website design tips for startups

If you are a small business about to build your website, our ‘Website Design Tips for Startups’ is just the article that you need to read. We have kept it quick and easy to read but brimming with essential website design tips. We hope that you find it useful.

1. Domain name – Choose carefully. Make it short, snappy and easy to read. If it contains your business key phrase all the better but don’t overthink. As soon as you have thought of your domain name, don’t go any further before you type it into Google to see if it is taken. Furthermore, check if it is similar to another domain name. Your domain name will cost you about £20 per year. Read our handy tips on choosing a domain name

2. Hosting – Choose a hosting company that is easy to use and has great customer support. Companies often offer a reduced rate if you pay up-front for a year. You should not be paying more than £8 -10 per month. TOP TIP – choose the domain name and hosting from the same company. Less logins to remember and just one company to deal with if you have any problems. I use, and I recommend my clients to use siteground for both as they are one of the best companies that I have found. Customer service is really important and I love the online chat support that SiteGround offers.

man using a computer to make a website

3. Choose a website that has an easy to use CMS (Content Management System). This will allow you to make changes to your website without having to hire website developers. This is definitely a bonus for small businesses who may need to maintain their website themselves. WordPress has a very powerful yet flexible CMS. When you get the hang of using their basic features and depending on how much time you have, this CMS may be ideal.

4. Keep your website simple with a strong message. A clear and easy-to-use website with one clear purpose is what you should aim for. Create a design that is eye-catching and unique. Less is always more. Confusing pages with too much content, confuse the visitor who may then leave your website.

5. Responsive Design – Check to see if your website looks good on all devices. About 50% (if not higher) of your customers will view your website on mobile. Keep the text no lower than 16px, add lots of padding and white space. Furthermore, add a ‘scroll up’ button and put it on the right. You may want to consider putting contact details in the header of the mobile so that the visitor can contact you easily.

6. Credibility – Is your website credible? Include reviews from customers, appropriate images, and email address that are ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.com’ which come across as more professional than just a google email. Include your telephone number.

7. CTA (Call To Action) – Each page should have a clear ‘call to action’ whether it is something you would like them to download, subscribe to, a product to buy or contact information. Make sure that your contact information is clearly visible on each page.

8. Engaging Experience – Web designers call this User Experience (UX). Who wants pop up boxes jumping up when you visit a website? Who wants a website that is slow to load? What about a website where the navigation is so ‘cool’ that you don’t actually know where it is? Need I say more?

9. Images – If you have large images, your website will take longer to load. Optimise your website images before you add them to your website. Use befunky.com to resize/crop your images and use squoosh to make your images smaller. Both are free and easy to use. Images can completely alter the look and feel of your website. If you don’t have the budget (yet) for professional images, use free stock photo companies such as ‘pixabay’ and ‘pexels’. Do add some of your own images too, to add some personality!

10. Navigation – Think carefully about your website’s navigation. Although hamburger menus on desktops look modern and minimal, it’s my opinion that a standard menu at the top is better for SEO. As we scroll and look around the website we might quickly glance up so it’s important to see the menu items at all times. It’s a click less than a hamburger menu as you have to click the hamburger menu first to open it and then click again on the page you want to go through. 

My top tip is to add a sticky menu.  This means that the menu is visible even if you have scrolled down on the page. It follows you down the page. You don’t have to waste time scrolling up to see the menu. People are lazy (so am I) and you don’t want to give them any excuse to leave your website!

11. Content is king – if your website is selling eg ‘windows’ get the thesaurus out and spend an hour looking at all words associated eg double glazing, PVCu, windows fitters etc. Add lots of these words (in a natural way) to the text. Each sentence should have a purpose on your website. Quality is better than quantity. 

12. Key Phrases – Each page on your website (excluding ‘contact page’ perhaps) should have a key phrase that your customer is likely to type into google to find that particular page. Going back to the example on a ‘window’ company, one page may be about ‘wooden windows’ and another page may be about ‘PVCu windows’. So key phrases (choose 4 words for competitive areas/products) could be “Affordable PVCu windows London”… and so on. A competitive service/product would benefit from long tail key words ie more than 3 words. ‘PVCu windows London’ may bring up 100 results but adding another word in front eg ‘affordable’ will bring up less results and your company will have a better chance of being seen.

13. External links- Ensure that each page has an external link on it. This is a link to some outside company – not any competitor of course! An external link may be a professional organisation that you belong to or a charity that you work with. External links are good for SEO.

14. Internal Links – Ensure that all the pages and blogs (if you have a blog) link to each other. Eg in this article, I have links to another articles that explain terms/concepts further. Google will rank your website higher if it has lots of internal links. Internal links are great for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This is because they keep the visitor on your website for longer thus lowering the ‘bounce rate’.

15. Blog/Articles – If you have time, include a blog on your website. It doesn’t have to be called ‘Blog’. It could be ‘Tips’ or ‘News”. Add something new about every 4-6 weeks. Google loves ‘fresh’ and ‘quality’ content. Google will see that your website is ‘alive’ and keep coming back to it to check for new content and it will rank your website higher. Make this ‘blog’ work hard for you. Add it to your instagram, facebook, twitter and GMB (Google My Business) at the same time.

instagram feed displayed on mobile phone

16. Instagram – an easy way to update your website with new images is to install an instagram feed on one of your pages eg gallery page. Keep this instagram account only for gallery images that you would like on your website. Each time you add a new image it will appear on your gallery page on your website automatically. This keeps your website looking fresh, modern and up-to-date. 

17. Future Proof your website – This is really, really important! Think carefully about where your business may go in the future. This thinking time will pay off later. You may have more diverse products to add. This will have an impact on the architecture of your website as you are planning it now eg in the example of ‘windows’ website you could have 2 tabs at the top one for ‘Wooden Windows’ and one for ‘PVCu Windows’. Later as your business grows you can add sub menus under each tab eg casement windows, sash windows,….

18. Website Maintenance – After your website is built make sure you understand how to update it to keep it looking great and running smoothly. If you can afford to, (as you are busy running your new business), pay a website agency to carry out the website maintenance for you. This will take some of the stresses and headaches away, allowing you the time to concentrate on your business.

19. Google Analytics – sign up to this data collecting tool as soon as you launch your website, as it is easy and free to do so. This free website tool will give you invaluable information about your website visitors and other very useful stats. Indeed, in the future you may want to run a PPC (Pay Per Click) Ad Campaign and you will be all set up. You can then compare how many visitors you usually get against the Ad Campaign to test results. Even if you don’t run any advertising campaigns, you can measure if making improvements to your website has any effect on visitor numbers.

20. Google My Business – Every new website should add their listing to Google My Business. This gives your website a free local business listing which is an amazing SEO boost for your website. You can add all sorts of useful information here that your potential customers can see eg images, posts, videos as well as other essential information such as address, telephone, email, reviews, opening hours …   

Surrey Web Studio build stylish, easy-to-use, fully responsive websites for startup businesses in Surrey, London and the UK. Our websites are built using WordPress and we can show you how to maintain your website after it has been built. Alternatively, we offer extremely affordable website maintenance plans.