In today’s world, having a website for your small business is about as important as generating leads, selling products, and making a profit — actually, it’s a fundamental pillar of those three pursuits.
Just consider that 70-80% of people research a company online before visiting it or making a purchase.
(And you need to be online to be found)
Problem is, you’re an entrepreneur… not a web designer.
So how can you create a website that’s representative of your brand as well as effective at generating leads and making sales?
In this guide, we’re going to give you some pointers.
But first, let’s talk about the critical balance between performance and aesthetic.
The Balance of Performance & Aesthetic
When you’re designing your website, you need to strike a balance between performance and aesthetic.
By performance, I mean conversion rate (is your website generating leads and/or making sales?). By aesthetic, I mean the look of your website (is your website pretty?).
Obviously, you want your website to be a good representation of your brand — you want it to look casual, professional, or whimsical.
But it’s entirely possible to create a beautiful website that doesn’t convert well.
And what good is a website that doesn’t get results?
I like the way that Susan Vincent puts it:
“Parallax…slideshows…pretty butterflies that daintily bat their wings…We’ve all seen them, and they were entertaining.
But did those butterflies and rolling slide shows cause you to take action on the site? If you’re like the rest of us, the answer is no.
Whenever I see a website with a lot of fluff, it’s immediately apparent that the site has no direction. Somebody let a website designer runamuck.
The stark truth is websites weren’t made to be beautiful. They were made to:
- Engage the visitor
- Build trust
- Sell stuff”
Because it’s also possible that a functional but “ugly” website can make millions of dollars, as pointed out in Neil Patel’s article: 6 “Ugly” Sites that Make Millions (and What We Can Learn from Them).
Two of Patel’s examples are the Thiel Foundation…
…and Berkshire Hathaway…
Heck, even our own sales funnels we build at ClickFunnels might not be considered beautiful by website critics with their highlighted text, long headlines, and underlined words… but they’re *pretty* darn effective for converting traffic…
Of course, we’re not saying you should try to build an ugly website.
We’re simply saying that your focus should be on building an effective website — one that will help you grow your business.
If you can also make it look nice, then go for it.
But don’t add stuff just to add stuff… everything on your website should have a reason for being there.
Here’s Susan again:
“Removing clutter and opting for a clear, easy message creates a better user experience for one obvious reason. People go to the web looking for answers, not rainbows and unicorns.”
With that distinction out of the way, let’s walk through the 8 web design tips for small businesses!
1. Choose a Good Website Builder
If you’re not a web designer, then you have two options.
- Pay someone to design a website for you.
- Build a website using a website builder.
The first option is far more expensive — expect to spend at least $1,000 to get something decent — while the second option is more hands on.
But either way, you’ll need to know which CMS your website will be using.
A CMS is a Content Management System — software that allows you to manage your website without diving headfirst into code.
(Even if you hire a web designer, make sure they build it on a CMS so you can easily make changes to the content on your site)
The most popular website builders and content management systems are…
Shopify and BigCommerce are primarily for ecommerce websites.
WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix are general website builders with thousands of different templates.
And at ClickFunnels, we help entrepreneurs build high-converting sales funnels that get results (more on that in #5).
So choose the website builder and CMS that you’re most familiar with and pick a template (if you’re building your own) that gives you the necessary functionality.
2. Buy a Domain
Choosing a domain for your website is important… but it’s not so important that you should lose sleep about it.
(You can always change your domain name in the future)
It’s a good idea to line up your domain name with your brand name so that they’re one and the same… or at least pretty similar.
Our domain, for instance, is clickfunnels.com and our brand name is ClickFunnels.
If you can get a .com domain, that’s probably the best… but it’s often the most expensive and the most competitive. So don’t hesitate to go with .org, .io, or some other top-level domain.
If you’re purchasing your first domain, you shouldn’t have to spend more than $50. Here are some domain vendors to check out…
Don’t overthink it — choose a domain that you can afford and that’s relevant to your business.
3. Create a Brand Image
Earlier I argued that you don’t necessarily need a beautiful website to get results. And that’s true.
But you should have a branded website — that is, a website that has a clear and consistent brand image.
For example, The Tonic…
Just consider some of these stats…
So although simplicity is your friend, it’s probably not a good idea to start designing your website without at least a little bit of planning.
Choose your brand colors (here’s a color palette generator), create a logo (you can pay someone one Fiverr to do this), name your brand if you haven’t already, and define the feel you want to create (professional, casual, whimsical, something else?).
Then use those elements when creating your website.
It doesn’t need to be beautiful, but it should be consistent.
4. Analyze The Competition
Websites are like cars. If they’re not maintained, then they don’t run well (or at all). And if they don’t run well… then why do you even have one?
As we talked about earlier, the goal of your website is simple.
But how are you going to do that? Or rather, how are you going to create a website that does that?
It’d be nice if we could just give you a simple 3-step formula for success, but the truth is that your business is unique. I don’t know whether you’re building an ecommerce brand that sells athletic socks… or a pawn shop that peddles trinkets… or a SaaS business that helps real estate investors.
So when it comes to creating a website that gets results, the best thing you can do is analyze and mimic successful competitors (we usually call this “Funnel Hacking” because we do it with sales funnels).
Let me walk you through an example.
Imagine that you and I want to start an ecommerce business selling coolers and drinkware. One of the main successful brands that comes to mind is YETI. So we go to their website and look around.
The first thing we notice when we arrive to their website is a popup that cues after a few seconds…
After clicking “Yes”, YETI asks for our zip code and email address. It then tells us that we’re our their list.
It would seem that YETI is verifying free shipping as a way to generate leads. So we monitor our inbox to see what email we receive. Here’s that email…
We browse around their website some more and take note of the checkout process, how YETI organizes their product categories, and where email opt-in forms are placed.
Now imagine that we did this with 10 competitor’s websites.
We’d likely notice some patterns. And we’d definitely get some ideas for things that would help our own ecommerce site convert visitors into leads and/or paying customers.
So make a list of 10 websites and look at what they’re doing. Then add some of those elements to your own website and see how they perform!
5. Use Sales Funnels
Now there’s nothing wrong with having a website.
But when it comes to getting results — generating leads and making sales — sales funnels are far more effective.
In fact, we made a video about it…
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a website at all. It just means you should use sales funnels when you’re trying to get a top-tier conversion rate.
A sales funnel is just a series of pages that are crafted for the express purpose of converting traffic into leads and/or leads into paying customers.
Our Tripwire Sales Funnel, for instance, is built to turn cold traffic into paying customers (and it works like a charm) via ads.
Here’s an example…
And we have 20+ other proven-to-work sales funnel templates that you can use to generate leads and make sales online.
Our funnel builder and drag-and-drop editor make it super easy.
6. Write Clear, Compelling Copy
Whether you’re designing your website or building a sales funnel, the words are what convince people to give you their contact information or purchase a product.
And so it’s worth spending a moment to discuss how you can write clear and compelling copy.
Ultimately, we recommend getting our free book, Copywriting Secrets (just pay shipping + handling) — it’ll teach you everything you need to know about writing great copy.
Here, we’ll give you some quick tips.
Let’s work backwards.
The goal of the words on your website or sales funnel is to get someone to take a certain action. To write great copy, then, we need to know…
- What action we want the visitors to take.
- Who the visitor is.
- And we need a strategy for proving our value and addressing their objections.
First, ask yourself what action you want the visitor to take on this particular page. Do you want them to give you their email address? Do you want them to buy something?
Then determine who the visitor is — check out the video below to learn how to create your customer avatar.
Finally, now that you know who you’re targeting and what action you want them to take, you need a clear-cut formula for crafting copy that resonates with your audience and drives them to take action.
The basic format we recommend is as follows:
- Hook — First, you have to get your target market’s attention. They’re busy. How are you going to hook them?
- Story — Once the visitor is curious, it’s time to tell a story, one that shows them that you understand where they’re coming from.
- Offer — Finally, it’s time to make an offer that’s so appealing it’s hard for them to say “no”.
Let’s look at an example: the DotCom Secrets sales funnel. At the top is a headline that hooks our target market by offering a free book with business growth secrets.
Then, after a video, CTA, and credibility bar, the page dives into Russell Brunson’s story, which shows that he understands where his target market is coming from…
And then, there’s the offer…
Obviously, there’s a lot of nuance here. You can use testimonials as social proof and a countdown timer to create urgency, for example, but this is the basic format.
Here’s a video of Russell Brunson diving deeper into the hook-story-offer format…
7. Consider Basic SEO
How nice would it be if your target market was already searching for you?
Well, they are…
Probably through Google.
Let’s imagine that you’re building an ecommerce store that sells tennis racquets. According to Ahrefs (a tool that helps with SEO research), there are 12,000 searches for “tennis racquet” every month in Google. What’s more? These are probably people who want to buy a tennis racquet.
That’s just one example. Here are other recommended terms that you might try to get your website ranking for if you were selling tennis racquets…
Now… I’m not saying that you have to be an SEO expert before you build your website.
But knowing the basics can definitely help you drive a bit of traffic.
Here are some pointers to consider…
- Choose One Keyword Per Page — Don’t try to rank for 10 different keyword phrases with one page. Just choose one high-level parent keyword for your landing pages and homepages.
- Start Blogging — A great way to increase traffic through SEO is by starting a blog that targets different keyword phrases in your niche. That helps you expand beyond the limits of your homepage and landing pages.
- Put Your Target Keyword Phrase in the Title Tag, URL, and Meta Description — Whether you’re optimizing a homepage, landing page, or blog post, the three most important optimizations are super easy. Just make sure that your title tag, URL, and meta description include an exact match of the keyword phrase that you’re trying to target.
Here’s an example.
If I search for “Instagram Marketing”, the first result comes from Hootsuite. And you’ll notice that they rule #3 perfectly…
If you don’t want to pay to do your SEO research, then you can just use Ubersuggest, which is 100% free.
If you want to learn more about driving traffic to your website through SEO — and other top traffic-driving strategies — then get Russell Brunson’s free bestselling book: Traffic Secrets.
8. Start Testing
Nothing is perfect on the first try.
And that goes for your website and sales funnels just as much as anything else.
You can take the advice in this article, create something worthwhile, but still in 6 months you’ll find ways to make it better.
However, you can’t be certain of exactly what changes you should make unless you’re consistently A/B testing to find out what works and what doesn’t.
We do this consistently at ClickFunnels.
And to give you an idea of just how impactful testing can be, we once tested our “Top 1% Secrets Masterclass” webinar. This was the control version…
And on the variation, we replaced the credibility badges with a countdown timer. That’s the main difference.
The results? The control converted at a whopping 30% while the variation converted at 10% — that’s a massive difference with such a small change.
And it illustrated why you should get in the habit of running your own split tests. Even little tweaks can help you get more bank for your buck.
Don’t discount your potential: small businesses should have websites and sales funnels just like big businesses.
And designing your website doesn’t need to be a daunting task.
You can use the above 8 tips to design a website or sales funnel that represents your brand, drives results, and becomes an asset for your business.
And remember: you can always make changes down the road if need be…
But first, you’ve got to get started.