A business owner’s guide to website design

Your website is there to support your business so we need to understand more about your business when we design your site. Here are the questions we will ask.
Website design process for small businesses

A website isn’t the be-all and end-all of your business.  It is there to support your business, to raise your brand awareness, to attract new customers and serve existing customers, and above all, it is there to help your business make money.

In order to ensure that we design a website for you that is beautiful, functional and affordable, we need to understand more about your business, and how your new website will help your business achieve its overall goals.

Here are some of the initial questions that we are going to ask you when we start the design process for your new website.  You might not have all the answers, that doesn’t matter, what is most important is that you have a think about the questions and then we can discuss them face-to-face or on Skype / Zoom, and we can get the website design process off to a flying start.

1. What does your business do?

What excites you about your business?  How does it make your customers’ world a better place?  What makes it unique?  What makes your business stand out from competitors?  Is it a unique product or experience, better service, a stunning location, better rates, fast dispatch, free shipping?

Your passion for your business needs to shine through on your new website.  You might not have a business that screams “passion” (garage doors, anyone?), but if you are passionate enough about your business to get up every day and give it your best, then let your customers know that.

2. Why do you need a website?

How is your website going to make you money?  Do you want your customers to book a table or a room through your website, or purchase something from your online store?  Do you want to provide information to your customers about your products or services and then encourage them to get in touch with you by phone or email?

Think about what you want your customers to do while they are on your website so that we can ensure the design makes it as easy as possible for them to do exactly that.

3. Who is your target audience?

Who currently buys your products and services, and who is your target audience going forward?  Think about them both in terms of demographics (age, gender, location, language etc) and also behaviour (lifestyle, values, online behaviour).

It is imperative that the design of your new website appeals to your customers both visually (eg colours, images and overall design) and in terms of functionality (eg allowing them to buy/book online, or to contact you easily).

4. Do you have an existing website?

If you have an existing website, what do you like about it, and what don’t you like about it? Most importantly, what do you think your customers like or dislike about your existing site?

Maybe it has amazing images, but doesn’t work well on smartphones?  Maybe it has great content, but it is difficult for customers to find what they are looking for?

5. Are there any features that you would love to have included on the new site, or absolutely can’t stand?

When you are looking at other websites, whether your competitors or just other websites you come across, what features do you love and would like to have included on your website?  And conversely, what features on other sites do you absolutely hate?  What are some sites within your industry, and outside your industry, that you really like (or dislike), and why?

Some things to think about:

  • Images & videos: Do you like a big image slider across the top of the page?  Do you want to include a photo gallery?  Do you have good quality videos that you want to incorporate on the site?
  • Blog or News page: Do you want to regularly update your customers on aspects of your business through a blog or news page?
  • Frequently Asked Questions: Do your customers regularly come to you with the same questions that could be summarised on an FAQ page?
  • Newsletter: Do you want to encourage people to sign up to your newsletter?
  • Social media: Do you have social media accounts, and how strongly do you want to encourage people to visit them?
  • Contact: How do you want people to contact you? Email, enquiry/booking form, phone, live chat?

6. Does your business already have a brand identity?

Do you already have a logo?  Do you have specific colours or fonts that you want to use in the website?  Do you have some existing printed marketing material that represents your business in the way you would want it represented online?

7. Do you already have the images and content that you would like to include on the site?

The design of your new website is influenced by what you want to put onto it.  For example, if you don’t have really amazing images (and don’t want to hire a photographer or use stock images), then it makes sense not to incorporate huge image areas in the design.  If you only want to put limited content on the site to provide some information to your customers but mainly to encourage them to visit your store/restaurant/bar in person, then maybe you don’t need a multiple page site with all the bells and whistles.

How advanced you are in terms of preparing the content and images for inclusion on the site also influences the timeframe for launching your new site.

This may seem like quite a daunting list of questions, but it’s usually easy to go through them fairly quickly either in a face-to-face or Skype meeting.  A strong foundation of understanding between us will help ensure that your new website is everything you wanted it to be, and that it will help support the growth of your small business.  After all, a website that doesn’t make you money is just art.