If you asked marketers 10 or 20 years ago if businesses need websites, some might say it depends on the industry. For example, retailers obviously benefit from having a website, whereas oil drilling companies can focus more on traditional marketing.
This, however, is no longer the case. Internet usage has increased sharply in the last couple of years. As a result, building a business website is now just as important as finding a prime location for a brick-and-mortar shop.
In October 2021 alone, Data Reportal revealed that 4.88 billion or 62 percent of the global population used the Internet. What’s more, people are becoming more active online, with over 600,000 new users on the web every day. These numbers suggest that regardless of your industry, there’s a good chance that your target audience is already online.
In this article, we will talk about:
• The importance of web design and development and hiring a web design agency for startups
• If you need to choose web design vs web development
• What the components of responsive web design include
• How to build your very first website
Build a Strong Online Presence – Start With a Website
There are many ways to establish an online presence, but everything starts with a business website. Once your site is up, it should be responsive and search engine optimization (SEO) ready. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your site’s potential and depriving your business of clicks, engagement and conversions.
Hiring a responsive web design company with years of industry experience can help. You’ll get a team that knows how to create a lead generating website, receive cost-effective web design packages and get web design tips from creative web design experts.
Like with any investment, websites can give satisfying returns if managed properly. Startups that put money on top-notch web design and development will have an advantage over companies that don’t bother learning how to create a lead generating website.
The Benefits of Building a Business Website
A website offers the following benefits to startups:
A website that looks professionally designed increases your credibility and trustworthiness. It conveys that you care about presentation and invest in it – a characteristic consumers associate with big companies and famous brands. The perceived credibility relies, however, on the quality of your website. If it looks modern, boasts high-quality content, offers a smooth user experience (UX) and provides ample information about your business, visitors will be more inclined to trust you.
24/7 Business Operations
Your website is your digital storefront. It is accessible 24/7 and can process transactions beyond your regular operating hours. Your customers can, for example, buy something or make last-minute reservations when they’re already lounging in bed in their pajamas. They won’t have to wait for your store to open the next day or drop by to purchase products.
No Geographical Barriers and Limitations
A website can help you reach more customers than a light-emitting diode (LED) sign above your establishment ever could. Yes, traditional advertising (print, radio and television) can promote your business beyond your geographic area, but it’s going to cost you a lot of money. A website with strategic SEO is more affordable in the long run.
Anytime you develop products or services that you can sell online, you can quickly set up eCommerce pages and sell them on your site. Web development project ideas that make eCommerce a breeze for your customers will have a direct, positive impact on your bottom line.
These benefits lead to two common business goals: higher sales and longevity. Web design for small businesses is not just a marketing strategy but a necessity in today’s highly digital world.
Here are more reasons to invest in web development project ideas and web design for small businesses:
• You’re not limited by the fixed formats, themes, rules and algorithms of online yellow pages, forums and social media platforms.
• You’re free to design your website as you wish. You can even adopt eccentric web design tips if you like.
• Websites are scalable. You can start with a basic WordPress site, then upgrade to a more complex site structure with customized layouts when your business grows.
• You can simply give your website URL when networking and devote your conversations to making a positive first impression (people can get into the nitty-gritty of your business whenever they’re ready).
Now that we have established the importance of websites let’s discuss who you can trust to build your website and give you top-notch web design tips.
Web Design vs Web Development: Which Service Do I Need?
A website will benefit from a web designer and a web developer. A web design agency can have someone who can do both, but big companies typically offer web design services separately from web development. This allows the specialists to focus on one area and produce better higher-quality work.
Web designers create the visual elements of a website and are in charge of the aesthetics. Web developers, on the other hand, handle the more technical side of the job and make sure the web designers’ creations work.
So which service do you need? It depends on what you want to accomplish.
1. If you already have a website but don’t like how it appears on the screen, you’ll need web designers to give you new layouts and designs.
2. If you already have a website and you like how it appears on the screen, but you want to improve its usability and other technical features (i.e., shorten page loading speed or publish shoppable content), you’ll need web development project ideas dedicated to those goals.
3. If you don’t have a website yet, you’ll need the expertise of both web designers and web developers.
If you are the third, don’t think about web design vs web development as though you can only choose one. Consult both to get the best web design ideas for a responsive business website.
What Is a Responsive Website?
A website is responsive if it automatically adjusts to give visitors the best possible viewpoint. It is mobile-friendly, and all visual elements (headers, menus, images, videos and text) upload correctly on small screens.
The components of responsive web design include branding and UX elements. It is up to web developers to ensure that on-page content adjusts to a screen’s dimensions without sacrificing ease of navigation.
The components of responsive web design include the following:
• Flexible and fluid grids: Instead of moving every visual element on the page, you only move the grids that contain them instead.
• Media queries: A bit of HTML code that dictates how content should be displayed when the width of a screen falls within a specific range.
• Negative space: Blank spaces on a desktop view reduce clutter and allow grids to align without overlapping one another.
• Flexible media: Pictures and videos resize automatically according to the screen’s width.
• Adaptable menu: A navigation bar that will float or cascade when viewed on small screens.
• Single column: Websites with multiple columns show content grids in order of priority in a single scrollable column.
With these qualities in mind, we can now proceed with the steps on how to create a lead generating website.
How To Build a Business Website
Agencies that offer responsive web design services do everything, from registering a domain to launching a website. But in the interest of knowing the process, here are the steps for building a business website:
Decide on a Domain Name
Ideally, your business name should be your domain or parent URL. Prepare a couple of alternatives in case your first choice is no longer available. This makes the process a lot faster, especially if you have an entire team waiting on your decision.
Choose a Web Hosting Service
For your website to go live, it needs a robust and reliable web hosting service. Web hosting companies provide secure storage for all page content like images, videos, graphics, code and text. Third-party web hosting saves you the cost and space necessary for maintaining servers and storage hardware on-site.
Web hosting services are also responsible for keeping your website up at all times. So when choosing a service, make sure they can provide the following:
• Uptime Stability: Choose a web host that doesn’t have a reputation for frequent website downtimes. You can find this out about your prospective service provider by visiting forums where people are candid and more likely to reveal their dissatisfaction with a provider.
• Speed: Web hosting providers can declare impressive hosting speeds on their websites. However, they do that to sell, so a better reference would be website owners within your region. Geography matters because apart from the host’s facilities, their distance to your geographical location can also affect their web hosting speed. IBM has a rule of thumb that goes, “The longer the distance the data must travel, the longer it will take to reach its destination.”
• Reliable customer service: Consistent uptime and high website speed are for nothing if your service provider is unreachable when you have a hosting issue that prevents your website from functioning correctly. Choose a provider that replies to your emails and addresses your concerns as quickly as possible.
Choose a Website Builder or Platform
There are numerous platforms to choose from, but we recommend WordPress for its ease of use, flexibility and popularity. WordPress is an open-source platform, which means you have nearly total control over your website. You can customize website features and go granular in designing your website UX. So if you want to build an eCommerce site or a forum or social network on a subdomain, WordPress is an excellent choice.
Many developers also provide creative web design themes for free. Our web developers at Thrive can tell you more about WordPress – drop us a message anytime.
Many web hosting services install WordPress automatically for you. But in case your chosen service doesn’t, you’ll have to download, unzip and install WordPress on your computer manually. It’s a technical process in which you’ll need to upload the correct folders to your hosting account, create a MySQL database and more.
The manual process is a lot for anyone who’s not a web developer to chew on. This calls for a professional in web design and development.
Design Your Website
This is the time to unload all of your web design ideas! There are two ways to do this:
• Choose a premade theme: These creative web design themes for WordPress can be free or premium.
• Design your website from scratch: Come up with entirely original web design ideas according to your brand bible.
Here are more tips and best practices for web design for small businesses:
1. Set permalinks to Post Name format (i.e., https://yoursite.com/blog/2022/01/01/blogtitle)
2. Install SEO plugins like Yoast, All In One SEO, WPForms, Constant Contact and OptinMonster. Plugins can help with your SEO, let you create contact forms or help you recapture leaving visitors with a pop-up page.
3. Write well-written, value-rich and optimized content for your main pages. If there are blank or duplicate pages (i.e., product pages for different variations of the same item), de-index them temporarily until you have new unique content to publish.
4. Organize internal pages into sensible categories. These categories shouldn’t be too shallow or too deep.
5. Develop a website design that mirrors your brand or the atmosphere of your industry.
6. Include footer widgets for your NAP information (name, address, phone number). Make sure they are consistent with the NAP details on your social media and directory pages.
7. Avoid filling web pages with ultra-HQ images and videos. Too many can make your website feel slow and cumbersome.
8. Start SEO as early as possible. Even better, design your website with SEO in mind.
Get a Free Custom Web Design Proposal From Thrive
Thrive’s responsive web design services brought tremendous increases in website traffic, search traffic and page views for a local business that sells appliance parts. Thanks to our expert web design and web development teams, our client saw a 182.98 percent increase in online leads. You’ll find more success stories like this on our Case Studies page.
Your startup can be the next success story we share at Thrive. As a responsive web design company, we are in the business of making websites that can convert traffic to leads and clicks to customers. Moreover, we offer web design packages that suit the budget and needs of small businesses. Many of our clients can attest that these are not empty promises.
Let’s talk about creating a website that will bring attention to your startup and help you earn back your capital as quickly as possible. Fill out our contact form and get a free custom proposal from Thrive’s expert web designers.