Your site is easily the most important asset for your business.

And even more so if a majority of your customers are local. That’s because your target market will likely discover your business through an online search or social media. Which is why having an engaging site is the first step to gaining a competitive advantage.

Research demonstrates that users stay on web pages from 10 to 20 seconds before leaving. But a poor design could have visitors leaving much sooner. It’s clear that the first few seconds are critical as users are quick to make impressions.

So how can you engage more of your visitors and increase sales?

We put together a list of essential web design tips for local businesses. Following these guidelines will have a considerable impact and achieve measurable results.

  1. Clean Design

Impressions matter.

A site that is full of clutter screams unprofessionalism. Visitors want to be able to find the right information immediately. Otherwise they won’t hesitate to click the back button to a competing site. Your site should have a professional design that reflects your brand.

Here is an example of a clean and simple design:

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There’s a reason why some of the biggest sites in the world (e.g. Dropbox, Evernote, Shopify, etc.) keep their design as simple and minimalistic as possible. Because distractions only serve to reduce conversions. So before adding additional elements to your site, consider whether they are actually necessary.

  1. Easy Navigation

Your site serves an important function.

And that’s to connect your business with your target market. Whether you sell products or services, visitors expect a user friendly experience. Navigation structure is critical for users to easily locate the right pages.

Include a navigation bar with links to categories and other important pages.

Here is an example of how this looks from Target:

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Visitors can easily browse the different categories and drill down even deeper. While your site may not have this many categories, having a navigation bar is still vital so users can find the right page.

  1. Include Contact Information

It sounds obvious but it’s worth mentioning.

Consumers search for a variety of local business information such as operating hours, addresses, and phone numbers. A study from Google demonstrates that local searches are more likely to lead to store visits within a day.

Which is why each page should include contact details. This makes it easy for visitors to call your business or enter your address into their navigation system. Be sure to also create a separate Contact page that includes operating hours, address, map, and even a form for visitors to submit an enquiry.

  1. Provide Calls to Action

The purpose of your site is to get visitors to take action.

But visitors often need clear instructions on what the next step is. A call to action is there to simply get visitors to take action whether to fill out an enquiry form or purchase a product.

Examples of calls to action include:

  • Call now for a consultation
  • Get a free price quote
  • Make an appointment
  • Request a demo
  • Submit an enquiry
  • Visit us at our store
  • Email us for details

These examples are important to convert prospects into customers. There is even an Experiments feature within Google Analytics that lets you test different calls to action on your site to determine which one produces more conversions.

  1. Optimise for Search Engines

What good is a beautiful site if your audience can’t find it online?

Search engines are the starting point for most consumers. Reports indicate that more than 59 per cent of consumers use Google to search for local businesses.

Why is this important?

Because it demonstrates the need for high online visibility. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimising a site to rank higher for target keywords. A well designed site is one that not only looks aesthetically pleasing but is optimised for the search engines.

This means incorporating target keywords in your:

  • Title tags
  • Headings
  • Meta descriptions
  • Images
  • Content

It also means using search engine friendly URLs and publishing content that is relevant to your audience. Other aspects of SEO include building relevant links to your pages. If you use WordPress, be sure to use the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin.

Optimising your site makes it easier for your market to find your site.

  1. Implement a Mobile Friendly Design

Mobile simply cannot be ignored.

More consumers now rely on their mobile devices to connect online. Research from Google has found that 67 per cent of users are more likely to purchase from a mobile friendly site. The same study found that nearly half of users felt frustrated when a site wasn’t optimised for their device.

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The conclusion?

Mobile matters.

And it’s a critical component of building a strong brand online. Google has even announced that starting from April 21, mobile friendliness will be considered a ranking signal.

  1. Connect to Social Media

Social media is a valuable marketing tool.

Some of the most popular platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. Creating a profile on each of these allows you to interact and connect with your audience. Include social media buttons on your pages to make it easy for your visitors to share your content.

It also means more online visibility for your business. Correlations have been found between social signals and search engine rankings. Needless to say, social media is an important aspect for every local business.

Conclusion

These web design tips are by no means definitive. But it’s a great start for your business.

Visitors are quick to make impressions based on what they see which is why the design of your site is so critical. Designs that are cluttered or poorly put together will likely have a drastic impact on your conversions. Implementing these tips will give you a significant competitive advantage online.

Is your site in need of a complete design overhaul?

Contact Perth Web Design today to schedule an initial consultation with our team. We work closely with you to develop and implement a design that reflects your business.