Design Tips for New Business Websites  

The internet is populated with hundreds of millions of websites, all vying for the attention of the end user. In such a competitive environment, it is especially difficult for new businesses entering the fray to make their mark and distinguish themselves from the pack. The fierce competition puts a lot of pressure on web designers to create the ‘perfect site’ for a startup.

Additionally, unlike companies that are already well established online through multiple websites and social media accounts, more often than not the startup’s website is initially going to be its primary point of contact and branding tool. Since the online success of a new business will hinge in great part on the quality and content of its first website, what exactly should designers focus on?

Simplicity and Social Media

Obviously, the same considerations that are given when building websites for existing companies will also be given when creating a website for a startup. Major brands understand the tried and true importance of simplicity and ease of navigation, as well as ensuring that site visitors can easily link to the company’s social media accounts. Any new business website should also be designed with those factors in mind. However, for new businesses, other elements are just as important, such as establishing credibility and authority. Here are a few other critical areas to focus on when designing a website for a startup.

Homepage Emphasis

Nowhere on a website is the concept of keeping it simple while establishing credibility more important than on the homepage. The homepage is the site’s gateway, so long paragraphs and countless competing images should be avoided. Instead, focus on short, informative keyword-rich text clips and only use images that help educate the site visitor about the product or service.

The homepage is also where an explainer video should be placed, so it (along with the call-to-action) should be the focus of the homepage. Also, since many people are turned off by sound that automatically starts playing when a webpage loads, if you do have video on the site, make sure that the sound can be easily disabled.

Platform Diversity

Responsive web design, which focuses on how a website responds to the end user’s platform, screen size and orientation, is critical to any website’s development. Why? In 2013, smartphones and tablets became the most used devices for people accessing the internet, and each device requires a different layout. So, if a website isn’t designed with varying platforms in mind, the business will lose out on customers.

For example, consumers accessing a website from their desktop computers will spend more time searching for detailed and specific information, such as user guides, how to videos, and product reviews. Mobile phone users, however, are looking for more basic information, including product availability and cost. If a cellphone user accesses a website designed specifically for a desktop experience, the site will take too long to load, and it will be crowded with unnecessary information and unbalanced images in a non-user friendly cluttered layout.

The same rule applies to tablet users. They don’t want to log into a website that is visually confusing and difficult to navigate. In short, focus on crafting a website that responds to the type of device being used to access the site. Otherwise, the business will never gain credibility with mobile users. 

Layout, Functionality and Navigation

Consumers obviously don’t like messy, confusing layouts. More to the point, if the business brand is unproven, the consumer won’t have as much patience as they do with longstanding brands, and they will turn away from what they perceive to be a “busy” website. So, the focus here is on ensuring that the site is visually engaging and easily navigable. To that end, prominently link all of the website’s relevant sections in the navigation bar on the home page and place a homepage link on every page. This allows the user to navigate the site easily without having to fish around, which could leave them disgruntled and frustrated. In other words, don’t make them think or wonder where they should go next.

Additionally, consumers often won’t scroll beneath the “fold” of the webpage. So, place the call-to-action and other critical bits of information above the fold. Envision it as an “F” pattern. Since most people don’t read a webpage, but instead scan it, make the design of the pages simple by placing all of the necessary information at the top (including a call to action) and along the left of the page. Also, incorporate bold headers and subheads to make the information easier to digest.

Collaborative Effort

Don’t get so wrapped up in building the perfect website that you forget to collaborate with the client throughout the process. While a new business owner may not know exactly how he wants his site laid out, or everything that should and shouldn’t be included, he will know how he envisions his brand. Keep him in the loop for the duration to ensure that his expectations are met.

Building a website for a new, unproven business can be challenging. You are attempting to help a business not only sell its products or services, but you must also try to build its credibility and establish it as an industry authority. Take the simplicity cue from established sites by making the website easily navigable and visitor-friendly (particularly the homepage). By continually collaborating with your client and creating a website with multiple platforms in mind, and, you can accomplish your goal of designing a site that will be loved by your client and his customers alike.