There’s a massive difference between having an online presence and having a strong online presence, and it lies in design. In today’s digital world, it’s no longer “good enough” to have a website with some content. With competition increasing across all industries, your small business needs to make a big splash.
Too often, entrepreneurs and small business owners interpret this as needing a pretty website, while dismissing the key functionalities and intricacies that come with web design. In reality, digital services go far beyond beautiful graphics. Your website needs to perform at top speeds, use the most up-to-date technologies, be easy for users to interact with, and yes, look good, in order to stay competitive.
No matter what industry you’re in, your target audience expects that they’ll be able to find you online—and your ability to deliver on that first impression can seriously impact whether or not they convert into a paying customer.
Here are just some reasons why your small business needs to focus more on its design:
1. A first impression can make or break your business.
People develop their first impressions in one-tenth of a second, your website is no exception. On top of that, researchers have found that 94% of those first impressions are design-related. If your website doesn’t capture their attention quickly enough, that person is likely to click away from your site.
When users look at websites, they scan it for the information they need. If the site looks complicated, it’s not likely the user will want to waste time figuring it out—especially when there’s an infinite number of websites out there that can fulfill the same need. Small businesses with the best websites pay attention to their site’s user experience and design it so that the website feels completely natural to navigate.
Think about the first impression you want people to take away from your site. If you’re trying to sell professional business attire, you don’t want your website to look cluttered or filled with pop-ups. You’ll want it to communicate efficiency with a minimal color palette and simple menu bar. You’ll also want a clear call-to-action that doesn’t impede the customer’s flow.
The takeaway? Prioritize how you want people to feel and think. Then, work on creating the experience that helps them get there.
2. SEO matters. A lot.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, makes a huge impact on your online presence because it helps determine your Google ranking. Some customers make their first impression by directly looking at your website. Others look at where you land in the Google search results, which is why small business owners learn about the best SEO practices. They listen to interviews with SEO experts, read SEO tips, and hire specialists to improve their website ranking.
Web design and SEO are intrinsically linked. If your website isn’t designed to be SEO optimized, any other strategies your small business is trying could be doing better.
Small businesses often benefit from working with experienced agencies you understand how to design for SEO.
3. You can’t market bad design.
You’d be surprised how many businesses forget that marketing is ineffective when you’re leading users to a bad design. Your business can follow marketing strategies, gain thousands of followers on social media, and land lots of press. However, if all of that leads to a bad website, the users won’t convert.
If you fail to make a good first impression, you’ll probably fail to push them to go to your site.
What ultimately sets businesses apart are their brands, and websites are an essential part of that.
If your marketing data shows that you’re reaching lots of people but your bounce rates are high, it’s probably time to re-evaluate who your site is designed for. You might be surprised to find out that your design doesn’t think about the user at all. In that case, it’s time to switch up your UX.
You never know—your small business might just become the next big thing.
Arielle Kimbarovsky is a digital marketing intern at Codal, spreading the word about the world of UX design, business, and tech. Working alongside marketers, designers, and developers, Arielle helps the team share their knowledge and experience with audiences all over the internet. In her spare time, you can find Arielle dancing, drawing, or launching cameras into space.