7 Considerations When Designing a Business Website

by Benjamin Williams

Posted on 24th June 2014

When designing and building a website for a business, there are many things to consider. They are after all different from creating a personal blog or portfolio site. As I'm going to be working on one of these very soon - a huge site for an international company, I thought it was a chance to look at some very important points that I will need to consider when designing the site. Some will apply to all websites, but for a business website these are especially important. So, what 7 things should you consider when designing a business website?

1. What the company stands for.

This is one of the most important parts to consider when designing a corporate/business website. If you're not clear on what the company stands for, how are you going to communicate this to your customer base? How are you going to know how the look and feel of the site will look like? You can't guess, and you can't just go with something that you think looks good, as you could give off the wrong impression, or simply not the impression that the company wants to portray.

If you get a clear view of what the company stands for and the brand values, the design should come naturally. When designing a website you need to know how to communicate what the business stands for, only then will you get the correct look and feel of the design you'll be creating. 

2. Mobile Design

Still lacked by many businesses, it's almost criminal to ignore mobile web design these days. Everywhere you go you see people with smart phones, very few people don't have them it seems. So why are people having to zoom in on sections of a site still to read text and navigate around the site. Buying products is quite difficult when mobile design isn't implemented as not only do you have to zoom, but you also have to scroll sideways as well as up and down. It's not user friendly and sometimes can be too much hassle trying to select all the options so people give up thinking they'll buy it when at home in front of an actual PC. But then you're running a serious risk of that person finding the product elsewhere and then you've lost a sale.

3. Content

The importance of content can't be stressed enough. Without content you'd have a pretty empty site. With poor content, you don't give anyone reason to keep visiting the site. Good content is engaging, can promote social media shares and helps with rankings in search engines. If you're working on a site for a business and you have no content for it, you might as well stop designing as you'll end up with a shell. You also don't get a feel for how the content will look on the site. You could use the classic lorem ipsum text, but you shouldn't have to. A business should know what content they want on their site, if they don't then you should be questioning why you're designing them a site.

4. Calls to Action

Having worked for companies where I've had no say in the design of the website, you can learn just how important calls to action are. I would get constant calls about wanting to buy our product from us. Doesn't seem like a problem right as that's what you want? Not when the company only sells to a select few licensed distributors around the world, and then have the potential customer waiting on the phone whilst we find their closest distributor. If the website was clear with a good calls to action then customers visiting the site would easily know that they have to buy through a distributor and know which ones are close to them where ever they are in the world, without having to make an unnecessary additional step in calling the company up.

5. Security

Security is essential, that should go without saying. Admin area's should be securely set up with good, strong passwords so that no one apart from a select few can access and update the information on the actual website. And if you take payments on the site, then it's all about trust. You need to do this right and be fully secure as if you lose or leak information like your customers addresses, bank details, etc, then your customers will lose their trust and faith in you as a company. Not everyone, but a good percentage of your clients will be less trustworthy of your business.

6. Essential information

Whilst content is very important, it's also important to make sure that certain essential information is displayed, sometimes quite prominently. Opening times, available call times, could even be your address. Depends on what your business is, but there's bound to be certain information that's essential to your business that needs to be on your site and where customers can actually find it, not hidden away where people really have to search it out. In my current job it's essential to our customers that we are ISO9001 & ISO14001 accredited, so we display this on the home page of our company website so that our customers, and potential customers, can see that we have these certificates. Things like this seem obvious, but you really would be amazed at the amount of companies that miss this part out.

7. SEO

Important for most sites these days, but especially important for businesses. Someone searches out your company name you need to make sure that you're number one, or at least on the first page. But that's not all you need, you also need certain search terms to bring up your website. The best part is that Google can help you massively with this, using Google Analytics. Not only does it help with finding out what search terms are working, but you can also find out how to improve the performance of the website and whether your calls to action are providing the results that you want. This is also where good content comes in to play, as keywords and internal links help to improve your rankings withing search engines.

It's important to also remember that Google isn't the only search engine that is used. It might be the most popular, but it's not the only one. As of writing this, Google has just over 68% of the market share when it comes to searches. 18% goes to Baidu which is a Chinese search engine - unless a good percentage of your customer base is Chinese then this one doesn't matter too much. But Yahoo still has a 7% market share and Bing has 6%. Just because Google dominates the search engine world, doesn't mean you can ignore the other guys, as potentially important customers could decide that they prefer using Bing or Yahoo.