Essential Web design tips for owners of Small to medium sized businesses

web design tips, website content photography tips milton keynes, Web Design And Development
"These tips will save you time and money!" - David Stewart, CEO C2 Services.
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Web design tips #1 - Learn from other people's experience

This post is for owners and managers of small to medium sized businesses who are considering investing in a new website or refreshing an existing website.  It provides essential web design tips based on our experience and approach to designing, delivering and supporting websites and online solutions.  Use this experience and wisdom to help yourself. 

Table of Contents

Web design Tips #2 - Watch the Video!

Rather than read the article watch the video! It takes you through the stages of website design and delivery, the underlying message being do not get lost in the detail, look at the bigger picture and how a website will add value to your business and will help you meet your goals.  

Essential Web Design Tips for online expansion, using an auto repair business as an example.

web design tips #3 - Be clear on your Business drivers

Our web design options are in place to satisfy the needs of most small to medium sized business and to enable their business strategies by delivering an online presence and capabilities required to conduct business online. Websites perform many different purposes and the website types that we offer cater for the majority of use cases.  A typical set of drivers for a vehicle repair shop includes:

  • Increase revenue to pay for new equipment and staff costs
  • Broaden your services to attract new customers.
  • Improve repeat custom by offering incentives and excellent customer service.
  • Reduce time spent managing customer enquiries using online purchasing and appointment booking 
  • Improve competitiveness by offering a broader range of products online.
 

It is our job to understand what they are and how they are addressed using the tools available to us.

web design tips
Business drivers are typically focussed on increasing revenue and profitability, managing costs and providing services that customers want to buy.

Web design tips #4 - Embrace the design and delivery cycle

Our Design and Delivery Cycle is a seven-stage process that asks and answers fundamental questions about:

  • You business strategy – what you want to achieve and the roadmap to get there. 
  • How you evaluate opportunities and return on investment.
  • How new capability will be embedded into your business.
  • Your approach to planning and delivering marketing and sales campaigns.
  • Experience of managing online platforms.
  • How your lessons are learned and applied in your business.
  • What you want to achieve from your online operation and how you see your website working with social media and other teams in your business such as sales, customer service and marketing. 
 

Answers to these questions enables us to define the scope and design of a solution and the creative input required,  to scope your SEO strategy and the required investment in time and money to make SEO worthwhile, website content, copywriting and audio visual content.

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The Design and Delivery methodology proves its value when everything comes together to deliver a new website into your business.

Web Design Tips #5 - Set SMART Objectives

Specific objectives of your web project are defined from Design Cycle discussions.  They may include:

  • Improve customer experience through online appointment booking by 5% in the next quarter.
  • Listing of new or preowned cars to increase test drives by 10% in the next 6 months
  • Increase car servicing revenue by 5% by offering incentives and loyalty schemes online.
  • Increase organic search success by 15% in 6 months.
 
Objectives derived from an understanding your market and competition, and what you want to achieve from your strategy, falls naturally from the Design and Delivery Cycle.
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Objectives are best framed using SMART - They are specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timebound.

Web Design Tips #6 - Know your limitations

Constraints help define the scope of a solution and  include factors such as:

  • Technology shortcomings – a successful website requires hardware and software to create, upload and manage content.
  • Processes – Processes need to be embedded and resourced to sustain an online operation.
  • People – Specialist skills are required to create and manage content.   Planning, business, analytical and creative skills are required to sustain online campaigns.    
  • Budget limitations to set up and operate a website.
  • Lack of content and underestimation of the effort and skill required to achieve objectives. 
 

We help clients mitigate constraints to make way for a pragmatic solution.

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Identify constraints and put in place mitigation strategies to address issues that get in the way.

Web Design Tips #7 - Define what is in and out of Scope

Developing and agreeing on the scope of a solution is absolutely essential as this defines the design, features and timescales of a project.   

Scope includes the shape and scale of a website in terms of pages, posts, content, functionality, plugins, support and much more. 

It defines client input and what will be delivered by the design company. Equally important is to outline what is not inscope. SEO setup for example is very different to an SEO campaign.  

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Agreeing what is in and out of scope is essential to manage expectations, costs and satisfaction with the completed solution.

Web Design Tips #8 - Know how your website 'fits' into your business

‘Fit’ is simply how your website complements and adds value to how your business works. 

There is little value having same-day tyre fitting for example if you cannot respond immediately with a quote or get stock fast enough. 

On the other hand, you may want to embrace automation and put in place eCommerce and online appointment booking and may need help to make that happen. 

Bottom line is that you need to know how your website ‘fits’ into your business and to take steps to address people, process and technology issues to blend your website into the way you work.

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Map how a website adds value and complements your business processes and ways of doing business

web Design Tips #9 - Know and Leverage your brand identity

As established business will probably have a brand that is defined with a logo and inhouse colours and styles.  Our Creative Services work within these guidelines.  These services are:

  • Copywriting
  • Photography 
  • Video 
  • SEO 
 

Many businesses will not have their brand defined and consistently applied across their websites and social media and this is an area where we add value through discussion and research to create a brand personality that is used to design a website, and to create content and execute campaigns.

Put simply, your brand identity drives how your business and services are communicated. Alignment of your brand across websites, social media and offline is key. Know your brand, what it stands for and how your clients experience the services you provide. Measure and manage customer satisfaction. Protect your brand reputation. Use professionally produced copy, high quality photographs and video.

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Know what your brand stands for or what you would like it to be and work hard to make it so.
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Your brand identity and the experience that your business delivers is what makes your products and services stand out from competition.

Web design Tips #10 - aggressively market your website.

We work with clients promote their business, products and services online, offline and as hybrid campaigns.  

We recommend that you do the following when launching a new website:

  • Know and leverage your brand identity!
  • Create a ‘My Google Business Website
  • Establish a presence of local and national directories such as Yell
  • Create a Business Facebook account
  • Link your website to social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
  • Set up and create video on YouTube or create a video account on specialist video hosting platforms.
  • Engage in traditional marketing, selling and customer service activities.
  • Test and rollout paid advertising on a ROI basis.
  • Plan and coordinate content and campaigns across all of the above.
 

Of utmost importance is ongoing marketing of your website. Systematically create and publish content using SEO tools to keep your website relevant and easy to find in Google. 

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Keep your website alive with timely and relevant content. Create and coordinate content on your websites with social media platforms and traditional marketing.

Web Design Tips #11 - Don't get hung up about The backend architectures

Website architecture has two dimensions – frontend architecture and backend architecture.

Frontend architecture is what visitor see and experience and interact with. These are pages, posts, headers, footers and navigation.

The backend is the technical engine of the website. It includes the URL, SSL, hosting, plugins and the Content Management Platform in the backend. 

The interface between the two is the client dashboard that gives website authors and editors access to pages and posts whilst protecting the technical integrity of the site through restricted access to the backend.

Focus your efforts on keeping the front end populated with relevant and timely SEO aligned content and campaigns.  Buy a support package to maintain the website, your time will probably be better spent on the frontend. 

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Invest your time creating content.
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A support package maintains your website

The design and delivery involves the construction of the front and backend end of a website along with the creation and placement of content.  

Bringing the front and backend together requires coordination between the designer and client to approve mockups and technical iterations to build links between pages and content.  This process continues and as the website matures it is tested prior to launch and going live. 

Our design and delivery is guided by Prince 2 principles via an experienced project manager.

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Our project manager brings structure and governance to deliver to cost, quality and time

Web design tips #13 - Structure a deal that is good for both parties

Our commercials are tailored for clients.  Commercials also take our needs at any particular time into consideration. This means that a mutually beneficial deal is almost always attainable. 

Our commercials charges for:

  • Professional services
  • Licences
  • Training
  • Support
 

Options include Creative Services for photography, video and for additional content such as pages, articles and blogs. 

Recurring charges are provided. 

  • A payment schedule is agreed.
  • A mobilisation fee of 50% is required.
  • Plugins are paid by the client on mobilisation.
  • A monthly housekeeping and hosting charge applies.
 

Payment for remaining charges is usually concluded three months after the website goes live. 

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Our charges are transparent and give recurring costs.
web design tips

Web Design tips #14 - Don't forget the paperwork!

Approval from the client begins the project mobilisation. Approval is via:

  • Acceptance of a proposal or statement of Work from C2 Services with a client signature and/or subsequent participation in the project.
  • Acceptance of an Email describing the scope and commercials and participation in the project.
  • Verbal acceptance followed by a confirmation email from C2 with client participation in the project.
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A signature enables mobilisation to start.

Web design tips #15 - Don't forget the concluding tips

It is very important that people about to commission a new website or to refresh an existing website are comfortable to place their trust in people with the knowledge and experience to deliver a solution that meets or exceeds expectations. 

It is therefore absolutely essential that the successful designer takes the time to understand the strategy and requirements of the customer.  Only then can a website or online campaign be designed and delivered to time, quality and cost.  Where there are gaps in understanding then the designer must be prepared to advise the client and close gaps so that the project can proceed with a firm foundation.

Equally, the client is advised to think long term and ‘big picture’ and be prepared to invest the time and money to get the basics such as the objectives, scope, messaging and costs right.

The following observations may be helpful:

  • The personal relationship you will have with the designer is key. Get to know that person as best you can before you commit.
  • Make sure that the designer goes through a process similar to the Design & Delivery Cycle that we use. If not walk away.
  • Do not settle for stock images or copy. Get a professional to create photographs and video for your website. 
  • Make sure that the website is set up for SEO. Look for evidence of keyword design and proper signposting.
  • Do not cheapskate on hosting. Buy a  support package that includes hosting from a reputable company and support features focussed on keeping your website running smoothly.
  • Take the long view. A website is a long term investment. It needs new and regular content, it needs to be supported. Success in organic search can be expensive, time-consuming and a long haul. 
 

Finally, creating a website or updating an existing website can be fun and rewarding. Enjoy the creative process. Make sure you work with designers you can trust and get along with. 

Web design tips #16 - Call us for Next steps!

Get in touch about any of the above or to find out more about how we can help you succeed online.

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