If you are a small business owner and have to compete with bigger businesses in your niche, you’ve your work cut out for you. Rubbing shoulders with your competitors in a competitive environment is a tough ask. What’s more, if this battle is taking place online, you are in for the long haul. One of the weapons that help you fight this battle is your website. Yes, your small business website is the single most important marketing tool that can help you steal a march over your competitors. But for that to happen, you must design your website right. Here are the 7 simple but effective tips you should keep in mind while designing a website for your small business: #1. Uncluttered design A simple, flat and clean design with lots of white space gives your website an uncluttered, clean look. Text, images, videos or graphics all stand out well on the white background. For example Dropbox ha as lot of white space on the website and it uses minimal colors and text to good effect. It also makes great use of illustrations. Visitors can easily focus on the main content because there is no clutter to distract them. #2. Responsive Design Think mobile, before you start designing. With millions of mobile users out there, you can’t afford to lose out on a creamy chunk of prospective customers who do most of their shopping on their mobile phones. If your website is not as mobile responsive as your competitors’, why would mobile users come to your website when they have your competitors’, mobile-ready website offering a fantastic UX on their screens. It is all about the user experience they get on their hand-held devices. If it is good, they stick around; if bad, they just leave. #3. Embed Video Utilize the power of video testimonials – Since your business is small-scale and not well known, you must use your website to improve the credibility of your business. Authentic video testimonials help you do that. Embed videos of your clients happily speaking about your business. They are your best brand ambassadors and their recommendations count the most because they leave a positive influence on website visitors who have not yet become your buyers. Leverage Video marketing – Online video marketing is the next big thing happening in the world of online marketing. Embed a video presentation of your products or services and connect face-to-face with your visitors. Videos are more convincing than a cluster of images or text. Video content works faster, is precise and more effective in encouraging a positive call to action. So put your best videos on the website. #4. Smooth Navigation Broken links and confused website navigation are a big turnoff for visitors. Get rid of such pain points if you want to keep people on your website. Bad navigation is click intensive, which irritates users as it consumes a lot of time. So make sure your design is such that it makes information easily accessible to users. Link to homepage – No matter how many pages you have on your website, you should link all of them with your homepage. Make sure the logo on each page takes visitors back to the homepage in one click. Create a breadcrumb trail – a breadcrumb trail is a row of links on the top and bottom of the page that provides visitors their location on the website in relation to the page they are currently browsing. It provides links to go to any web page, including the homepage. Facilitate page jumps – Some of the pages have long content and visitors may just want to skip them. Provide links that lead to other pages so they can smoothly progress to pages of their interest. This will prevent them quitting the website altogether. Go for uniform, multi-tier navigation – If your website is large and heavy, your navigation should be a mix of global and local navigation. Global will take your visitors through broader general categories, while local will take them to a particular section within a category. Use either the vertical or horizontal format and do not mix it up anywhere on your site. Don’t forget the sitemap – Visitors know all the links they can navigate because of the sitemap. It makes navigation very easy for visitors and search engines. The benefits are better user experience, higher conversion rates and rankings. #5. Clear call to action buttons Call to action buttons are all about encouraging visitors to take action on your website, instead of navigating pages or skipping them and ultimately leaving your website. Besides an attractive design, CTAs should clearly reflect what they are meant to do. It could be anything including free download of ebook, an ‘add to cart’ button, sign up or learn more etc. #6. Consistent feel Visitors can immediately sense whether the design of your webpages is consistent across the website. Any inconsistency in design layout, color and typography, visual content, text and logo creates a bad impression that hurts your brand image. Make sure your website has a unified look and gives users the same experience across all the web pages. #7. Make it Load faster First, find out which components (video, images, graphics, text, etc.) add value to your website. Remove the ones that do not because doing so will make your web pages lighter. If you have large web pages, split them into more web pages that are lighter and smaller in length. Try to reduce the white space and optimize images by using the following options: Scaleable Vector Graphics (.SVG) Portable Network Graphics (.PNG) Graphic Interchange Format (.GIF) Weppy (.WEBP) Joint Photographic Experts Group (.JPEG or .JPG) Try to keep your loading time under 3 seconds. Otherwise, your website will exhibit a high bounce rate. Conclusion As a small business owner, you will face a lot of challenges. Nonetheless, if you can include simple yet effective design tips in your website, you can make your brand’s presence felt, which will serve to improve business profitability. Images: “web design and development word cloud with binary background on laptop with a cup of coffee/Shutterstock.com and Kissmetrics“ ______________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. Would you like to write for us? An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.