feature and uses simple language to clearly describe them. The site uses the product’s features to promote the benefits of its platform.
Interesting ways of using your product or service
Present innovative, novel ways of using your business’s product or service on your small business website. Impossible Foods has a recipe section, which provides fun ways for customers to cook with plant-based meat.
Visitors may feel hungry when viewing the recipe page due to the stimulating images of food made with impossible meat. The use of bright, vibrant colors creates an alluring aura. Show clever ways of your product being used on your website to inspire and convert visitors into repeat customers. It echoes back to the sentiment of using your website to establish an emotional connection with its users.
Implement an elegant dark mode and watch your site stand out
Many websites use a dark mode which can be a breath of fresh air amongst a crowded netscape of light-themed sites. Using darker colors on your site may elicit an upscale atmosphere for your small business site. Cryptocurrency studio Decent Labs has a gorgeous dark website. Note their monochromatic color scheme, as purple is the only color you’ll find on the site’s elements. It helps create a minimalist aesthetic.
Many mobile apps and sites offer dark modes for prolonged usage or make it easier to view at night or in dimly lit areas. Similar to using negative space effectively, dark sites enable their content to speak for itself.
Lower your small business site’s environmental impact by designing for sustainability
Sustainable web design values the following principles: cleanliness, efficiency, honesty, openness, regeneration, and resiliency. It also entails the practice of creating websites, which use less bandwidth and reduce server load. This lowers the amount of resources and energy a website uses. You can read more on the Sustainable Web Manifesto.
As a startup well-vested in sustainability and consideration of animals, Meatable strives to adhere to the aforementioned web design principles. They create and sell lab-made meat. Meatable uses its website to describe their meat-making process and informs visitors no animals are harmed. This level of honesty and openness prevents users from being misled while building trust in the organization.
Meatable’s website is also regenerative and resilient across different devices. Like Fisker’s site, the content remains the same between mobile and desktop versions. Designing your small business site with sustainability in mind fosters trust and lowers environmental impact.
Wow users with an unforgettable design
Go the extra mile with your small business website and leave a long-lasting, positive memory with users. Don’t forget to always keep your target audience in the forefront of your mind, along with the design’s ease of use and your brand identity. Your website is a major representation of your business and plays a tremendous factor in its success—it’s up to you take your website in the direction you aspire to.
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