Mike Cowen, UX/UI designer at Fasthosts, shares his four easy hacks to take your site to the next level, without splashing out.
Not all websites are created equal. Custom built sites can come with a big price tag and in the world of small business, budgets don’t always stretch to the hundreds or thousands it can cost to pay a professional to build a site for you. Despite this, websites are still a crucial tool for small businesses, so what’s the solution?
Luckily, website builders can save the day. They provide a budget friendly way to get a professional looking site up and running quickly with very little to no technical knowledge required. With many website builders on the market providing extensive design template options and the freedom to edit various aspects of their site at the touch of a button, it’s no wonder SMEs are turning to them.
- Make your purpose clear
Making sure the user can establish the purpose of your business within the first three seconds of landing on your site is key. It may seem obvious, but as a first step it’s crucial SMEs make sure users know what they do from the offset.
From a user experience perspective, the key elements that will add to this clarity are design, content and page structure. You’re creating a journey for users so make sure the path from A to B is as clear and easy as possible. To do this, ensure key information such as your business name is included in the header of a page or in the next section down.
Also consider how your leading imagery fits in with your brand and the purpose of your website. For example, if you have a dog walking business, make sure dogs are the first thing people see. It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed by the free stock imagery often available on website builders so just remember to always bring any content you place on your site back to your key purpose.
It’s equally important to make sure your call to action is clear so that once users have established what it is you do and what services you offer, they know what they need to do next if they want to get in touch or purchase your products or service.
- White space is your friend
A common error when it comes to website design is to fill up as much space as possible but doing this increases the risk of user overwhelm and alienation. If you remember five words when it comes to website design let it be this: white space is your friend. Giving the content on your site space to breath will give more impact to the text and images sitting on your site, creating a more enjoyable experience for users.
- Choose font wisely
Keep font simple and clear so it’s as easy to read as possible. It is tempting to get carried away with lots of fancy fonts available but they don’t always add that extra value and may end up being hard to read, putting the user off.
Additionally, if you’ve got a range of headings or a smaller font on your site, make sure they come across clearly on both desktop and mobile. Users are moving increasingly to mobile devices to carry out their online searches, with research showing smartphones made up to 47.3% of online traffic in the UK in 2020, and so how these fonts perform on both platforms should be a top consideration.
- Accessibility is crucial
From an industry perspective, it’s key that your website is accessible to all. Making sure all users are able to navigate your site is crucial, whether they are visually impaired, disabled or able bodied. There are a few steps you can take to make your site accessible. Firstly, make sure your site meets W3C Accessibility Standards by working through the comprehensive list provided by W3C. This is a good place to start and will encourage you to consider elements such as having descriptive alt text next to images and ensuring there is enough colour contrast so that content is easy to read, an especially important consideration for visually impaired or colour-blind users.
If you’re not consistent in your branding, font and imagery, you’ll end up with a very unprofessional looking site. Once you’ve established the points above, be sure to make your decisions around font, imagery etc consistent throughout your site. Inconsistency is the biggest issue when it comes to your website looking like its designed by a pro vs. an amateur.
There are a wide range of website builders out there and many of them offer similar website templates so in order to find the right one for your business, establish where your priorities lie. For instance, you may want to consider support requirements and opt for a provider that offers 24/7 support to ensure that your website not only looks professional but runs smoothly too.
If you are looking for an easy one stop shop it may also be worth seeking a provider that can offer you a domain name and business email as well as other marketing and SEO tools, so you have everything you need to get your online presence up and running hassle free.
These tools will provide you with a brilliant springboard to owning a professional-looking website, and using tips in design and content can help to take it to the next level, allowing your site to stand out from the crowd.