Navigating a small business is tricky, to say the least. The old adage "if it were easy, everyone would do it," comes to mind. Entrepreneurship is a challenge not only due to the investment of personal and professional resources but because of the fact that you, the business owner, are often the accountant, project manager, marketer, and web designer, all at the same time. Tough sledding for even the heartiest business-person.
That said, you are not without resources. Seminars and adult education classes can teach many of the aspects of entrepreneurship. However, one of the newer aspects of being a small business owner, web design, is by-and-large still a nascent endeavor. With this combination of young technology and ever-changing platforms, languages, user expectations, and time constraints, the deck is stacked against the overwrought startup from the get-go.
But there is help. At its core, your business' website must fulfill a basic set of expectations and then accommodate these expectations efficiently and effectively. This challenge has been presented to many before you, and solutions have been made available that will not only save you time, but save you sanity as well.
So let's break it down. We won't attempt here to imbue in you the entire body of knowledge that is web design, but instead we will attempt to convey the importance of owning and maintaining your own online storefront and the value of tried-and-true design knowledge when putting it together. The truth is, when you break it down, good web design and presence is an attainable and important goal.
So what do you need your website to do? On the most fundamental level, you need it to act as a tool for selling your product, regardless of what that product may be. Your site should (and will) function as a sales and marketing tool, not only currying new sales leads through search traffic, but also instilling a brand association through ease of use, presentation of valuable knowledge, and aesthetic.
With these considerations in mind, your website should possess an understandable layout and design that provides the information customers need quickly and efficiently. Do they need to call you with a question? A contact page should be well within reach. Curious about your company's principles? These should be listed and in plain sight. Can customers find your products? Does your layout frustrate or assist visitors? Truly these questions are where things get trickier.
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of considerations to keep in mind. In tandem with your other responsibilities, the task can seem nigh impossible. This is where the experts come to the rescue.
Enter The Template
Website building companies have recognized the plight of the small business owner and enlisted some serious help to solve the problems you now face. These services provide standard layouts known as templates that consider effective layout of content and organize it in a fashion that is not only easy to navigate, but pretty to look at. The result? A wealth of options that will not only save you money, but at little cost.
“But wait, why would I want to use a template? Don't I risk looking like another website?” The short answer is yes, but real answer is no. Design templates are widely available to any user on a website building platform, meaning that anyone can invest in this valuable resource and utilize it on their site. A comparison could be made to a pool of job applicants using the same résumé template: the design is pretty, however the confusion of applications devalues the credibility of all of them.
The difference is this: a recruiter is looking for a very specific person in a pool of applicants that have little more than words with which to define themselves. Any attempt to differentiate one from another within the rigid confines of the paper-and-black-ink template is challenging. With web design, however, customer perception and likelihood of purchase are not determined solely by the appearance of your front page and a few lines of text. Is that front page important? Do those lines of text matter? Absolutely. But the layout and functionality of a website are the building blocks that sell your content. A generic template that gets the job done is far more likely to encourage purchases than dissuade them.
For that reason, templates remain a strong option for small business owners. These layouts are distinctive, leaning on time-tested design practices that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional when used correctly. This ensures that whichever you deem appropriate for your site, it will likely accommodate all the aforementioned concerns of your business. In addition, custom graphics and a little tinkering can allow you to customize your template to your liking. With these tools and a little knowledge, you can distinguish your pre-built template from the crowd, while maintaining the same intelligent layout that went into its making.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. While the allure of web design is understandable, the price premium on such services can make the luxury prohibitive. In this situation, do not be afraid to enlist the help of website templates. Browse the catalog of designs available to you and look for one that you feel speaks to your brand's characteristics. Install it and fill the empty text boxes and picture placeholders with your content and enjoy the satisfaction of a well designed website. If you find it easy to navigate and pleasing to visit, your customers certainly will too.