Creating a website is more than just being creative and having lots of ideas being put into good use. It also takes research and analysis in order to see what works and what doesn’t work on websites that are similar to yours. Knowing a few website design tips for small businesses will help put your own site on the right track with the right perspective in mind.

You may already know about competitive analysis and it’s all about taking a look at your competitors’ websites, how they’ve structured them, and so on. The idea is to learn from their successes and mistakes to help you take the right direction and avoid the possible pitfalls.

website design tips

The following are ten elements you can take look at and learn from your competitors’ website design:

Website Design Tips for Small Businesses

1. Homepage

Your competitor’s homepage is a good place to start when doing competitive analysis. It is the very first page that anyone who’s looking for a specific product or service will be landing on. A homepage should be able to give an overview to the visitor of what the site is all about.

A carefully designed homepage also appeals and attracts the right audience. It has the right elements in place such as graphics, texts, and the proper messaging that compels visitors to check the rest of the website and/or to return again.

Take into consideration the type of industry that you and your competitors are in. See how each of your competitors has crafted their homepage to see the similarities and differences. Compare these findings to your own homepage to help you pan out the good and bad elements (and practices) you have put in place.

[Tweet “Check out your competitor’s homepage to see what’s working well.”]

2. Layout

A website’s design is always aimed at the best interest of the visitor. A badly designed website layout is not appealing to human eyes, but it’s also a major concern to search engines. Layout is just one of the elements of web design that can influence the reaction and action of visitors and it’s important to have a good one in place to boost engagement and SEO.

When you visit your competitors’ websites, take note of how the layouts affect your navigation and overall experience. A good layout allows visitors to see the main elements of the site easily and quickly, and it should also be clean and clutter-free since it is a business website. Based on your experience as a visitor to your competitors’ sites, you will be able to gauge which one’s the best from the rest of the layouts.

3. Color scheme

Part of a business’s branding is a properly implemented color scheme. This involves both online and offline assets particularly the logo and website designs.

Take a look at how your competitors used color and color variations on their websites. Do they make navigation easy or challenging? Do the colors fit the industry? Are the colors too bright or too dark? Is the color scheme consistent with all of their online accounts (i.e. social media accounts, logo, website, blog, etc.)?

[Tweet “Take note of your competitor’s website color scheme.”]

4. Social media accounts

You will rarely see an advice on website design that doesn’t have a tip about social media. Being up-to-date with web design also involves having social media buttons connected to specific accounts. Website themes, whether a template or commissioned to a professional designer, always have social media buttons included.

Do your competitors have social media account buttons on their sites? Check if they’re connected to active accounts and see if they’re updating them. Visitors are curious of the elements on a website, so they tend to click on them just to check them out or if they’re interested enough, they’ll follow and engage.

5. Mobile-friendly

It’s only logical to design mobile-friendly websites since the consumption of digital media via mobile is steadily rising and Google favors mobile-friendly sites.

If you find one of your competitors with a non-mobile ready website, it’s indicative that the owner is not updated with the latest trends and is more vulnerable to navigational and other on-page issues. You’d want to be the opposite of this in order to fulfill the needs of your visitors and to adhere to the best practices set by Google.

And of course, you don’t want to miss out on the additional exposure to mobile users. The goal is always to get more leads and convert them into paying customers, so implementing a responsive design is your first step towards mobile-friendliness.

[Tweet “Check whether your competitor’s website is mobile-friendly.”]

6. Content

Some may not consider content as one of the numerous website design tips for small businesses, but it is. Whatever you craft for your target audience is all part of your web design plan and process, and content is one of the major elements that should blend well with the overall look and feel of your website.

The appeal of homepage elements includes the properly worded content that will compel visitors to navigate more pages. Telling them where to go, what to do next, and giving an overview of the business all rely on how you have carefully written your content.

If a competitor loosely use certain words or they’ve chosen words that are quite unprofessional and doesn’t fit the industry standards, their visitors will certainly get turned off and never visit again.

Check which of your competitors has the most compelling and carefully written content – in all main pages and in their blogs. See how you can apply the same technique they use in order for you to give your visitors compelling and reader-friendly content.

[Tweet “Check which of your competitors has the most compelling content.”]

7. Navigation elements

Sometimes, there are competitors who use too much or too little navigation elements on their websites which make user experience difficult. Labels, buttons, texts, icons, and symbols may have a different meaning to your visitors versus their intended purposes.

Having clear and easy to understand navigation elements allow your visitors to easily move from page to page without annoying them.

8. Features (you don’t need)

Website features are essential for small businesses since they create positive user experience, improve your digital footprint, and boost brand engagement.

However, there are (some cases) wherein you’ll find competitors with unnecessary features that not only clutter their websites, but also drag loading time. Music, flash animation, elements that auto-play, and irrelevant info and media are the most common examples.

9. Graphics

Using the right images on your business website is not just for aesthetics. Products and services need not be boring and only have text without corresponding imagery. Remember that these days, website visitors look at graphics and share them if they’re interesting.

Small businesses that sell products should always utilize the best graphics – may it be for a product page, blog post, or a special offer. B2B businesses, such as those offering services, should also utilize proper imagery such as infographics, images for guides, and so on.

10. Blog interaction and engagement

Blogging for small businesses is a must since it is a great platform to deliver more information to your target audience. However, to this day, not all small businesses have a blog on their website. Other have started blogging, but they tend to neglect it afterwards.

Why bother to blog?

Blogging offers a number of benefits to your business such as boosting your site’s visibility, improving SEO, and engaging potential and long-time customers. You’d want your visitors to comment and share your posts to their own networks, thus helping you spread the word about your business. Just make sure to respond to their inquiries and comments on a timely manner.

The beauty of competitive analysis is that you see both sides of the businesses similar to yours. You will gain valuable information on how other owners thrive or struggle with the type of website design they have. You may still need to use other technical tools to analyze their websites further in order to find data, but by looking at the design and on-page elements and features, you will have enough information to start updating your own business website.