How Do I Design a Good Website for my Business?

Anyone who runs a business full-time (or even part-time) might not have much energy or patience left over to design and support a website for their business. It's easy to delegate that responsibility to a young Web developer for a simple fee. But even if that's the case, as an entrepreneur, you should understand the basics of quality Web design and what kind of design will appeal most to your customers.

Here are 5 guidelines you can practice when thinking about the look of your website.

1. Be clear about your business and your goals. No one wants to spend minutes searching your homepage for clues about what your business actually does and what products or services you offer. Make it clear from the beginning. Use taglines or sub-headers on the front page to tell your Web audience what you do for a living and what you hope to accomplish by doing business with them.

2. Focus on easy navigation and reading. A potential customer shouldn't have to ask where to go next when they visit your site. Cut down on unnecessary links, distracting colors and animations, and general page clutter. Every good website should have an easy-to-find and easy-to-read navigation bar on either the top or side of the page, so that visitors can click on each link and go straight to the page and information they want.

3. Learn about SEO and analytics. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing are common portals for people to use when looking up new products or businesses. Your website should fit those search engines' parameters and look safe and presentable when it comes up as a search result. Check your title, header, and meta tags are properly spelled and filled out. Use analytics to see how other businesses in your field are marketing themselves online and adapt their methods. Avoid using too many keywords to clutter up your website or try to force your site to a higher search result ranking.

4. Make your website mobile-friendly. More people are checking the Web through mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The resolution on these screens is much different than what you'd get with a typical desktop PC. Fortunately, it's possible to include the right files to adjust your site to a clean and mobile-friendly format. It will mean simplifying on graphic design and making your links and text much larger to navigate on smaller screens.

5. Use clear language and certification. Simple language is the best way to make yourself understood by everyone. Be clear about the nature of your business, your products or services, and your customer relations. Encourage your customers with honest guarantees. For example, if your site includes an online storefront, your customers will feel better when they see a security certificate icon before they decide to type in their credit card number and place an order.

Image by Per Axbom on Flickr

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