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How Small Businesses Can Enhance Their Site's User Experience

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Lexie Lu
A UX/UI designer with expertise in marketing, web design, and graphic design.
If you’re trying to turn your small- to medium-sized business website into something great, then look to some of the strategies being used by similarly sized businesses for inspiration.
Small businesses don’t get enough love when it comes to their online presence. The big, deep-pocketed companies are often held as an example of how to develop websites and win over customers. So many case studies and online awards are reserved for the biggest websites out there. You’d almost think that small businesses aren’t doing anything online – which is definitely not true.
 
There’s a big disparity between the attention big companies get and the impact they make. Considering small businesses supply 55 percent of the jobs in the United States, there are plenty of opportunities to create effective websites.
 
While the enormous companies offer plenty of inspiration and best practices when it comes to harnessing the power of the internet, small businesses are just as useful. If you’re trying to turn your small- to medium-sized business website into something great, then look to some of the strategies being used by similarly sized businesses for inspiration.
 

Unobtrusive Email Signups

For many types of businesses, a robust email subscriber list is worth its weight in gold. An email subscriber list is a proven way to boost sales and ensure customers keep coming back for more. It’s also a great way to keep the best customers informed about developments, events and anything else of interest.
 
What makes it especially important is that sending out marketing emails is often cheaper and more effective than physical mailers.
 
The importance of email marketing can’t be understated, but what’s more challenging is building a strong subscriber list. Perhaps the easiest way to do that is through your website. Placing a prominent yet unobtrusive signup form to receive email marketing forms is most effective. 
 
There are plenty of strategies to create an effective call to action, but one that’s particularly effective is to make it personal. Finanztip, a German personal finance website, does this effectively at the top of its webpage. The text is in German, but the design is essentially universal. There’s a photo of an employee alongside clear value propositions.
 
Something along those lines can be very effective for your business.
 

Responsive Design

Good web design isn’t always easy – or cheap. If you’re wondering how to spend the money on your website, put responsive design at the top of your list.
 
Years ago, there was little need for a page that conformed to desktop computers, phones and tablets because computers dominated internet traffic. That’s no longer the case, as traffic from mobile devices exceeds desktop traffic. That gap continues to grow annually, so websites need to accommodate multiple devices.
 
All the big companies are utilizing a responsive design, and for very good reason – it creates a better user experience that can help lead to more leads and sales. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft’s page is designed with responsiveness in mind. However, it’s not just multibillion-dollar companies that are making the most out of responsive design. There are a number of award-winning websites created for small businesses.
 
Good examples include these pages for Andersson-Wise Architects and the Forefathers design company. They highlight how effective responsive design can be, while proving that pages don’t need to be overly complex in order to work.


Not Burying the Lead

There’s a time-honored platitude in journalism where young reporters are told to not bury the lead. When the most important information is buried in a story, readers quickly lose interest and skip to the next story. That mantra is relevant to small-business websites as well.
 
Always put your contact info and/or location in easily accessible places. Potential customers don’t want to dig around for contact information if they’re looking to order a pizza or find out where you’re located.
 
An easy way to make contact information easily accessible is through a sticky menu. Black Bambu, a high-end restaurant in Phnom Penh, utilizes this design and ensures that the location and hours are very easy to find. The easier it is to find this information, the happier your potential customers will be. If they can’t find the relevant information quickly, they’ll exit your site and go elsewhere.
 

Prominent Social Media

This is a simple strategy that’s often mishandled. If you have a social media presence – Facebook, YouTube, etc. – then make sure this presence is on the webpage. You’d be surprised how often a company has a social media presence that’s barely mentioned on its main page. That’s a big mistake, as building up a social following has a proven value.
 
By integrating social media into your webpage, through something as simple as social media buttons, you can help build a following. Failing to integrate social media onto a small-business webpage is akin to leaving money on the table.


Updated Information

If you’re a small-business owner or a marketer handling multiple clients, you have a lot on your plate. With so much going on, a webpage could languish. That’s not the end of the world, but a webpage with outdated or only very old information is bad news.
 
You don’t need a blog that’s updated daily in order to attract customers – although good content can be an enormous help. However, a blog that hasn’t been updated in a year or contact information that’s outdated is a big problem. If a blog has been all but abandoned, it might be time to consider getting rid of it completely unless it’s generating traffic.
 
A website that obviously hasn’t been updated in a long time can be off-putting. Customers might wonder if the company is even in business anymore. Furthermore, if the contact information or location information is outdated, then you’ve easily lost some business.
 
On top of that, it’s important to make sure there are no dead pages on your site that have accumulated over time. If one of your pages goes down, Google and other search engines will punish your site’s search ranking for the dead link.
 

Ditch Flash

Flash was once popular for businesses both big and small that wanted slick websites. While Flash worked years ago, its heyday is over and businesses should now avoid using the software on their websites.
 
Why exactly? One reason is that over-the-top Flash websites have definitely fallen out of fashion with web users. The other reason is that Flash is a poor choice for SEO and prevents businesses from appearing prominently in search results.
 

Building a Better Website

Big businesses offer great ideas when it comes to web design, but don’t overlook what other small businesses are doing in this field. There’s a lot to learn from businesses both big and small when it comes to enhancing the user’s site experience.
 
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