Effective small business web design is now critical to almost every small business. In fact, until you have your own business website, most potential customers won’t see you as a credible business at all.
Why is that? What makes a business website so special?
Why Small Business Web Design Matters
A website is normally the primary marketing vehicle for your business. It isn’t just a shop window. It’s an international travelling sales team, with the ability to sell 24/7/365 to customers in their own homes in the moments when they are most interested in buying.
Think about what it would cost to achieve that coverage with a team of sales people. That’s the value a website provides. So that’s why even established high-street shops often struggle to compete without an effective online presence.
Still, “effective” is the critical word here. Just any old website won’t do.
How Is Small Business Web Design Different?
Whatever your business sells or provides, marketing is what makes it a business. Marketing encompasses all the processes that lead to sales, so when we talk about needing to compete, marketing is the competition.
Providing great products and services matters, but you can’t just do that and hope they will sell themselves. That sort of “hope marketing” just doesn’t work. It can always be outsold by someone who’s better at marketing, even if what they provide is mediocre.
Whilst some people love that idea, many don’t. Small businesses often struggle because they try to deny or ignore it.
So, small business websites need to compete effectively. Still, don’t all websites do that?
No. In fact, most don’t!
Business Websites Are Not Personal Websites
Many small business websites are built as though they were personal projects, or by people who have only ever built personal projects. Competing in search engines and converting visitors into customers simply aren’t priorities for such sites.
So building personal sites isn’t much help when it comes to designing business websites. Using drag’n’drop editors and relying on having an “eye for design” or being “artistic” doesn’t even really teach design or coding at all. That sort of free expression is art. Design is not art — design uses structure to solve problems and make things work.
In other words, going from building personal sites to building business websites is like learning bricklaying and then claiming to be an architect.
Common Small Business Web Design Mistakes
Many small business startups claim to follow a “lean startup” mentality. That’s fine if done properly, but often just means doing as little as possible as cheaply as possible. That misses three vital points.
Firstly, whilst cutting costs is good, cutting investments is often fatal. Unlike pure costs, decent investments pay for themselves and then generate returns that tend to be proportional to the investment. So whilst all investments involve risk, not investing guarantees failure — and investing too little just adds a cost to that failure.
Secondly, no race was ever won by just copying competitors and tagging along with the pack. Established firms have advantages over startups, who first need to catch up with the pack. Either way, you’ll need to work smarter and/or harder than your competitors to stand out. The skills needed to work smarter often take years to learn. That is why people invest in experienced web design and digital marketing help.
Finally, whilst starting with a “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP) to test your market is wise, it isn’t a valid test unless you reach the market. So trying that with ineffective marketing just wastes your entire budget and cripples your dream.
Underinvesting in marketing doesn’t reduce risk. It increases risk, and reduces returns.
Why DIY And Cheap Web Design Services Often Fail
Whilst DIY website builder platforms claim you can have a “professional” website without skill, time or money, that’s just a sales pitch. If it were true, most professional web designers would be using them. Most of us don’t, because they’re limiting. We prefer to continue building sites that out-compete what those platforms can achieve. Because that’s what your competitors pay us to do.
Likewise, the cheapest web designers are usually either so inexperienced with business that they don’t know their own costs, or moonlighting. Either way, they probably won’t be in business long enough to provide support when you need it. Don’t underestimate how much that can cripple your business. The web evolves rapidly, so you will need ongoing support.
In other words, the hidden costs of cheap web design are generally more expensive than investing in better solutions. You need to invest in the most cost-effective solutions you can afford. Normally, that means professional web design. If your budget really is tight though, my affordable small business web design packages can help.