"A website designed specifically for a particular business and its target market is the most effective gateway to new ideal customers."
San Diego, CA (PRWEB) October 04, 2011
Bop Design, a San Diego based marketing agency that works with small businesses throughout the United States, has released the five definitive website components every small business must have to be successful. “In the past few months, there have been more and more TV commercials advertising small business website designs for less than $20 a month. Companies such as Intuit offer numerous templates and promise that a business owner can start doing business online immediately. This is a tad concerning since the top priority of any business is differentiation,” states Bop Design Principal, Jeremy Durant. “If template websites become the norm, every law office website, accounting firm website, management consultant website will look the same. Yes, the content may be different, but how long will a visitor remain on a website to make that determination? A business with a template website sorely underestimates how judgmental a website visitor can be. Imagine if there were only five templates for a restaurant layout or a clothing store interior design?” Durant questions. Bop Design contends that by “templating” marketing communications, a business is losing a prime opportunity to engage with their ideal customer. This applies to any size business in any industry – a business only has a few opportunities to gain customer attention and directly communicate to effectively position their brand.
Bop Design Creative Director, Kara Jensen contends, “Whether small business owners want to believe it or not, people subconsciously draw conclusions about their business when they look at all marketing communications – logo, website, marketing collateral and signage. A poor appearance can trump a firm’s experience, work, press, etc. and generate an overall lack of confidence among potential customers. With the website being the centerpiece of most small businesses marketing campaigns, why have a ‘me too’ strategy with a run-of-the-mill template website?”
According to BIA/Kelsey, small and medium size business spending on digital/online media will grow from $5.4 billion in 2010 to $16.6 billion in 2015 (http://www.bia.com). “With increasingly stiff competition among small businesses to attract and retain customers on the web, it is important that a business creates a unique website experience, which will generate better-qualified customer traffic and an increase in conversion – a visitor taking a desired action,” says Durant. Attracting the right customers and engaging them on a small business website can generate new revenue at an exponential rate. But how? How can something as superficial as website design impact the success of a small business? There are many reasons why a well designed website will attract an ideal customer and prompt dialogue with a company. Bop Design has identified the five fundamental components to keep in mind as a small business explores options for a website design that fits their unique business-
Possibly the most important part of a website is the navigation. The navigation can make or break a small business website. If an ideal prospective customer can’t find what they’re searching for quickly, they will leave a website. On a custom website, navigation will be designed to fit a sitemap (outline of pages on a website) and be as intuitive as possible. A template site will consist of an “off the shelf” navigation that typically is not intuitive, adaptable or scalable. With a template website, a business may be forced to organize pages in an unnatural way because that’s what the template framework dictates. Good navigation should be easy to find and comprehend – making for quick and easy travel throughout the entire website. In most cases, a simplified navigation maximizes ease of use for a wider range of customers. “A good tip is that a business’ website navigation should be so intuitive even your 75-year old grandmother can understand it,” adds Jensen.
2. Brand Consistency
If a company has a corporate identity that is utilized frequently in print materials (i.e. business cards, pamphlets, letterheads, etc.), then the logo, brand colors, brand messaging and imagery used for print must be carried over to the website design. This is another potential danger of a template website – where colors and branding can be inconsistent with other marketing collateral. “Templates can consist of colors and imagery that are similar, but do no exactly match other marketing collateral. Customers are smart and can tell the difference and will make a judgment about your company,” says Durant. This can cause a prospective customer to visit a website and wonder if it’s even the same company. It is important for customers to recognize a brand in all forms of communication, so they associate the brand position and promise with the corresponding business. If the visual communication changes with a brand, it can cause customers to feel uncomfortable, which can cause them to create a negative association with a company.
3. Reading Patterns and SEO
Most people are comfortable reading a web page the same way they read a book, from top to bottom, left to right. Web designers also take this into account when designing a website. Good designers place the most important information on the upper left hand column. This will help get a brand message across more effectively. “Many templates limit content placement on a webpage and business owners can find it difficult working within these constraints. Also, placing important information in these areas of a website improves search engine optimization (SEO),” states Jensen. When you include important company-related keywords in the html-based text, search engines such as Google and Bing are able to crawl a website easily, increasing search engine placement and giving a website and small business more overall visibility. As a small business, be cautious with template websites and ensure that the backend programming is clean and up-to-date so that search engines can easily crawl the website. If SEO is a top priority, hiring a firm with SEO expertise to do a custom website design is always the best bet.
4. Content & Messaging
The content of a small business website is important for reasons besides the fact that it literally communicates a company’s brand position and promise. There are other important elements considered when a copywriter creates the content and the designer creates the complementary visual environment. Making the message short and to the point, yet warm and welcoming (depending on the industry,) helps the reader to remember the message easier. Also, when there is too much text on a page, the page becomes visually cluttered making it more difficult for a reader to physically read the page let alone remain interested. By streamlining the content, the designer is then able to insert the text into their design, which typically includes plenty of negative space. This empty space lets the reader’s eyes rest so they do not tire of reading. If they tire, the visitor will leave a website. With a template, the website design is already determined and one must fit the content into the design of a page. This can lead to clutter which in turn, leads to visitor fatigue. One advantage of a custom website design is that content creation and website design work in sync. Durant compares design and content to songwriting, “where lyrics and music are typically created in tandem.”
Building trust among customers is extremely important, but will not happen unless a business really gets to know them and what they value. Marketing communications can act as a dialogue with potential customers, which will be a great way to discover more about a clientele’s needs. By strengthening dialogue with customers, a small business can implement tactics that positively resonate in a custom website design. On the other hand, a website template will not be designed specifically with ideal customers in mind and may turn them off by not being compelling or professional enough. Credibility and professionalism are two primary objectives of any small business website design, but also keep in mind conveying some personality through a website. “Don’t be so professional that your website borders on being ‘stuffy.’ The more welcoming and trustworthy a website is to visitors, the more traffic on the website, which will then lead to an increase in new business leads,” adds Jensen.
A website designed specifically for a particular business and its target market is the most effective gateway to new ideal customers. If designed properly, a visitor will land on a small business website and become excited due to the compelling design and relevant content. Because a website is so engaging, a prospective customer will spend significant time on it and conclude that it’s time to begin a relationship with that business.
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