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How to Design a Website: Tips for Small Businesses

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

a blue background showing a search bar with the words Web Design

There are so many available tools to help you design a successful website. Websites are important for several reasons. Consider this: each year, over 263 million consumers in America alone shop online. Small businesses benefit from clean website design too, since 70% of consumers patronize small businesses online.

An attractive, user-friendly website requires strategy, time, and knowledge of your target audience. In this article, we will cover why website design matters, and we will offer five suggestions for how to design your website.

What is Website Design? Why Does it Matter?

The definition of “website design” is the process of building a functional and aesthetically-pleasing website. Website design can encompass elements like branding, user experience (UX), accessibility, and messaging across your site. It differs from the developmental side of websites, which focuses more on coding and software

Websites are where you make a first impression on potential clients and customers, so it’s important to create one that highlights your unique business, tells your story, and makes your services or products irresistible.

With all the noise and competition, it’s also vital to motivate people who browse your website to take action. This could mean signing up for your mailing list or making a purchase.

How to Design a Website

These ideas can help you make pivotal steps towards having the website of your dreams. To avoid getting overwhelmed, we advise that you consider the big picture: your new website is how you make a strong, lasting impression on new and potential customers.

Here’s what we recommend as a start.

#1 Tip: Know Your Target Audience

This may feel like a non-design tip, but hear us out: this step can save you tremendous time and money. Before flying into the nuts and bolts of design, make sure you first consider who you are marketing to. How might your potential customers navigate the online space you want to create? Put another way: why build a website that looks beautiful but is not functional for the people who would buy and love your products?

There are fantastic tools for developing your “user personas.” These personas represent the customers who are most likely to buy your product. What motivates them to purchase something from your store? What might they want in terms of intuitive user flow?

Learn more about How to Find Your Target Audience if you are unsure where to begin. Whatever you do, don’t skip this stage because you “don’t have the time.” You will thank yourself in the future for taking time during this stage.

#2 Tip: Explore Websites You Love

You can explore beautiful websites at this stage, or you can narrow down your explorations based on your industry. Let’s say you are a moving company based in Seattle and you need a new website. This will help you begin to build a clear picture of what you want from your website. If you decide to go with a professional website service, it will also help you describe what kind of design you want.

Type in “moving company Seattle” into a search engine like Google or DuckDuckGo. What websites appear in the results? How do these websites compare to what you envision for your own business?

We recommend making a spreadsheet so you can take detailed notes on 5-10 websites with columns like:

  • Home Page Experience

  • Number of Pages

  • Intuitive Design Y/N

  • Clarity of Messaging

  • Additional Notes

  • Etc.

This is also a good stage to notice if you are gravitating toward designs with lots of photos or minimal photos, more text or less text, and responsive design or non-responsive design–among other categories.

#3 Tip: Choose a Website Builder

a desk with a laptop, notepad, phone and coffee

Unless you have a solid foundation in HTML and other coding languages, stick with a content management system (CMS) or website builder. WordPress, Drupal, Squarespace, Wix, GoDaddy, and Weebly are all examples of content management systems.

If you have the time to build your website, great! These platforms can be highly intuitive, but they do take a considerable amount of time. You will also want to consider your website architecture before building various pages.

If time is a limiting factor or you feel overwhelmed, consider hiring a professional. They will not only be able to understand the ins and outs of website design, but also will be able to add custom plug-ins. Long-term benefits of hiring someone also include having a better UX, a clearer call to action, and overall, higher conversions.

#4 Tip: Optimize all Your Content

Not everyone is going to type your website into a search engine word for word, with the intent of landing at your site. For example, if you offer business coaching, people may discover you because your on-page SEO and content made your website rank higher on the search engine results page. That’s why SEO is vital to any successful website–unless your business does not rely on… the internet.

SEO is a world in itself. There are excellent SEO tools on platforms like Moz or Semrush; you can also take an introductory course in SEO before tackling it yourself.

It’s also worth understanding the Differences in On-page and Off-page SEO.

#5 Tip: Publish Your Website and Track Success

If you’ve published your website, give yourself a high-five. Now it’s time to see if your new website is bringing in relevant traffic and if your messaging resonates with your target audience.

This is where analytics come in. Many platforms like Squarespace offer analytics so you can reflect on what is working well and what areas need further optimization or different messaging. What pages are people landing on? What is the bounce rate? Is your conversion rate where you want it to be? Google Analytics offers in-depth analytics too.

a diagram for conversion


We live in a world where billions of people shop online and are influenced to do so by–you guessed it–website design. The more time you spend planning your website, the more time you will save in the long run.

By understanding your target audience and building a website from there, you are far more likely to experience success by meeting your user’s needs. Exploring websites will help you conceptualize what kind of website will reflect your unique brand and value.

Building your website and optimizing content is where it can get tricky, but there are options for professional help if you need it. Remember to track your website via analytics so you can make small changes and maximize your profits.

If you are hiring someone to do your website design for your small business, make sure you inquire what their services do and do not include. Some website designers love the brand-building stage. Other experts specialize in user experience. Your choice of a website professional should depend on the purpose and goal of your website.

At Reset Web Design, we specialize in designing websites for small businesses based in Washington. If you are a small business owner, call us today for a free consultation. Let’s build a winning website together.

a person zooming in on a laptop

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