You've acknowledged that your website needs a redesign but how do you know if a web designer
is the right fit for your small business. The search can seem endless and confusing; do you need a web design agency or do you need the skill sets associated with web developers? Here's a break down of some of the skills to be on the lookout for when searching for a web designer near you.
A website is likely to be the primary digital marketing tool for small businesses. It's the first thing potential customers see when they look you up either by business name or when looking for the services you offer. It has been observed how when first arriving on a website a visitor's eyes travel in a Z shape. First, a visitor takes in your logo design, then any links in your header navigation, then back to the left side of the page where you should boldly state in 1 - 2 sentences who you are and what you do.
It is therefore important that the website design and content are put together with key digital marketing principles in mind. It is helpful to begin by thinking about what is the number one objective for your website. Is it to get phone calls or emails? Is it to encourage visitors to sign up for a newsletter? Then make sure that your homepage clearly communicates this goal. It is easy to end up with a confusing mess of call to actions that will ultimately lead to a potential customer not choosing any to act upon.
When reflecting on your digital marketing plan it's helpful to come back to who your target audience is. For example, take a charity I was recently involved in designing a bespoke website for. The charity's target audience was split between those seeking to engage in the services it offered and grant providers. By acknowledging the two different audiences I worked with the charity to create a homepage that clearly expressed their services and aims (useful for both parties) whilst ensuring adequate page space was given to information that grant providers would be looking for.
You can have a good website in terms of design and function but the content can still miss the mark.
Some estimates state that over 50% of all online activity now originates from a mobile device. Responsive web design allows your website to adapt dynamically for different screen sizes.
Make sure that you hire a web designer who can guarantee your website will look great and work just as well when visited from a mobile device. If a visitor can't access your menu or the text is too small your website is offering a poor user experience.
If the front end design of your website that visitors see is your website's skin, then the bones and nervous system is your website's CMS (content management system). Different web designers will prefer and recommend different CMS. You may have heard of a few of the popular content management systems such as Squarespace and Wix.
My go-to CMS is WordPress and I would class myself as primarily a WordPress web designer. My reasons for choosing WordPress over Squarespace or Wix is how customisable it is and how confident I am that within 30 minutes I can train a business owner how to make edits to their website. Avoid ending up with a website you feel powerless to edit.
A great website has a blend of professional graphic design, web development, digital marketing best practices and at least an awareness of SEO standards. On-page SEO involves highlighting key pieces of information and keywords for search engines within the code and structure of the web page.
Another contributing factor to SEO is your websites speed. The two main influences that will either load your website quickly or grind it to an unpleasant halt are your web hosting and how the website is built. A WordPress website with 50 plugins is likely under optimised and showing it's bloat. But likewise, even a lean website will suffer from bottom of the barrel web hosting. Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. Why can some web hosts provide yearly web hosting for under £20 while other web hosts charge over £30 a month? It is quality and service, and a slow unreliable website will negatively affect your SEO and cause your visitors great annoyance.
To offer the best experience on your website it is worth paying a little extra for quality, reliable and quick hosting.
Aside from your web designer, agencies offering professional SEO services do exist but make sure your web designer gets the basics right.
I have over 10 years of experience working with small businesses and sole traders up and down the UK.
I grew up in Godalming and have family living across Surrey. I have a particular fondness for the people and businesses in Guildford, Haslemere and my hometown of Godalming.
At the start of the 2009 financial crisis, when I was just 16, I was featured in the Surrey Advertiser for launching an online platform called Vendox
to aid high street business in promoting themselves on social media to local people. Although it's been a while since Vendox wrapped up I’m still passionate about finding out more about local businesses and bringing my web design experience to the table.
So are you looking for a local web designer near Godalming to build your website to a high standard? Get in contact.